The Coolest Christmas Gift!
Christmas is just around the corner and boy do I have a cool and creative Christmas gift idea that is bound to nourish the souls and the bellies of those you love! A couple of weeks ago, I invited Marti Emch from MEEL to come and cook with me in my kitchen. I reconnected with Marti at the 12th South Farmer’s market this summer and the friendship was instant. We both love food, travel, adventure, and to cozy up with good friends and family around our dinner tables. When Marti told me about her culinary endeavor with MEEL, I hate to admit that I was a little envious! Why didn’t I think of that? Marti conceived MEEL as a way for families to prepare healthy, local & organic, seasonal meals from inspired recipes! She does all the leg work so you and your family can be nourished in heart, body and soul!
Every Monday afternoon Marti’s team delivers these adorable MEEL crates to your doorstep. Inside you find a printed menu and easy to follow recipes for one vegetarian meal and one meat (local and grass-fed) or fish dinner for either a family of 2 or 4. When you open up the box, it’s a gourmand’s dream of fresh produce, bouquets of herbs, cheeses, glass bottles of homemade salad dressings, marinades and the most exquisite loaf of sourdough! The recipes are fresh, creative, colorful and fun! You’ll feel like you are taking a Michelin star cooking class in your own home. All the ingredients are measured out exactly down to the spices and finishing garnishes! The perishable goods are kept in hot/cold bags. The presentation is exquisite and the recipes provide a culinary adventure for the most basic home chef. Marti has truly thought of everything!
For Christmas this year, I’m excited to give my family and friends a taste of the MEEL experience! I’m all about experiential gifts that leave their mark of joy! The MEEL gift certificate is a great idea for a dinner party with friends or a creative family dinner experience. Marti has graciously offered all fans of Bread and Honey a special Christmas promotion! If you go online to www.localmeel.com and enter at checkout BREAD&HONEY, you can purchase a $100 gift certificate for a family of 4 or $60 gift certificate for a family of 2. The team at MEEL will wrap up this cute Mason jar with the gift certificate inside for your present! You might even slip a gift certificate in your own stocking!
Here’s a little taste of what you can expect from MEEL! Together, Marti and I tossed around recipe ideas for all of you at Bread and Honey and came up with a classic chicken, olive and lemon tagine, a fragrant vegetarian aubergine tagine, simple couscous, an Arugula salad with lemon, and homemade flatbread with a garlic and herb butter! Each recipe is simple to follow (45 minutes or less), showcases beautiful ingredients and proves dangerously yummy! I highly recommend the Chicken, olive & lemon tagine over the Holidays. It’s captures the Holiday spirit! (Look for a January post for the Aubergine tagine and couscous, a personal favorite!)
Tagines are traditionally served over a bed of couscous or rice, but we were excited to pair this chicken tagine with a simple homemade flatbread brushed with a garlic and herb butter!
Chicken, Olive & Lemon Tagine
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 (3-4 lb.) Whole Chicken, cut into 8 pieces (I bought the pack of pre-cut legs, breasts, and thighs!)
2 large yellow onions, diced
2 Tbsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. ground white pepper
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1/2 tsp. crushed saffron threads
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
I cup of Castelvetrano olives, pitted & halved (I bought from the olive bar at Whole foods. They are the bright green ones! But you can find in jars too!)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
2 Tbsp. finely chopped cilantro
2 jarred preserved lemons, cut into slices. (You can purchase these locally at Little Gourmand, Trader Joe’s, or online at Amazon.com)
Pre-heat over to 350 degrees. Heat olive oil in a 8-qt Dutch oven over medium high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper, add to pot and cook, turning until browned, 12-15 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate. Next, add your onions to the pot, cook until golden. Add all your spices; cook for 2 minutes. Return chicken to pot with stock, bring to a boil.
Transfer chicken to the oven covered and cook until chicken is tender, 35-40 minutes. Half-way through, stir in olives, butter, parsley, cilantro, and preserved lemons into the pot and allow to cook remaining time. It’s a magic carpet ride for the senses!
The final product is beautiful and lends itself to a colorful Christmas dinner!
Flatbread brushed with a Garlic and Herb Butter
Ingredients for Bread:
1 3/4 cup self-rising flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp. baking powder
1 3/4 cup Greek yogurt
Ingredients for Butter:
2 cloves of garlic
A bunch of chopped fresh parsley
2-3 Tbsp. salted butter
Combine all flatbread ingredients in a bowl and mix together with a spoon, then use clean hands to pat and fold the dough together. Dust a clean work surface with flour and knead for a minute or two, just long enough to bring everything together. Put dough in a flour-dusted bowl and cover with a plate and leave aside. Peel garlic cloves (unless you bought pre-diced like me!) Melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat, stir in garlic and chopped herbs, and then set aside. Dust your rolling pin and work surface with flour, divide dough into 6 equal-sized pieces (size of a golf ball), flatten the dough with hands, and then use rolling pin to smooth out pieces. Heat a griddle pan with olive oil (what you would use for pancakes!) on high heat. Cook 1-2 minutes on each side or until they puff up. Brush the flat bread with your butter mixture and Voila!
“Santa, (Hint: David) I would really love a MEEL gift certificate for Christmas! When the cold, dark Winter sets in, imagine the joy found in a MEEL crate at my front door!!”