I must confess I have a weakness for that (kinda gross) jellied cranberry sauce in the can. I am sure it has to do with childhood Holiday memories nested deep in my brain. On the other hand, I really love this cranberry relish that is quick, easy and fresh. It is a little bit sweet, a little bit tart and very special with a baked ham or a roasted chicken or turkey, not to mention roasted vegetables.. All you need is a food processor and about 10 minutes. It will keep in the fridge for a few days in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid so it is an excellent make-ahead.
There really isn’t any need for an official recipe, but I put a quick one at the end just in case.
About 2 cups of fresh cranberries, 2 firm but ripe pears, 1 orange including the peel and a 1/2 cup raw or turbinado sugar are the 4 ingredients needed. All chopped in a processor, jarred and chilled. It really is “easy-as-this”. What a nice jar of this would be for a food-lover on your Holiday List!
There are chocolates and there are chocolates. Not all are created equally. One of my favorites for making these easy Mendiants is a French brand, Valrhona.It is fitting to use this brand as Mendiants are a French confection. You can, of course, use any good quality, bittersweet chocolate. Mendiants are so easy to make and very beautiful in their simplicity. Studded with orange peel, pistachios, sea salt, almonds, candied ginger, coconut shreds and edible gold flakes these would make a lovely, sweet Valentines gift. Oui? Oui, oui it’s as easy-as-this.
I use a double boiler pan to melt the chocolate, but you can just place in a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water if you don’t have one. Gather all your add-ins while chocolate is melting in little bowls so you can work quickly while chocolate is still warm and melted.
I drew around a small glass creating circles on a sheet of parchment paper to help me make the mendiants all about the same size. I added a dollop of melted chocolate to each circle, then spread it out with the back of a spoon and sprinkled toppings, working with one circle at a time, slightly pressing ingredients down into the still melted chocolate.
All you do is let the chocolate cool and harden. It really is as easy-as-this.
Ingredients: (you can use all or just some of these when making your own Mendiants. I varied ingredients so they were all a little different. You can also just use whatever you have on hand…pecans, walnuts, any candied fruit, etc.)
16 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup candied or dried orange peels
1/4 cup pistachios, chopped
1 tablespoon edible gold flakes, hearts, or any edible gold cake decorations
1/4 cup candied ginger, chopped
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons sea salt flakes, such as Maldon
1/4 cup toasted coconut flakes or shreds
In the top of a double boiler melt the chocolate over simmering water. Stir every so often. You can also melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water if you do not have a double boiler pan. Make sure all your pans and spoons are clean and dry with no moisture so the chocolate will not “seize”.
While chocolate is melting, gather all your add-ins…nuts, fruit, etc.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a glass about 3 inches in diameter turned upside down, draw 15 circles over the paper with a pencil. These will be your “guide” for making mendiants round and approximately the same size. It’s okay if they are not perfect.
When chocolate is totally melted, using a spoon, add a dollop to each circle. Spread out to the edges of your “circles” on the parchment creating chocolate disks about 1/4 inch thick, more or less. While chocolate disks are still soft, stud each with a variety of ingredients. Gently press ingredients down into the chocolate so they are embedded somewhat into the surface.
Leave finished mendiants on sheet of parchment to cool and harden completely. Serve immediately or store in a lidded container in the refrigerator for later.
To give as a gift put a few in a small candy bag or box. These make great easy-to-make at home edible tokens of affection.
I first made these for a magazine article I was working on a few years ago. Since I have made them a few times as they are so beautiful and delicious and are always a welcome gift.
Hooray, March 7th is National Cereal Day and I celebrated this morning (really, most mornings!) with some Greek yogurt topped with my homemade “Orange Peel-Cardamom Gluten-Free Granola” and fresh blueberries.
Every time I make granola I tweak my basic recipe using whatever I happen to have in my pantry at the time. Recently I have ended up with quite a few nuts and flaked coconut leftover from photo shoots, as well as maple syrup and lots of oranges. One thing I noticed when looking back on previous granola posts is that each time I make it the mix gets simpler and simpler. Hopefully this translates into other parts of my life!
