Today we're very excited to be joined by Dinah of DinahsGourmetGifts.com. She is chef, blogger, and author who will be signing copies of her new book, Gourmet Gifts at our Design House event December 2nd, 3rd & 4th.
We've had the pleasure of viewing her book, and let me tell you it's packed with great recipes and gift ideas. The book also makes an excellent holiday gift, and yes the holidays are really just around the corner!
Thanks for the Invitation
A guest post by Dinah Corley, author of Gourmet Gifts
There are two distinct schools of hosting Thanksgiving dinners; highly orchestrated and totally improvisational. Highly organized hosts oversee every detail, planning the menu, polishing the silver and arranging the place cards. Each course will strike a harmonious note. Between the bees’ wax candles, the carefully selected wines, and the dazzling conversation, you will feel as golden and pampered as the perfectly roasted bird. These folks do not under any circumstances want you to show up with a gift intended for their menu or table setting. Trust me.
On the other hand, totally improvisational gatherings give emphasis to family and friends, not the bill of fare. The plate on your lap can have three different dressings and no sweet potatoes. You will be far too busy laughing, gossiping, watching football, or yelling at your kids to notice. Improvisational types do not under any circumstances want you to show up with a gift that requires a stove, refrigerator, or clean dish. Trust me.
The ideal gift in either case is a darling paper pumpkin surrounding a jar of exceptionally good chutney made from fresh sugar pumpkin. The highly orchestrated can slather it on Friday’s turkey sandwiches as they put away their silver. The improvisational will miraculously find a clean spoon before the turkey is carved and pass the jar around to garnish three different dressings.
Orchestrated or Improvisational, you are bound to have a great Thanksgiving, and your hosts are bound to be thankful for this lovely little gift.
Overall prep time: 1½ hours
Active prep time: 35 minutes
-Easy-Inexpensive-Do not freeze-Ships well-Can be doubled or tripled
Shelf life: 2 to 3 weeks refrigerated
Makes: about 3 cups
-1 pound peeled and seeded sugar pumpkin, cut into 1-inch cubes
-1 cup granulated sugar
-⅔ cup light brown sugar
-1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
-1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
-⅓ cup golden raisins
-3 tablespoons grated lemon zest
-1 tablespoon grated orange zest
-1 piece (½ inch) peeled fresh ginger, cut into fine slivers
1. Combine all of the ingredients in a large Dutch oven or a small stockpot and allow them to macerate for 30 minutes. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer the chutney for 10 minutes.
2. Remove the cover and continue to cook the chutney for another 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the pumpkin flesh is very soft and easily pierced with a fork and most of the liquid has cooked away. Allow the mixture to cool slightly. Meanwhile, wash a glass jar or jars (this recipe makes enough to fill three 8-ounce jars) in hot soapy water and dry in a 190°F oven.
3. Spoon the warm chutney into the hot jar, let cool, and cover tightly. Store in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble and deliver the gift.
A pumpkin costume makes the chutney an entirely charming gift for any fall occasion. The supply list and directions that follow apply to an 8-ounce jar approximately 4 inches high and 3 inches wide. You can adjust the supplies and directions to accommodate just about any jar; simply make sure that the diameter of the orange paper circle is four times the height of the jar. For example, a jar that is 4 inches in height requires a circle of orange paper that is 16 inches in diameter.
Suggested supplies for each 4-inch jar-1 circle (16 inches) orange construction paper or lightweight poster paper
-2 sheets dark-orange tissue paper
-2 circles (3 inches each) brown construction paper
-3 paper or fabric autumn leaves
-1 length (10 to 12 inches) curly paper or paper raffia ribbon in green or brown
How to turn a jar into a pumpkinIf you can envision folding circles of paper to make snowflakes, the construction of this pumpkin cage will be easy. Fold the orange paper circle in half, then in half again. Unfold the circle and smooth it out on a work surface. Using the two intersecting crease lines as your guide, center the chutney jar on the paper circle and trace around the bottom of the jar. Remove the jar and refold the circle into quarters. Fold the quarter circle in half, and then in half again, so that you have folded the circle into 16 parts. (Remember, this is just like folding a paper snowflake.) Use small pointed craft scissors to round off the sharp corners of the folded circle’s outer edge. Unfold the paper circle and smooth it out once again on the work surface, revealing a large circular shape with 16 scallops around the circumference. Starting at the outside of the circle, use the pointed craft scissors to cut along each of the 16 creased lines all the way to the outside of the traced center circle. The big orange circle should now resemble a floppy daisy with 16 petals.
Center the chutney jar on 2 sheets of slightly crumpled tissue paper and gather the tissue loosely over the jar, not only to cover the jar but to give it a rounder shape. Apply a large “X” of double-face tape to the jar lid and press the tissue into the tape to keep it place over the jar. Apply another large “X” of double-face tape to one of the brown paper circles and center it, tape side down, over the top of the jar to neatly cover the orange tissue on the jar lid. Now apply double-face tape all around the perimeter of this brown paper circle. Center the tissue-wrapped, brown-circle-topped jar of chutney on the orange “daisy.” Bring each “petal,” one after the other, just over the rim of the jar lid and press it into the double-face–tape perimeter of the brown circle. Each consecutive petal should overlap about one-third of the previous petal. Proceed all the way around the jar in this fashion. When you are finished, you will have a jar of chutney surrounded by a paper pumpkin “cage.” Apply a couple of large “X”s of double-face tape to the remaining circle of brown construction paper, and apply this circle, tape side down, to the top of the pumpkin cage to further secure the pumpkin “petals” and cover the construction of your wrap. Use double-face tape or super-tacky craft glue to apply the autumn leaves and some curly-paper or raffia “vine” to the pumpkin for a finishing touch.