Gifts from the heart, or at least from your own kitchen

I decided this past Christmas that I was going to try my hand at homemade gifts. Now I certainly couldn’t post this before Christmas for fear that it might spoil the surprise for those receiving my homemade goods. But I was so pleased with how they turned out that I now will be giving them as hostess, birthday, cheer up or just because gifts. So I suppose this is the spoiler alert for any of my friends who plan on inviting me to a dinner party.

It started out with a simple idea.  I cut a basil salt recipe out of Food Network Magazine and it had been sitting in my stack of recipes for months, along with the kosher salt and sweet little glass salt shakers from Cost Plus collecting dust in my pantry. One Saturday when my basil plant was overflowing I just picked off all the leaves, threw them in the food processor with the salt and baked the mixture.  It came out the most amazing green color. It was electric.

Basil Salt fresh out of the oven

Basil Salt fresh out of the oven

I poured it into the jars, made my own labels, tied on an old-fashioned Christmas tag with twine and that was that.

Basil Salt Jars by Jules

Basil Salt Jars by Jules


adapted from Food Network Magazine

Pulse ½ cup kosher salt with 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves in a food processor.  Spread on a baking sheet and bake at 225 degrees F until dry, about 45 minutes, tossing halfway through. Let cool and pulse again for a fine powder.  I skipped the second pulse because I liked the coarse grainy look and feel.

I decided my next food gift was going to be my sister’s delicious red onion marmalade.  It is always a favorite and now that I know how to can, I was able to make several to take with us to London for Christmas.

Double the recipe if you can, but you will need a very large sauté pan.  This batch only produced 3 full jars (plus some extra as a nice treat with aged gouda that night)

Red Onion Marmalade Label

Click the label for the recipe on my sister’s blog

The last gift I made was Jamie’s Epic Hot Chocolate.  As I might have mentioned before, I am a huge fan of Jamie Oliver and spent the months leading up to Christmas watching all of his past Channel 4 Christmas specials over and over.  He makes this incredibly rich hot chocolate and griddle pan waffles outside on a cold winter’s day over an open fire.  It was the perfect gift for my husband’s best friend’s three girls, or young ladies as I should now call them.  The only thing I didn’t add was the malt powder.  I couldn’t find it anywhere here in Los Angeles.

The best part of this gift was that I had been racking my brain to come up with a nice gift for my son’s preschool teachers and this was it. It was perfect because my son could help make it, which I think makes it more special.


adapted from “Jamie’s Christmas With Bells On”


4 heaped tbsp. cocoa powder

3 heaped tbsp. powdered sugar

2 heaped tbsp. of malt powder (optional)

2 heaped tbsp. corn flower

1 pinch sea salt

1 pinch cinnamon

3.5 – 4 oz. quality dark chocolate (70%), finely grated (plus a little extra coarsely grated to add to the top)


Add the above ingredients (except the coarsely grated chocolate) into a large jar and shake to mix up.  Once mixed, spoon into gift jars and add a sprinkle of the coarsely grated chocolate on top.

Use 5 heaped tbsp. to 1 pint steaming milk.

5 thoughts on “Gifts from the heart, or at least from your own kitchen

  1. Awesome Julie, makes me want to create! I have had the herb farm here for 15 years and have never heard of the basil/salt, I will try it!

    • My favorite thing would be a caprese salad. Really fresh mozzarella or even a burrata with of course tomatoes & fresh basil from my garden then just a little sprinkling of the salt. A little goes a long way. I have also used it on chicken, rice and pasta. The possibilities are endless. I haven’t tried it but I think it might be good on a hard boiled egg, which I love with a little salt or even a radish. Enjoy!!

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