On this part of our holiday series, “Countdown to Christmas,” we look at gifts from the kitchen. Nothing captures the spirit of the holidays like tasty gifts. And you don’t have to spend a lot or even leave your house to send these culinary treats. Chef Kathleen Daelemans, host of Public Television’s “Cooking Thin and Loving Food,” was invited on “Today” to tell us about some unique and delicious gift ideas. And Kathleen shares a recipe for cranberry orange oatmeal cookies for Santa.
Here are some of the best of the best culinary indulgences from around the world:
For the chocoholic in your life: Who needs coffee-of-the-month clubs when there is a Chocolate-of-the-Month club! Boutique chocolate company Michael Recchiuti Confections churns out exquisite chocolates. The chocolatier meticulously sees to each step in the production of his chocolates turning fine ingredients into finer confections, using traditional European techniques and equipment.
From brownies to personalized chocolates there are gifts for every budget. If you have to choose only one item from the famed chocolate house I vote for the brownies. Richly flavored and baked to fudgey perfection hands down they are the best brownies money can buy. They are the only brownies I buy. They are lovely served at room temperature or microwave them for ten seconds and no one will know you didn’t pull them out of your own oven!
www.recchiuti.com: Gifts from $7.00; Chocolate-of-the-Month Club packages from $125.
For the wine enthusiast: Leave it to four great women to come up with the perfect cashmere-licious, get-away-from-it-all romantic gift, Cashmere & Cabernet. Start with a luxurious, two-ply Denis Colomb travel blanket made of the finest cashmere in the world. Handwoven in Nepal, the 52 X 79 blankets come in chocolate, mocha or kangaroo-beige colors. Add a top-scoring, hard-to-find cult cab from Napa and two exquisitely made Swarovski crystal wine glasses and Voila! The perfect combination for flying high on a private jet. This gift is from Women & Wine, an online community for women who love wine, travel and living well and who want to feel more confident about their palate and learn more about wine.
www.womenwine.com: Prices start at $695, plus tax, shipping and handling, depending on your choice of wine.
For the DYI version of this scrumptious gift, wrap a copy of Chef and Author, Maureen Petrosky’s best selling book, “The Wine Club: A Month-by-Month Guide to Learning About Wine with Friends,” a delicious off-the-rack throw and a couple of red wine glass from Target.com.
Total package: $50 bucks! The Wine Club book, $12.21; E-Series Set of four red wine glasses, $14.99; Isaac Mizrahi pink herringbone throw on clearance for $23.99.
For the baker: For those who want to create holiday confections and sumptuous desserts with the very best. An assortment of over the top baking ingredients and must have bakers tools from Chefscatalogue.com. Rarely do we splurge and treat ourselves to the finest baking ingredients and baker’s tools available, but what could be more special to give those you love than homemade treats. Your heirloom recipes created from the finest ingredients available given to those you love in the spirit they were created.
www.chefscatalog.com: Gifts from $10.00.
For the adventurous cook: For foodies who know their way around the kitchen yearning for a culinary challenge, from the Editor of Saveur Magazine, give “Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia.” Paired with a crate of Penzeys spices and artisan olive oils from Ta-ze this gift package will keep your cook in the kitchen churning out exotic meals all year long.
Ta-ze (pronounced tah-zay) works one on one with olive farmers and olive oil producing families to bring in olive oils from the Riviera of Olive Trees just as they’re harvested and packaged for market meaning you will get the freshest oils available anywhere in the United States. The Aegean region which is called the Riviera of olive trees is placed on two sides of the Aegean Sea which is an arm of the Mediterranean Sea.
www.penzeys.com: Penzeys spices From $10.00 each to $125 for a crate.
ta-ze.com: Gifts from $10.00; Olive Oil-of-the Month club memberships from $125.00.
For the hostess (as well as teachers, mail persons, the garbage gang and anyone else you want to acknowledge): Roasted, salted pistachios from The world’s First and Oldest Processor of Pistachios, the Germack Pistachio Company.
www.germack.com: Gifts from $2.00, $ 20.00; The three-pound pistachio bag, $20.00; The three pack of pistachios, mixed nuts, and cashews, $15.95.
Dale and Thomas’ Popcorn Crate is the perfect gift for the hostess who always has people dropping by for an impromptu good time. The crate comes with 9 Dale and Thomas decadent flavors including chocolate chunk and carmel.
www.daleandthomas.com:Gifts from $10.00; Popcorn crate $65.00
For Santa: Who can forget Santa! Set out Santa’s supper on an adorable Porsgrund porcelain cookie plate. Have his hot chocolate ready in a matching mug. Porsgrund is Norway’s only producer of feldspar porcelain. This well-known factory is idyllically located on the west bank of the Porsgrunn River and looks the same way today as it did over 100 years ago. The factory has enjoyed continuous production since 1887 and in fact still uses the same original "recipes" for all of its products.
www.skagenhus.com: Gifts from $10.00. Porsgrund’s Cookie Plate and Cocoa Mug $39.00. Emily’s Great Great Grandma’s recipe for Cranberry Orange Oatmeal Cookies for Santa is free. (And as an extra treat, we included it here for you!)
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup of dried cranberries
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup of chopped medjool dates
- 1/2 teaspoon dried ground orange peel or 1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
- 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
- 1 cup of butter (two sticks)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
- 2/3 cup of sour milk (2/3 cup of fresh milk + 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice)
Preheat oven to 375. (If making sour milk add the lemon juice to the milk and set aside.)In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cloves and cinnamon. Set aside. Place the cranberries, pecans and dates in a small bowl. Set aside. Place the butter and the brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add one egg. Mix until incorporated, add the second egg. Turn mixer off. Add the oats. Pour in 1/3 of the flour, turn the mixer on medium low. Add 1/3 of the milk and mix for one or two turns of the mixer. Being careful not to over mix the cookie dough, add the remaining two thirds of the flour mixture alternately with the remaining sour milk. Add the cranberries, pecans and dates all at once and stir just until combined. Drop the cookies by the tablespoonful onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper or silpat. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden and cooked through.
Kathleen Daelemans is the author of the best selling cookbook, “Cooking Thin with Chef Kathleen, 200 Easy Recipes for Healthy Weight Loss.” Her DVD, “Getting Thin & Loving Food Seven Days to a Healthier You” is in stores now. Talk to the chef live at www.kathleendaelemans.com.