5 Ideal Treats to Bring to a Food Swap

Barter is better

Photo: monticello/Shutterstock

Food swaps have become increasingly popular among people willing to barter — and it's a great idea for anyone on a limited budget. Cooks can get goodies they would never make for themselves, and if they get lucky, can glean tips and tricks from cooks with years of kitchen experience. Want to attend a food swap and come out ahead? The challenge is to hit the sweet spot between tastiness and thriftiness, creating a dish that others will covet. People like snacks and a story, so be ready to provide samples and answers to questions about what you've made and how you went about it.

Try these five tried-and-true recipe ideas will excite your fellow swappers' taste buds without breaking the bank.

Roasted Habanero Hot Sauce

Enrique Gili.

First the sweet and then the heat. Roasting mellows peppers with a fiery reputation. Serving suggestion: Spread on pita bread with ripe avocados. Roasted Habanero Hot Sauce

Ingredients

  • 6 whole habanero peppers, stemmed
  • 1 sweet onion, peeled and chopped
  • 4 small carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 head garlic, top removed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Dash sea salt
  • Dash freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
Time estimates

Prep time: 10 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

Cooking directions

  1. Use gloves to stem and process habaneros.
  2. Combine habaneros, onion, carrots and garlic in baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on center rack of oven and cook 20 to 25 minutes. Mix once so ingredients cook evenly. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  3. Add ingredients to food processor. Process until coarse paste forms, scraping down down the sides with a spoon or plastic spatula, 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Add lime juice and process until well blended, about 10 seconds.

Yield: Makes 8 ounces

Cucumber Infused Vodka

Enrique Gili.

Booze never ceases to find favor with food swappers. Infused vodka is ideal for refreshing summer cocktails. Serving suggestion: Fill a short glass with green olives and capers. Pour a jigger of chilled vodka and a splash of vermouth over top. Cucumber Infused Vodka

Ingredients

  • 1 English hothouse cucumber, sliced thin
  • 750 ml decent quality vodka
Time estimates

Prep time: 10 minutes

Total time: 5 days

Cooking directions

  1. Combine sliced cucumber and vodka in liter-sized screw-top jar. Shake gently.
  2. Let stand at room temperature for 5 days to allow flavors to fuse. Strain cucumbers by pouring contents into clean jar. Seal and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Yield: Makes 1 750 ml bottle

Spicy Guinness Mustard

Enrique Gili.

The first reaction will be "hmmm?" followed by "aha!" Time deepens the flavor and complexity of these intense ingredients. Serving suggestion: Place on a cheese board with cured meat or tucked into small sandwiches. (Adapted from Saveur) Spicy Guinness Mustard

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces Guinness Extra Stout
  • 6 ounces brown mustard seeds
  • 4 ounces red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch ground cinnamon
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • Pinch turmeric
Time estimates

Prep time: 15 minutes

Total time: 3 days

Cooking directions

  1. Combine ingredients in glass or ceramic mixing bowl. Cover and set aside at room temperature for 2 days to allow flavors to fuse and seeds to soften.
  2. Pour contents into food processor. Process on grind until seeds are coarsely ground and contents thicken, about 3 minutes. Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides.
  3. Transfer contents to jar with a tight fitting lid. Refrigerate for 24 hours. Lasts up to 6 months.

Yield: Makes 1 pint

Roasted Eggplant Red Pepper Dip

Enrique Gili.

A toothsome low-fat combo that goes the extra mile through roasting. Serving suggestion: Serve with pita bread or chips. Roasted Eggplant Red Pepper Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 Italian eggplant, about 2 pounds, rinsed and stemmed
  • 2 red bell peppers, rinsed, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 red onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 garlic head, top removed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground paprika
  • Pinch ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 lemon, juiced
Time estimates

Prep time: 30 minutes

Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Cooking directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Rinse and pat dry eggplant. Remove stem. Cut eggplant in half lengthwise. Cut deep lateral and cross-shaped patterns in flesh without piercing skin. Add salt to cuts. Set aside for 30 minutes.
  3. Squeeze eggplant over sink to remove excess liquid. Apply olive oil to surface area and cuts. Place eggplant flesh side down in baking dish and roast for 60 minutes. The eggplant is done when flesh and skin collapse, about 60 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  4. Meanwhile, evenly chop onion and red pepper into small pieces.
  5. Wrap garlic head in aluminum foil. Place vegetables on shallow roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  6. Place pan in oven and cook 20 to 25 minutes. At about 15 minutes, stir vegetables to ensure even cooking. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  7. Unwrap garlic head; it should be soft and caramelized. Squeeze gently to remove cloves from papery jackets.
  8. Place eggplant and roasted vegetables in food processor. Process until a creamy paste forms, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides with spatula.
  9. Add paprika and cayenne. Process until well blended, about 10 seconds. Add lemon juice.

Yield: Makes about 1 pint

Lemon Poppy Scones

Enrique Gili.

Scones are England's answer to biscuits, in this case a light and chewy version with a hint of poppy seed and lemon. Lemon Poppy Scones

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon poppy seeds, divided
  • 4 tablespoons caster (superfine) sugar
Time estimates

Prep time: 30 minutes

Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Cooking directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir until blended. Cut butter into small sections. Add to dry mix. Knead until pea-sized pieces form, about 2 minutes.
  3. In separate bowl, combine buttermilk with egg and stir, about 1 minute. Pour onto dry ingredients. Fold with fork until dough forms, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add poppy seeds, lemon zest and juice. Stir until blended, about 1 minute.
  5. Place dough on lightly floured cutting board. Gently knead into ball. Place on lightly greased cooking sheet and pat into a pie shape with dry hands. Cut into 8 sections with floured knife without separating. Bake on center rack of oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown.
  6. Meanwhile, combine remaining juice and caster sugar in small bowl. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove scones from oven. Drizzle glaze over scones and sprinkle with poppy seeds.

Yield: Makes 8