It’s the time of year for gifting. I don't know about you, but whether it's for a co-worker, the host of a party you're attending, or family members - there are a lot of people on my Christmas list this year. I'm a firm believer in giving gifts that the receiver can eat and enjoy! Making a large batch of some pretty simple recipes and then portioning them into decorative containers, or mason jars, adds a delicious and personal touch and goes above and beyond the average (read: boring) present. Here are some of my favorite edible holiday gifts:
1. Pickled Mustard Seeds
Pickled mustard seeds, or Poor Man's Caviar, are so versatile, flavorful and unique. They're wonderful on sandwiches, mixed into vinaigrettes and marinades, or as an accompaniment to your holiday cheese plate.
All you need is:
- 1 cup mustard seeds
- 1 cup vinegar (I prefer white distilled or apple cider.)
- 1 cup water or your favorite beer
- ½ cup brown sugar
- Salt to taste
Put all of the ingredients in a small saucepan and cook on a medium-low heat until the mustard seeds have absorbed all of the liquid. Then portion out your pickled seeds into mason jars.
It's easy to play with this recipe. Add in some spices or some horse radish, or a different type of beer, to better suit the palate of your recipient.
Simply Mulled Wine
In a bouquet garni, add dried orange peels, one vanilla bean, cloves, allspice, and a cinnamon stick. Tie the bouquet garni around the neck of your giftee’s favorite bottle of red. In a card next to it, write down the simplest instruction for how to mull the wine. This gives your guest the experience of cooking without having to hunt down all of the ingredients.
To mull the wind, empty contents of bottle in a medium sized sauce pan, add in about a half cup of honey (or sweeten to taste). Tie the bouquet garni around the handle of your sauce pan so that the actual bag is submerged fully in the wine. Allow the spices to steep like tea until your honey or sugar is dissolved.
Not only this present a fun and unique DIY; it's also a great way to fill the home of the person you love with a wonderful holiday scent!
To start: fill a large mason jar with your favorite citrus peel; a nice holiday twist would be to add a orange peel with one or two cloves peels thrown in or lemon peels with a sprig of rosemary. Fill the jar to the top with a quality unflavored vodka. Allow your jar to sit in the fridge for about two weeks so the flavors are fully infused. You can either strain the vodka from the peels or gift it as-is for a beautiful holiday gift. This makes an excellent stocking stuffer or an excellent present if you add two martini glasses.
Simple Caramel Sauce
In a medium sauce pan, add one cup of sugar and a tablespoon of water (or the juice of half a lemon). The lemon will help the sugar from crystallizing and will keep your caramel smooth. If you don't have a lemon, use a pastry brush to wash down the side of the pot with water, making sure to wash down the sugar crystals from the side of the pot. One undissolved crystal of sugar can cause your caramel to become lumpy so be sure to melt down the sugar with the water or lemon until all of the sugar dissolves. Resist the temptation to stir.
Allow the dissolved sugar to begin to caramelize. Once your sugar has caramelized to a nice golden brown, carefully whisk in one cup of heavy cream into your sugar. The cream will cause the sugar to seize and bubble, with the help of constant whisking, the sugar will dissolve back into the cream.
This caramel is so versatile; you can put just about any spice or extract in to switch it up: add a sprig of rosemary, any kind of extract or spice you have on hand, or give with a nice bag of Malden Sea Salt. You could make a couple variations and give a sampler to your friend with the biggest sweet tooth.
These are presents that are quite cost effective given the pay off. They make wonderful stocking stuffers for the chef in your family. If you have a friend or family member who loves to eat and cook, consider giving them a gift card to The Chopping Block so they can take a cooking class.. It's a great way to give something that is more personal and more of an experience than a typical iTunes or Target gift card. These easy holiday gifts create fun lasting memories, which is the best way make this holiday season last.