Christmas food gifts
Food columnist Tina Faiz has great food ideas you can give as gifts. More is in her article Edible Christmas gifts from the heart in Avenue Magazine.
Spoil your loved ones with edible gifts from your kitchen that are not only a joy to receive, but to make. Three of Edmonton's best chefs share their prized restaurant recipes-for spicy candied pecans, jammy fig compote and boozy dark chocolate truffles-perfect for stocking stuffers, hostess gifts, or presents for your colleagues and friends with discerning tastes.
Spicy Candied Pecans, Cindy Lazarenko, Co-owner of On Our Table
6 cups pecan halves 1.5 L
4 tbsp butter 60 ml
8 tbsp brown sugar 120 ml
2 tbsp maple syrup 30 ml
1 tsp chipotle powder 5 ml
4 tbsp water 60 ml
2 tsp fresh rosemary, 10 ml
1 zest of one orange, 1 or to taste
2 tsp Maldon sea salt flakes, 10 ml or to taste
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside. On medium-high heat, place the pecans, sugar, butter, water, maple syrup, orange zest and chipotle powder in a large, non-stick pan. Stir constantly for about five to seven minutes, until sugar and butter have melted and nuts are coated. You should be able to smell the caramel and toasted nuts. Watch it carefully. Stir in rosemary and take off heat. Spread nuts in a single layer on prepared cookie sheet. Finish by spreading Maldon sea salt on nuts while still warm and sticky. Let them cool completely on your kitchen counter.
You can substitute almonds instead of pecans, if you wish. And watch it closely. If you cook them too fast, the sugars will burn but the nuts won't be caramelized
Auchentoshan Whisky Chocolate Truffles, Tracy Zizek, Executive chef and co-owner, Cafe de Ville, downtown
Makes about 30 truffles, depending on size
6 tbsp heavy cream 90 ml
2 tbsp glucose syrup 30 ml
3/4 cup dark Callebaut chocolate 175 ml
1 tbsp butter, soft 15 ml
4 tbsp Auchentoshan Three Wood Single Malt Whiskey
1 lb dark chocolate, tempered 450 g
2 cups crushed coca nibs 500 ml
In a pan add heavy cream and glucose syrup. Bring to a boil. Pour mixture over 200 grams of dark chocolate. Let it stand for three minutes. Stir in butter, and then the Scotch. Pour onto a cookie sheet and allow the mixture to sit in a cool, dry place for 24 hours to set.
Scoop out and level a tablespoon of ganache filling. Form into a ball and set aside. Repeat for rest of filling. Chill until set.
To coat truffles, place each ball on a fork and dip into tempered chocolate. Place coated truffle into a bowl with the cocoa nibs. Roll truffle around until coated completely. Set on clean cookie sheet and allow chocolates to set for four hours. Serve immediately or freeze up to three months.
Freeze truffles in metal cookie tins, set in single layers separated with parchment paper.
Balsamic Fig Compote, Corey McGuire, Executive chef, TZiNWine and Tapas
1/2 lb Mission or Kalamata figs 228 g (one package)
2 cups red wine 500 ml
2 cups balsamic vinegar 500 ml
3/4 cup white granulated sugar 175 ml
Place all ingredients in a pot. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low tosimmer. Let it reduce for about an hour and a half until it's a little thick. Let it cool to room temperature. With an blender, puree to a jam-like consistency.
If it's too thin, put it back on the heat to thicken slightly. If it's too thick, thin it out with water, wine or beef stock. If you reduce it too fast, you'll over-caramelize the sugar and get a burned sugar taste. Use good wine that you'd drink. "The cheap stuff can be too vinegary!"
Dress your gifts for the occasion with ribbon and handmade labels with serving suggestions. Don't forget to attach the recipe-we guarantee the inevitable ask-and know you're giving the best gift of all, your time- lovingly remembered with every bite.
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