Local Options: Alejandra’s Gift Guide for the Food Lover in Your Life

Buying gifts for your favorite food-minded friend can be both overwhelming and vexing. Us food folks can be intimidating.

What with our pickiness over restaurants, selective snobbery when it comes to things like booze, beer and coffee and who the heck knows what new gadget we’re oogling over in our kitchen this week! Worry not, I’ve got you covered.

No gift certificates to random restaurants you’ve never set foot in! No bags of “locally sourced, organic, farm fresh, hand milled” flour someone on Twitter told you makes great bread. These are real deal gifts you can give food lovers (not just foodies…but people who, you know, like to eat) and feel good about! Purchase and wrap with pride this year, you are going to be everyone’s favorite gift giver!

For The Home Cook With A Cookbook Library The Size Of The Library Of Congress

This is easier than you think. This is a selection of my favorite (read: go-to) cookbooks from the Big Timers and the Big Timers Who Happen To Be Local. Each of these cookbooks can be purchased at Kramerbooks in Dupont Circle.

  • Serve Yourself by Joe Yonan, the food editor at The Washington Post is all about cooking for one. Nab it for your solo living pal who still loves to eat well!
  • The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters is a bullseye for that farmers market fanatic in your life. It’s all about real, good food done simply (and deliciously).
  • Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi is for both the always and sometimes vegetarian in your life… 120 vegetarian recipes, all crafted by someone who still likes meat means there’s creativity with an eye for substance.
  • The Glorious Pasta of Italy by Domenica Marchetti is for that carb-hound in  your life. That girlfriend who grabs for the bread basket, loves Pasta Mia and shuns jars of Ragu? This is for her. (Domenica also happens to be a DC local, so I extra love the idea of supporting local talent!)
  • Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan is for your foodie boss or friend who loves spots like Proof, Estadio and Rasika but loves to play around in the kitchen. They’re not afraid to give an “intermediate” recipe a whirl.

To read the rest of my gift guide, visit Borderstan. 

Guest Post: Oreo Balls

This is a guest post from my co-worker and good friend Dave. If you remember the Cran-Orange Scones I made…it was Dave’s tried and true recipe that I used. I tweeted out that I’d had Dave’s Oreo Balls for breakfast one day last week and it was met with such enthusiasm (and some jealousy) that I asked him to guest post! Here we go:

Mmmm! Dave's Oreo Balls!

 

Like many of my friends, I learned a lot of my culinary skills from my mom.  While I’ve tried (and mostly succeeded) a number of her recipes, the one I’m most proud of are the Oreo Balls.

Let it be known that this is not an original from my mom (I’ve seen other recipes online), but it is easy, fun and a real crowd pleaser (just ask my office mates)

  • 1 package of Oreos
  • 1 block of cream cheese (softened)
  • 1-2 bags of semi-sweet morsels

Before the ball making begins, line either a cookie sheet, or whatever pan would fit into your freezer, with wax paper and set aside.

In a food processor (very helpful but you could use a rolling pin if that’s all you have) grind the whole package of Oreos into as fine a texture as possible (no large chunks please).

Add the softened cream cheese to the bowl and start mixing.  I’ve found this to be much easier with my stand mixer, but the hand held one worked great for years.  You’ll want a smooth, shiny texture to the mix.

Using a round teaspoon, scoop a full amount of the mixture into your hand, rolling it into a round ball.  Place onto the wax paper lined pan.  Continue this until your pan is full or you’re out of the Oreo mixture.  Freeze the balls.  Overnight is preferred but if you’re short on time, three hours will do.

After the frozen stage, melt your morsels either in a double broiler or in a glass bowl in the microwave.  You’re looking for a smooth consistency.  Get ready, ‘cause it’s time to dip your balls!

The rest of the directions are after the jump!

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Thanksgiving Wrap Up

I know, I’m way late in posting this…sorry : \

I have a confession. I don’t really love all the traditional Thanksgiving fare. I enjoy gratins, veggies prepared various ways and I certainly enjoy desserts. But I’ve never been a huge fan of turkey, cranberry sauce or traditional bread stuffing.

Thanksgiving Hostesses

What I do love is a gathering of happy, friendly faces – each with a glass of their chosen libation in hand. I enjoy a room full of chatter and laughter. I enjoy people eating – preferably my food and preferably they’re enjoying it.

What I love even more is when tradition is thrown completely out the window and people go for something so unique to their family it becomes a tradition to break tradition. This is my family. Mostly on Christmas though. Years ago, I convinced my mother to do a Mexican food-only Christmas dinner. My father grumbles annually, but in the end we’re always glad we did it. She makes amazing tacos!

I’m posting my crew’s Thanksgiving menu because there were some truly great dishes…but mostly because I’m a food blogger. Next year, I think I’m going to buck tradition, no matter the size of the group, and make different things…maybe things I grew up with, or just favorites I’ve acquired over time.

Thanksgiving Menu 2010

It was such a lovely meal. And clearly, we had a good time with each other :)

Thanksgiving 2010 Crew

Christmas Is For Candy Canes

There’s a story to these little delights! I grew up baking with my mom pretty often (I’ll address this more later)…and one of the many recipes in her big box of recipes was a recipe for candy cane cookies. We tried to make these twisty gems over a few years but they never worked out. Chemist and pastry chef I am not, so I can’t tell you if there wasn’t enough baking soda, or too much flour, etc.

But about two years ago, for the heck of it, I hopped on FoodNetwork.com and poked around to see if another such recipe existed. Well, lo and behold, it did! Sandra Lee of Semi-Homemade fame had tackled the candy cane challenge with a recipe worth tackling.

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