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Gourmet Gifts For Foodies

The gourmands in your life will appreciate the delicious ways you express yourself in the kitchen. Any one of these recipes will make a lovely hostess gift or a special occasion gift. These recipes are simple and easy to follow and have a real “WOW” presentation. Place them in a basket with colorful cloth napkins, a bottle of red wine and a fresh baguette of French bread. You can find unique glass canning jars with sealable lids at garage sales, variety stores, or thrift shops. Be sure to label or tag all gifts and include serving suggestions, or the recipes given here.

Tomato Caper Tapenade – makes 1 cup

– ¾ cup sundried tomatoes in oil, drained
– ¼ cup olive oil
– ¼ cup capers, drained
– 2 clover garlic
– 1 tsp fresh lemon zest
– 1 Tbsp lemon juice
– 1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves

Wash one 8-ounce glass jar and lid in hot soapy water and rinse thoroughly. Sterilize glass jar in boiling water for 10 minutes. Invert on a towel and keep covered until needed. Place all ingredients in a food processor and chop until smooth, spoon into a hot sterilized jar and seal. Best made 1 day before. Store up to 6 weeks in the refrigerator.

Serve with pita crisps, lavash, and French or Italian loaves. Make a tapenade bruschetta with feta and fresh basil, slather tapenade on a hamburger bun and top with a grilled burger, or add it to aioli.

Marinated Italian Dried Peppers – makes 1 pint

– 2 red bell peppers, quartered, seeded and deveined
– 2 green bell peppers, quartered, seeded and deveined
– 1 tsp sea salt
– 4 cloves garlic
– 2 tsp dried rosemary
– 2 tsp dried tarragon
– 1 tsp red pepper flakes
– Olive oil to cover

Preheat oven 250° F.

Sprinkle insides of peppers with sea salt. Dry peppers on a wire rack in a slow oven for 3 hours, turning every hour. Add garlic to the drying rack and continue cooking until peppers are dry but not brittle. Peppers should be rubbery. Pack dried peppers into a hot sterilized jar with garlic and herbs. Pour in enough olive oil to completely cover the peppers, and seal jar. Best made 1 week ahead. Store up to 2 months in the refrigerator.

Serve with antipasto, a loaf of sourdough bread and a hunk of vintage cheese. Serve on a mezze plate with olives, figs, salami, marinated feta cheese or bocaccini balls, crisp fried zucchini chips, dolmas, hummus and pita.

Marinated Feta Cheese – makes 2 pints

– 1 pound block of feta cheese
– ¾ cup milk
– ¾ cup water
– 2 fresh sprigs rosemary
– 2 fresh sprigs thyme
– 2 bay leaves
– 2 small fresh red chilies
– 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
– 2 tsp juniper berries
– 1 tsp lemon zest
– About 1 cup olive oil

Sterilize 2 pint jars or 1 quart jar. Cut cheese into 1 inch cubes, place in a large bowl, pour over milk and water, cover, and refrigerate overnight. Drain and discard milk. Place cheese, herbs, chilies, seeds, berries, and zest in sterilized jars, cover with oil, leaving ½ inch between oil and top of jar. Add more oil if needed. Seal jar. Best made 2 days ahead. Store jar in a cool dark place up to 2 weeks. Refrigerate up to 6 weeks, let come to room temperature before serving.

Serve on salads, melt on top of homemade pizza, include on a mezze plate or antipasto plate. Add to frittatas and macaroni dishes. Use the marinade for toasting bruschetta slices.

Olives with Lemongrass and Chili – makes 2 cups

– 1 pound of ripe black olives with stones, drained
– 1 lime
– 1 ½ tsp cumin seeds
– ¼ cup chopped fresh lemongrass, white tender part only
– 1 pearl onion minced
– 2 small fresh red chilies, seeded and minced
– About 1 cup hot olive oil

Zest the lime and mix with olives, seeds, lemongrass, onion and chili in a bowl. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a small sauce pan until hot, but not smoking. Place olive mixture into sterilized jars, pour over hot olive oil, leaving ½ inch between oil and top of jar, seal immediately. Best made one week before serving. Refrigerate up to 2 months.

Serve in salads, bake into bread and pizza crust, and add to mezze plates and antipasto platters. Add ripe black olives to ‘al cacciatore, and pasta dishes. The possibilities are endless.

You may find other recipes for gourmet gifts by JoAnn Jagroop at http://thisdamecooks.wordpress.com

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