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Spice Up Your Holidays: Give the Gift of Homemade Salt & Pepper Blends

Spice Up Your Holidays: Give the Gift of Homemade Salt & Pepper Blends

close up of the jar being filled with citrus salt

Salt & Pepper in da House

Seasonings Greetings! Just saying that reminds me of the Christmas card from years ago where I clipped measuring spoons to my lobes and stood among hip-high bags of spices in a market – caption: Seasonings Greetings. Cheesy? You betcha. But that’s the way I roll. And giving gifts that are edible is another way I roll. Be honest. What rivals something homemade? Maybeeeeeee….something that you can use up? I think so. This salt & pepper gift pairing does double duty as homemade and consumable, and it is a perfect stocking stuffer.  Or a gift exchange. Or a hostess gift. 

Citrus Salt Ingredients: maldon sea salt, orange, lemon, grapefruit with zester and fennel seeds

Citrus and Seeds

This salt blend benefits from a quick round of oven-drying citrus zest. Combining orange, lemon and grapefruit adds just the right amount of sweetness and acidity. And, the added fennel and celery seeds add a hint of fresh herbs, but provide a shelf life longer-lasting than fresh. 

Fennel seeds and citrus

Picking the Right Salt

I am a big fan of Maldon Sea Salt and use it for its flaky form as a finishing salt.  It’s delicate and thin, with crispy flakes. And great news! When I initially started making salts a few years ago (my maiden voyage in gift salts was a trio of this spiced citrus, along with kale-walnut and hazelnut-spice), I found a 3.3 pound tub of Maldon which had to be shipped from England, where the salt has been harvested along the coast since the early 1800s. Today that tub is available on Amazon. It makes using an uber high quality salt easily sourced and affordable for gift making, with plenty left over for personal use. Try it on anything that needs a sprinkle of salt – like chocolate espresso shortbread or salted caramels. 

Maldon sea salt in a lime green bowl

Zesting the Citrus Peel

When zesting the citrus to make the salt blend, I like to use a bar tool that makes long thin strips (use the section with the little holes, not the channel knife.) But you can also easily use a microplane which works well in removing only the outer peel of the citrus. The key is to avoid grating too deeply, thereby grabbing the white pith which adds unwanted bitterness.  

Mix all the salt ingredients and spread out on a parchment-lined sheet pan and pop in the oven. It should take about 20 minutes to dry out the zest, but check after 15 minutes and give the salt a stir. 

Spiced Citrus Salt drying from oven roast on parchment paper

From Zesting to Zesty

And what’s salt without pepper? Salt: sister from another mister. Pepper: brother from another mother. Salt & Pepper: we are fam-i-ly! This particular pepper blend was introduced to me by a dear friend. I made my own ratios so the end result is a bit different, but she was spot on in marrying cardamon and coriander with black pepper to get a blend with more zip than any ingredient could deliver on its own. Yahoo!

Pepper, Coriander, Cardamom on a wooden board with a jar in the background

Once the blends are assembled and the salt is fully cooled, the only thing left to do is put them in cute little spice jars, tied with a decorative label identifying the goods inside. I have taken these to a gift exchange, and this was the top sought after gift once the stealing began. Showing up with an armful of these salt & pepper gifts at any holiday party is sure to earn you the Best Guest tiara!! Enjoy!

Salt & Pepper Gifts; funnel in the salt jar with a red and white ball of twine

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Filling the Spice Jars: rows of flip lid jars being filled with a funnel, tags, twine

Give the Gift of Homemade Salt and Pepper Blends


  • Author: Katy Keck
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 8 pairs (100ml jar) 1x

Description

Nothing is better than a handmade holiday gift. In my book, bonus points if it can be consumed and if it adds a little sumthin’ sumthin’ to my pantry. This spiced citrus salt and zesty pepper blend is my favorite spice combo! Salt & Pepper, you rock!!!


Ingredients

Scale

Spiced Citrus Salt

  • 3 cups flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
  • Zest of 3 oranges (I like the long strands of using a bar zester, but a microplane works too).
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • Zest of 2 grapefruits
  • 1 Tablespoon celery seed, ground in a spice grinder
  • 1 Tablespoon fennel seed, ground in a spice grinder

Zesty Pepper Blend

  • 1 cup ground black pepper
  • 1 cup coriander seeds
  • 1/2 cup cardamom seeds

Instructions

Make the Spiced Citrus Salt:

Preheat oven to 275oF.  Line sheet pan with parchment. 

