I’m not sure if it was coincidence or not, but a number of liquid concoctions I had set to macerate and mature in the past months have come to fruition at the same time. My berry coloured Cassis from a recipe devised by Toulouse-Lautrec is glistening in its bottles like a purple jewel. Victoire’s verjus – both the Armagnac and Tsikoudia infused versions are ready to use. And, the Liqueur de Coing, the quince liqueur, has taken on a lovely rose gold hue.
Some of these have been decanted into pretty bottles, labelled with pretty labels, for Christmas gifts. Yes, it is that time of year again. It’s time to start making drinkable and edible gifts in my kitchen.
But, in addition to setting aside some of these decanted liquids as Christmas gifts, I’ve also been testing them in various kitchen creations: the Cassis in a Raspberry-Cassis Gelato (seen in image above), the Armagnac verjus in a yummy sweet-sour Chicken with Dried Fruits, and the Tsikoudia verjus in an elegant Salmon Cerviche (as seen in preparation below).
Even the Quince liquor went into an apple and quince variation of my Cranberry Mincemeat that I made last year – substituting the cranberries for apples, the port and bandy for the quince liquor, and currants and raisons instead of sultanas and dried cranberries. Of course, I made some of the cranberry mincemeat as well. Mini mince pie making in the near future!
Other Christmas gifts from my kitchen include a Cretan fig “cake”, a similar dried fruit and nut creation to the panforte I made last year. This fig cake is studded with walnuts, infused with ouzo and covered in sesame seeds. It is excellent cut and served on its own, or as an accompaniment to sharp cheeses. Recipe coming up soon!
Also for the cheese platter are the Damson “cheeses” I made from damson purée frozen earlier after a bumper harvest from the garden. The recipe makes two small “cheeses” – one to eat with sharp cheeses now and the other perfect as a holiday gift.
- 500g pureed damson pulp
- 300g sugar
Put the ingredients into a large, heavy bottomed pot; bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and let it thicken for about an hour – stirring to prevent it from burning to the bottom of the pan. Spoon the thick pulp into 2 clingfilm lined moulds, cool, cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Remove from the mould and peel back the clingfilm. Cut and serve with cheese. A favourite of mine with Stilton. Very British!
In my kitchen are gifts to us! One of my husband’s students brought us two heads of radicchio from Athens. She knows how much we love this vegetable grilled and drizzled with balsamic and extra virgin olive oil. Another student brought us some of his native Chinese black tea. I’ve never seen anything like it – compressed into brick-like cakes. Luckily he also issued instructions on its use.
There have also been birthday gifts of new kitchenware: an ice cream machine (that made the Raspberry-Cassis gelato seen above) and a Scandinavian style bundt pan with lovely geometric designs. The latter has yet to be used. I’m still mulling over cake recipes for its premier performance, so any suggestions are welcome. And, then a pressie to me from me: a Mason Cash bowl with frolicking hares, another of In The Forest series.
Last, but certainly not least, a speciality of the season in my kitchen are chestnuts. They are piling up. Emergency solutions to this abundance are in progress. Perhaps they will be transformed into even more edible Christmas gifts. Watch this space!