They say it’s the thought that counts, but when it comes to holiday food gifts, taste matters, too. Maybe this is the year to retire that old familiar cookie or quick-bread recipe and cook up something fresh for the folks on your gift list. We’ve assembled a collection of recipes that prove homemade doesn’t have to mean ho-hum.
Associated Press food editor J.M. Hirsch set out to create an edible gift that was fast, easy, inexpensive and kid-friendly to make. His solution: flavored finishing salts. He developed two versions, a powdered one for use on popcorn and a flaked one for sprinkling on finished foods.
Movie theater popcorn tends to be perfectly salted, Hirsch notes, because vendors use powdered salt that adheres well. His version starts with inexpensive kosher salt that’s run through a food processor or blender until it’s the texture of powdered sugar. His flake salts begin with pricier flaked sea salt.
Chef and public television host Sara Moulton gives the holiday gift mix a flavor and nutrition upgrade with her Flaxseed Pancake Mix. Made with a blend of whole-wheat and all-purpose flours and flax meal, it has a hearty, nutty taste and 4 grams of fiber per serving.
Moulton recommends packaging it in a canning jar, attaching a label and recipe with a ribbon and, for those extra-special recipients, adding a small package of dried fruit or a bottle of real maple syrup.
The recipes here take the classic quick-bread formula — flour, leavening, liquid —and amps it up with unexpected flavors:
• Corn and Bacon Loaf jazzes up the title ingredients with sharp Cheddar, chives and a hit of cayenne.
• Earl Grey Tea Loaf steeps dried fruit in the tea of the same name, and turns another batch of sweetened tea into a drizzling syrup.
• Polenta Loaf With Rosemary, Parmesan and Olive Oil combines favorite Italian flavors.