Foodepedia recently attended a one-off Miele event, in good time for the run up to Christmas, making food for gifts. We hope these recipes will inspire you to spend a little time, but not much money, on saying thank you to hosts.
Red onion jam, Florentines and pistachio and ginger biscotti – beautifully wrapped – will bring them more pleasure than the usual quickly-bought bottle.
Getting to know your oven and hob before you buy is possible if you join a workshop at Miele.
RED ONION JAM
2 tbsp olive oil100g butter
1.2kg red onions, sliced1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
2 bay leaves
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
100g light muscovado sugar
200ml dry red wine
150ml sherry vinegar
4 x 227g jars, sterilisedCellophane, ribbon, jar lids, decorative jar covers, labels
1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large frying pan or wok. Add the onions, salt, pepper, bay leaves, thyme and sugar and cook over a low heat for 30 to 40 minutes until the onions are very soft but still have some shape.
2. Add the wine and vinegar. Increase the heat, letting the mixture bubble away to reduce the liquid by about two thirds (it will take about 25 to 30 minutes) until it reaches the consistency of a deliciously melting marmalade.
3. Remove the bay leaves. Ladle the marmalade into the jars (be careful as the mixture will be very hot). Cover the jars and leave to cool.
4. Decorate the jars with covers, ribbon and decorative labels. Remember to put information on the labels giving the made on date, the eat by date, storage and eating instructions (delicious with cheese and cold meats)
5. Store in a cool dark place for up to three months.
50g demerara sugar
50g golden syrup
50g plain flour
4 glacé cherries, finely chopped
25g candied peel, finely chopped
25g golden sultanas
50g flaked almonds, slightly chopped
175g plain or white chocolate, broken into pieces
Cellophane, ribbon, labels
Preheat the oven to 180C (fan ovens; adjust for your own oven)
1 Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
2 Heat the butter, sugar and syrup in a heavy-based saucepan – without letting it catch – until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat and add the flour, cherries, peel, sultanas and flaked almonds. Stir well to mix. The mixture will feel thick and heavy.
3 Drop heaped teaspoonfuls of the mixture onto the baking sheeting, leaving large gaps between the heaps as they will spread during cooking. You should have about 20 heaps
4 Place in the oven for about eight to 10 minutes – until they have spread and become flat and the edges have turned golden-brown.
5 Remove them from the oven and, while they are still hot, reshape them into circles by pushing the edges in with a palette knife. Leave them to firm for two to three minutes then transfer them carefully to a wire cooling rack.
6 Melt the chocolate in a pan and, using a pastry brush or similar, spread the underside of each Florentine with chocolate. Leave to cool. You might need to add a second coat to build up a thick layer of chocolate.
7 Using a fork, make wavy lines in the chocolate and leave to dry.
8 Pile up several Florentines together, in the centre of a generous square of cellophane. Draw up the sides of the cellophane and tie it together with a decorative ribbon. Add a label to the base with the made on and storage instructions (keep in a biscuit tin; eat within two days).
PISTACHIO AND GINGER BISCOTTI
110g caster sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp brandy
Grated zest of 1½ oranges
150g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
½ tsp ground ginger¼ tsp salt
80g shelled pistachios
60g stem ginger in syrup, drained and roughly chopped
Cellophane, ribbon, labels
Preheat the oven to 170C (fan ovens; adjust for your own oven).
1. Cream together the butter and sugar then gradually add the eggs. Stir in the brandy and orange zest followed by the flour, ground ginger and salt. Fold in the pistachios and stem ginger
2. Lightly dust a lined baking tray with flour and spoon the mixture on to the tray. Leave to rest in the fridge for about 30 mins so it firms up a little.
3. Take the dough out of the fridge and, using your hands and a bit more flour, reshape the dough to make a rough log about 25cm long.
4. Bake for 20 minutes then remove from the oven and leave to cool. The log will be partially baked and quite soft.
5. Adjust the oven to 130C.
6. When the log has cooled, cut it across into slices about 1cm thick, using a serrated knife. Lay the slices flat on the baking tray and return to the oven for about 40 minutes until they are crisp. Remove and leave to cool.
7. Pile several up, criss-crossing them on top of each other, on the centre of a generous piece of cellophane. Fold up the cellophane and secure with a decorative ribbon. Add a label giving the made on and eat by dates as well as storage instructions (keep in a biscuit tin; eat within three to four few days).
The clever team at Miele’s Experience Centre in central London have put together a few tips and hints when making food for gifts and, as this is the season for giving and sharing, we are publishing them here for you.
1. Collect interesting bottles and jars throughout the year – to save you time and money when you come to make your foodie treats.
2. Do not make your food gifts too far in advance as they will go soft or stale. The exceptions are chutneys, pickles and flavoured oils as they need time to mature.
3. Label your gifts giving a made on date, an eat by date and storage instructions – particularly if the gift needs to be chilled or kept in a cool dry place.
4. Give serving suggestions, especially if you’ve made gifts such as spiced fruit or flavoured oils that might leave people wondering what to serve them with. For example, spiced fruits go extremely well with cold meats and cheese.
5. Remember to sterilise glass jars and bottles before filling them. This can be done in an oven or in boiling water.
6. Pour hot mixtures into warm jars (the heat might otherwise crack the jars).
7. Use plastic coated lids for jars of chutneys or pickle. Vinegar makes non-coated lids rust and corrode leaving behind an unpleasant taste.
8. Use quality fruit and vegetables when using them whole (such as for spiced fruit) and go for just under-ripe, rather than over-ripe, fruit and vegetables as they will hold their shape. Use blemished fruit or windfalls for chutney instead.
9. Use white distilled vinegar, or cider or wine vinegar, for preserved fruit (malt vinegar tends to overpower flavours and makes the syrup very dark).
10. Use whole spices when preserving whole fruit – ground spices can turn the syrup cloudy.