12.16.13 More Holiday Treats (& a Cookbook Giveaway!)
photos by gluttonforlife
Look at that stack of cookbooks: It's for you! This is the latest installment in Glutton for Life's Grand Holiday Gift Extravaganza. Occasionally, I get review copies of cookbooks I have already bought or pre-ordered for myself, and sometimes my collection just grows to the point of needing a little weeding, though I can scarcely bear to part with any of my tomes. Knowing that these will go to a loving home gives me some relief. Interested? Just leave a comment below by midnight on Wednesday the 18th telling me about your favorite cookbook and you'll be in the running to win these 7 books. As for the winner of The Shizzle and accompanying Mirena Kim salt cellar? It's Diane Lindsay. Diane, send your mailing address to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The celebratory spirit is reaching a fever pitch, so I have to ak you, Are you having fun? I committed to way too much last week and I came down with the flu. Ugh. I sensed that things were beginning to veer out of control for me and yet I just couldn't slow down. The challenge now is to have compassion for myself rather than seething inside that I am not strong enough or healthy enough or something enough. I'm in my red flannel nightie with my Uggs, gazing forlornly out at the fresh snow, where I wish to be frolicking on snowshoes. For now, I'm trying to focus on visions of dancing sugarplums.
I'll use that segue to tell you about a few more treats that you can share with family and friends at home, and that are quick and easy to make for last-minute gifts. The first is a snack I have dubbed Crack because it hits that addictive trifecta of sweet, salty and spicy. Big crunchy mounds of buttery popcorn stuck together wiith maple syrup, spiked with cayenne and studded with toasted pecans and dried cranberries—it actually sounds pretty healthy, no? It might be, if you could stop yourself from eating the entire bowl. Pack it into tins or wax baggies tied with a ribbon and know there's not a soul out there who won't be grateful. The recipe is here
are you into leather?
Friends wax poetic about the rolls of fruit leather I give away. They look adorable wapped in parchment paper and tied up with a bit of kitchen twine. Here
are a couple of inspired recipes from my pal Janet; and here's
one of mine. It works with any fruit, really; I even love making fruit leather from dried fruits, like figs and apricots. You can roll up entire sheets or cut them into smaller several-bite-sized pieces that are especially good for kids.
Partial to something savory? It' not too late to do a little canning. Use what's available, like the voluptuous cauliflowers you can still find at farmers' markets. This recipe is from Kevin West's Saving the Season
, which came out this fall. You make a vinegar brine infused with a pinch of saffron and some curry spices and pour it over lightly blanched florets. Process in a hot water bath and voilà. (Note: I increased the sugar by 2 tablespoons because I think it needs that, but you don't have to. Don't have those spices on hand? Ad lib with whole cumin, coriander, fennel, black pepper, turmeric...)
Crunchy, tart and intriguingly spiced, with the unexpected addition of raisins and black sesame seeds, this golden pickle emerges from the jar ready to eat with cheese, with Indian food—I love it with papadums, those lentil wafers that puff and crisp when you hold them over your gas burner—with curries, with roast chicken...it's quite versatile. One size fits all. Not to mention it looks gorgeous in the jar. What more could you want in a gift?
Curried Cauliflower Pickle
lightly adapted from Saving the Season
yields 4 pints
— 2-lb head cauliflower
— 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for blanching water
— 2 cups white wine vinegar
— 2 cups water
— 5 tablespoons organic cane sugar
— 4 teaspoons hot curry powder (or 2 teaspoons a mild curry powder and a couple of crushed dried red chiles)
— 24 saffron threads
— 4 green cardamom pods, crushed
— 4 cloves garlic, peeled and split
— 4 teaspoons black sesame seeds
— 2 teaspoons nigella (black onion) seeds
— 1/2 cup golden raisins
— 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Wash and drain the cauliflower head, then cut the florets from the stem with a pairing knife, starting at the base. Try to keep the pieces more or less the same size.
Working in batches, blanch the cauliflower florets in heavily salted boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain.
Combine the salt, vinegar, 2 cups water, sugar, curry, saffron and cardamom in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and allow to steep for 15 minutes; then bring the syrup back to a boil.
Evenly divide the garlic, sesame seeds and nigella seeds among 4 prepared pint jars. Pack the cauliflower into the jars and layer the raisins throughout. Ladle the hot syrup over the top, leaving 3/4" headspace. Pour 1 tablespoon olive oil into each jar, seal and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Allow to cure for at least a one week before opening.