Vegalicious Gift Ideas for a Flavorful Year

The secret is in the sauce. Sauces and dressings are often what give our recipes that special zing of flavor. We have been very fortunate to find many of the secrets of French chefs in grocery stores while vacationing in France. Once back home, we have enjoyed and used them and often duplicated and conjured up these magical ingredients. They include many varieties of vinegars: raspberry, walnut, cassis (black current) and herb vinegars. We have also found many flavored mustards: casis-champagne mustard, walnut mustard, cinnamon mustard, as well has tarragon and herbs de Provence mustard. Going through the spice section of a French supermarket is one of my favorite adventures. There are also amazing syrups for desserts and fruits, such as chamomile syrup or elder flower syrup. We would like to share some of these tasty recipes with you, and perhaps you would like to give some of your own special blends of herbs and spices as holiday gifts to friends and family.

Herb Blends from Around the World

You will need some nice, small air tight containers. And, I suggest a special “coffee grinder” just for herbs. You don’t want to use your normal, regularly used coffee grinder for the herbs. The oils of the coffee will “flavor” the herbs and vice-versa. Or, you can use a mortar and pestle and grind them by hand.
Often, I make a small amount to last for a month or so. Depending upon how many people you want to give these gifts to, you may need to double or halve the amounts listed. Think about the amount that the recipe will make and adjust accordingly. Two of my favorite sources for ideas and herb mix recipes are life and about. com some of these recipes are from there, others I have mixed, and some were found on the back of labels.

Herb Blends from Around the World

Classic French Mix

Equal amounts of:

  • tarragon
  • chervil
  • chives
  • parsley

Chop all herbs well, mix together and store in an air tight container.
Often marjoram, savory and/or watercress are also added to this blend.

Fennel seeds

Herbs de Provence

  • 3 Tbs. dried marjoram
  • 3 Tbs. dried thyme
  • 3 Tbs. dried savory
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp. dried sage
  • 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds

Combine all the ingredients and grind to a fine consistency. Store in an air-tight container. Often 1 tsp. of lavender is included in the mixture.

Dried thyme

Classic Italian Mix

  • 1 cup dried basil
  • 1 cup dried parsley
  • 1/2 cup dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup dried marjoram
  • 1/2 cup dried minced onion
  • 1/4 cup dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup dried minced garlic
  • 1/8 cup crushed mild dried chili peppers
  • 1 Tbs. ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbs. dried sage

Whisk all together in a large bowl. Place in individual air-tight containers.

Ground cumin

Mexican spice mix

  • 1/2 cup chili powder
  • 1/4 cup Hungarian sweet paprika
  • 1 Tbs. ground cumin
  • 1&1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. chili pepper
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano leaves
  • 1 tsp. salt

Mix all together and store in an air-tight container.

Star anise

Chinese Five Spice Mix

  • 2 Tbs. black peppercorns
  • 3 star anise
  • 2 tsp. fennel seeds
  • Two cinnamon sticks, broken into small pieces
  • 6 whole cloves

Toast each of the ingredients separately in a dry skillet. Cool, and grind to an even powder. Store in an air-tight container.

Cayenne powder

Cajun Mix

  • 5 Tbs. paprika
  • 2 Tbs. granulated garlic
  • 2 Tbs. dried onion flakes
  • 1&1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1&1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1-1&1/2 tsp. cayenne powder
  • 1&1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

Mix all together and store in an air-tight container.

Thai Spice Blend

  • 1/2 Tbs. dried cumin
  • 1 Tbs. sea salt
  • 1 Tbs. ground white pepper
  • 1 Tbs. ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbs. ground dried hot Thai chilies, or to taste
  • 2 Tbs. dried lemongrass
  • 2 Tbs. dried lime zest
  • 2 Tbs. garlic powder
  • 2 Tbs. dried ginger
  • 2 Tbs. dried mint
  • 2 Tbs. toasted unsweetened coconut, ground

Combine all and mix with a coffee grinder or in a food processor. Store in an air-tight container.