Chef's Corner: Homemade Hostess Gifts

Homemade hostess gifts a nice alternative to wine

And you thought Hanukkah came early last year? This year the festival of lights begins on the evening of Wednesday, Nov. 27, creating the rare need to multitask by lighting the second candle in our menorahs while simultaneously basting the Thanksgiving turkey! This unusual situation has not occurred since 1899.

During the holiday season, we find ourselves as either the host or a guest at any number of gatherings. I happen to love hosting Thanksgiving, and I look forward to including some of the delicious foods we eat during Hanukkah in this year’s celebration … deep-fried turkey anyone?

As a guest, it is always appropriate and welcomed to bring a gesture of gratitude for your host. Invariably, usually while running out of the house, my husband reminds me to grab a nice bottle of wine for our host to show our appreciation for an invitation into their home. A nice bottle of wine, a scented candle or clever cocktail napkins are always gladly received, but read on
for some thoughtful food-related gifts that would be a welcome surprise for any host. Homemade jams, pickles, cookies or candy come in handy for someone who is guaranteed to have a houseful of guests during the holiday season, and a selection of specialty cheeses, crackers and nuts creates an impromptu hors d’oeuvre for a busy hostess.

Specialty spice shops like Penzy’s and Savory Spice Shop package collections of spices, extracts and flavorings, ranging from spicy and savory to exotic and sweet, all of which are guaranteed to add exciting flavor to any holiday recipe.

Flavored and infused olive oils, vinegars, honey and specialty salts transform the ordinary to the extraordinary suffused with multifarious flavors like tangy Meyer lemon, earthy porcini mushroom, truffle or smoky chipotle chili. A beautiful box of imported specialty pasta, exotic rice or colorful lentils is always useful to serve alongside all those leftovers.

Along with the pumpkin pie, I plan to add these Hanukkah inspired melt-inyour- mouth sufganiot (jelly doughnuts) as a nod to this year’s atypical celebration. The delicate dough is filled with sweet blueberry jam or decadent chocolate hazelnut spread, a delicious treat for any chocolate lover. Serve warm dusted with powdered sugar and a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert, or the following morning as an irresistible breakfast treat.

The apple fritters are made with tangy buttermilk, a good amount of cinnamon and a touch of brandy in the batter. The grated lemon rind in the sugar coating adds a subtle citrus flavor. I use Honeycrisp apples, but you can use any apple that you like. To change things up, serve these Hanukkah fritters piping hot in place of Thanksgiving’s traditional apple pie.

Lisa Glickman is a private chef and teacher who lives in Bend. She has made TV appearances on COTV in Central Oregon and appeared on the Cooking Channel’s “The Perfect Three.” She can be reached at

SUFGANIOT | Jelly doughnuts
Makes about 2 dozen small doughnuts

1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 package (¼ ounce) active dry yeast
2 tablespoons warm water (105 to 115
3½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus about
8-10 cups for frying
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
About ½ cup favorite jam or chocolate
hazelnut spread such as Nutella
Powdered sugar for dusting

Bring the milk to a simmer in a 1-quart heavy saucepan. Remove from heat, add sugar and salt, and stir together until dissolved. Cool to lukewarm. While milk cools, stir together yeast and warm water in a small bowl until yeast is dissolved. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Pour milk mixture into bowl of a standing mixer. Add 2½ cups flour, 2 tablespoons oil, eggs and yeast mixture. Stir on low setting until a very soft dough forms. Spread 1 cup flour on work surface and transfer dough to it. Knead dough incorporating all the flour until a soft, smooth dough forms. Add a bit more flour if needed. Knead dough by hand for 5-8 minutes. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow dough to rise in a warm place for 1½
hours or until doubled.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll to ½-inch thickness. Use a round or square cutter to cut out as many doughnuts as possible. Gently stretch one piece of dough and place one teaspoon of filling onto it. Gently stretch another piece of dough and place on top of jelly-filled piece and press together. Use original cutter to trim doughnuts. Place filled doughnuts
on cookie sheet dusted with flour and allow to rise for an additional 30 minutes. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pot to 350 degrees. Use a deep fry thermometer to regulate heat. Gently drop doughnuts 2 to 3 at a time into hot oil. Use a slotted spoon or spider to gently turn doughnuts until puffed and golden brown. Drain on paper towels and dust generously with powdered sugar.

Makes about 20 fritters

1¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar, divided
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup club soda
½ cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon brandy or apple brandy such as Calvados
Zest of 1 large lemon
4 cups vegetable oil for frying
3 firm apples such as Honeycrisp

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, ¼ cup sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and baking soda. In a small bowl, mix together the buttermilk, eggs, club soda, vanilla and brandy. In another small bowl, mix together the remaining ½ cup sugar and the lemon zest and set aside. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix just until batter forms. Allow batter to rest for 15 minutes. Peel and core apples leaving them whole. Slice into ½-inch slices. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pot to measure about 2-3 inches. Heat oil to 350 degrees. Add the apple slices to batter and toss to coat. Working in batches, fry the apple slices turning occasionally until golden brown. Drain on paper.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email