Honey. Doesn’t the thought of it just make you feel calm? We need a bit of calm right now, and that’s why I’m here. Sit on down with a mug of tea, or just take a deep breath, and read this post because first I’m going to give you an awesomely easy recipe and then I’m going to remind you of all the delicious things you can make as gifts that will be much more appreciated than whatever you’re going to wrestle from the stores in a last minute frenzy. It’s time to look to your cupboards for sanity now. Breathe in, breathe out. ‘Tis the season to give everyone a break, including yourself.
This recipe came from Bon Appetit a while back. They say to “drizzle this fragrant honey over your favorite cheese, or use it as a condiment on prosciutto panini.” I say it is also amazing with cambozola or any brie like cheese, makes a mean pizza or bruschetta topping and turns the humble grilled cheese into something you might refuse to share.
1 cup walnut pieces (or pecans)
3/4 cup orange blossom honey (or whatever you’ve got)
1/2 cup walnut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme or rosemary leaves plus 2 sprigs
1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
4 whole dried chiles de árbol*
*I used Japones peppers, cut into thirds, because that’s all I could find. You can also use dried pepper flakes for more cha-cha throughout.
Preheat oven to 325°F. Spread the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and fragrant, about 15 minutes. Let cool. Coarsely chop; set aside.
Whisk honey and oil in a medium bowl to blend. (It may seem obvious, but measure the oil first so the honey will slide right out of the cup). Season to taste with salt and pepper (I am not shy with either). Fold in walnuts, thyme, and lemon zest. Add chiles. Divide between four “take me to a party” 4-ounce jars or two “I really love you” 8-ounce jars. Cover and chill.
Can be made 1 month ahead. Keep chilled. Bring to room temperature and stir before using.
And now, here are some other great DIY food gifts to consider. Of all the things I make and give, the most requested/addictive is crackle, which breaks up nicely into treat bags. Cholliesauce is another winner, and you may have all the ingredients in your kitchen right now. Peppermint or chocolate chip meringues are festive, tasty and pretty darned easy. And of course you can’t go wrong with roasted nuts. For savory Mediterranean types give a jar of sicilian caponata with some nice store bought crackers or (for the uber healthy friends, endurance crackers. If you’re kicking around the house it takes time but next to no effort to mix up a batch of easiest French bread ever, and you’ll have two loaves to give. Package it with a dish towel and a French bread pan and BOOM you’ve made someone a baker.
And if you don’t feel like making a darned thing that’s fine too. Just remember to relax, breathe and have some good laughs with your friends. There’s always time for that!