Cook With Me: Gifts of Granola, Ginger Vinegar, Limoncello, and Freekeh Mushroom Soup Mix

Cook With Me: Gifts of Granola, Ginger Vinegar, Limoncello, and Freekeh Mushroom Soup Mix

Cook With Me: Gifts of Granola, Ginger Vinegar, Limoncello, and Freekeh Mushroom Soup Mix
December 14, 2015
Are you going nuts trying to think of something to give? There's nothing more special than homemade gifts from the kitchen

The first recipe, granola, is the most extensive in terms of work, but worth it, I think. The others can be done in a short time; just needing a blender, jars and pre-planning for shopping for ingredients.  

I know you're busy so I won't fill in with stories and such. Just the Facts, er the recipes, Ma'm. 

Candied Ginger and Berry Cherry Granola 

makes 20 (2 cup) bags or tins

12 tablespoons coconut oil
12 cup combo of walnuts and pecans or unsweetened coconut 
10 cup combo of salted pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds
1 pint each sweet dreams brown rice syrup and barley malt syrup (substitute honey if you want a sweeter granola) 

30 cups or a bag each organic kamut and barley puffs
4 cups organic rolled oats

8 cup combo of dried cherries and berry blend
2 cups chopped candied ginger

preheat oven to 350 degrees
line 2 full-size or 4 half-size sheet pans with parchment paper and set aside

heat the coconut oil in a large deep pan (you might need two large turkey roasting pans) heat over medium heat and when hot stir in the nuts (hold off adding the coconut) and seeds. stir well and toast lightly.

turn the heat off and stir in the syrups, when well mixed then add in the coconut, dried fruit and candied ginger, stirring well again. finally add in the puffs, 1 bag at a time, and the rolled oats, and stir until all is well combined and coated. divide between the two parchment lined sheet pans  and bake for 12 minutes, stirring once. remove from oven and let cool. package for gifts in zip-lock bags and then in decorative bags or cookie tins. 

Cayenne Pepper and Ginger Vinegar

for a recent pig-picking we made al carson's original recipe for secret sauce. it was killer and so easy. but then as i had these cayenne peppers from the garden bottled in vinegar for a couple of months in the fridge, i thought and i thought, till my puzzler was sore. and then voila!  

1 quart pickled cayenne or jalapeno peppers in vinegar 
3/4 cups firmly-packed brown sugar
1/4 cup salt
2 4-inch hands of ginger with the vinegar, sliced

process the peppers with their vinegar in a blender. do the same with the ginger slices. be very careful as the fumes themselves with the vinegar can make you cough. place the contents of the blender in a large stainless-steel pot over medium-high heat, bring to a boil. reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. remove from heat.

ladle into jars while still hot. fill within 1/2 inch of the top. seal and turn the jars upside down. by bottling hot, it will seal itself. does not need refrigeration until after opening and then only to protect flavor.

this sauce can be pretty fierce, but the sweetness gives it a good balance. 
Don't Freekeh - Mushroom Soup Mix in a Jar  

Inspired by a visit to Stone Barns Agricultural Center in New York in May. We learned about Freekeh, a roasted green wheat. 

makes 2 quart gift jars - or 4 pint jars

1 1/2 pounds lentils 
1 1/2 pounds freekeh
1 cup dried mushrooms
1/4 cup dried shallots
1 tablespoon each cumin, caraway, and anise or fennel seed

make a label and include these instructions to make the soup

additional ingredients: minced fresh garlic to taste and 1 quart water or stock. to prepare soup: bring water or stock to a boil in a large pot over medium high heat, add soup mix plus fresh garlic. bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. cover, and simmer for 45 minutes, or until lentils and freekeh are tender.

Limoncello with Cherry and Tarragon

10 lemons
1 (750-ml) bottle vodka or everclear
3 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 large bunch tarragon
1 cup dried cherries

remove the peel from the lemons in long strips (reserve the lemons for the chutney).

trim away the white pith from the lemon peels; discard the pith.

place the lemon peels and the tarragon in a 2-quart jar. pour the vodka over the peels and screw on the lid. steep the lemon peels in the vodka for 4 days at room temperature.

stir the water and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. cool completely. pour the sugar syrup over the vodka mixture. cover and let stand at room temperature overnight.

strain the limoncello through a mesh strainer. discard the peels and tarragon. add the cherries and transfer the limoncello to bottles.

seal the bottles and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours and up to 1 month.