Ingredients tossed together and spread out on parchment paper lined sheet pans ready for the oven…….
… baked and finished off with additional ingredients.
3 cups gluten-free old-fashioned rolled oats (Bob’s Red Mill)
1 1/2 cups whole almonds
1 cup pecan halves & pieces
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries or cherries, divided
1 cup coconut flakes, unsweetened, divided
1 tsp ground cardamom
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup slices almonds
1/2 cup slivered orange peel, plain or candied
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a bowl mix together the rolled oats, whole almonds, pecan halves and pieces, half of the dried cranberries and half of the coconut flakes. Toss ingredients together.
Whisk together the cardamom and maple syrup. Drizzle over the oat mixture and toss to coat all ingredients well.
Evenly divide mixture between the two sheet pans and spread out into even layers. Bake for 35 minutes, stirring often, until mixture is a light golden brown.
Remove pans from the oven and evenly divide the remaining ingredients between the two pans – the second half of the dried cranberries and coconut flakes along with the sliced almonds and orange peel. Stir around to mix and return pans to the oven for another 10-15 minutes.
Remove pans from the oven and let granola cool completely. Store in airtight containers for up to 3 months. You can also store in the refrigerator. A jar of homemade granola makes a great gift!
Not your Mother’s saltines! Not that I am not a fan of those familiar square rather salty stacks wrapped in waxed paper. I grew up on them and whenever I am feeling a bit under the weather a few saltines with a bowl of hot soup just makes everything better.
Here is my all-grown-up version of the saltine…”Crispy Almond Sea Salt Crackers” that make a fine gift for any lover of cheese & wine on your list.
Made with almond meal they are equally delectable with cheeses both soft & smeary or thinly sliced & hard. Get busy…these are good!
One recipe makes about 4-5 dozen cookies which can be stored for up to one month in airtight containers. Once the dough is made & chilled it is just a matter of rolling & cutting out, baking & packaging….ready to give & share. It is as “easy as that”.
1 cup almond meal (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 stick butter, cut into small pieces
2-4 tbsp ice water
Optional: 1 tbsp orange or lemon zest
1 egg yolk with 1 tbsp water beaten together
Crunchy, Flakey Sea Salt such as Maldon or a Black Hawaiian
It is as “easy as this”:
1. In a food processor pulse together the almond meal, white whole wheat flour, brown sugar & salt just until blended. Add in the butter & pulse just until mixture is grainy looking. (this is when you would add the citrus zest if desired)
2. With the processor running drizzle in the ice water by tablespoons until a dough forms.
3. Turn dough out onto a work surface & shape into a disc. Wrap in plastic & chill at least 30 minutes before rolling out. When ready to bake the crackers preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
4. Remove dough from the refrigerator, place on a lightly floured board & knead a few times to soften somewhat before rolling out.
5. Roll dough out thinly to about 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into shapes using cookie cutters.. Gather up dough scraps & re-roll out thinly, cutting out more crackers until all the dough is used. Place cut out dough on parchment lined baking sheets.
6. Use a fork to press holes in the center of each shape. There really is a reason for this other than aesthetics. The holes allow steam to escape from the dough while baking. This makes for a flat cracker crispy cracker. Brush each lightly with the egg-water glaze & sprinkle sea salt lightly over all. Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown & crispy.
7. Let crackers cool completely before storing.
For gift giving stack in decorative boxes or tins, label & add a ribbon. Simple, melt in your mouth buttery deliciousness & as easy as that!
The Container Store, Target, Michael’s & JoAnn’s all have airtight tins and sturdy boxes made just for edible gifts as well as tons of sites on-line. I also often use brown lunch bags as I like the way they look. Use store-bought or homemade labels. I make mine using card stock & my printer or rubber stamps. Twine, ribbon, old silk fabric cut into strips all make beautiful ribbons. Just look around your kitchen….cereal boxes covered with paper….coffee tins painted or wrapped with pages from old cooking magazines…so many ways to make a gift special.