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Nov 26, 2018 3:50 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Give Gifts From Your Kitchen

Lemon turmeric thyme shortbread coins.  JANEEN SARLIN
Nov 27, 2018 10:22 AM

It’s time to bring back the delicious old-fashioned tradition of giving gifts from your kitchen. The benefits are more than double. It’s a gift of time, energy, and love, not to mention the enjoyment of each delicious bite. They are the most memorable Christmas gifts I have received!

This week is an excellent time to begin baking. The best storage space for these gifts is an unheated enclosed porch or basement because it’s cool and out of sight from nibbling family members. Pack the goodies in airtight plastic containers or cookie tins until it’s time to wrap the gifts. Be sure to include an ingredient list on the gift tag.

Lemon herb shortbread cookies pair the haunting spice of turmeric with fresh thyme and lemon zest to make a unique cookie/cracker that tastes as good with champagne as well as a freshly brewed pot of tea.

Less rich, but flavorful crunchy biscotti is the perfect gift for coffee and tea drinkers, I have a friend that dunks biscotti in her breakfast tea every morning.

My favorite treat is a cluster of chocolate covered roasted salted Virginia peanuts. I used both semisweet chocolate chips and 70 percent dark chocolate bars to coat the peanuts. The combination is magical. I have to hide them from myself. Bon appétit!

Lemon Turmeric Herb Shortbread Cookies
(About 5 dozen)

1/2 cup turbinado sugar, divided in halves

1 1/2 cups almond meal (flour)

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup (6 ounces) unsalted butter at room temperature

2 lemons, zest grated plus1 tablespoon fresh juice

2 teaspoons poppy seeds

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

To prepare:

Working in the food processor fitted with the stainless steel blade, add one-quarter cup turbinado sugar and process until the sugar begins to look like fine sand, about one minute.

Add almond meal, flour, butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, poppy seeds, turmeric, thyme and salt to the processor. Process until the dough just comes together, about 30 to 40 seconds.

Transfer the dough to a large piece of plastic wrap on a clean surface.

Separate the dough into two equal portions. Roll each portion into a 9-by-1-1/2-inch log. Wrap each log tightly in separate plastic wrap. Freeze at least two hours or overnight.

To bake:

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Line rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the remaining one-quarter cup turbinado sugar on a plate. Roll the log in the sugar to coat evenly. Slice one log into quarter-inch thick slices (about 32). Place cookies one inch apart on the prepared sheets. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool for five minutes on baking sheets.

Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and cool at room temperature, for at least 30 minutes. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Store in an airtight container, in a cool place up for up to one month.

Adapted from 
Michele Scicolone

“A Fresh Taste of Italy,” Broadway Books, 1997
(About 5 dozen)

1 cup hazelnuts (about 5 ounces)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup almond flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons anise seeds – fennel, toasted

3 large eggs

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon pure almond extract

1/2 cup sun-dried cranberries

To prepare:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees f.

Bake the hazelnuts until the nuts are light brown, about eight to 10 minutes. Place hazelnuts in a kitchen towel, rub the skins loose and let cool.

Raise the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

Grease a large baking sheet without sides. Or tip sided baking pans over and use the bottom. Or cover with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and anise seeds.

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs until frothy, gradually add sugar, continue beating until very pale and thick, about four to five minutes.

Add vanilla and almond extracts.

Stir in the dry ingredients, and finally, fold in the hazelnuts and cranberries.

The dough will be very soft.

With two rubber spatulas, scoop the dough onto the prepared cookie sheet forming three 10-inch logs about two inches apart. Smooth the logs with a damp spatula or with moistened hands. Bake the logs until they are light brown and spring back when touched in the center, 30 minutes.

Using a long metal spatula, carefully slide/transfer the logs to a cutting board. Using a heavy chef knife, cut the logs crosswise into half-inch-thick slices. Stand the slices on a baking sheet about a half inch apart. Bake until crisp, 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack and cool.

Biscotti keep well in a tightly sealed container at room temperature for up to one month.

Dark Chocolate Virginia Peanut Clusters
(About 60 clusters)

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (chocolate chips are fine)

4 ounces high quality 70 percent dark chocolate bar (broken into chunks)

Approximately 4 1/4 cups salted roasted Virginia peanuts (preferably premium size)

To prepare:

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper, and set aside.

In a stainless steel bowl, add semisweet and dark chocolate. Bring a saucepan with about one inch of water over moderate heat to a simmer. Reduce the heat to very low and place the bowl filled with chocolate pieces over the saucepan. Cover the chocolate with a lid for about two minutes. When the chocolate begins to melt on the edges, stir until the chocolate is completely melted. Do not boil the water.

Immediately remove from heat, wipe the water off the bottom of the bowl. Add three cups of peanuts to the chocolate, folding them in with a rubber scraper. Continue adding a few peanuts at a time until the chocolate can no longer coat them.

With a teaspoon, drop covered peanuts on the prepared baking sheet, spacing the “clusters” about a half inch from each other. Refrigerate until chocolate is hard, then transfer the clusters to an airtight container with a sheet of waxed or parchment paper between the layers. Can be stored up to one month.

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