Gift ideas for foodies

Foodies make Christmas shopping a breeze! Since food lovers love food you can always prepare one of your specialty recipes, and know it will be a hit. This applies, as well, to the person who has everything. Instead of trying to figure out what they need, prepare a thoughtful food item. It is bound to please.

Likewise, buying gifts for people who love to cook is a joy. There is an endless supply of gifts for the kitchen. I’ve included a list of essentials that could be purchased to make a well stocked kitchen, plus recipes to get you started on creating your own food gifts. Any one of these culinary items say Merry Christmas. Another great idea is to wrap the gift in a tea towel. A cook will always appreciate an extra!

Essentials for the Kitchen:
Parchment paper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Specialty salts
Quality pepper and salt mills
Quality baking sheets
Rasp (grating citrus rind, cheese and nutmeg available at Lee Valley)
Good quality paring knives (Victorinox, Henckel, Cutco, etc.)
Different coloured cutting boards (green for produce, red for meat)
Weigh scales
Digital Timer
Stand mixer (Kitchen Aid)
Silicone Spatula

The Food Lover’s Companion, comprehensive definitions of over 4,000 food, wine and culinary terms, available at The Cookbook Store, 850 Yonge St. They also have an excellent supply of cookbooks and can send books to you.

Cranberry Orange Chutney
This festive chutney is the perfect accompaniment to the rich flavours of tourtiere, a Christmas turkey or ham. As a bonus it makes a superb appetizer when served with whole wheat digestive biscuits spread with cream cheese or a cheddar cheese spread. For a great gift combo include a box of whole wheat digestive biscuits, a spreader, cheese and the chutney. Instant holiday cheer!
1 bag, (3 cups/ 750 mL) cranberries, fresh or frozen
2 onions, chopped
1 cup (250 mL) raisins or currants
3/4 cup (175 ml) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (175 mL) brown sugar
finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
1 cup (250 mL) cider vinegar
1 tsp (5 mL) ground cinnamon
1 tsp (5 ml) ground cloves
1 tsp (5 mL) ground ginger
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine cranberries, onions, raisins, granulated sugar, brown sugar, orange zest and juice, vinegar, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Cook uncovered, stirring frequently, for 20 to 25 minutes or until thickened. Spoon into sterilized preserving jars to within  one-half inch (1.5 cm) rim of jar. Wipe rim; screw on lid; process in boiling water bath 10 minutes; cool on rack. check for seal (lid should go down in the centre to be a good seal.) Chutney which has been processed this way has a shelf life of one year. If you prefer to omit processing in a boiling water bath, keep the cranberry chutney refrigerated in a covered jar for up to a month, or freeze in a plastic container for up to one year.

Gluten Free Cranberry Brownie
For those people on your list who are gluten intolerant, here is Barb Betts’ brownie recipe made with gluten-free flour. Accompany the gift with a bag of the gluten-free mix and the recipe. For your information, gluten is the protein in flour which gives it its strength. It is essential for making bread and pasta; however, it is this protein which causes some people, especially those diagnosed as celiac to have major gut problems. Guar gum is a gummy substance made from legume family plants and acts as a stabilizer or thickener in commercial products, available in bulk food stores.
3 tbsp (45 mL) cocoa, sifted
2 tbsp (15 mL) vegetable oil
1/ 2 cup (125 mL) butter, melted
3 eggs, beaten
2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla
1 cup (250 mL) gluten-free mix
1/2 tsp (2 mL) guar gum
1/2 tsp ( 2 mL) salt
1/2 cup (125 mL) dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 350˚F (180˚C). Line 8 inch (20 cm) square cake pan with parchment paper. In a mixing bowl, mix together sifted cocoa, vegetable oil and melted butter until smooth. Stir in gluten-free mix, guar gum, salt and cranberries. Spoon into prepared pan; bake 25 to 30 minutes or until firm in centre, but still moist. Cool on rack; sift icing sugar over top. Cut into 24 squares and wrap.

Gluten-Free Flour Mix
Gluten-free flours are available at bulk and health food stores as is the guar gum.
1/2 cup (125 ml) brown rice flour
1/4 cup (50 mL) tapioca flour
1/4 cup (50 mL) potato starch (not potato flour)
In a mixing bow, mix together brown rice flour, tapioca flour and potato starch. Pour into plastic storage container and label. Makes 1 cup (250 mL).

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