Gourmet Christmas gift, anyone?
If you are to be given food items as Christmas gifts, what would you like to receive?
If you are to give away food items as Christmas gifts, what would you give to your foodie families and friends?
What I like most about Christmas is gift-giving (yes, even more than "gift-receiving"!), food-related in particular. Being a food fanatic, I simply enjoy the process of searching for "the best" (and affordable too) of any food exist and giving it to someone who will appreciate.
One year hubby and I "hand-made" fruit cakes using the best ingredients we could find attempting to change our friends' and families' perception of fruitcake from a piece of store-bought junk that is not worth eating to a tasty desert that is worthwhile to be shared and enjoyed with loved ones. Last year, I researched high and low to find a gourmet hot cocoa mix to give away to coworkers - and the winner was Godiva Dark Chocolate Truffle Hot Cocoa Canister (which is no longer available on Godiva's website.)
This year, instead of finding one gourmet gift that fits all (which does NOT exist), I plan to MAXMIZE my enjoyment of gift-giving by "customizing" gourmet gifts to fit the receivers personal tastes. The list of gourmet gifts I will be researching for and then giving away this year is as follows (and continues to grow...):
- nuts: pistachio and cashew
- smoked salmon
- root beer
- hot cocoa mix (I am thinking of making my own this year!)
- bacon (this one is going to be tough as the receiver's all time favorite - "Hickory Smoked Sugar Cured Bacon" by Swiss Meat & Sausage is hard to beat!)
- country ham
- "something" that can be enjoyed by all for those with kids (I've yet to figure out what that "something" will be...)
1)Hot Cocoa Mix is a great idea (try with cinnamon and or cayenne pepper)
2) Chai Tea Mix is also a very nice idea to make a home
3) Gourmet Olive Oils, e.g. Big Paw makes fantastic, subtle but intense olive oils. I like Basil and Garlic as well as the Meyer Lemon Flavor
4) German Christmas Cake (Stollen). The best I have come across is the one from Sterntaler Bakery (www.sterntalerbakery.com). Christmas Stollen, I also love the Praline flavor.
Last year, I gave my friends homemade hot chocolate mix. I put the mix I made up in a large mason jar, put snowman stickers on it, and red and white ribbon around the top. Then, I wrote out the recipe and tied the recipe tag on the ribbon. Everyone loved it!
As far as food gifts I'd love to receive, here goes...
Jalapeno jelly, or ginger jelly, or any unusual jelly
Homemade flavored vodka or liquer
Homemade peppermint bark
If you want to make something from scratch, try this.
Makes 3 pints
FRESH GINGER JELLY
1/4 pound fresh, juicy ginger root (about 1 cup sliced) Try to find the thinnest-skinned roots which means they're young.
1 cup water
6 T strained, fresh lemon juice
3-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 pouch (2 ounces) liquid pectin
1. Scrub the ginger. No need to peel. Trim any dry spots or ends. Rough chop.
2. Combine the chopped ginger and 1 cup water in small food processor or blender and with on-off bursts mash the ginger. Do not totally puree it, but give it a good smash.
3. Pour the mixture into a very fine sieve or sieve with several layers of dampened cheesecloth and press and/or squeeze as much liquid as possible out of the pulp. Let the liquid stand for at least 1 hour to settle.
4. Carefully pour the ginger liquid off the starchy sediment into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. You should have 1-1/4 cups. If not, add enough water to equal that amount. Discard the sediment.
5. Combine the ginger liquid and lemon juice in a non-reactive pan. Heat to simmering over medium-high heat. Add the sugar. Stir until dissolved. When the mixture reaches a boil that can't be stirred down, stir in the pectin. When the mixture returns to a full boil, start counting. Boil for exactly 1 minute. Remove from heat.
6. Skim off any foam and pour into hot, serilized 8-ounce jelly jars. Leave 1/2 inch head space. Clean jar lip and seal with new 2-part lids according to manufacturer's directions.
I've never hot water processed these, just waited for the seal to "ping" me.
This is great on any buttered toasted bread, scone, or muffin. Warm to melt, then brush on to glaze a fruit tart. Make "grown-up" PB&J's. Top crackers spread with cream cheese for an appy.
This jelly is a surprisingly lovely pale pink color -- looks pretty in a gift basket.
This years girlfriend gift is a breakfast taste treat of Honey Lavender Sauce from gibbonsbeefarm.com (Missouri product) along with Kodiak pancake mix and some nice coffee. I've also given the Penzey's Hot Cocoa gift pack with salted chocolate caramels.
Santa could bring Ice Wine, chocolates from Zotter or dragees, lavender truffles and salted chocolate caramels from www.KakaoChocolate.com (another Missouri product)
I love the thought of giving away food gifts!
If you make your cocoa I'd love to get the recipe.
You may want to add a personal touch to your nuts by making them Spiced - there are several good recipes out there with spice, brown sugar and butter.
One thing I am doing with my neices, nephews and God kids to lure them into the "foodie" world is to get the younger ones the Spatuletta cook book with some kitchen gadgetry like a set of oxo measuring cups and such. Then the older ones a subscription to something like fine cooking or cuisine at home where there are lots of photos and easy directions. Then they are going to "cook" with me once a month. Since everyone lives in different states they'll pick the recipe and pick the date and I'll cook the same thing they do. I'm really excited and hope they will be too, but you know how kids can be!
Cocoa Mix and Teas sound great!!
I am giving this year to all of my food-loving friends a trio of gourmet salts from here:
I am buying in bulk and packaging myself (tosave on cost and make it a little more hand-crafted
)another friend of mine is doing the same thing with dried mushrooms, which is really great also!!