Being that the gift is a partridge in a pear tree, might I suggest that you not give people some ghastly gift basket from Harry & David or Hickory Farms? Regardless of how much someone might like apples and pears, or salami and cheese, these are the kind of presents you give to people whom you do not know at all.
But there is merit in giving a gift of food which you have made yourself. My father used to make the most amazing lemon curd and package it beautifully and personally deliver it in the days before Christmas.
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/3 cups sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 3/4 sticks (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces
Whisk together zest, lemon juice, sugar, eggs, and a pinch of salt in a 2-quart heavy saucepan. Add butter all at once and cook over moderately low heat, whisking constantly, until curd is thick enough to hold marks of whisk and first bubbles appear on surface, about 10 minutes. Immediately pour curd through a fine sieve into jars and cover immediately. It will keep in the fridge for a week after it’s opened.
Another great idea using lemons is Limoncello, which if you start immediately, will be ready at Christmas. The longer it steeps, the better, and it’s not like people are going to chug down the bottle on Christmas night.
- 2 750ml bottles of pure grain alcohol or if you’re a sissy like me, 100 proof vodka
- the zest of 17 lemons – I use my fancy Microplane grater.
- 3.5 cups of white sugar
- 5 cups of water
Zest the lemons, put them in a glass one-gallon jar with the alcohol and let it sit for 45 days. Then mix the sugar and water in a pot and bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Let the mixture sit until completely cool and then mix with the alcohol and lemon infusion. Let that mixture sit for 45 days. Then filter the mixture 4 times using #4 coffee filters. Bottle the liquid and put it in the freezer. It’s excellent alone, with club soda as a spritzer, or over ice-cream.
Failing these, a good box of chocolates is usually appreciated!