Edible Herbal Gifts
Giving Food as Gifts - When giving an edible gift, packaging is of paramount importance. Clear labeling is tremendously helpful, so the recipient knows exactly what the gift contains and also how to keep it fresh. If there are refrigeration instructions, then make sure they are easily read or your hard work may go off overnight!
Giving Food as Gifts
When giving an edible gift, packaging is of paramount importance. Clear labeling is tremendously helpful, so the recipient knows exactly what the gift contains and also how to keep it fresh. If there are refrigeration instructions, then make sure they are easily read or your hard work may go off overnight!
There are a great many possibilities for herbal food, but one broad generalization is that fresh herbs taste better than dried ones. If a particular ingredient is not available fresh, you can substitute the dried version instead, but I would suggest that you choose another recipe as the taste of fresh herbs is much more subtle and pleasing than that of dried.
Collections of various foods make a very attractive gift and can be quite simplea basket of jams and jellies, or a collection of herbal oils and vinegars make marvelous presents. To avoid mistakes, it is best to tailor your gift to the tastes of the recipient. If he or she is particularly keen on vegetarian foods, then perhaps a set of special sauces for use with pasta and vegetables would be well received.
Pretty bottles or baskets help the presentation look much more attractive. A gaily checked cloth lining a simple basket would make a lovely foil for some herbal breads, and such an unusual present would be sure please.
Pates and Mousses
Pates are always a popular lunchtime snack or first course for an evening meal. There are many variations on this theme and the following suggestions are recipes that I have found particularly successful. Don't despair if you don't have a food processoryou can mince the ingredients or pound them with a pestle and mortar and then use a blender. Make sure you attach labels to the finished items, stating that they must be kept in the fridge and also a date by which they should be eaten. There are very smart containers available at kitchen shops in all manner of finishes, but an inexpensive range is available in pure white, which looks very effective. The pate could be packed into a ramekin or loaf tin, and a sample selection of pates, all in individual ramekins in a basket lined with a brightly colored napkin, would look lovely.
An unusual way to package a fish mousse would be to keep it in the fish-shaped mold that it was made in. There are some beautiful copper molds available and, for a keen cook, this would be a present that could be used time and time again. If you give enough thought to the problem, there are always new and different ways to wrap a food parcel to give it a touch of originality.
4 oz unsalted butter
Melt 3 oz (75g) of the butter in a pan and remove from the heat. Skim the foam off the top of the butter and discard. Add the shrimps, lemon juice, cayenne, lemon balm and seasonings to the melted butter, mix well and divide between two large ramekin dishes. Melt the remaining butter and again remove the foam from the top. Pour the remaining buttertaking care not to include any sediment over the shrimps. Chill in the fridge overnight. These potted shrimps will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator.
Ideas for packaging: wrap well with foil or cling film and decorate with ribbons; or place on a tray with some cheese and herb scones.
Salmon and Dill Mousse
14 oz cans pink salmon
Mix the salmon and mayonnaise together in a bowl In a jug, add a tablespoon (15ml) of boiling water to the stock cube, add the juice from the cans of salmon and mix in the gelatin. When it has melted, add the cream and stir well. Add the gelatin liquid to the salmon mixture and combine well. Whisk the egg white until stiff, add the dill and fold into the mixture. Fill six individual ramekins or a salmon-shaped mold with the mixture.
Ideas for presentation: once the mousse is thoroughly chilled, it can be decorated with cucumber or dill leaves. To present the mousse, line a basket with dark blue tissue paper, then add the large mousse of individual ones, tightly wrapped in cling film, plus a bottle of home-made dill mayonnaise. A nice extra would be a bottle of dry white wine to drink with it!
Chicken Liver and Herb Pate
1 lb chicken livers
Melt 1 oz 925g) of the butter in a frying pan, fry the onions and then the chicken livers until they are just cooked. Place in the bowl of a food processor. Melt the rest of the butter and add to the chicken livers. Then place all the remaining ingredients in the bowl and process until smooth. Pour into small ramekins or other dishes if you prefer.
Ideas for presentation: a small hamper containing small pots of the chicken and herb pate, an airtight tin filled with melba toast and some good red wine.
Smoky Cod and Ginger Pate
1 lb smoked cod
Poach the fish until tender. Once the fish is cool, place it in a food processor with all the other ingredients and process until well combined and smooth. Press the mixture into a lined loaf tin or other container and chill in the fridge overnight.
Idea for presentation: fill several small containers and put them into a basket with some home-made rolls and a few lemons.
Potted Cheshire Cheese and Chives
3 oz unsalted butter
Process all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and spoon into individual ramekins. Chill and garnish with chives.
Idea for presentation: pack in a box or basket lined with a red-spotted handkerchief and add some Bath Oliver biscuits and some pickles.
Hummus with Mint and Parsley
15 oz can chick peas
Put the chick peas in a blender or food processor, add the garlic, sesame paste, olive oil, lemon juice and seasonings. Blend until smooth. Add the yogurt, mint and parsley and blend again. Spoon the mixture into ramekins and decorate with sprigs of parsley.
Idea for presentation: arrange the ramekin on a bed of clean straw in a basket and add some wholemeal pita bread and a bottle of alcoholic or non-alcoholic refreshment, then cover with cellophane and a large ribbon.
9 oz zucchini, sliced
Process the herbs in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the zucchini and process together. Add the cheese and process until well mixed, then add salt and pepper to taste. Turn into one large dish or several small ones and chill.
Idea for presentation: this is a lovely pate for a vegetarian, so wrap with other vegetarian delights and a spray of fresh herbs.
4 oz butter
Melt half the butter in a frying pan, add the onion and garlic and fry for 5 minutes until soft. Add all the other ingredients and stir well. Fill four ramekin dishes with the mixture and chill in the refrigerator until firm. Melt the remaining butter and pour a thin layer over each ramekin.
Ideas for presentation: this would be attractive in a 'chicken-theme' basket. Line the basket and arrange the ramekins inside, then add some new-laid eggs and a jar of really good home-made chicken stock. If your artistic talents stretch that far, the label could be in the shape of a chicken, but if you feel that is beyond you, how about the shape of an egg!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The author has a home and garden site with ideas, suggestions and articles on decorating indoors and outdoor at www.bricabrackorner.com