This is the first in a series of Christmas related posts that I will be doing leading up to Christmas day. Since this is my first Christmas with my blog I thought it would be a great chance to share all of my favourite holiday recipes and the ones that I have tried in the last few years around this time. We aren’t hosting a meal for the extended family this year so I am lucky enough to have the chance to enjoy a meal (or meals!) that other people are slaving over, but since I will miss the Christmas cooking I think I am going to make some holiday food over the next couple of weeks just for our family.
Before Christmas day I hope to cover everything from the traditional meat, to sides and salads and of course desserts (my favourite). I won’t promise anything because we all know how I went for NaBloPoMo!! So today I am going to kick it off with some edible gifts and hopefully we will make it all the way to desserts by Christmas day.
Our extended family has a tradition of making edible gifts for each other at Christmas time. There are a few of us that put together hampers for the other families around this time of year. It is great to give handmade items, especially those that can be used up, rather than giving bits and pieces that just collect over time and become clutter. Just make a few different items and put them together in a basket or box with some store bought delicacies and maybe a nice tea towel and you have a beautiful gift that the recipient will be using in no time. The following are a few of our family’s favourite things to make.
Cream Cheese Truffles (Makes 60)
Well I promised you this recipe when I made their chocolate covered cousins for Christmas in July. The original recipe is from the All Recipes website, but I have come up with a few variations that are even more delicious. As with the chocolate coated ones, the flavours are limited only by your imagination, but my favourites are listed below.
Beat 225g softened light cream cheese until smooth and gradually add 2C sifted icing sugar until blended. Melt 500g chocolate (milk, dark or white according to flavourings) with 2-3tsp liquid flavouring (such as alcohol or essence) and stir into cheese mixture until no streaks remain. Refrigerate for approximately 1 hour or until firm and then roll into balls and cover in chosen coatings (nuts, coconut, crushed lollies, etc). These are best kept in the refrigerator as much as possible, but will keep at room temperature for a few days.
Coconut – Use white chocolate, flavour with Malibu liqueur or coconut essence and roll in desiccated coconut.
Fairy – Use milk chocolate, flavour with vanilla essence and roll in sprinkles/hundreds and thousands.
Christmas – Use dark chocolate, flavour with peppermint essence and roll in crushed candy canes.
This one is going in our hampers this year, but shhh, don’t tell anyone in my family! The house we are renting at the moment has a grapefruit tree in the backyard, so I am sure we will be making more of this for ourselves soon.
Wash 2 grapefruits & 2 lemons and boil whole in 2L water. Shred fruits finely and return to remaining water, bring back to the boil and add 2kg sugar and boil until it sets. Pour into sterilised jars and seal immediately.
Red capsicum relish (Makes 3C)
I haven’t made this one in a few years, but just reading the recipe and looking at the photo makes me want to have it spread thick on some toast – right now! I think I may have to make a batch of it all for myself. The recipe and photo below are taken from Bbq Food, Murdoch Books, 2003.
Seed and thinly slice 1kg red capsicums (or a mix of red and yellow). Place 1tsp black peppercorns in a piece of muslin and tie up to secure. In a large pan combine the capsicum & peppercorns along with 2tsp mustard seeds, 2 thinly sliced red onions, 4 chopped garlic cloves, 375ml red wine vinegar, 2 peeled, cored and grated apples & 1tsp grated fresh ginger. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes or until the capsicum is soft.
Add 1C brown sugar and stir over low heat until it is completely dissolved. Cover and simmer for 1 ¼ hours, stirring occasionally, until the relish is reduced and thickened. Remove muslin bag.
Rinse three 1C capacity jars with boiling water and dry in a warm oven. Spoon relish into hot jars and seal, turn the jars upside down for 2 minutes and then turn right way up to cool. Label, date and leave for a few weeks to allow flavours to develop. The relish will keep in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year. Refrigerate after opening.
Keep your eyes peeled for some more Christmas recipes in the next few days!