Some simple edible Christmas gift ideas for the food lovers out there. 
To find each recipe, click on the title for the link:

  •  Caramel Sauce (Boozy, or not):
    For a number of years, I made Danish sticky buns coated in this concoction (sans alcohol) when I was retailing food. We had a “classic” apricot and sultana bun and a white chocolate and raspberry sticky bun. Comments such as “your sticky buns make life worth living” were frequently passed. One time, a Wellington coffee baron beached his boat to hunt one down, and on another occasion he and his mates drove for 45 minutes on a Saturday morning – hungover – to feed their sticky bun addiction. (My shop was a little way out of town).
    Thankfully those days are behind me now – although having given up catering four times I never say never!
    The crowning glory on the buns was this sticky, gooey, caramel goodness – a base recipe which is also brilliant over ice cream, sticky date pudding, as a dipping sauce for fresh fruit, and of course with Christmas Pud!

  • Pistachio & Szechaun Biscotti:
    Pistachio & Szechuan Biscotti are easy to make and keep well since they are twice-baked in to flavoursome little rusks for adults. Traditionally dunked in Vin Santo, but also good in coffee if it’s little early in the day for a tipple. 

  • Mango, Ginger & Lime Glaze:
    For quite a number of years I made and sold a citrus-based ham glaze that covered goodness-knows how many hams over the years. It still exists in New Zealand – made by someone else now – and it still makes me smile to think I had a presence at so many Christmas tables for so long! Here’s a little something I created recently which is based on the same principles; something fruity and tangy, something sweet and sticky to bind it, a slug of grainy mustard and the zing of lime to cut the sweetness and amp up the tropical flavour.
    Perfect as a super-easy ham glaze for your Christmas table, but also guaranteed to find its place in your summer barbecuing repertoire – it’s delicious on pork ribs.

  • Peri Peri Rub:
    A simple gift idea for Christmas for the cooking enthusiast in the family. Use this versatile rub to add a kick of flavour to chicken, steak, seafood, or a variety of vegetables (think wedges, sweetcorn..) There’s not even any cooking required; just mix it all up, pop it in a clean jar and decorate – job done!

  • Lavender Shortbread:
    Make your favourite shortbread recipe and tizzy it up a bit. My version was to sprinkle the ready-to-bake shortbread with raw sugar and edible lavender just before baking. Once packed into the jars, I sprinkled in a little bit more dried lavender to gently infuse the shortbread. The sprinkle of raw sugar gives it a naughty sweet crunch, but the real secret is the rice flour which ensures a perfect short and crunchy texture. Quite frankly, you can’t go past the recipe on the back of the McKenzie’s Food rice flour packet (linked) for a really great traditional shortbread.

    (As a complete aside with a sprinkle of name dropping, rice flour was the secret ingredient in all the many batches of Lembas Bread I made for the Lord of the Rings Trilogy over a period of approximately three years – although it wasn’t nearly as delicious as this shortbread!)

  • Union Square Nuts:  
    Ridiculously good! I can’t claim the credit for this recipe but I can certainly help spread the word! I gather the recipe is Nigella Lawson’s version of the seasoned nuts she savoured in the Union Square Cafe in New York.  
    Note: because butter is included in this recipe, it is wise to not to make them too far ahead (you’ll only eat them all. anyway).


Recipes 1-4, styling & photography:  Harriet Harcourt