Holiday crisis solved: DIY Gift ideas from San Francisco chefs

Anyone can buy someone something for the holidays, but only a special few can pull of the gift of a delicious recipe. You can be that person. If you’re scrambling to find last-minute things for friends and loved ones, I encourage you to ditch the mall and hit the kitchen instead with some special (and very easy) do-it-yourself food gifts — all with recipes from San Francisco chefs. Here’s how pull off a Santa like the pros:

Bluestem Brasserie’s Olive Oil Granola

GranolaThere’s nothing tastier (and easier) than homemade granola. And when packaged in a pretty jar with a little bow, it makes for a beautiful gift. Developed by pastry chef Curtis McDonald, this granola would be perfect for breakfast, an afternoon snack or part of a streusel topping for other desserts.

You’ll need:
3 cups oats
3 cups raw nuts
1 cup coconut flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup dried fruit (I used tart cherries and dried peaches)

To make:
1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Combine all ingredients except for dried fruit together in a bowl and spread onto lined baking sheet. 2. Cook 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, or so.
3. Let cool. Transfer to large bowl and toss in dried fruit. (At this point, Bluestem also likes to add a bit of orange blossom honey for added texture and another layer of flavor).

Wente Vineyard’s Bacon Brittle

Bacon Brittle

Because bacon make everything better. This is chef Matt Greco’s super secret recipe for deliciousness. Made with crispy bacon and toasted peanuts, this brittle is surely unlike anything your family has ever tried. For the finishing touch, package the bite-sized brittle in mini mason jars, tied with a festive red ribbon.

You’ll need:
1 1/4 cups water
3/4 cup corn syrup
3 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 cups bacon, cooked to a crisp and finely chopped
4 cups toasted peanuts, finely chopped

To make:
1. Combine water, corn syrup, sugar and butter over medium low heat.
2. Bring mixture to boil. Insert candy thermometer and cook to 300° F.
3. Remove pan from the heat.
4. Add salt and baking soda (It will foam up, be careful! Make sure pot is large enough).
5.  Add bacon and peanuts.
6. Pour mixture onto silpat or parchment paper and spread evenly.
7. Let brittle cool completely.
8. Break up and chop into bite-size pieces.
9. Store brittle in airtight container for freshness.

Palm House’s XO Sauce


This one’s for the spice lover in your life. For this sauce executive chef Lea Walker pulls influence from the Caribbean, as well as Latin America and Africa.

You’ll need:
3 Fresno chilies
2 habanero chilies
1 clove garlic
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup white sugar
3 whole Thai chilies

To make:
1. Pulse the first three ingredients in food processor.
2. Heat the vinegar and sugar in a medium sauce pot and bring to a boil with the whole Thai chilies. Take off heat and pulse all the  ingredients together.
3. Return the pot to the stove, bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Cool and refrigerate.

Hog & Rock’s Kohlrabi Kimchi


Chef Robin Song is harking back to his Korean heritage for this one. Traditionally made with cabbage, this kimchi uses kohlrabi for a new and interesting crunchy twist.

You’ll need:
5 cloves garlic
1, 1-inch piece ginger
1 tablespoon Korean chili powder
1 tablespoon salt
5 kohlrabi bulbs, peeled and cut into 1” in cubes

To make:
1. Salt the kohlrabi and let sit up to 12 hours, and as little as 1 hour.
2. Mince garlic and ginger in food processor.
3. Add garlic-ginger paste and chili flake to kohlrabi with its liquid.
4. Place in a couple of mason jars and use a small weight to keep kohlrabi submerged and seal with cheesecloth.
5. Keep in a cool dark place for up to 2 weeks, as little as 1 week.