December 15th, 2009

SeceretSanta

The British Larder’s Home Made Christmas Hamper

The British Larder wishes each and every reader a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

I love to play and if it means I can play with food it’s even better. I had to come up with a secret Santa gift for a colleague at work. I thought what gift could be preferable to one that is to be eaten and even better if it makes that persons Christmas even more special.

On my journey home, driving normally gets boring after the first hour, I stop listening to the radio and my brain starts clicking over everything on my “to do list”, a ha…  and today it’s a fun one one to be dreamy about. At first I was wracking my brain thinking of what I could buy…. then as if lightning struck, I remembered about the lovely beetroot chutney that I made from the beets from my garden, the Spiced Caribbean Rum that I bought to make my Apple Snowballs for Christmas and the rest was pretty easy as it became apparent that I should put together a British Larder Christmas Hamper.

Unfortunately I do not know the recipient that well, so I hope that he will enjoy this hamper as much as I enjoyed putting it together. For me it’s not about the cost of the present but the thought and the enjoyment of making it. So recycling an empty carton hamper from last year and re-using some jam jars that I have washed and sterilized was not only perfect to package my gifts  but also added to the satisfaction.

I labeled each item with the product name and wrote on the back  suggestions on how to use that particular item. I think it makes it a bit more individual and shows that I really have put thought and soul into making this gift.

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Everyone loves a nut or two over Christmas, but these Smokey Roasted Chili Nuts are not for the fainthearted. I selected a few different nuts and spices; smoked paprika for the smokey flavour, a dash of dried crushed chillies for heat and a dab of ground cloves for the festive cheer. I roasted them in the oven and bagged them in a clear cellophane bag  decorated with some rustic twine and a cinnamon stick, very festive!

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The Spiced Caribbean Rum came in very handy. I poured the rum into a sterilized bottle and added a cinnamon stick, a couple of cloves and a half a vanilla bean. This will be perfect come Christmas morning to spice things up and my message on the label reads “add a dash of this rum to warmed apple juice laced with cinnamon and orange slices for a festive cheer on Christmas day”.

The date and brandy bon bons and the Chocolate Salami are two good old friends that were featured on The British Larder some time ago,and as they had become synonymous with the British Larder they had to be included.

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I cooked a beetroot and orange chutney at the beginning of November and it’s perfectly matured. The usage note suggests that  this delicious home made beetroot chutney should be served with a very strong mature cheddar on Christmas day,with slices of cold gammon on Boxing day or served with a spoonful with Salmon Gravadlax as a starter.

You can customise your hamper with your own home cooked chutneys and jams, sweets, treats and biscuits. Just remember to have lots of fun! I think a Christmas Hamper is the perfect gift and if it’s home made it’s even better!

Smokey Roasted Chili Nut

  • 50g pecan nuts
  • 50g pistachio nuts
  • 50g whole almonds
  • 50g flaked almonds
  • 2tsb cold water
  • 1tbs olive oil
  • 1tsp smoked paprika
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 1tsp Maldon Sea Salt
  • 1/4 tsp dried crushed chillies

Preheat the oven to  180°C and line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Mix all the nuts except the flaked almonds into a mixing bowl add the water, oil, salt, ground cloves, smoked paprika, salt and crushed chillies, mix well.

Spread the nuts on the lined backing tray and roast them in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, stir them once and add the flaked almonds, mix and return the tray to the oven.

Roast the nuts for a further 5 minutes, keep a eye on them as you do not want the nuts to burn, remove them from the oven when sufficiently roasted.

Let the nuts cool completely before bagging them in a cellophane bag or a clean empty glass jar.

Makes 200g smokey roasted chili nuts

Food Fanatics Tips

Choose your own selection of nuts. I have chosen to use shelled nuts however you could use pistachios in their shells. You could also personalise your spices to make something very  special for each person. You could also use dried herbs or dried citrus fruit skins to flavour your nuts.

