Elegant Food Gifts Requiring Minimal Cooking
If you want nothing to do with cooking whatsoever, check out Elegant Food Gifts That Require No Baking. On this page, instead, we offer a few suggestions for favorite, easy food gifts that even beginning cooks can make and share.
Note: For central Kentuckians—lucky us—ingredients that may seem exotic are likely to be available at modest prices at Good Foods Coop.
- Dark Chocolate Bark with Pistachios, Sweetened Dried Cherries, and Pumpkin Seeds, from O Magazine, 2008. This recipe offers specific guidance, uses interesting and yet findable ingredients, and makes recipients really happy. Unsweetened dried cherries and dried cranberries work well in place of the sweetened dried cherries.
- Spiced Nuts, a marvelous savory-sweet-salty-crunchy concoction from Martha Stewart.
- Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix. Three good options of many you can find and try: Smitten Kitchen's Decadent Hot Chocolate Mix, Martha Stewart's 3-ingredient Homemade Hot Chocolate mix, and Cook's Illustrated's Hot Chocolate Mix (the basic recipe is free; the tasty-sounding variations require more commitment.)
Public Service Announcement: Although homemade marshmallows don't belong on a "minimal cooking" page, we must point out that if you are brave, experienced, or lucky enough to have a savvy cook as a friend, you may thank us later for pointing you to the ur-source for all things marshmallow: BraveTart's Vanilla Bean Marshmallows recipe (with variations.)
- Homemade Basic Country Mustard, a recipe developed by Hank Shaw of Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook. This delicious, uncooked condiment serves as Rona's house mustard. It takes longer to read the description and instructions than to stir the ingredients together.
A few mustardy tips:
> The completed mustard needs a few days to mellow, and gets even better with more age.
> White wine vinegar or sherry vinegar is a good choice for the liquid.
> To grind the mustard seeds, use your coffee grinder unless you have a dedicated spice grinder. To keep the mustard seeds from tasting like coffee, unplug the grinder, wipe it out thoroughly, plug it back in, and grind 2-3 tablespoons white rice in it until fine. Unplug and wipe again, and you should have a clean grinder. Clean with rice one more time to remove the mustard residue, unless you want your next cup of coffee to be really interesting.
>For special winter holiday cachet, soften a handful of dried cranberries in very hot water for 30 minutes. Drain thoroughly and pat dry with a cloth or paper towel. Chop very fine and add to the mustard.