Everyday Gourmet11/26/08

Nov. 26, 2008

Black Friday in the kitchen

By Kim Dannies

No smack-down shopping in the superstores for me on Black Friday — I’ve declared this a retail-free season.

Instead, I’m preparing and sharing delicious consumables for family and friends. Friday will be a culinary cooperative in the kitchen whipping up gingerbread house parts, soups and sweet treats with my mom, sisters and kids. I found cute containers and bags at the craft store and deli to package and store the goodies. For my quick hit gifts, I find holiday-themed cellophane bags perfect for filling with pistachio nuts, trail mix or homemade granola: pop on a big, bright bow, and it’s a treat good to go anywhere.

There are several food-gift recipes on my Web site (kimdannies.com) that have become holiday classics over the years: gingerbread houses (Nov. 25, 2004); cream cheese sugar cookies (Dec. 18, 2003); chocolate almond bark (Dec. 9, 2004); Green Mountain chocolate chip cookies — I freeze the dough in quart containers (Oct. 13, 2005); healthy holiday quick breads (Nov. 20, 2003); crunchy granola (March 13, 2003); and BBQ marriage sauce (July 22, 2004). I guarantee that loved ones will be thrilled with any one of these mouthwatering treats.

Last year, pal Sherri George made these fragrantly delicious vanilla nuts for friends, and I loved them so much I’m adding them to my repertoire this season.

Vanilla nuts

You’ll need: 1 pound of walnut halves; 3 tablespoons of corn oil; 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract; 1/2 cup of sugar; 1/4 teaspoon each of ground coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice and salt; 1/8 teaspoon of white pepper.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Bring a large pan of water to a boil. Blanch walnuts 1 minute. Drain well. Transfer to a bowl. Blend corn oil with vanilla extract. Pour over hot nuts. Sprinkle in sugar and toss to mix well. Let stand 10 minutes. Arrange nuts on a rimmed baking tray. Bake 30 to 35 minutes until nuts are light brown and crispy. Stir nuts a few times during baking. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl. When nuts are done baking, transfer to a large bowl while still hot. Toss with seasoning mixture. Return to baking sheet and spread in a single layer to cool. Serve at room temperature. (Double or triple the batch.)

Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three college-aged daughters. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to kimdannies.com.