Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Take a Break: Use the Vanilla Bean for Holiday Gifts starting now

I returned home in the early hours of Sept. 5 from taking my son to college. Parent orientation just happened to be in Paris, France, where he is attending the American University of Paris. Needless to say, today's "take a break" is inspired by the wonderful food we were surrounded by, particularly the most amazing macaroons.

Have you ever made your own vanilla? If you haven’t, it’s very simple and better yet, it makes a great gift. However, you have to start two months in advance of when you want to give it.

The recipe is simple:

- 3 vanilla beans (cut lengthwise down the middle)

- 1 cup vodka

- glass jar with tight fitting lid

Make sure the vodka covers the beans. Mason jars are great for this. Store in a cool, dark space for a minimum of two months. Shake periodically and watch the color change.

Vanilla beans purchased on-line are going to be about half the price of ones you purchase at a store.

If you have friends that are gluten intolerant, (Celiac’s Disease), you need to be very careful about what type of vodka you use. While the following are gluten free vodka’s, if you get to the liquor store and forgot the list, just ask: Star Vodka, Tito Vodka, Chopin, Ciroc and Ketel One

Vanilla sugar is also a delicious treat. Take 2 cups of regular granulated sugar and 1 vanilla bean. You can put in a food processor and blend together, or slice down the side of the bean and scrape seeds into the sugar. Bury the bean into the sugar and store in an airtight container for several weeks. If you have left over vanilla bean skins (the seeds have been used in another recipe) just bury them in sugar and let them site. Use the vanilla sugar for cookies, coffee or whatever.

Use the vanilla to make some spectacular gifts for the holidays including, Vanilla Almonds.

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