Friday, December 20, 2013

Last-Minute Christmas Gifts from the Kitchen

Let's be honest - nobody likes it when you show up empty-handed at their door during the holidays. And sometimes, another bottle of wine isn't going to cut it (it will at my house, though!). Especially when I'll be staying the night at someone's house, it's nice to bring either a special or useful kitchen gift. I like to think the recipes below fit the bill on both counts :)

Christmas Granola 
The red and green colors say it all for this granola. The texture is amazing! Eat it on its own or use as a topping or mix-in. Adapted from The Kitchn.

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups shelled pistachios
3/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds - you can buy an 8oz bag by the nuts in the grocery store)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup coconut oil (or olive oil)
3/4 cup honey (preferably local honey. If you're in Austin, GoodFlow is great!)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup dried tart cherries

Preheat the oven to 300°F with a rack in the lower-middle position. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the oats, pistachios, pepitas, salt, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla(Tip, measure the honey in a 1-cup measure.  Then, measure the coconut oil or olive oil, will make it easier to scrape out any honey that stuck). Pour the oil-honey mixture over the dry ingredients and stir gently until all the ingredients are evenly coated.

Transfer the granola to the lined baking sheet. Spread it out so it covers the baking sheet evenly. Bake until the granola is deeply golden and smells delicious, 45 to 50 minutes, stirring the granola every 15 minutes — do not stir more frequently. In the last 5 minutes, stir in the cranberries and cherries and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Once you remove the granola from the oven, do not stir again; it will crisp and solidify into clusters as it cools.

Once the granola has cooled completely, break it into clusters. Lift the edges of the parchment to help dislodge large pieces of granola and use your fingers to break it apart.

Place large pieces and little crumbles in baggies or mason jars and gift away!

Rosemary Pine Nut Biscotti
I usually opt for chocolate biscotti with my coffee, but this version is great with hot tea on a chilly afternoon! Adapted from Catch My Party.

3/4 cup pine nuts
1 3/4 cups all purpose or baking flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter (room temperature)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary chopped
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place pine nuts on a baking sheet and toast them in the preheating oven 6-8 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove and place in a bowl to cool.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt, and set aside.

In a standing mixer, beat the butter then add the sugar. Next add the eggs and olive oil and beat on high for about two minutes. Mix in the rosemary and lemon zest.

Pour in all the mixed dry ingredients and mix until just combined, then add the pine nuts and again mix until just combined.

Divide the dough in half in the bowl and place each half on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Form the dough into two logs, about 12 inches long, and 2 inches wide.

Bake for about 30 minutes until it just starts to brown. Take it out of the oven, turn it down to 275°F, and let it cool until you can handle it. Using a serrated knife to cut each log diagonally into about 1/2 slices.

Lay the pieces back on the baking sheet on their side, and put them back into the oven to cook for another 15 minutes per side. Let cool, then place 2-4 in a little baggie and share!