I don’t travel very far without gifts in hand during the holiday season. Especially when I’ve been invited to a holiday dinner or cocktail party, I always bring a little something special for the host.
This season I’ve been trying to come up with more creative ways to show my appreciation and stumbled upon the most fabulous gift. Have you heard of the Italian Olive Oil, Nudo? The coolest thing about this Olive Oil is they offer an adopt an olive tree program which allows people all over the world to adopt an Italian olive tree and receive its oil.
The programme involves a collaboration between a group of small scale, artisanal olive producers in Le Marche, Abruzzo and Sicily. Each olive farmer keeps responsibility for the care of their grove, and all the olive oil goes into the Nudo adoption programme. In giving financial security to the olive farmers, the programme makes viable the traditional farming methods which, quite simply,produce the world’s best olive oil.
How incredible is this? So I’ve been building hostess gifts with a bottle of their olive oil and pairing with a baguette and wheel of brie. I designed a little recipe card for baked brie to include with the gift and also included a little card explaining the history behind the Nudo Olive Oil and how to adopt an olive tree in Italy.
Earlier in the month my friend Laura gifted a bottle of Nudo Olive Oil to me (which is how I discovered this fabulous brand) and I have been using it all winter long. I have been topping on crostini and pasta making for an extra delicious appetizer or meal.
Please let us know what you’re gifting this year…we’d love to hear! We’re always looking for cool and creative new ideas over here.
The beautiful photos above were taken by Karilyn Sanders.
IF you are as OLD as I am you may remember this catchy tune about a miner’s daughter whose name was Clementine. Since I started writing this blog it seems that I can’t get that song outta my head so I’m going to share it with you as well to drive you crazy. Just click on this short video to sing along. And while you’re singing here’s a brief bio on a Clementine Orange: A clementine is a hybrid between a mandarin and a sweet orange. The exterior is a deep orange colour with a smooth, glossy appearance. Clementines can be separated into 7 to 14 segments. They tend to be very easy to peel, like a tangerine, but are almost always seedless with the exception of the odd one that I get with a pit.
My youngest child loves clementines. The picture below is titled “elephant face” and as you can see his artistic talent for peeling them into odd shapes are clearly stellar. Back to the clementines….you will notice them showing up at your local supermarket from mid-November through January. It’s the only time of year you can truly get a good clementine. Let’s just call it a Winter season bonus.
I’ve also given you a two versions of this orange cranberry cake to try – including a dairy free and gluten free one if you need that option for allergies. Oooooooo and I decided to take it to the next level and create a garnish for the cake with candied clementines. Stunning no?
Here’s how ya do it:
Version #1 – Clementine Cranberry Cake:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup orange juice
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
2 tablespoons grated clementine orange zest
1 cup orange juice
3/4 cup white sugar
Grease and flour an 8 inch bundt or tube pan. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together 1 cup of white sugar, 1/3 cup of orange juice, eggs, buttermilk and vegetable oil using an electric mixer or your stand mixer. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until moistened. Fold in cranberries and orange zest. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.
Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick is inserted into the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan set over a wire rack for 15 to 20 minutes. Invert cake onto serving dish and cool completely before glazing and garnishing.
Version #2 – Dairy and Gluten Free Candied Clementine & Cranberry Cake
¼ cup + 1 tbls Milk or any non-dairy substitute such as almond or soy
1 tsp lemon juice
2 cups packed almond flour
¾ cup starch (potato or arrowroot is fine)
½ cup organic sugar
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1/3 cup melted coconut oil (or melted butter or other oil is fine too)
2 large eggs
1 ¼ cup frozen or fresh cranberries
Zest of 2 clementines
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a small cake pan ( I used a 6 inch) with coconut oil or line with parchment paper. In a small bowl combine “milk” with lemon juice. Set aside for 5 minutes (you are creating your own mock buttermilk at this stage)…cool eh?
In a large bowl combine almond flour, starch, sugar, baking powder, salt and stir well. Add in the melted coconut oil, eggs and your mock buttermilk. Stir in cranberries and clementine zest. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth out surface. Bake for 40 minutes or until toothpick is inserted and comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes in pan and release onto plate to continue to cool completely.
Slice 6 clementines thinly. Bring one cup of water and 1 ¾ cups of sugar to a slow boil. Add in the clementines and simmer for 25 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon onto cooling rack and place in fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight.
1 ½ cups powdered icing sugar
Juice from 2 clementines
Sift sugar into bowl. Add 2 tbls of clementine juice and mix. Keep adding juice until you arrive at the consistency for a nice drippy glaze. You don’t want it too thick otherwise it will not pour over the edge of the cake. Spread on top to the edges and watch it roll!
