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to make yourself & wrap with style
photography by alison shaw
whole preserved lemons
overall prep time: about 2 weeks (for curing the lemons) active prep time: 2 hours easy moderately expensive do not freeze or ship can be doubled or tripled shelf life: 6 months
A gift of a pretty jar holding a preserved lemon should thrill any experienced or adventurous cook. Salt-cured whole lemons preserved in extra-virgin olive oil are a staple in almost all Mediterranean cuisines. They are used to season slow-cooked dishes like tagines, and diced preserved lemon and its oil can be used to marinate or garnish grilled meats and seafood as well as feta and other dry cheeses. In Greek tavernas, small wedges of preserved lemon are served with drinks, along with slivers of dry, aged sheep’s milk cheeses, olives, and flatbreads. The oil alone is a perfect addition to marinades and vinaigrettes. Whole cardamom pods and fenugreek seeds can be found in South Asian markets, natural-foods stores, and online (see Resources, page 000). Preserved lemons improve with age. It is essential to cover the lemons by at least a half an inch of olive oil in order to store the jar safely at room temperature.
12small,firmorganic lemons 5tablespoonscoarsesea salt 12freshbayleaves 4cinnamonsticks,each brokeninto3pieces
12smalldriedredchilepods 2tablespoonswhite peppercorns 2tablespoonscardamom pods
2tablespoonsfenugreek seeds 2tablespoonsmustard seeds about4cupsextra-virgin oliveoil
2 gourmet gifts
1 Scrub the lemons and cut each one into 8 wedges from the blossom end to, but not through, the stem end, so that the wedges remain attached at the stem end. Arrange the lemons in a glass or ceramic casserole dish. Gently spread the wedges apart and heavily sprinkle each lemon with sea salt. Tightly cover the dish with plastic wrap. Set the salted lemons aside in a cool place for 24 hours. 2 Meanwhile, prepare the jars: You will need 12 small wide-mouthed jars (½-pint canning jars are fine). Wash the jars and lids in hot, soapy water, rinse them, and dry them in a 190°F oven. Keep the jars and lids warm until you are ready to fill them. 3 Drain off and discard any accumulated juices in the casserole of lemons. Put one lemon in each jar along with a bay leaf, a piece of cinnamon, a chile pod, and a small portion of the other seasonings. Fill the jars with olive oil, using about ½ cup for each jar, making sure the lemons are covered by at least a half an inch of oil. Use a chopstick or the handle of a wooden spoon to dislodge any air bubbles. Wipe the jar rims with clean paper towels and cover the jars. 4 Store the jars in a cool, dark pantry or closet for 2 weeks, or until the lemons are soft and you are ready to assemble and deliver the gifts.
wrapping it up
The lemons, spices, and rich green olive oil provide about all the good looks any small gift needs. But a great-looking label and a few recipes would complete this gift very nicely. If you have good computer skills you might consider creating a booklet of recipes (you can search online or in any Mediterranean or Middle Eastern cookbook) to accompany the lemons. You should include a note with storage instructions, too: The lemons can be stored at room temperature, but as the lemons are used, the jar should be replenished with olive oil to keep the remaining lemons covered and fresh. See Resources (page 000) for information on free downloadable labels and online recipe sites.
4 gourmet gifts
indescribable eggplant in won ton origami cups
Asian recipes that pique my interest often end up a little less Asian by the time I’m finished with them. An example is this eggplant spread. The starting point was Barbara Tropp’s recipe from her book China Moon (Workman, 1992), which has evolved into a kind of fusion baba ghanoush. The little “cups” of crisp won ton wrapper resemble origami and make the perfect receptacle for the eggplant spread. They are also incredibly easy to prepare if you have a silicone mini-cupcake pan. If you don’t have a silicone pan, you can use a metal one; spray it generously with nonstick cooking spray. The sauté phase of this recipe goes very quickly, so it is important to assemble the seasoning and sauce elements in small bowls before you begin that step.
