It's Never Too Early Home Made Holiday Food Gifts
NOT looking for cookies or candies. Looking for savory or off-beat.
Here's a link to one of last year's suggestions thread. Personally, I'm not keen on soup or hot cocoa in a jar ideas because they either need too many expensive items for the recipient to buy and/or they don't taste good.
I'm totally curious about the CURRY SAUCE suggestion, though . Any recipe that could be canned would be appreciated.
Before the season is over, I plan to put up some jars of whole Seckel pears (or Bartlett's in slices) in lightly sweeten white rum.
Have done cocktail cookies. Delicious but they don't keep very long.
Please chime in for something new and interesting.
In the past I've done --
- vanilla extract (now would be a perfect time to start them)
- homemade spice blends
- mulled wine kit (bottle of drinkable red wine + satchel of mulling spices and an orange, all packed up nicely)
- homemade ferments of various kinds
- cookies, ofc
I'm thinking of doing the homemade spiced hot chocolate this year, in ganache form -- much tastier than the standard cocoa powder mixed with sugar form, and is how I always make hot chocolate myself at home anyway. Downside is it won't keep that long.
A friend gifted me some homemade vanilla extract-- 3 split beans in a 375mL bottle of Smirnoff 90.4 proof vodka. He had actually forgotten about it so by the time he gave it to me it had steeped for over 2 years and it is amazing. I do not use it for regular baking, only use it for "special" applications.
Revised from Saveur magazine long, long, ago.....
In an 8-cup glass measuring pitcher, mix together 8 oz. 60% bitter chocolate, chopped, 7 T. softened unsalted butter, 1/2 c. sugar, 1/2 cup whipping cream, and 1/4 c. hot water. Nuke on high in short increments, stirring in between nukings, until it's melted. Stir in a teaspoon of vanilla and a pinch of salt.
Store in the fridge, heating as needed.
Last year I finally got around to making cranberry liqueur (therefore I didn't really give it away until some friends popped in mid-January). But this year I plan on starting that in a few weeks. Fairly easy, you just need to get a head start on it. And man is it good. And strong. Go with cheap vodka. http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/cranb...
My other always makes Sweet Hot pickles and they are the biggest hit--she is now a pickle-factory. You use the large dill hamburger slices, drain it, and add in sugar (2 c., I think), a tablespoon tabasco, some garlic, celery seed, mustard seed, and dried onion flakes. I'll have to look up the recipe, but you can probably search it.
I've done a "biscotti baking binge" and they are also well-received. http://www.ellenskitchen.com/bigpots/...
Vanilla bean sugar
International spice blends
Loose tea bags
Pickled root vegetables
Oh, geez, I forgot about the vanilla I made in August that is aging in a closet. Super simple and very good; appreciated by pretty much anyone who bakes.
Though you are looking for something different, I suggest this take on fruitcake because it actually tastes good, and has one of the weirdest prep methods I've come across. This is the tea-totaller version of my late Kentucky-born friend's delicious recipe. I believe Polly added at least a half-cup of "booze you choose". She generally used whatever jams and dried fruits she had on hand, but I have made both all-apricot and all-pear versions that were very good. This is a heavy, large, moist cake that keeps in the refrigerator (in a sealed container) for a VERY long time. I know this not because it isn't tasty but because I live alone and it takes me over a month to go through that much cake.
POLLY'S PEOPLE-PLEASING FRUITCAKE:
3 c applesauce or other fruit sauce
2 c sugar
7 Tbsp butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp baking soda
1 Tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp nutmeg
1 c preserves or jam, any kind
1-2 c raisins
1-2 c chopped nuts
up to 16 oz. chopped dried fruit or candied fruit
In a large pot or Dutch oven, bring ALL of the above to a boil, stirring often, and boil 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Then stir in:
2 beaten eggs
4 c flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
optional: 1/2-1 cup booze of your choice?
Pour into a greased and floured bundt, tube, or angel food pan and bake at 325 degrees for 2 hours. When cool, drizzle with a simple icing of fruit juice and confectioner's sugar, if desired.
ANOTHER suggestion - I make a fruit compote using fresh Bosc pears and any type of apple that holds its shape when cooked. Peel, core, and cut into large wedges. Put into a pot or microwaveable dish and add dried apricots and prunes. Drizzle with a little honey, add apple cider to cover the fruit about half way. (Optional: use 2/3 cider and 1/3 Tokaji Aszu or other sauternes-type dessert wine.) Simmer or microwave on half-power until the fresh fruit is tender but not too mushy. Off-heat, stir in some golden raisins (if you add them earlier they will swell up too much). This compote is sweet but also a little tannic, more for adult palates than kids'. Good as is, or over pound cake or ice cream. I have never hot water canned it but I think it would work well, except that the raisins would turn back into grapes. No initial cooking would be needed.
Definately savory, maybe you consider this off beat...
honey is a nice gift all by itself but prepared spiced honey even better!
Source quality honey and spice it using this recipe per jar:
1 cup honey
1 clove garlic, mashed
1 tablespoon peppercorn
1 tablespoon chili flakes
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
Attached a small holiday card around the neck of the bottle or jar that this goes really well on cheese & crackers, fried shrimp, apples & peanut butter, etc.
Oh, for personal use, I keep the the spiced honey on the kitchen counter in a squeeze bottle and use it pretty often.