Holiday Giving: Jan Hagel Cookies

Jan Hagel Ingredients - Food in Jars

As much as I appreciate a plate of beautifully cut-out cookies, I have limited patience for such things (which is funny, since some years back, I became the keeper of the family cookie cutters. I have at least 75 different ones). I prefer a cookie that can be sliced, dropped, or pressed into a pan and cut into bars.

Jan Hagel Dough - Food in Jars

This cookie belongs to the category of things that can be pressed or poured into a rimmed pan, baked and sliced. Called a Jan Hagel, it’s traditional Dutch Christmas cookie that tastes a bit like an almond shortbread. I do love the flavor, but I also appreciate the fact that it takes no more than 10 minutes to construction and only needs 8 pantry-staple ingredients, two bowls, and a hand mixer.

Jan Hagel Dough Pressed Out - Food in Jars

This cookie entered my cookie lexicon back in the winter of 2007, during the time when I was the newly minted head blogger over at Slashfood (AOL’s long-gone food blog). We had a tradition of posting a Cookie-A-Day during the month of December and so the pressure was on to find new and novel cookies. I enlisted my mom to search through her recipe binder, to see if she had any usable suggestions tucked away.

Beaten Egg White - Food in Jars

And she did. She had a Christmas cookie recipe pull-out from a mid-1980s issue of Family Circle. I made four or five of the recipes from that publication and shared them on Slashfood. However, the only recipe that took root in my heart was this one, for the Jan Hagels. I’ve made them just about every year since.

Jan Hagels Pre-baked - Food in Jars

I like to make a fairly thick cookie. I find that you end up with a really flaky top, and a base that tastes and feels like a combination of shortbread and marzipan. If you want a flakier texture throughout, use a larger pan, spread the dough a bit more thinly, and shorten the cooking time.

Jan Hagels Baked and Scored - Food in Jars

Make sure to store these in an airtight container, away from other cookies, so that you don’t loose the crispness of the top.

Jan Hagel Cookies

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces butter (that's two sticks)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for the topping
  • 1 egg, white and yolk separated
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purposed flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine the butter and 1 cup of sugar in a large bowl, and beat with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk and almond extract.
  3. Add the flour and salt and beat until the dough comes together.
  4. Press the dough into an even layer in the bottom of a quarter sheet pan. For a thinner, flakier cookie, use a half sheet, but don't press the dough all the way to the edges. There's no need to grease the baking sheet, the dough has enough butter to prevent sticking.
  5. Beat the egg white with your hand mixer (make sure to wash the beater!) until it is light and fluffy, but not to the point of stiff peaks.
  6. Using an off-set spatula, spread the beaten egg white out on top of the cookie dough.
  7. Sprinkle the almond slices evenly over the egg white-painted dough.
  8. Finally, mix the remaining tablespoon of sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle it evenly over the top of the cookie dough.
  9. Bake the cookies for 30-35 minutes (shorter if you're going the thinner cookie route).
  10. As soon as you take the cookies out of the oven, slice them into diamond shapes, by making overlapping diagonal cuts.
  11. Let the cookies cool completely before you remove them from the pan. Break them into diamond shapes and store in an airtight container.
http://foodinjars.com/2015/12/holiday-giving-jan-hagel-cookies/

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Three Springs Fruit Farm + Food in Jars

Three Springs Fruit Farm + Food in Jars Preserves

As so many good things in life do, it started with a conversation at the Headhouse Square Farmers Market. Ben Wenk from Three Springs Fruit Farm was looking for ways to make their line of preserves more interesting and wondered if I had any ideas. I suggested some recipes that I thought might work for large scale production. And thus, a partnership was born.

Food in Jars logo on Tart Cherry Jam

Right now, there are just three preserves that are made with Ben’s fruit and my recipes, but hopefully there will be more. There’s the Salted Brown Sugar Peach Jam, the Tart Cherry Jam, and my classic, beloved, much-celebrated Tomato Jam. You can buy them online as a set of three, or if you’re in the mid-Atlantic region, in person at a farmers market.

These preserves don’t mean you should stop making your own. But it does mean that if you run out of tomato jam in March, you can now get your hands on a few jars to tide you over until tomato season returns.

