Spicy Pickled Grapes (the New Olive) for Your Holiday Cheese Plate – E.A.T #20

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You know how you hear about something that is so easy you wonder why you never thought of it? This happens to me all the time. “Pickled Grapes” is one of those things. I first heard about them on two different NPR programs within one week. Touted as the “new olive” for a cheese plate I was so intrigued I had to see for myself. The how-to is child’s play for the novice or seasoned cook. The finished cold, crisp, spicy pickled grapes are divine served with a few well-chosen cheeses for a Holiday cheese platter. It is all as “easy-as-this”.

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Gather a few clean, dry pint size glass jars with lids…seedless grapes…a few spices & vinegar and your ready to go.

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Grapes rinsed & drained then packed into jars and covered with hot, spicy vinegar mix…cooled to room temp, lids added and then jars chilled….ready to eat. 30 minutes start to finish! They will keep in refrigerator for a few weeks. Good food gifts for friends who don’t like olives as well.

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Some suggested cheeses – Point Reyes Blue Cheese, Raclette 5 Peppercorns, Reypemaer Gouda. All have a unique flavor and texture and are complimented by the “new olive”…the ‘pickled grape”! It’s as “easy-as-this”.

Pickled Grapes

  • Difficulty: veryeasy
  • Print

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Ingredients:

  • Seedless Grapes – Red and/or Green, rinsed & drained, pulled from stems, enough to fill 4 or five jars – 6 cups?
  • 2 1/2 cups white wine vinegar
  • 3 garlic gloves crushed and then minced
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons rosemary leaves from fresh stems + a few extra stems for jars
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons crushed red chili pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. Fill glass jars with grapes.
  2. Bring wine vinegar, garlic, sea salt, sugar, rosemary leaves & red pepper flakes to a low boil and then turn to simmer, stirring for a few minutes to dissolve salt & sugar. Remove from heat. Stir in a few rosemary sprigs.
  3. Immediately pour hot mixture over grapes in jars. Nestle sprigs of rosemary down into jars
  4. Loosely cover jars and let cool to room temperature. Then cover with tight-fitting lids and store in refrigerator until ready to use. You can eat within an hour or keep for up to a few weeks in the refrigerator.
  5. These are amazing and refreshing and everything delicious to serve with cheese & crackers or toss in a salad.

Notes: Other ideas to try when making the next batch…fresh thyme sprigs, red wine vinegar, whole garlic cloves…I bet you have some of your own ideas.

Based on recipes jotted down while listening to NPR shows.

Teresa Blackburn    www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com

Chocolate-Chai Pistachio Tea Cookies – Great Food Bloggers Cookie Swap 2015 – Holiday Gift Giving Idea

December 2nd! Cookies baked….cookies boxed…tags made… decorations added to  boxes…post office! (Thanks Brad) Once again it is time to join all the 1000’s of other bloggers participating in the 2015 Great Food Bloggers Cookies for Kid’s Cancer fundraiser. Just another reason to celebrate this time of year…having fun and helping.

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A big hi y’all from downtown Nashville, Tennessee to my 3 new food blogger friends who will receive a tin of cookies from Food on Fifth. Please go over and check out their blogs, see what they are up to and give them a shout.

Lisa Lotts at http://www.garlicandzest.com

Aimee Broussard at http://aimeebroussard.com

Allison Day at http://blog.fridgg.com

This year my cookie is a simple, easy slice and bake “Chocolate-Chai Pistachio Tea Cookie”.

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I get all my ingredients measured and ready before I start baking. Quickly assembled and chilled this dough is easy to slice. I love the green of the pistachios  against the chocolate.

Before…..

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….after baking.

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This little not-too-sweet cookie is great with a cup of hot tea, which I had while packing up cookies to mail. Notice the sanding sugar…adds just a bit of crunch.

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 I like creative packaging that has a homemade, yet stylish look. This year I added my small collage “art cards” inside each tin and tied my business card with twine around the outside. Yes, those little squares with a hole punched into the corner are my business cards!

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These incredibly fun cards with my name and info on back & a different instagram photos on the front…each one a different food photo… I have printed at Social Print Studio, a fabulous online site.DSC_0013

Thanks to Lindsay http://www.loveandoliveoil.com/ and Julie http://www.thelittlekitchen.net/ for organizing this yearly fundraiser and for inviting all of us to participate in this good, “sweet” cause.