Mix salt with citrus zests and ground seeds. Mix until well combined. Spread evenly on the parchment paper and bake until the zest is fully dehydrated, about 20 minutes.  Check after about 15 minutes and stir the salt, turning over the bottom which may still be a bit wet.  Once completely dried, remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

Transfer to sterilized airtight containers. Stores well for at least 3 months.

Makes 4 cups and will fill 8 100ml (3.4 ounce) jars.

Make the Zesty Pepper Blend:

Grind each seed separately, in batches as needed, in a spice grinder, mini chopper or food processor. 

Mix all spices together.

Transfer to sterilized airtight containers. Stores indefinitely.

Makes 2 1/2 cups and will fill 8+ 100ml (3.4 ounce) jars.

Notes

For zesting citrus, I prefer the long strands from a bar zester versus the shorter zest from a microplane. However, I’ve been known to do a bit of both and combine.

  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Spices

close up of the jar being filled with citrus salt

Don’t forget the yumster English toffee that I wrote about last year. It, too, makes a wonderful holiday gift. Cookie Exchange ladies – brace yourselves. This is headed your way!

Toffee Ready To Go

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© Copyright: KatyKeck.com 2017. All rights reserved.

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Sriracha & Chipotle Spicy Grilled Shrimp

Sriracha & Chipotle Spicy Grilled Shrimp

Salt and Pepper Grilled Shrimp

Even though #NationalShrimpDay is meant to be a 24-hour thing, I feel it’s more like a birthday and should really be celebrated for a week, a month, or even a season! I mean if Bubba can do it, you can too. “Anyway, like I was sayin’, shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sauté it. There’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan-fried, deep-fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That…that’s about it.” Wait, Bubba, Wait!! You missed Sriracha & Chipotle Spicy Grilled Shrimp!

Spicy Grilled Shrimp

Sriracha & Chipotle Spicy Grilled Shrimp

It’s time you rip that cover off the grill and crank up a hot fire. This dish – loosely translated from a visit to the Rhode Island cousins – is great in pretty much any meal category. To paraphrase Bubba, shrimp appetizer, shrimp salad, shrimp entrée, and who doesn’t like shrimp for in lieu of dessert?  Especially if it comes with a crisp Pinot Gris!!! Summer wine, I’m coming for you. Serve this with a fresh green salad and, if you’re game, roll back one blog post and whip up a batch of the Edamame and Chickpea Fritters with chili dipping sauce, conveniently linked below. This all simply screams “winter is dead to me!”

Dinner is Done

I like to keep things simple, especially as the days get longer and the temps heat up. Less time in the kitchen means more time for enjoying the meal.  So here we have a classic dump and stir recipe. And like all sea and stream creatures, marinating is kept to a minimum – no more than 30 minutes. If you are building a charcoal fire, the timing is perfect. Start the marinade, then build the fire. When the coals turn white, you are good to go.

Marinating the Shrimp

Use whatever size shrimp you prefer, but please leave the shells on. Sriracha & Chipotle Spicy Grilled Shrimp is a lick-your-fingers-while-you-peel-the-shrimp kind of dish. Cooking with the shells on not only helps retain moisture, but it adds depth of flavor. Timing will depend on the size of shrimp and strength of your fire, of course, so keep an eye on them. They cook quite quickly, 3 or so minutes per side.  

Crack open a loaf of tangy sourdough and pour another glass of Pinot Gris and you are all set. Enjoy!

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Spicy Grilled Shrimp

Sriracha & Chipotle Spicy Grilled Shrimp


  • Author: Katy Keck
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

Description

You can’t help but lick your fingers as you peel the shrimp and pop them in your mouth. They have that I-want-more-ish quality about them, so make extra.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Sriracha
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco chipotle pepper sauce
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound 21-25 (or 26-30) shell-on, deveined shrimp

Instructions

Combine all marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Add the shrimp and set aside to marinate for 30 minutes.

Grill shrimp over high heat for 3-4 minutes per side. Peel, eat, enjoy, repeat!!!

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Appetizer or Entree
  • Method: Grilling
  • Cuisine: American

Sriracha and Chipotle Tabasco Marinated Grilled Shrimp

This dish is great served with Farm Fresh Summer Squash & Arugula Salad

Summer squash with spice blend

 and Edamame and Chickpea Fritters with Chili Dipping Sauce.

Edamame & Chickpea Fritters

© Copyright: KatyKeck.com 2017. All rights reserved.

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Don’t forget to Comment, Share & Subscribe to our blog.