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2015 Gift Guide: DIY Kits and Sets

Third in a series of concise gift guides for the 2015 holiday season. Up today is a collect of kits and sets that will help kickstart your DIY mojo.

DIY Kits - Food in Jars

A couple years ago, I decided to start knitting. I’d learned when I was a kid, but it had been years since I’d picked up yarn and needles and needed some help finding my footing. I bought myself Kat Goldin’s Knit Camp kit, and dove in.

It was that kit (plus a wide array of helpful video tutorials on YouTube) that helped me build confidence enough to pick out yarn and projects and start making. Here’s hoping that these culinary kits (and one discovery set for kids!) can help do the same for you or someone on your holiday list!

  1. Mori-Nu Make-Your-Own Tofu Kit – This kit allows you to make both silken and molded tofu (and includes everything you’ll need to do so). It’s a fun project to do with kids, particularly if you’re trying to convince them of the deliciousness of tofu. Read about my experience using the kit.
  2. Hobby Hill Farm Fresh Cheese Making Kit – This kit includes enough rennet, citric acid, and cheese salt to make 40 batches of cheese (talk about the gift that keeps on giving!). I took this kit out for a spin back in September, here’s my step-by-step tutorial.
  3. Maureen Abood’s Heavenly Hummus Kit – I’ve made a lot of hummus in my days, but never have I had a more delicious batch exit my food processor than the one I made with this kit.The secret is the pre-peeled chickpeas! Pair this kit with a copy of Maureen‘s book, Rose Water and Orange Blossoms, and you’d have a killer gift.
  4. Ferment’n Kit – I picked this sweet little kit up at Portland Homestead Supply when I was out there last month, and love its form factor and utility. It comes with a ceramic pickle weight and a nifty two-piece plastic airlock that has a very low profile. If there’s someone on your list with a tiny kitchen, this might be the perfect fermentation kit for them.
  5. Cultures for Health Kombucha Starter Kit – Looking to get started making your own kombucha in the new year? Cultures for Health’s Kombucha Starter Kit will set you on the road to scoby greatness!
  6. reCAP Explore Bug Catching Kit – This isn’t a culinary kit, but it is a fun one for kids (and involves a jar!) so I’m squeezing it in. The folks at Mason Jar reCAP have taken their new Flip Cap and added a magnifying lid to it, so that kids can collect and examine things from their natural world.
  7. FARMcurious Starter Kits – There’s so much to choose from over at FARMcurious. There’s the classic Fermenting Set I wrote about recently, the All-Inclusive Set (which includes a jar), or their Ultimate Fermenting Kit. A gift for every level of fermenter!
  8. Masontops – Last up is a trio of fabulous products from the folks at Masontops. Pair their glass fermentation weights with a Pickle Packer and a set of Pickle Pipes, and all your recipient needs to do is add veg, salt, and a jar!
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Giveaway: Old Blue Raw Honey

A giveaway of west coast honey from Old Blue Raw Honey. All the pictures in the post are by Camille Storch.

three small bottles of honey

This week’s giveaway comes to us from Old Blue Raw Honey. Old Blue is a family business, owned and operated by Henry and Camille Storch (you might know Camille from her lovely blog, Wayward Spark. She’s also written a couple of honey-based guest posts for me in the past).

Camille and Henry Storch, and their kids

Henry is a beekeeper and farrier, transporting his bees to different locations up and down the west coast as needs and the seasons demand. In his free time, he collects seed from native plants and interesting garden varieties, and he plays Legos with his kids. He also documents his days with the bees on Instagram.

Camille handles marketing, customer service, and order fulfillment for Old Blue Raw Honey, and is the writer and photographer behind all the Old Blue blog posts. In her free time, she cans seasonal produce (with honey!), and runs the trails around their home in Philomath, Oregon. Her Instagram account is also glorious.

a wide mouth quart jar full of honey

One of the things that makes Old Blue Raw Honey so special is that they offer a wide array of unusual, small-batch varietal honeys from their hives only. They honey is never heated over natural hive temperatures (under 100°F), and is minimally filtered, so it includes pollen, small wax particles, and once in a while, a small bee bit.

close up on bees crawling on a honeycomb

Old Blue Raw Honey is available online, at select shops, and on occasion, directly from Camille and Henry at events in Oregon. If you’re looking for a good gift for someone who loves interesting honey, getting them a sampler set from Old Blue would be a very smart thing to do.

