Food items are always a hit and rather than giving a mix or two this year, I am actually going to make up a few items and put them in a basket. Instead of a theme, like breakfast or dinner which I have done in the past, I am going for an herb sampler of items. Making the time to create a gift from scratch is well worth it, most people you give a homemade gift will recognise the love and effort that went into the gift making it more special than anything you can buy in a shop.
Here are a few recipes for herb infused items you can bake up and give to your friends too:
Savory Herb Crackers
Here is the recipe, for detailed instructions for making these, check out the how to I did back in July.
Rosemary Crackers How to!
Baking up a pan of scones is probably the easiest gift to create. They have a good shelf life and you can make them as a mix or as the baked finished product. They also do not require special tools and the variations are endless. and most versatile recipe you can create. For other scone recipes, check out this past post.
¼ cup white sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt or 1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons grated orange or lemon zest
3 sticks (1 and one-half cups) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (see testing note)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 cup dried currants
Egg wash made from 1 egg whisked with 1 teaspoon water or additional cream
Crystallized sugar for topping, optional
In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, zest and pieces of cold butter. Beat on low speed just until butter is the size of peas. (Alternately, whisk together dry ingredients and work butter in by hand.)
In a small bowl, whisk together schnapps, eggs and cream. Turn mixer on low and add liquid in a slow, steady stream and mix just until mixture is blended, about 1 minute.
In a small bowl, toss currants with 2 tablespoons flour. Add to bowl and mix for a few seconds just until distributed. Turn dough out onto a clean counter and make it into 2 balls. (Note: due to the large amount of butter and eggs, this is a very sticky dough. Add flour as needed to form into balls. It will firm up when chilled.)
Flatten into disks and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least an hour.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Press or roll chilled dough out to one-inch thickness and use a cookie cutter or glass to cut scones of desired size. You can re-roll scraps but they may need to be re-chilled first. Place scones on a greased cookie sheet and brush with egg wash or cream. Sprinkle with sugar if desired. Bake 13 to 20 minutes depending on size until golden brown. Yields about 60 mini (2-inch) scones.
Scones can be topped with jelly or with Devon cream or even lemon curd, so try this!
Bouquet Garni is traditionally bay, thyme, rosemary & parsley, but I believe you can mix your own bouquets to work with your favorite ingredients. You can combine the herbs and place them in cute squares of fabric or muslin bags. And put them in a bale jar or basket with a few recipes. You can add an herbal vinegar and a bottle of quality olive oil to make a perfect seasoning package.
Here are some suggestions for a selection of Bouquet Garni bags that will compliment different types of food.
For Meat – 1 teaspoon each Nutmeg, Thyme, Chervil and Tarragon.
For Fish – 1 teaspoon each of Tarragon, Dill, Mint and Lemon peel.
For Vegetables – 4 Bay Leaves, 2 teaspoons Parsley and 1 teaspoon Thyme.
1 cup fresh herbs (of your choice)
Herb Quick Bread
Quick breads do not have yeast ahdn have no rise time,so they make a quick and easy gift. You can use your imagination here too, but I have given two recipes to try.
Herb & Cheese Quick Bread
Make up a basket of culinary herbs & spices to give as a gift. You can include your own home made herb tea blends, give them pretty labels, add a herb mug and pack them all in a basket for a herb tea fan. Or pack a selection of dried herbs and spices into some little amber glass jars which you’ve labelled with the name of the contents, add a few loose herbs such as bay leaves, cinnamon sticks or even dried orange slices, cover in cellophane and finish with raffia to make your own personal herb and spice gift baskets. If you’ve grown and dried your own herbs not often available in supermarkets such as lemon thyme, chocolate peppermint and rose geranium, you can add them to your basket. Or make Rose Geranium, Vanilla and Lavender sugars and put together a gift basket for someone who likes to bake, slip in a few recipes, biscuit cutters and whatever else takes your fancy. You can make themed gifts too, like an Italian herb gift basket for a friend who loves pizza and pasta.
If you are too busy to craft these items, check out the Backyard Patch. We have herbal vinegars, scone mixes, cracker mixes and even soup mixes, that are entirely hand-blended with herbs we grow ourselves. An entire selection of Backyard Patch items can be seen on Etsy and if you use this code: PASSPORT10, you will get 10% off.