It’s been a while since I’ve sat down to write one of these! I would apologise for my absence but, hey, we all get busy and know what it’s like to have to let some things fall to the wayside a bit as other priorities take over. (That mosaic plaque you started in 2013 and sits untouched in the garage… the herb garden started out of the best intentions but now offers only a bounty of weeds for picking… you feel me?). Unlike a pot plant or a small child, a blog will always be there exactly as you left it, regardless of how regularly you water, feed, or sow into it. Whether people still bother to read it is another story -kudos to you!- but it still remains an outlet to write; to share; to cook.
In other news, it’s almost Christmas! Though you’d have to live under a rock not to notice Ms. Carey’s charming but radio-bashed rendition of All I Want For Christmas blaring from every retail centre in the nation, I thought it’d be worth reminding you. Why? If you’re at all like the rest of the population chances are you still have gift shopping to do. I’m not judging, no way, I’ve only just managed to get my A into G and sort something out. And only mere days before the grand jour dawns upon us, stress levels and credit card bills are a-rising. Instead of adding insult to injury and suggesting you go out and buy, buy, buy, I’ll offer a simple solution:
Make gifts yourself.
This isn’t a new concept, I know, but if you’re gifting for those foodies in your life (heck, anyone who eats food) the old scorched almonds and box of Lindt chocolates routine could do with a bit of a switch up. Who really needs more sugar this time of year anyway?
Dukkah, which you’ve likely come across at a dinner party or potluck on a platter with crusty bread and olive oil, is an Egyptian condiment made with herbs, toasted nuts, seeds, and a whole lotta spices. Traditionally served with bread and oil, I wouldn’t hesitate to scatter it liberally on a whole host of foods: salads, hummus and dips, roast veges, etc etc. You get the picture.
I’ve bagged the dukkah up in small packs of a couple tablespoons as little gifts for family, but by all means wham it all in a jar and stick a cute label on it if you’ve got someone particular in mind. Christmas can be that easy! Now, go forth and sprinkle. #dukkahoneverything
Makes about one cup, but I’d go ahead and double it (as I have in the photos) – if you’re going to the effort to make it for someone else you’ll enjoy having some on hand yourself as well.
1/2 cup of nuts (hazelnuts, walnuts, pistachios, almonds, up to you.)
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup coriander seeds
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
a good pinch of fennel seeds, about 1/2 teaspoon
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
a pinch of sumac, optional
black pepper, to taste
Heat the oven to 180*C and measure out your ingredients (optional, but having everything already measured makes you feel like a boss when mixing it all together).
Pop the nuts on a small baking tray and toast in the oven until they start smelling amazing, 5-10 minutes. If hazelnuts are your nut of choice, rub them against each other in a tea towel to slough off any loose papery skins. Tip the nuts into a food processor to cool, then pour your seeds into the tray and toast them too until the aromas waft from the oven. This will take 4-5 minutes, but keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.
Once the seeds have toasted, let them cool on the tray. When both nuts and seeds are cooled, whack all the ingredients into the food processor and pulse until they’re the texture of rough breadcrumbs. Err on the side of larger pieces – you can always pulse more, but you can’t unpulse once the nuts begin to form a paste.
Keeps for just over a week in an airtight container, though I dare you not to use it all up before then.
If you’re after a bit more inspiration, here are a few links to things you can make yourself that will go down a treat:
- Za’atar (pictured!), a tangy middle eastern spice micture that tastes great sprinkled on everything. Heidi Swanson’s recipe is killer.
- Homemade crakers! There are these olive oil crackers, smitten kitchen’s incredible spelt crackers, this zany lady’s rye crackers (I dare you to watch it just for fun), and Sarah Britton’s gluten-free brown rice and quinoa crackers.
- Chai tea mix? Yes please. Homemade hot chocolate powder? Yes please x2
- Vanilla extract won’t be ready to use when you give it to them, but the wait will be worth it when they try homemade.
If you have any other great DIY gift ideas I’d love to hear them!
Have a lovely christmas; eat, drink, be merry, and eat even more.