Chocolate-Chai Pistachio Tea Cookies

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 6 Tbsp good quality cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp instant chai
  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup shelled, unsalted pistachios
  • sanding/decorating sugar

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer cream together the butter, sugar and salt until well mixed.
  2. Add egg and blend well, scraping down side of bowl when need be.
  3. Add cocoa powder & chai to mixture blending until well incorporated.
  4. Add flour, a few tablespoons at a time, with mixer on low until blended. Dough will be stiff.
  5. With mixer on low add pistachios. Scrape cookie dough out onto a work surface and knead together. Divide dough in thirds and form into  3 cylinders, each about 8 to 10 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. Wrap each in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour before slicing.
  6. Preheat oven to 375. Cut chilled dough into 1/4″ slices and bake on sheet pans lined with parchment paper.spacing  1″ apart for 12-15 minutes. Immediately out of the oven sprinkle cookies generously with sanding/decorating sugar. Cool cookie completely on wire racks.
  7. To gift: place in tins or boxes with parchment paper sheets between layers.
  8. These cookies will keep for days in a sealed container and are just delicious with a cup of hot tea or milky coffee.  A not-too-sweet cookie with lots of chocolate-chai flavor!

Teresa Blackburn   http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com    www.foodonfifth.com

Chipotle-Dark Chocolate Studded with Pistachios, Almonds, Sea Salt, Espresso Powder & Cocoa Nibs – Edible Gift Giving 2015

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Holiday gift giving 2015 will soon be in full swing and there are so many ways to make it easier and more personal. I am not much for shopping but I do love to make things. This is the first in a series I will post every so often during November and December. Easy edible food gifts to help get you through the Holidays with a sense of well-being and sharing.

My recipe, if you want to call it that, for “Chipotle-Dark Chocolate Studded with Pistachios, Cocoa-coated Almonds, Sea Salt, Espresso Powder & Cocoa Nibs/Cacao Nibs” is amazingly easy. It takes no special skills and it allows for lots of experimentation. The time for this batch was about 15 minutes! It doesn’t get any better than that! Don’t you feel more relaxed already?

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Olive and Sinclair Mexican Chocolate bars melted with some Nestle’s Semi Sweet Chocolate Morsels in the top of a double boiler….

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…poured out on a flat pan covered with parchment paper & spread around with a rubber spatula….

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…dusted & studded with toppings.

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A quick chill in the freezer for about 10 minutes and it is ready to break up into bite-size pieces.

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The dusting of chipotle chili and dark espresso powders give this chocolate an indulgently intense flavor that will appeal to all your chocolate obsessed friends.

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Place pieces in decorative tins or boxes for gift giving. Great host or hostess gifts.

Chipotle-Dark Chocolate Studded with Pistachios, Almonds, Sea Salt, Espresso Powder & Cocoa Nibs - Edible Gift Giving 2015

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Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces Olive & Sinclair Mexican Chocolate Bars (or any other bittersweet chocolate)
  • 8 ounces Nestles semi-sweet chocolate chips (or other brand)
  • Chipotle Powder to taste
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, rough chopped
  • 1/2 cup cocoa covered whole almonds or regular almonds, rough chopped
  • 1 to 2 tbsp instant espresso powder
  • flakey sea salt such as Maldon
  • 2 tbsp cocoa nibs (optional)

Directions:

  1. Line a sheet pan with parchment. Gather and prep all ingredients before you start melting the chocolate.
  2. Melt chocolate in the top of double boiler pan until smooth and without any lumps.
  3. Remove from heat, wipe pan bottom with a kitchen towel and pour/scrape melted chocolate out onto the parchment paper. Smooth with a dry rubber spatula.
  4. Dust over the entire surface with chipotle powder. More or less to fit your palate. I like more.
  5. Dust with the espresso powder and sprinkle with pistachios, almonds, sea salt & cocoa nibs generously. Press larger nut pieces down into chocolate gently with fingers.
  6. Place pan in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes. Remove when chocolate is hard, break into pieces. Store pieces in airtight containers. Best made and gifted within a couple of days.

Note: I made this up on a whim using what I had in my pantry, but you can totally experiment and add chopped dried fruit, coconut flakes, white chocolate chips, black pepper, etc…

Teresa Blackburn     teresablackburnfoodstyling.com      foodonfifth.com

“Pear Infused Vodka” Holiday Gift Idea / E.A.T. #11

Homemade Pear Infused Vodka

I don’t want to bring this up while you are out shopping for Trick or Treat candy,  but I feel I must. It is getting close to the Holidays…Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa….all those gift-giving celebrations. This week is Halloween, one month from now is Thanksgiving and in two months it will be Christmas. Dios Mios!

