sugared ginger: a homemade christmas gift idea

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i started a tradition last year in this space, an edible homemade christmas gift idea that you could give and share with your family and friends, so to make it a tradition i kinda had to keep it going this year too! last years was pretty special, not only did i give you an idea for an edible gift but also a wellness beauty gift:

diy herbal face steam & white chocolate pistachio pomegranate bark

i also have some beautiful chocolate & almond coated mandarin slices that would make a lovely homemade christmas gift as well from the year before that:

chocolate drenched, almond sprinkled mandarin slices

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but moving onto this years homemade gift idea...it actually came from a recipe post i did with the head chef at charlotte & the quail (you know my home away from home). she made the most amazing candied ginger i have ever had. actually to tell you the truth i have never liked candied, sugared, crystallized (whatever you want to call it) ginger. i have always found store ones to be overly processed and much too sweet and almost fake tasting, like truly i don't know if it is real ginger or not haha

this ginger that vic made was completely different. the ginger flavour is like nothing you will have ever tasted. it is fresh and clean and has a fiery kick to it! that fiery kick is awesome this time of year with all those nasty colds being spread around, one piece of this ginger and your sinus passage will be good as new! ahhhh you can breathe again and enjoy a sweet treat!

i don't use any processed sugars over here so this ginger can be made three ways....the ginger is first simmered down with water and cane sugar (you could use white if you prefer, and it would give it a lighter look than the darkness that the cane sugar gives the ginger but i much prefer the cane sugar taste plus you know refined sugar free ya da ya da ya da), then the sugar is left to dry a touch and get all tacky, which at this point you could leave it as is (which is what i did for my gifts this year) or you could give it that crystallized, candied look and taste by coating it in either cane sugar again or you could use white sugar. now of course white sugar gives it that beautiful wintery look but personally i much preferred the cane sugar taste to the white sugar (that may also be because i am just not used to much white sugar anymore). 

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which ever way you choose to coat the ginger (if you do, like i said i left mine without that final extra sugar coating and found it just, if not more, delicious) know your friends and family will love it, well as long as they like ginger! 

i went to michael's to get these cute little glass containers to hand out to all my friends and family, with a sprig of winter fir and a sweet little flower wrapped with yarn this simple diy gift is complete.

never underestimate the power of a homemade gift, personally i prefer them to anything else these days. knowing the time spend making and putting the gift together just for me means so much more than running down to a store and buying something consumer like. it is that extra touch of special that this time of the year should really be all about. 

you can find the sugared ginger recipe here over on the charlotte & the quail / nourish blogging space! you can also see some different pics from the shoot i did with vic's ginger! 

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puff wrapped baked brie with honey, pistachios, walnuts & autumn dried fruits

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there is nothing i love to do more on a chilly autumn afternoon or evening than light a cozy fire, pour a couple of glasses of wine and arrange a beautiful charcuterie/cheese platter.

charcuterie arrangements are actually one of my most favourite meals to have. {you can see one from last year with another version of a baked brie here}. little nibbles of this and that, hitting all those taste buds in all the right places! the melding of flavours and combination of textures you can come up with really are endless, as long as you have the staples of a good charcuterie platter down...

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a good charcuterie comes down to quality ingredients and an assortment of flavours and textures that all meld really well together. in this arrangement i used 5 kinds of Castello Cheese; decorated cream cheese with chives, smoked gorgonzola, double crème white, aged havarti and brie cheese (for the baked brie recipe at the end).  when thinking of cheeses for a charcuterie you want ones that will please a crowd, i always choose a couple of soft cheeses and a couple hard, a smoked and usually I will bake a brie {because nothing makes me happier than an ooie gooie baked brie}. you want to make it so everyone can have a nibble of their favourite kind of cheese flavour and texture. 

