The Wednesday Food Section of The New York Times this week shone a bright light on preserved food and food gifts. And, as you may recall, I spent the summer preserving the bounty of the New Jersey farmers’ market. That’s what I’m giving my friends here in Texas. In fact, I have so much – what was I thinking? – that I’ve invited them over for a glass of wine next week to choose more than one of these items. (Don’t tell, but they’ll also get one of these cute serving spoons that I brought back from South Africa.)
The season is over for tackling something like peach preserves, but there are all sorts of food gifts you can still make without spending a lot of time or money. I once gave good bottles of olive oil, and they were a big hit. Last year, I gave 8-ounce jars of my dad’s barbecue sauce (see below), and it went over very well. And the year we left New Jersey, I gave my friends freezable containers of gumbo base. Think broadly about the things you like to cook, and go for it. What you think of as boring – because you make it “all the time” – could be a stand-out on a friend’s table.
So, just to show you what a swell person the Kitchen Goddess is, she has gone through the list of recipes from this blog, and picked out 10 terrific items you could make and give and not kill yourself in the process. In no particular order, here they are:
■ Arugula Pesto – With a little more oomph than basil pesto, it works well as a salad dressing, a crudité dip, and a sauce for pasta; you can even add it to the mix in a fritatta.
■ Cranberry Sauce with Pinot Noir – Good with the Christmas turkey, or the Christmas ham, or even the Christmas chicken if that’s what you’ve got, and it is hands down the best your friends have ever tasted.
■ Jalapeño and Parsley Purée – Great as a garnish for corn chowder, but also very nice on grilled steak or chicken; they won’t get it from anyone else (unless all your friends read this blog), and it’s easy to make.
■ Aunt Marcy’s Divinity Fudge – A very pretty and tasty winter candy.
■ Bacon and Pecan Pralines – Delicious and easy to package. Who doesn’t like bacon?
■ Harry’s Best BBQ Sauce – My dad’s dynamite concoction, and everyone can use some good barbecue sauce.
■ Green Tomato and Lemon Marmalade – Easy and a nice sweet-tart flavor, but only try this if you can get green tomatoes.
■ Gladys Hilton’s Scones – Very English, and fab with butter and marmalade; just package them in something air-tight like a tin.
■ Leigh Friend’s Goat Cheese and Nutella Truffles – A little more time/trouble than the rest of this list, but OMG, they are sooooo good.
■ Red and Yellow Cherry Tomato Confit – The great thing about roasting tomatoes is that even out of season, the results are yummy. This is fab on bruschetta or pasta or in a fritatta, and you can make it with just red cherry tomatoes to equal effect. Tie a green ribbon around the jar, and voilá – Christmas!