Unique Gifts for your Foodie Friends

We all have those people in our lives.  Those people who have more than a casual interest in food.  People whose ideal date is going to a different restaurant and ordering something they’ve never tried before and rave about it for hours after.  People who don’t know how to bring a normal casserole to a pot luck dinner and make something with quinoa instead.  My husband and I are those people for our friends.  We love to cook, eat, and talk about food.  Possibly to the great boredom of everyone around us, but hey…that’s why we married each other.

For our wedding, a dear friend of mine gave us the most interesting gift we received from anyone.  She adopted an olive tree in Italy for us!  You’re probably thinking ok…what do you do with an adopted olive tree?  Nothing except sit back and wait for the fresh olive oil that is shipped to your door!  Our olive oil from our little olive tree made it the house today, and I am beyond excited to use it!  This gift has inspired me to share with you a few unique gift ideas for the foodies in your life.

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Nudo Adopt : Gift adopt an olive tree or a tea garden and allow your friends to reap the benefits of the harvest while supporting local artisanal producers.

Kitchen Box

A Kitchen Box : The monthly subscription for the curious cook.  Each box comes with unique recipes and ingredients plus a matching playlist!

SF Cooking School

A Cooking Class : Check in with local grocers for amazing classes or give them a more professional experience with someone like the San Francisco Cooking School.

Classic Cookbooks

Juniper Books’ Classic Cookbook Set (or for the more adventurous cooks, make your own set from Juniper’s list) : I love all the cookbook set options Juniper Books offers.  They have everything from a classic set to a make your own set.  They even have the Goop Cookbook Set for the couple to join in on GP’s cookbook club.  Ok that last one is more for me than my husband but hey, he still gets good food…

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Peanut Butter + Chocolate Chunk Cookies

To me, the perfect peanut butter cookie is one that’s soft, heavy on the peanut butter, and riddled with milk chocolate chunks.  This recipe is a twist on a recipe by the wonderful Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery in Boston.  If you don’t have her cookbook, I strongly suggest you pick one up.  Everything I have made from her book has been amazing.

Ingredients
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups (454 g) chunky peanut butter
  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 bag (11.5 oz) Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips
Directions

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, granulated sugar, and light brown sugar on medium speed for about 5 minutes or until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla until thoroughly combined.  You will need to scrape the bowl from time to time to make sure all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.  On medium-low speed, beat in the peanut butter until thoroughly combined, about 2 minutes.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, salt, and chocolate chips until well mixed.  On low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture.  Mix until the dry ingredients are thoroughly incorporated with the wet ingredients.

Using a cookie scoop, drop the dough onto a baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart.  I use a small cookie scoop, so I use two scoops per cookie to get my desired size.  You may work this out as you please but understand that baking times may vary.  Flatten each ball slightly with the palm of your hand.

Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350°, or until the edges of the cookies are golden brown.  Do not overcook!  These cookies are meant to be soft and chewy.  Let cool on a wire rack.  While each batch is baking, store the remaining dough covered in the refrigerator until all the dough is used.  Joanne Chang recommends you store the dough in an airtight container overnight before baking, but I just can’t wait that long.  I promise these are good enough, although you are welcome to wait if you like!

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Dinner Party Must: Clam Pasta

Recent experience has taught me that when planning a small dinner party, sometimes simplicity is key.  Simplicity doesn’t have to mean tasteless, though.  My mother-in-law taught me this recipe for clam pasta that is easy yet anything but boring when it comes to flavor.  The best part?  It easily serves a 4-6 people without breaking the bank or taking up all your time.  Serve it with a green salad and some classic garlic bread, and you’re good to go!

Clam Pasta

Ingredients:

1 head garlic, finely chopped

2 cans chopped clams

1 box whole wheat spaghetti

2 cans diced tomatoes with Italian herbs

1 cup white wine

Red pepper flakes, to taste

Olive oil

Kosher salt

Instructions:

  1. Finely mince the entire head of garlic.
  2. Open clams and drain the juice into a separate bowl for later use.
  3. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil for pasta.  When water boils, cook pasta according to box directions.
  4. Meanwhile, in a large enamel pot or coated skillet, heat olive oil on medium heat.  Use enough oil to coat the bottom of your pot.
  5. Saute garlic.  Be careful not to over-brown.
  6. Turn heat on high and add diced tomatoes, white wine, and clam juice.  Add red pepper flakes to taste.  Bring sauce to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Cook sauce down until it is slightly thicker than when you started.  This is not meant to be a thick sauce.  It is only meant to lightly coat the pasta.
  7. When pasta is done cooking, drain and return to pot.  Add the clam sauce and clams.  Toss to coat.

Notes:

*You can’t have too much garlic in this recipe, so don’t be alarmed by the amount.

*If your sauce is done well before the pasta, lower the heat and let simmer until pasta is ready.

*Try very hard not to let the pasta be done before the sauce.  Pasta soaks up the sauce best right after it is drained.

*Once cooked, the pasta dish comes together very quickly, so it is best to have all your other sides complete before starting the pasta so it can be served hot.

Enjoy!