Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas gifts from the kitchen

I love making people gifts and this years I was keen to make my gifts homemade. I didn't have much time for crafting unfortunately so I decided to make some goodies from the kitchen.

Reasons I like making gifts:
  • No shopping at horrid shopping centres full of piped Christmas music, just a trip to the grocer and spice market
  • I can make rather than shop
  • I enjoy cooking
  • It's usually cheaper to make than buy (especially if fruit is acquired through gleaning)
  • It's always lovely to receive something handmade
  • My collection of jars (and those hoarded by others) are of good use!
Here's a series of recipes that I made, complete with a few pics!

Apricot lavender jam

  • About 2o fresh apricots
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lavender flowers
  • freshly-squeezed lemon juice ( I used the juice of half a lemon)


  1. Cut the apricots in half, extract the pits and discard (no need to peel them).
  2. Place the apricots in a large stockpot with water, sugar, lemon juice and lavender flowers
  3. Cover the pot and cook, stirring occasionally until the apricots are cooked into oblivion.
  4. As the mixture thickens and reduces, check the hot jam frequently and stir just to make sure it isn’t scorching.
  5. Several sources suggest placing small saucer in the freezer. When the jam looks thick and is looks slightly-jelled, turn off the heat and put a small amount of jam on the chilled plate. Put back in the freezer for a few minutes, then do the gel test: If the jam mounds, it’s done. If not, continue to cook, then re-test the jam until it reaches a thin jam texture.
  6. Once done, ladle the jam into clean jars.


Dukkah is a wonderful middle eastern spice mix that is ridiculously easy to make. It's traditionally served with olive oil and flat bread but also can be added to curries, salads, meat dishes etc. The ingredients list is quite forgiving, open to a variety of culinary substitutes in regard to the type of nuts and spices. We live near a fabulous middle eastern spice grocer and it's fantastic to go and buy loads of different spices, herbs and other dry goods. Here's the recipe I like to use:

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup coriander seeds 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Heat a non stick pan over high heat, add the nuts, and dry-toast until slightly browned and fragrant, being careful that they don't burn. Remove from the heat and cool completely.
  2. Repeat the procedure with each of the seeds and the peppercorns. Allow each of them to cool completely.
  3. Place the nuts and seeds, along with the salt into a blender and pulse until broken down but not until it becomes a paste.

Store in an airtight container in a cool place .

Capsicum chutney


  • 3 large Granny Smith apples
  • 6 capsicum (red or green is fine)
  • 1 onion
  • 115g raisins
  • 115g fresh or dried dates
  • ½ tspn mustard seed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar (I used brown which was fine)
  • 2 gloves garlic
  • chillies to taste
  1. Mince apples, capsicum, onions and garlic.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and boil on a low heat for 4o mins until thick
  3. Spoon carefully into sterilised jars.

And well. as for the tomato sauce, I can't go past Pip's Nanna's awesome recipe! You can find it over here

photo of tomato sauce and chutney, all ready to be labelled
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