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my guide to a perfect charcuterie/cheese arrangement

  1. good quality local cheeses {Castello is a global company with a combination of canadian and imported cheeses}.
  2. local sliced salami & smoked meats - a few flavour is always nice. 
  3. dried fruits & nuts {some of my faves being dried figs, dates, apricots, sesame cashews, smoked almonds)
  4. in season fruits - grapes, apples, pears & mandarin oranges are great this time of year
  5. local honey comb - don’t underestimate the power of honey drizzled on absolutely everything!
  6. olives as they are or a nice tapinade
  7. some kind of jelly or antipasto {here i used my mom’s sweet & spicy pepper jelly (the recipe, I promise to share one day)}
  8. some tasty crackers & a sourdough loaf or french baguette
  9. cucumber is always a nice addition to a cheese platter for some crunch
  10. wine & dark chocolate never made anyone mad!

Castello and i have also teamed up to bring you a pretty special contest worth over $100!! the winner will receive Castello cheese vouchers, a beautiful handcrafted raw edge wooden cheeseboard (similar to the one in these photos) as well as 3 chalkboard cheese flags (so you can label and decorate your beautiful platter for all your guests). all you have to do is click the link below and enter your details for a chance to win! the contest runs until december 12, the winner will be contacted the following day!

CONTEST LINK

*giveaway is only open to canadian residents

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as i just said, i love me a good baked brie! it is an awesome appetizer to take to all your holiday parties or if hosting your own to serve. they are simple to throw together yet look elegant once presented. 

this brie especially, wrapped in puff pastry kinda looks like a show stopper. it takes no more than 5 minutes to throw together, 20 minutes to make and give or take 4 minutes to devour!! 

it has a sweet & savoury combination; with pistachios, walnuts, dried blueberries, figs & dates, fresh thyme and some dollops of good, local, unpasteurized honey, wrapped in some beautiful puff pastry that gets all golden in the oven. sprinkled with some himalayan salt at the end and voila an autumn afternoon you have. 

it would be great to serve at thanksgiving or over the christmas holidays. i have never had anyone dislike one of my baked brie's. i think next year i am going to have to finally share my basil pesto & sundried tomato version that people literally beg me to make...next year i promise! until then, turn that oven on and throw this one in, you won't be disappointed! 

ps. i think i am cut off from every saying flavours & textures ever again haha

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 puff wrapped baked brie with honey, pistachios, walnuts & autumn dried fruits

ingredients

1 round of brie (Castello or another local brand in your area)

1 rolled puff pastry (or one square thawed and rolled out)

4 tbsp of honey

1 tbsp of butter

2 tbsp chopped pistachios

2 tbsp of chopped walnuts

2 large dried dates 

4 dried figs

2 tbsp of dried blueberries

4 sprigs of fresh thyme

1 egg for brushing

directions

preheat the oven to 400 degrees

de-thaw your puff pastry. once de-thawed start to make your filling mixture.

roughly chop all of the ingredients except the thyme and dried blueberries. add all of the ingredients into a small bowl and throw in the blueberries.

in a small sauce pan on low-medium heat melt 1 tbsp of butter. once melted add in 3 tbsp of honey and melt. once melted and heated up (about 1 minute), add in the fresh thyme (taking the thyme leaves off of the sprigs), mix and then add in the nuts and dried fruits.

mix the nuts & dried fruit with the honey making sure to coat everything. take off the heat and set aside. 

place your round of brie in the middle of the rolled puff pastry and scoop 3/4 (saving some to top the brie for serving) of the honey, nut & fruit mixture onto the brie. 

mix up one egg and brush the inside edges (around the round of brie) of the puff pastry with an egg. then fold the edges of the puff pastry around the brie, fully enclosing it. brush the top of the puff wrapped brie with the egg and sprinkle with a touch of salt. 

bake for 15 minutes. take the brie out of the oven and brush on the remaining tbsp of honey and bake for another 5-8 minutes. this will get the top nice and brown (you don’t want to add the honey too early or it will burn).

once out of the oven add the remaining nut & fruit mixture to the top and serve with some crackers, bread or on its own. 


*thank you Castello Cheese for sponsoring this post. all comments, opinions and photography are my own.