Happily, it’s the sample set that I get to share today. Henry and Camille have generously offered up three of their Blackberry, Clary Sage, Coriander Honey Sampler Boxes for today’s giveaway. The honeys are packaged in 8 ounce, BPA-free plastic squeeze bottles and I promise, it will take everything you’ve got to keep from dispensing the honey straight onto your tongue.

Here’s how to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me how you like to use honey. Do you spoon it into tea? Drizzle it on cornbread? Dollop a little on a sliver of cheese?
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, December 19, 2015. A winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, December 20, 2015.
  3. Giveaway open to United States residents only. Void where prohibited.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: Old Blue Raw Honey is providing the honey for this giveaway at no cost to me. They have not paid for placement (though about a year and a half ago, Camille did give me a little bottle of honey). I’m writing this post because their honey is delicious and I want to share its goodness. 

Links: Mincemeat, Glögg, and a Winner

bowl of citrus from Autumn

Friends, feast your eyes on all that citrus! An unexpected box arrived on my doorstep late last week and it turned out it was filled with exotic, unsprayed citrus from Autumn (her book, Beyond Canning, will be out in February. Make sure to put it on your wish lists. I’ve seen an advance copy and it’s fab). I have a long list of baking, cooking, and making to do this week, and top on it is doing something worthy with this bounty. Now, links!

Mason Tap Kit - Food in Jars

The winner of last week’s Mason Tap Giveaway is #39/Erin. If you haven’t entered yet, make sure to put your name in the hat for my Lagostina Risotto Pot giveaway.

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Winter Squash Risotto with Leeks and Greens + Lagostina Risotto Pot Giveaway

Risotto Set-up - Food in Jars

I have a weakness for beautiful cookware (some woman collect jewelry, I surround myself pots and pans). The first time I saw the Lagostina Risotto Pot at my local Williams-Sonoma, I nearly swooned. Gleaming tri-ply stainless steel! A wooden topped lid (that fits tightly and doubles as a trivet)! And a thick, heat diffusing base to prevent hot spots and burning!

squash for roasting - Food in Jars

To my very great delight, not long after spotting this gorgeous pot for the first time, I got an email asking if I might like one to use for the development of a risotto recipe. I sent a positive response off as quickly as my fingers could type.

pouring rice - Food in Jars

Since this lovely piece of cookware arrived, I’ve been making a lot of risotto. It’s one of my favorite things to make and eat on chilly days. I love the ceremony of near-constant cooking (though to be truthful, I often put the spoon down for a moment or two so that I can do a little clean-up while I cook) and the comfort that comes when you cozy up to a bowlful.

finished risotto - Food in Jars

Whenever I make risotto, my primary goal is to cram as much vegetable content into the pot. Risotto can be a heavy dish, and so making sure that it’s packed with fresh produce (in this case, aromatics, greens, and roasted squash) helps lighten it and make it a more regular dinnertime occurrence.

plated risotto - Food in Jars

When I make this for me (if I’m making if for Scott, I use roasted carrots in place of squash), I peel and chop all the squash and stir it into the rice. However, if I have friends coming by, I like to reserve some of the roasted squash to serve on top. It brings a little visual and textural interest to the plate and makes it feel like something you might be served as the neighborhood Italian place.

risotto pot - Food in Jars

What’s nice about this piece of cookware is that truly, it’s good for so much more than risotto. The wide base and low profile mean that it’s a great shape for any dish you want to simmer and reduce. It does good work with small batches of jam and I love using to make Marcella’s tomato sauce.

The Lagostina Risotto pot can be found at Williams-Sonoma, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and other specialty shops, and retails for $199.95. For more information about Lagostina, check out their social accounts and visit their website.

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Thanks to the kind folks at Lagostina, I have one of their glorious Risotto Pots to give away to you guys. Here’s how to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me what kind of risotto you’d make in this pot.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, December 19, 2015. A winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, December 20, 2015.
  3. Giveaway open to United States residents only. Void where prohibited.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: Lagostina sent me this risotto pot to use and write about. No additional compensation was provided. All opinions expressed are entirely my own. 

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