From chilli oil to tahini thins: Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for edible Christmas gifts | Food
Every year, a month or so before Christmas, I plan all the edible gifts I’m going to make for my friends and family. I can see the jams and preserves all jarred up. I can smell the roasted nuts and spiced, star-shaped biscuits tied up with a smart ribbon. Every year, truth be told, I never quite get around to it. Time runs out, plan B kicks in and I hastily head for the shops. This year, however, is not every year, as no one needs reminding, so, for once, we might have enough time on our hands to make and bake for those we love. We might not be able to choose whom we’re spending Christmas with, or even where we’ll be, but lists can still be made, plans can be hatched … and gifts can still be made.
Festive chilli oil (pictured above)
This chilli oil is spiced with the festive flavours of cinnamon, star anise and cloves. Drizzle it over everything from noodles to ricotta-topped toast. If you’re making a double or triple batch, be sure to use a big pan with a large surface area, because the chilli mixture needs to fry in a single layer. This keeps in a sealed jar at room temperature for three weeks.
Prep 10 min
Cook 40 min
Makes 1 x 220g jar
6-7 medium red chillies, roughly chopped (100g)
6 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped (30g)
15g piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
12 cloves, roughly crushed
Salt and black pepper
2 cinnamon sticks, roughly broken
3 star anise
200ml olive oil
1 tsp chipotle flakes
1 tbsp red bell pepper flakes
2 tsp sugar
Put the first four ingredients in the small bowl of a food processor with a teaspoon and a quarter of salt and plenty of black pepper. Pulse until very finely chopped, scraping down the sides as you go. (If you don’t have a small food processor, very finely chop everything by hand instead.)
Put the chilli mix and 100ml oil in a medium, non-stick frying pan on a medium-low heat, add the cinnamon and star anise, and cook gently for 30 minutes. The oil should bubble only very gently – you don’t want to deep-fry the chillies or garlic, or for them to get at all browned, so turn down the heat if need be.
Stir in the chipotle and pepper flakes, sugar and the remaining oil, cook on a low heat for three minutes, then turn off the heat and leave to cool completely. Transfer to a clean, sterilised jar, seal and store.
Traditional sweet shop caramels get dialled up here with the umami-rich miso. And once you’ve tried a couple, there is just a chance that these won’t get given away at all. These will keep for up to a week at room temperature and up to a fortnight in the fridge.
Prep 5 min
Cook 50 min
Makes About 42
200g caster sugar
200g soft light brown sugar
480g whipping cream
70g unsalted butter
65g white miso
¼ tsp flaked salt, plus extra for sprinkling
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
Grease and line a 20cm square tin, making sure the greaseproof paper has a healthy overhang.
Put the two sugars, cream, butter and honey in a medium saucepan, stir with a whisk to combine, then cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, until the sugars and butter have melted.
Lower the heat to medium and simmer, stirring frequently, for 35 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the miso, salt and vanilla, then pour into the prepared tin and put in the fridge to cool and set.
Once set, cut into 42 squares. Cut out suitably sized squares of greaseproof paper and use these to wrap the caramels, twisting both ends, like a bonbon wrapping. Store in an airtight container.
Tahini and nori thins
These will make a very welcome addition to any cheeseboard and are also great with dips. They can be made with gluten-free flour, if need be, and feel free to swap the seeds and spices for any you have to hand. They will keep in an airtight container for up to a week.
Prep 5 min
Chill 10 min
Bake 13 min
2 large eggs
180g plain flour
Salt and black pepper, plus flaked salt to finish
1½ tbsp white sesame seeds
1 tsp chilli flakes
1½ tbsp nori flakes
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, then add the tahini, flour, half a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper, and whisk to combine. With your hands, bring the mix together into a sticky dough.
Put the sesame seeds, nori and chilli flakes into a second, small bowl.
Divide the dough in three. Put one piece of dough between two sheets of greaseproof paper, then roll it out with a rolling pin until it’s 5mm thick. Peel off the top sheet of paper, then sprinkle all over with a third of the sesame seed mixture. Replace the paper and roll out the dough again, this time to 1mm thick, in doing so firmly pressing the sesame seeds, chillies and nori flakes into the dough.
Discard the top sheet of paper, then slide the dough, still on its greaseproof paper base, on to a large baking tray. Repeat with the remaining two pieces of dough and sesame mix, so you end up with three trays. Using a knife, cut the dough into squares or diamonds, then refrigerate for 10 minutes.
Heat the oven to 190C (170C fan)/375F/gas 5, then bake the thins for 13-15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and, while they’re still hot, sprinkle all over with a little flaked salt. Leave on the tray to cool completely before storing or packing into an airtight container.