For my November & December blog posts I am going to share some of my ideas for making gifts for friends & family who really love all things homemade…comestibles, libations & gifts with a personal touch that are easily made with just a bit of kitchen & crafting know-how. This “Pear Infused Vodka” is an easy one for friends who like to show off their bar tending skills.

If you get started this week you can have bottles capped, labeled & beribboned for gift-giving within 1 month. Subtle hint of pears for martinis, cocktails or over ice…Holiday perfect!

Pear Cocktail Recipe

Pear Infused Vodka over ice

Let’s get busy, it’s as Easy As This……

A large bottle of your favorite Vodka…is this case it matters!

A 1/2 gallon jar with a tight-fitting lid & just enough smallish pears to fill jar. The markets are full of pears right now. (These were the last pears from my backyard tree in August.)

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Fill jar with rinsed & patted dry pears. Add vodka to cover pears.

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Place the lid on the jar, store in a cool place such as closet floor,  and wait…..2 weeks to 1 month will be fine. Label jar with the date you start just to easily keep up with it. Every now and them turn the jar upside down a few times. You will notice the vodka will start to turn a very delicate pale pink color. There may be a bit of sediment in the jar. That is okay as you will strain the vodka right before bottling. This is what it looks like after a month.

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While the vodka is melding with the pears, hunt & gather your bottling needs. You will need small glass bottles which can be ones you have recycled, or you can order from the internet, purchase at craft supply stores, or if you live in Nashville from All Season’s Gardening & Brewing Supply Company. I have talked about their store in other posts where I have shown how to make & bottle Limoncello or Orangecello, which by the way would make fantastic gifts. They are a great source for bottles, caps, inexpensive cappers, corks,  and all things gardening & brewing. My bright red bottle capper is one of my favorite tools for making and storing homemade liqueurs or flavored liquors.

Pear Vodka Bottling

Strain Vodka through a fine mesh sieve into a measuring cup. Toss out pears & sediment. Use a funnel to fill bottles. Cork or cap to seal.

Simple Bottle CapperCapping bottles

You will also want tags/labels, ribbon or twine, decorative stamps or pens for embellishments. Use what you have or make what you need!

Tags, stamps & ink

Keep your Holidays as “Easy As This”.

“Veritable Vanilla” EAT #5

Vanilla Extract, Homemade, Gifts

I have a front hall closet where one can find many things “brewing”. It is a veritable laboratory for making Limoncello, Blood Orangecello, Poire William & Vanilla Extract.  It is the gifting time of year and what better gift to bestow on fellow cooks than a bottle of homemade vanilla extract?

The only tricky part is planning ahead. I started this batch a few months ago, every so often stopping by to give it a shake. Otherwise it just sat in the dark steeping…getting darker by the week. It is as “easy as this”…..

Easy Vanilla Extract

It’s December 15 and it is time…to decant, label & do a little gift-giving.

Simple recipe:

1 liter of vodka, about 10-15 vanilla beans split & a few months

1. Place split vanilla beans down into bottle of vodka. Replace lid & shake. Place in dark closet or cabinet & shake about once a week. I waited 6 months to decant. I started this batch in July. Every week the extract darken and gets a richer looking color.

Handmade Vanilla Extract

2. Decant carefully into glass bottles that have been sterilized in boiling water & air-dried. Add a tight-fitting lid. (My extract was very “clean” so I did not strain it, but you can add this step if you have lots of particulates in the liquid.

(There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of recipes on the internet for making your own vanilla extract. My recipe is easy but there are many other good easy recipes available that might suit you better…or make up your own.)

Bottling Homemade Vanilla Extract

Simple Gift Labeling

I made labels with a simple roller alphabet stamp (on-line/Paper Source) & plain brown tags. I “sealed” the top of the bottles with sticky backed decorative tape (Martha Stewart at Michaels).

Making Vanilla Extract

I know that for the most part Vanilla should be stored in dark bottles, but as most folks keep their extracts in a cabinet or pantry I used these pretty clear bottles I already had. You can also find a large assortment of dark bottles at The Container Store if you prefer.

…make it, bake it…give it this Holiday….it’s “easy as that”