For the next month, since the holidays (unbelievably) are upon us, I’ll be adding some easy (and not-so-easy-but-worth-it) recipes for gifts from the kitchen. There are few things more personal than receiving a gift that was painstakingly created by someone in their kitchen. It could be something they created themselves, or be a treasured recipe that’s been in the family for 3 generations – either way, it connects people in a very special way. Gifts from the kitchen are great in any season, but I particularly love to make food gifts for the holidays.
A bonus: it’s a wonderful thing to do with your kids, your grandkids, your nieces/nephews or just some kids you know in your neighborhood. It’s a great way to engage children on where our food comes from and remind them that some of the best gifts actually aren’t bought over the internet or at the mall. And, as a bonus, it makes the child a part of the gift experience; I can guarantee they’ll be excited to be able to say they helped too! (The Shake and Bake commercial from the 60’s where the little girls in the ad say “And we helped!!” is emblazoned on my memory.)
But before I go any further, I should do a shout-out to my husband that this does not mean I want a jar of pickles you made for me for Christmas this year. Not unless there are earrings in that pickle jar. 🙂 OK. ‘Nuff said.
I’ll start this Gifts From The Kitchen series with a nice and easy recipe for an infused olive oil. It’s so easy to infuse olive oils, and they make for such a nice gift any time of year – as a great hostess gift, for example. Infused oils you’ve made in your own kitchen have a freshness to them, and you have ultimate control for how much flavor you want to infuse. Rosemary olive oil is one of the easiest, I think, although I’ve done basil, garlic and hot pepper with great success too.
Keep in mind that the container is part of the gift, so look around for some pretty jars: Cost Plus, The Container Store, Crate and Barrel, Michael’s Arts and Crafts, and Sur La Table are all good places to look.
A nice touch is to tie some ribbon or cord around the jar, laced through a card with an easy recipe on it like the Smashed Potatoes (recipe below).
Rosemary Olive Oil
- Use a good olive oil so that the rosemary flavor comes through loud and clear.
- I don’t recommend leaving the rosemary in the oil for much more than 3 days, as the herb will start to degrade noticeably and affect the flavor.
- 2 cups very good extra virgin olive oil
- 2 – 3 very large sprigs of rosemary, well washed
- Pour the olive oil into a jar.
- Break down the rosemary sprigs into several pieces that can easily fit into the jar and be completely submerged in the oil. Don’t include any thick woody stems.
- Put a lid on the jar and set in a cool dark place in your kitchen for up to 3 days. Feel free to taste-test the with a small piece of bread after the first day and everyday afterwards until the rosemary infusion reaches the level you prefer.
- Strain out the rosemary and discard. Pour the olive oil into a pretty jar.
- This recipe is a great vehicle for specialty salts as well as the Rosemary Olive Oil! My favorite for this recipe: truffle salt.
- Finishing the potatoes in the oven gives a crispy edge to the potatoes, making this a stand out dish!
- I like to finish this dish off with a light sprinkle of Maldon salt flakes as they’re so pretty sitting on the red skin of the potato.
- Red Potatoes
- Rosemary olive oil
- Coarse ground black pepper
- Place the red potatoes in a pot of water, bring to a boil, and simmer until tender (10-20 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes).
- Allow to cool for 15 minutes and smash. If you smash when they’re still very hot, they tend to fall apart.
- Turn on the broiler. Drizzle the smashed potatoes with rosemary olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and put under the broiler for 2 -3 minutes to crisp them up.
- Drizzle with a little more rosemary olive oil, a last sprinkling of salt and pepper and serve hot.