overall prep time: 24 hours active prep time: 1 ¼ hours slightly challenging inexpensive do not freeze or ship can be doubled or tripled shelf life: 2 weeks in the refrigerator for the eggplant spread; 24 hours in an airtight container for the won ton cups makes: a generous 2 cups eggplant spread and 36 won ton cups
2mediumeggplants(1¼ poundstotalweight) 4tablespoonsextra-virgin oliveoil 6garliccloves,minced 2tablespoonsgratedfresh ginger
1cupthinlyslicedscallions (whiteandgreenparts) 1driedredchilepepper,cut insmallpieces ½cuproughlychopped freshbasilleaves 3tablespoonssoysauce
3tablespoonsdarkbrown sugar 2tablespoonswhite balsamicvinegar 2teaspoonsboilingwater
bowl. Place a deep sauté pan over medium-high heat, and, when the pan is hot, add the seasoned olive oil mixture. Stir the seasonings constantly with a wooden spoon so they do not burn. As soon as the scallions start to soften, reduce the heat and add the eggplant to the pan. Continue to cook the mixture, stirring constantly, for 3 to 4 minutes, until the eggplant is warmed through. Add the soy sauce mixture to the eggplant and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until all the liquid has been absorbed and the eggplant is a deep mahogany brown, about 3 to 4 minutes more. 3 Puree the hot eggplant mixture in a food processor. Allow it to cool completely before refrigerating it in an airtight container overnight. Keep the spread refrigerated until you are ready to assemble and deliver the gift. 4 While the eggplant spread chills, make the won ton cups: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line each compartment of a silicone mini-cupcake pan with a square won ton wrapper; depending on the configuration of your pans, you will need anywhere from 2 to 6 mini-cupcake pans. Use your fingertips to press the wrapper into the mini-cupcake form. Bake the wrappers for 10 minutes, or until the edges of each wrapper are a dark golden brown and the cups are crisp. Place the mini-cupcake pans on a rack to cool completely before removing the won ton cups.
1 Preheat the oven to 425°F. Use a meat fork to pierce the eggplants in several places. Remove the stems and leaves, and place the eggplants on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake the eggplants on the middle rack of the oven for 1½ hours, or until they are very soft. When the eggplants are cool enough to handle, halve them and scoop the flesh into a bowl. 2 Combine the olive oil, garlic, ginger, scallions, chile pepper, and basil in a bowl. Combine the soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, and boiling water in a second
6 gourmet gifts
wrapping it up
An 8- to 10-inch bamboo stacked steamer basket is so well suited to this gift there is little to do but shop for the right steamer at the right price. These can usually be found at Asian food markets and import stores. They are cheaper still online; see Resources (page 000). suggestedsupplies
1two-tierbamboosteamer basket(8to10inches) parchmentpaper savoycabbageleaves, forliningonetierofthe steamer ¼cupfreshcilantroorflatleafparsley 4lengths(36inches each)raffia,plusseveral additional12-inchlengths 1or2disposablebamboo spoons(availableinupscale supermarketsandimport stores,andonline;see resources,page000) 1sheetofcellophaneabout 30inchessquare 1wiretwisttie 1square(5inches)origami paperorotherdecorative paper
how to make a steamer into a server
Trace around the bottom of each steamer-basket tier onto two sheets of parchment paper and cut out the two circles of parchment. Line the bottom of each tier with a parchment paper circle. Cover the parchment in the bottom tier with overlapping leaves from the cabbage, and arrange smaller cupped leaves around the edges of the tier. Spoon the
eggplant spread into this leaf lined tier. Pile the won ton cups high in the second parchment-lined tier. Sprinkle the eggplant spread with cilantro or parsley leaves. Stack the won ton tier over the eggplant tier and loosely cover with the bamboo lid. Divide the 36-inch raffia lengths into two pairs. Knot the ends of each pair together. Form an X with knotted pairs of raffia and center the stacked tiers on the raffia X. Bring the opposite ends of each raffia length up the sides of the steamer, passing the ends through the looped handle on the steamer lid. Tie the ends in a slipknot, being careful not to tie them so tightly as to crush the won ton cups. Slip the spoons through the looped lid handle or tie them to the basket handle. Center the assembled steamer on the cellophane square and gently gather the cellophane up and over the steamer, lid, and spoons. Carefully twist the cellophane to tighten it around the gift, and secure the twisted cellophane with the wire twist tie. Gather the 12-inch strands of raffia and wrap them around the twist tie to cover it, finishing with a tight double knot. Write serving instructions on the decorative-paper square: “Use the bamboo spoons to fill the won ton origami cups with eggplant spread.” Add any gift message you would like. Roll the decorative paper into a tiny scroll. Knot the scroll in the ends of the raffia to secure it to the gift.
100 Delicious recipesto 1. Make yourself.
n the first food-gifting book to give equal weight to the recipes and to their wrapping and presentation, Corley offers up 100 scrumptious and splendidly crafted projects, perfect for cooks who want to jumpstart their presentation skills, for crafters who want to give their food gifts a significant upgrade from the standard plate of chocolate chip cookies or pan of lasagna, and for anyone who wants to give a gift that’s decidedly personal and sure to please.
Wrap with style. Give with pride.
• Print and online media • Online crafting sites promotion • Blad available • Craft tutorial video • Author website and blog:
publicitycontact: Nancy Grant Mahoney (617) 423-5803 or (888) 657-3755 theharvardcommonpress•www.harvardcommonpress.com
978-1-55832-435-0 • $19.95 PB NOVEMBER • Cookbooks/Crafts 304 pages • 9” x 8” • 4-color photographs throughout Hazelnut Brittle: Put It in a Letter
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