Beetroot, Ginger and Cranberry Chutney

  • 500g raw beetroot peeled and diced
  • 3 red onions peeled and sliced
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 100ml Port wine or red wine
  • 300g Demerara sugar
  • 300ml malt vinegar
  • 100g fresh ginger peeled and grated
  • 100g dried cranberries
  • 1 star anise
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Peel the beetroot and dice in approximately 1/2 cm pieces. Peel the onions and slice using a mandolin. Peel and grate the ginger.

Place all the ingredients in a large saucepan over low heat, dissolve the sugar and bring the chutney to a gentle simmer.

Stir the chutney regularly while cooking to prevent it catching. Cook the chutney for about 35 - 40 minutes, I stop the cooking the chutney once it  has thickened and the beetroots are cooked. I like my chutney thick and quite dry but it's your choice. If you would like to test your chutneys setting point, place a small plate in the freezer, pour a teaspoon of chutney on the ice cold plate, let it cool for 5 minutes and then you will have an  indication of what it would look like once cooled.

Let the chutney cool for 10 minutes before you fill your sterilized jars.

Sterilising the jars:

This is one of the most crucial steps to successfully preserving food and you should never cut corners with this one. If  this is not done properly you might find your preserved goods become mouldy and ferment sooner than expected. Preheat the oven to 100°C. Wash the jars in hot soapy water; do not dry them with a tea towel. Place the damp jars and lids on a clean baking tray; try not to touch the jars and lids on the insides. Place them in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes. Let the jars cool slightly before you scoop in the warm chutney into the sterilised jar.

Never pour cold liquid into hot glass jars, you will end up with broken glass. Take extra care when sterilising the jars, if they are overheated they might explode.

Caribbean Spiced Vanilla Rum

  • Morgan's Spiced Caribbean Rum
  • 1/2 Vanilla Pod
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Choose a bottle,  clean it thoroughly with hot soapy water and sterilize the bottle in the oven as per the method above.

Let the sterilized bottle cool completely.

Place the cloves, vanilla pod and cinnamon stick inside and fill the bottle with the rum.

Secure the lid and decorate the bottle with string, twine or ribbon of your choice. Attach a luggage tag with the title and write a use for the product on the back.

Food Fanatics Tips

I did not give quantities for this recipe as it's your choice to what size bottle you use. You can use any spirit and spice of your choice.


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20 Comments to “The British Larder’s Home Made Christmas Hamper”

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  1. This is beautiful! Love the idea and the recipes. But, please…. tell a confused Brazilian what is “digestive biscuits”? Are them salty or sweet?? :)

  2. Alex says:

    That’s the best Secret Santa gift I have ever seen – so jealous of your lucky colleague!

  3. Hilary says:

    Your homemade Secret Santa gift puts my homemade Secret Santa gift to shame. I made homemade chocolate chocolate barks, which are cute and tasty, but this hamper is just lovely!

  4. [...] The British Larder's Home Made Christmas Hamper Recipe by Madalene … [...]

  5. peter thomas says:

    I would be over the moon if given this hamper for christmas, wow, :) ))

  6. Fantastic, Maddy! I already have jars of autumn fruits chutney and lime chutney made and matured, so the beginning of the hampers is well under way. I shall be adding jars of cranberry sauce (see new video on http://www.ukthermomix.com) and small loaves of stollen and pannetone. It’s such fun to create gifts that are made with love, and thank you for the presentation ideas!

  7. Retha says:

    Wow, what a beautifull and very thoughtfull gift. Thank you for the inspiration.

  8. Tenina says:

    You are such an inspiration Maddy! I love your packaging and the photos are beautiful…I feel inadequate again! I have to live my game in the blogging world! Merry Christmas and thank you!

  9. Kavey says:

    Wow, I’d be THRILLED to receive a home-made hamper like this! Very impressed and love the styling too!

  10. Choclette says:

    What a lovely post and such a great present. How I would love to get a hamper such as this. Some useful tips too. I usually make a few things as presents, but always fall down a bit on the presentation as I end up running out of time.

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