The best kind of Christmas gift...
In my opinion the best sort of gifts are the edible kind! Who doesn't love food? Even the foodie expert or connoisseur can be surprised when you find that unusual gin or those incredible chocolates. This year, more than any other, I feel we are thinking homemade, making up hampers, and selecting a few local products to pop in a festive box. This year we have all discovered our local farm shops, our local producers and suppliers and we want to continue to support them.
Even at Alive with Flavour we have launched our 'online shop' and we have our experience boxes being dispatched nationwide. Personally I love our bespoke 'cheese tasting' boxes with Slate in Aldburgh and we ship these right up to Christmas Eve.
With lockdown 2, I have really wanted to get ahead (I say it every Christmas!) as I have no excuses this year! Someone that loves to cook and experiment I often ask neighbours and friends to sample recipes and its not unusual to find a package on your doorstep from me... but this year I really will be making more edible gifts. Its not just to save a few pennies, but its something that I feel is really appreciated and its something I can get on with now!
So I have been busy already making marmalade, chutneys and I was remembering today that we made homemade lemoncello last year and really must add lemons to my shopping list, to have another go at perfecting that popular gift! There was certainly a lot of sampling!
Sweet treats, the ideas are endless, honeycomb, fudge, rocky road, truffles, gingerbread, biscotti even a popcorn gift basket. I was given a bottle of homemade sloe gin and I don't think it even made it through the festive period, it was so delicious sipped by the fire! Savoury ideas are cheeses, homemade relish or savoury jams, Parmesan Shortbreads or homemade stilton and walnut biscuits and what about homemade breads and pastries.
Right now you can be making sweet and savoury doughs and pastries. Macarons can be made in advance and frozen, just filled a few days before Christmas. Homemade liqueurs and condiments will last well beyond the festive period. Honeycomb, Fudge and chocolates have only a few weeks shelf life and gingerbread biscuits, biscotti and homemade cookies are best baked, just a day or so before Christmas. There is endless inspiration...
Of course, when it comes to gifting food, presentation is just as important as the recipe itself. First impressions are everything, they say! From chic gift tags to elegant cellophane gift wrapping and beyond. When they're presented together a bottle of homemade ketchup and a DIY BBQ rub become a perfect Christmas present for your favourite grill master. Or try tying a colourful ribbon on a pretty bowl or jug filled with incredible ingredients, that luxurious Italian pasta brand, for example, that they would never treat themselves too!
So now the temperatures are dropping, and we are sort of stuck at home over these lockdown weekends, have a go, worst case you may need to eat a few biscuits as they didn't turn out right (thats the cooks privilege!) Its fun too, get the children involved, get creative and I know all the work will be well appreciated..
For edible gift ideas made in my online demonstrations with the Thermomix, TM6 please click here