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Christmas recipes: Festive food you can make as a gift

Taralli
Taralli

I like to make people things at Christmas and either give as a present or take to somebody’s house if I am invited for drinks or a meal over the festive season.

I also like to have a store of homemade things ready for when I have guests. These three recipes work well for either option. Enjoy them at home yourself, or pack into a nice jar or pretty beribboned box, hand them over, and your friends and family will love you that little bit more.

Great British Life: Tomato chilli jamTomato chilli jam

Tomato and chilli jam recipe

Makes the equivalent of 1 large jam jar

This is great with cheese so would make an ideal gift alongside a piece of local cheese. It also works well with cold meats so could be enjoyed on Boxing Day at home.

• 500g tomatoes (whatever you have – salad, cherry, beef) all halved if cherry or chopped into small chunks.

• 2 tbsp olive oil

• 2 shallots (45-50g) peeled and chopped finely.

• 1 large red chilli (approx.20g) – this gives medium heat but add more if you like your heat – chopped finely with seeds and white pith removed.

• 1 thumbnail-sized piece of fresh ginger, grated.

• 2 small or 1 fat clove garlic, crushed and chopped.

• 175g brown sugar (I use a mix of dark brown and soft brown, but either is fine)

• 150ml cider vinegar

1. Pour the olive oil into a sturdy saucepan and add the chopped shallots.

2. Cook over a gentle/medium heat until they are soft and translucent.

3. Add the ginger, chilli and garlic and continue until they too are nicely softened.

4. Add the tomatoes, sugar and vinegar and bring to the boil. Then turn done to a medium heat so that it blips away and starts to reduce, then leave on a lowish heat for around 45-50mins, stirring every now and then.

5. Check the consistency – in the end you want a shiny, chutney-like thickness.

6. Remove from the heat and add a little pinch of salt. Mix well.

7. Pop into small, sterilised jars ready for gifting or a container with a lid for the fridge.

Great British Life: Chocolate orange fudgeChocolate orange fudge

Chocolate orange fudge recipe

Makes around 40 squares depending on size

I must admit I associate that famous orange-shaped chocolate with Christmas but stop press: – you are allowed to eat these well before December, you know. This fudge recipe comes from my friend Michelle, whose family and friends eagerly await boxes of her irresistible sweet treats.

• 1 tin condensed milk (397g)

• 150g milk chocolate – use the good stuff

• 100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)

• 250g Chocolate Orange (you’ll need two - use some of the rest to decorate the fudge and snack on any left over while making it)

• Broken chocolate orange segments and orange zest to decorate.

1. Empty the condensed milk into a saucepan and add all 500g chocolate.

2. Allow to melt together over a medium/low heat and beat well together.

3. Pour into a lined, square brownie tin (23cm x 23cm) and spread right into the corners.

4. Decorate the top with orange zest and broken/chopped chocolate orange segments.

5. Refrigerate until set (at least 4 hours) and cut into small squares.

Great British Life: TaralliTaralli

Taralli recipe

These crunchy snacks come from the Puglia region of Italy and are often served with aperitivi. The shine and crisp texture comes from using the same method as when making bagels, whereby you quickly blanch the dough in hot water before baking.

They are often made with fennel seeds, but as that anise flavour can be quite divisive, I use Herbes de Provence. I have also made them using poppy seeds and, for a pizza effect, add oregano and a small squeeze of tomato purée mixed in with the wine.

Packed into little bags with a ribbon, they make the ideal gift along with a bottle of Kent fizz.

Makes 40-45

• 200g Pasta flour or ‘00’ flour (this makes them a little lighter but plain flour will work too)

• 100g wholemeal, rye or multigrain flour

• 60ml olive oil

• 145ml dry white wine

• 1 tsp good sea salt flakes

• 2 tsp mixed Herbes de Provence (or fennel, poppy seeds)

1. In a bowl mix the flours together and add the salt and herbs.

2. Mix the wine and oil and pour into the dry ingredients. Bring together with a knife to make a rough looking dough.

3. Put into a stand mixer with a dough hook and knead for 5 minutes or (as I did) tip onto a floured surface and knead with the base of your hands.

4. Kneading by hand will take about 10 minutes and you are looking for a smoother dough that springs back when you press your finger into it.

5. Put that dough back into the bowl and cover with a damp cloth. This helps ensure it keeps its elasticity while you're shaping it.

6. Prepare a pan of salted water and bring to the boil while shaping your taralli.

7. Take small pieces of dough (about 12g), a few at a time. One by one, roll each piece into a ball, then, between the palms of your hands, roll it into a sausage about 9-10cm long.

8. Twist into a mini bagel shape and pinch the ends together. Continue until you have used all the dough.

9. In small batches, place into the simmering pan of water. They will hit the bottom, then rise. Once risen to the top of the water, remove with a slotted spoon and put onto kitchen paper to absorb any excess liquid.

10. Once all blanched, put them onto a line baking tray and bake at 190C for around 30-40 minutes or until a pale golden colour.

11. Cool and serve with drinks, or pack into little bags as gifts for friends.



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