Garnish with your candies clementines……..OH MY DARLING !!!
There are two things that I love about this recipe:
1. It’s a bite size nibble
2. It’s EASY!!!
It has all the makings of a gardenofeatin approved appetizer. Simple and tiny. Yay! Before I go on, let me briefly tell you about my issue with fresh garlic. I know what most of you are thinking …….how in the world can a person not LOVE GARLIC? This is the thing… I do but IT doesn’t love ME. I have tried eating it in many different forms and for some reason I end up tasting it and smelling like a garlic bulb for two solid days. Yuckalocious. In fact, when I wake up after eating it I look around the room to see who stinks and it’s usually ME. The same thing happens when I eat onions but that’s a whole other blogpost. I have managed to skirt around the option of using fresh garlic in my salad dressings but you don’t have to.
The recipe below has been a family favorite for years and because I use the “squeezy” garlic in the tube it doesn’t seem to bother me at all. Strange but true. You can adjust this recipe to suit your own tastes but a word of caution….you will become addicted to this dressing….so much so that you will be tempted to drink it. For a nice twist, I served the salad in baked wonton cups, which in my opinion are the best type of vessel for just about anything. I could stuff the world into a wonton cup and be happy. They are crisp, crunchy and are super stunning to serve as an easy starter or side dish.
1 package wonton wrappers – use 24
5 tablespoons garlic butter ( make your own or use a stick) – to make your own: ½ stick melted butter, a dash of parsley and ½ tsp garlic salt
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped finely (place in large bowl)
1 cup croutons (I make my own using dead bread…if you have any lying around in your freezer just cube it up, toss with a little olive oil, season it with salt and pepper or parmesan cheese and bake a 300F until crisp. (low and slow is the key here)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Grana Padano Cheese
*The Garden of Eatin’s dreamy creamy & skinny Caesar salad dressing (*recipe below)
nonstick cooking spray
Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray mini muffin tins with olive oil (I have a spray pump that I keep on the counter filled with extra virgin olive oil)
Melt the butter in microwavable safe dish and stir in garlic salt and parsley if you are making your own. Set aside.
Place each wrapper into a section of a mini-muffin tin. Gently press each wrapper into the tin and arrange so that it forms a cup shape. The wrapper will overlap itself and stick up out of the cup. Brush insides with the garlic butter and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until browned and crisp. (time may vary according to your oven, so keep a close eye on them) Remove from the tin and allow to cool while preparing salad)
The Garden of Eatin’s dreamy creamy & skinny Caesar dressing:
1/3 cup plain fat-free yogurt
2 tbls fresh lemon juice
1 tbls olive oil
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tbls honey – yes…honey…trust me.
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce (*note I can’t say this word….no matter how hard I try it comes out like “whatsthatheresauce” )
1 tsp anchovy paste (optional)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp cracked black pepper
1 fresh clove garlic minced OR if you are like me and can’t deal with the fresh just use 1 tsp of the one that comes in a tube
Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and give it a good whirl.
Drizzle Caesar salad dressing onto your romaine lettuce & croutons and toss until all pieces are coated.
Spoon salad mixture into cooled wonton cups and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese & slice grana padano cheese.
Are these not the cutest things ever?
See ya next week!
Hi guys, Mandy here.
I am going to let you in on a brunch classic that I have perfected over the past year.
Yes, it’s by Queen Martha Stewart herself, and it is divine.
Using delicious leeks and bright green asparagus, this recipe is pure comfort food.
This is actually a quiche recipe that I turned into mini frittatas to “lighten” the pastry load.
Did I mention I normally hate eggs?? I am a transformed woman.
If you are going to make a quiche simply use any tart (frozen or homemade) and proceed with the rest of the directions.
1 tablespoon butter
1 leek (white and light green parts only), halved and thinly sliced, then well washed
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 bunch (1 pound) asparagus, tough ends removed, thinly sliced on the diagonal
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups half-and-half
2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese
For quiche: 1 frozen pie tart
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in lowest position. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium. Add leek and asparagus; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until asparagus is crisp-tender, 6 to 8 minutes; let cool.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, 1/2 teaspoon salt, teaspoon pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg.
3. If you are making a quiche: Place pie crust on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with cheese; top with asparagus mixture. Pour egg mixture on top.
4. For the mini frittatas: assemble asparagus mixture into each ramekin, should fill about 12, top with cheese. Pour eggs almost to rim
5. Bake until center of quiche is just set, 50 to 60 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through. Let stand 15 minutes before serving. (For the individual frittatas you only need about 30-40, watch them for browning)