..The Intuitive Times
Kitchen Korner


Gifts From Your Kitchen and Your Heart

by Karin LaRonde

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There's nothing I enjoy receiving more than "Foodie Gifts" Some are great to put out when guests drop by or just to treat yourself to. For some reason, other peoples' foods taste so much better. Here are some ideas for you to try.

Gingerbread Cookies

There is nothing like the rich aroma of gingerbread at Christmas time

1/4 cup applesauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups dark molasses
1/2 cup cold water
3 cups unbleached white flour
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp. allspice
2 tsp. ginger
2 tsp. cloves
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 T cold water

Mix the applesauce, brown sugar and molasses together thoroughly. Stir in ½ cup of cold water and vanilla. Mix together the dry ingredients. Add to the dough. Add 1 T cold water. Mix well. Cover bowl and chill dough (for at least one hour.) Preheat oven to 350. Roll out the dough thick (1/2 inch). Cut out with cookie cutter. Place on lightly oiled cookie sheet. Bake about 10 minutes (until no imprint remains when touched lightly with finger).

Chocolate Anise Bark

A sweet snack, full of chewy dried cherries or cranberries and apricots, to nibble or wrap as a gift.

1 tsp. anise seeds
1/3 cup dried tart cherries or cranberries
1/3 cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup salted roasted cashews, coarsely chopped
6 oz fine quality bittersweet chocolate finely chopped

Line a small baking sheet with foil and chill. Finely grind anise in an electric coffee/spice grinder. Stir together cherries, apricots, and cashews. Melt chocolate in a double boiler or a small metal bowl set over a small saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Stir in anise and half of fruit and spoon onto centre of baking sheet. Spread with a rubber spatula into a roughly 10 by 5-inch rectangle and sprinkle with remaining fruit mixture, pressing lightly to help stick. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes, then break into pieces. Keep chilled.

Orange and Almond Biscotti

The secret to the cookies' lightness is not to use too much flour and to freeze the dough before forming it into logs.

3 cups all purpose flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 cup sugar
7 T unsalted butter, room temperature
3 large eggs
3/4 cup chopped blanched almonds (about 3 1/2 ounces)
1/2 cup finely chopped candied orange peel
3 T orange liqueur or orange juice concentrate
1 large egg yolk, beaten to blend

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 3 baking sheets with waxed paper. Lightly flour the waxed paper. Sift flour and baking powder into medium bowl. Beat sugar and butter in large bowl until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until fluffy. Mix in nuts and candied orange peel. Add flour mixture and liqueur or juice; beat until well blended. Spoon dough out onto 1 prepared baking sheet, pressing to form 12-inch-long rectangle, about 5 inches wide (dough will be very soft). Place in freezer until firm, about 30 minutes. Cut chilled dough length wise into 3 strips. Shape each strip on lightly floured surface into 12-inch-long, 1 ½ -inch-wide and 1-inch-high log.

Transfer logs to the remaining 2 prepared sheets, 1 log on 1 sheet and 2 logs on the second sheet, spacing 2 inches apart. Brush logs with egg yolk. Bake until golden and firm to touch (dough will spread), about 30 minutes. Cool completely on baking sheets. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Using serrated knife, cut logs into 3/4-inch-wide diagonal slices. Stand biscotti slices upright on 2 heavy large baking sheets. Bake until biscotti are pale golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool. (Can be prepared 1 week ahead. Store in airtight container.) Makes 60.

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Wondering what to make for someone who is gluten or wheat sensitive? Try this one!

12 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 large eggs, separated
12 T sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
9 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
Chocolate shavings

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 9-inch-diameter spring form pan. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper or waxed paper. Wrap outside of pan with foil. Stir chocolate and butter in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Cool to lukewarm, stirring often. Using electric mixer, beat egg yolks and 6 tablespoons of sugar in large bowl until the mixture is very thick and pale, about 3 minutes. Fold lukewarm chocolate mixture into yolk mixture, then fold in vanilla extract. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in another large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 6 tablespoons sugar, beating until medium-firm peaks form. Fold whites into chocolate mixture in 3 additions. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake cake until top is puffed and cracked and tester inserted into centre comes out with some moist crumbs attached, about 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack (cake will fall).

Gently press down crusty top to make evenly thick cake. Using small knife, cut around pan sides to loosen cake. Remove pan sides. Place 9-inch-diameter tart pan bottom or cardboard round atop cake. Invert cake onto tart pan bottom. Peel off parchment paper.

Make glaze:
Bring cream and corn syrup to simmer in medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Place cake on rack set over baking sheet. Spread 1/2 cup glaze smoothly over top and sides of cake. Freeze until almost set, about 3 minutes. Pour remaining glaze over cake; smooth sides and top. Place cake on platter. Chill until glaze is firm, about 1 hour. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome; store at room temperature.) Garnish with chocolate shavings. Serve at room temperature. Serves 10 to 12.

Mango and Red Onion Chutney

A jar of this chutney would make a great gift for someone who has everything

1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium red onions, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/4 cup minced peeled fresh ginger
4 mangoes (3 lb), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup canned unsweetened pineapple juice
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 T curry powder
1 1/2 tsp. dried hot red pepper flakes
Coarsely ground black pepper

Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté onions, stirring frequently, until softened. Add bell pepper and ginger and sauté, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in mangoes, pineapple juice, vinegar, brown sugar, curry powder, and red pepper flakes. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and coarse pepper, then cool. Pack into sterile jars. Makes about 7 cups. This chutney keeps about a month in the fridge

Orange Rosemary Oil

A tasty treat for those who enjoy cooking.

1 T fennel seeds
zest of 1 navel orange, removed with vegetable peeler and chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 cup peanut or vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 300°F. With a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder grind fennel seeds coarse. In a 1-cup metal measure or very small metal bowl combine seeds with other ingredients. Set measuring cup or bowl on a baking sheet and cook in lower third of oven 1 hour and 20 minutes. Cool on a rack 30 minutes. Line a small strainer with several layers of cheesecloth and strain oil into a glass jar. Keep refrigerated. Makes about 1/2 cup.

Jean's Cheese Ball

My mom would always have Cheese Ball & Crackers out when company comes. It freezes well too!

You will need:
1. One small union
2. 1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
3. 4 oz.. blue cheese
4.8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese
5.1/2 T Worchestershire sauce

Mince onion in food processor, add the cheeses one at the time and mix thoroughly. Add Worchestershire sauce and put it in little tubs, sprinkle it with parsley.

Tofu Pecan Pate

This pate is always a big hit when I make it. Even those who dislike tofu love it!

1 cup pecans
½ cup silken "Lite" tofu
½ onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 T Kuzu (available at the Health Food Store) dissolved in cold water
2 tsp. each cider vinegar and Tamari Sauce or Bragg's Liquid Aminos
½ cup fresh chopped parsley

Toast the pecans in oven until golden brown. When cool, grind in the food processor. Add tofu and remaining ingredients. Scrape sides and continue until pureed. Put paté in glass bowl and garnish with fresh parsley. Refrigerate.

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