Even though I love cooking, particularly baking, 2009 was my first ever go at a proper holiday cook-up. Previously, I might have made a slice or some truffles to take to dad's for lunch, but from now on I'm determined to always make a few tasty treats for my friends and family that will last well into January.
In last year's hampers were spicy & sweet Indian nut mix, peppermint crunch, toasted muesli, lemon butter and rum and cherry Christmas cake. I also made two kinds of truffles, one I can't remember but the other was really easy; crumble a dark fruit cake with some melted dark chocolate and roll into balls. Easy as!
This season I'll be making the lemon butter and toasted muesli again. Both keep quite well so you can make them a few weeks before silly season is in full swing, and both also hold up ok if its a 40 degree day.
And I love this idea from Our Best Bites - single serving pies in a jar! I have a feeling they wouldn't actually make it to anyone else's house though as I am a bit of a pie fiend...
(Recipe from Valli Little - delicious magazine - via taste.com.au).
2 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
3/4 cup (165g) caster sugar
1/3 cup (80g) chilled unsalted butter
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
Whisk whole eggs, yolks and sugar in a saucepan until smooth, then place pan over a low heat. Add the butter, juice and zest and whisk continuously until thickened [from memory this takes ages]. Strain through a sieve into a sterilised jar. This makes about 1.5 cups. Lemon curd keeps, covered, in the fridge for 2 weeks. [I reckon it keeps for much much longer; mine still tasted scrummy after about 2 months].
This is my own recipe so it's not really a 'recipe' as such - I take around 3 cups of rolled oats, 3/4 cup of LSA (linseed sunflower and almonds all ground up - it's in the health food aisle), 1/2 cup shredded coconut (the moist kind if you can get it), 2 cups of whatever nuts you like smashed up in a mortar and pestle, and chopped up dried fruit (however much takes your fancy) and throw it all in a big roasting tray. In high summer the nuts tend to sweat a bit after you roast them and release the oils, so I'd say its lovely for around 3 or 4 weeks, then if you still have some left over try using it as a crumble topping for apple crumble, or mixing with yoghurt for bircher muesli.
Drizzle about 1/4 cup of olive oil all over and about the same of honey, maple syrup or golden syrup and mix it all in. Toast it in the oven on 180 degrees for 15 minutes or so, checking and stirring it regularly as the oats burn easily. Let the muesli cool completely before putting it into an airtight container.
Of course you can mix it up and create whatever fruit & nut combos you like - I love green pistachio, white macadamia and red cranberry for Christmas. Or try date and walnut, or almond and apricot, or all nuts - no fruit (Richard's favourite).
Next Christmas instalment: Part 3 - deck the halls with repurposed shirts!