Wednesday 19 November 2008

Christmas Edible Gifts ~ Part 1

Anyone can buy a present from a shop, but if you want to go the extra mile, why not make something yourself? Homemade gifts make really thoughtful and often better value presents. So imagine my excitment when I received my copy of Nigella Christmas and came across the great section in the book with recipes and ideas for edible gifts. Since then I’ve been looking forward to making a start on the Christmas Hamper for my in laws and also our home. As of last week I made a start on my gifts. I started with the Christmas Spiced-Salt, which reminds me of holly berries in the snow. This salt is perfect sprinkled on steak or chicken to add some oomph! The delicious Cranberry and Apple Chutney is a perfect gift as chutneys mature with age. This chutney is wonderful with cheeses, pates and cold meats. I always make the traditional mincemeat every year but this truly delectable Cranberry-Studded Mincemeat really caught my eye and the recipe only makes 600ml, not a huge amount, so you won’t have jars left over after Christmas. This is part 1 of my edible gifts, so there is more to follow shortly!

Happy Cook at My Kitchen Treasures is hosting a great event of Home Made Christmas Gifts and she kindly invited me to join. If you are you interested in joining, the event is running until the 20th December. Please visit her blog for further details. My Kitchen Treasures

Cranberry-Studded Mincemeat

Makes approx. 600ml – enough for 50 mince pies

60ml ruby port
75g soft dark brown sugar
300g cranberries
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
75g currants
75g raisins
30g dried cranberries
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 Clementine/Satsuma
25ml brandy
1/8 teaspoon or a few drops of almond extract
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 x 15ml tablespoons honey

In a large saucepan, dissolve the sugar in the ruby port over a gentle heat. Add the cranberries to the saucepan. Then add the cinnamon, ginger and cloves, with the currants, raisins and dried cranberries and the zest and juice of the clementines.

Simmer for 20 minutes or until everything looks pulpy and has absorbed most of the liquid in the pan. You many need to squish the cranberries a little with the back of a wooden spoon to incorporate them.

Take off the heat and, when it has cooled a little, stir in the brandy, almond and vanilla extracts and honey and beat once more, with your wooden spoon to encourage it to turn into a berry-beaded paste.

Spoon the mincemeat into sterilized jars.

Cranberry and Apple Chutney

Makes about 1 litre

750g cooking apples, peeled, quartered, cored and chopped small
250g dried cranberries
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
350ml cider vinegar
200g caster sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
2 teaspoon Maldon salt or 1 teaspoon table salt

Take a medium-sized (not too big) saucepan and chuck into it all the ingredients. Stir with a wooden spoon and then put the pan on the heat.

Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat a little to let the pan cook, uncovered, on a fast simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the chutney has thickened slightly and the fruit is soft.

Spoon into your warm, prepared jars and seal them.

Christmas-Spiced Salt

Makes enough to fill 1 x 500ml jar

250g good-quality sea salt or Maldon salt
2 teaspoons red/pink peppercorns
2 teaspoons crushed dried red chillies
4 star anise

Sterilize your jar and leave to cool.

Put the salt into a bowl with the peppercorns, dried chillies and star anise.

Toss everything about, then carefully tip into your cooled, prepared jar and seal tightly.


Finla said...

Wow i would anytime prefer a home made gigt like this than the shop bought ones.
The cranberry mince meat, can we use this for making the mincemeat pies.

Beth (jamandcream) said...

Im addicted to Nigella Christmas. Just made her gold dust cookies - will be posting these soon. I was going to make Nigella's Apple and Cranberry Chutney but Mum gave me some fresh cranberries so I decided to make the one I saw in Good Food. It looks delicious though.

Maria♥ said...

Hi Happy Cook
Thanks for dropping by. Yes you can use this for mincemeat pies!

Beth I adore Nigella Christmas! I can't wait to see your gold dust cookies, I've got those book-marked to make too. Thanks for dropping by.


Jersey Girl Cooks said...

Make your own xmas gifts are so nice!

Rosie said...

I love Nigella Christmas book with all those wonderful treats inside.

I adore all your edible gifts Maria and fully agree with you on -homemade gifts make really thoughtful and often better value presents.

Thanks sweetie for your kind comments on my blog and yes I've missed our chats too! Hope to catch up soon :)

Rosie x

Anonymous said...

This is such an informative post, I will definitely be making some of these this year. :)

Nickki said...

They all look like wonderful gifts, Maria! NC has also inspried me to make home made gifts this year. I'm going to make the cranberry mincemeat and the cranberry & apple chutney next week. (I've bought a bottle of ruby port especially for the mincemeat!)

I've just made mincemeat from How to be a domestic goddess, it's the suet free one. Have you ever tried it? It smells divine! I'll be blogging about it tomorrow :)

Maria said...

I love all of those! I love homemade gifts! I need to get my ideas together. The holidays are coming fast!

Anna's kitchen table said...

Wonderful goodies Maria! I must admit to not being much of a preserver, don't really know why, they do all make such lovely gifts.
I like the fact that the mincemeat doesn't contain suet - I may be tempted to try it I think.
Thanks for the inspiration.

Reeni said...

Thanks for all the wonderful ideas and recipes. They look lovely!

Anne said...

I wish someone would give me home made gifts, your friends and family are very lucky :)

For the Cranberry-Studded Mincemeat
how many jars did it fill? Sounds delicious! Have made nigellas cranberry jam before and is really good.

My mother-in--future-law has nigella christmas book and is so lovely to read through but now am hankering for the little plastic reindeer she uses! Not that I remotely need them of course!

Anonymous said...

Nigella well what can I say, I will be putting her new book on my Christmas wish list, her food is just heavenly, making homemade things as gifts is a brilliant idea letting the receivers know how much love went into that special gift.

Anna said...

Such beautiful ideas! I'd be thrilled to get any of these, haha. I love cranberries so that mincemeat sounds amazing, and the Christmas spiced salt is so gorgeous!

Ruth Strong said...

These look great! I'm sure they'll bring lots of smiles to people's faces this Christmas

TeaLady said...

Homemade foodie gifts are soooo much better than store bought. Will you add me to your Christmas list, please??? Great ideas.

MrsB said...

I love these - they are such great present ideas and so much better than a standard gift, everyone is getting christmas cakes from me this year! I love Nigella's christmas book, i don't actually own a copy yet but hoping Santa will bring me! Great post x

Maggie said...

I shall be really interested to know how you rated the mincemeat Maria. They all look beautifully presented.

Maria♥ said...

Thanks everyone for the lovely comments!

Anne it filled a 500ml jar.

Margaret I rate this mincemeat highly and would definitely recommend you try it!


Vicky said...

Your gifts look beautiful Maria. I've just started my Christmas gift cooking today. The salt is one on my to do list. I think it looks really pretty in the jar. xxx

Hayley said...

You put me to shame! I haven't even though about christmas presents : (

Finla said...

Maria if you like do send this for my Christmas gift event.
I would be realy honoured to have them.

Thankyou for the answer for the mince meat, here we don't get them, so if we want to make something with them have to make the home made ones

Maria♥ said...

Hi Happy Cook

Thanks so much for the invite to your great blog event!


Finla said...

Maria thankyou so much to joining up the event. More gifts you are going to make, wonderul, look forward to all of them.

Anne said...

Thanks Maria, I will try and figure out biggest jar from the stash! (At least I have a good reason for the OH why there is a bag full in the garage!)

Have used all my cranberries last night so think another trip is in order to make this as sounds really good!


Thinking About Food said...

Your home made gifts would certainly be welcome here, they look just lovely Maria!

Jerri at Simply Sweet Home said...

Cute gift ideas!