Holiday Specials with Borges
What’s not to love about the holidays? For some, Christmas holds a religious significance which adds a beautiful meaning to their lives. For others, it’s the New Year they look forward too, with all the promise it holds for a new beginning. Some make use of this time to see their families and spend time with friends to chat merrily away and make up for busy days. A quiet handful sees it as a moment of reflection and simple joys, with marked nostalgia for a year well spent.
Whatever the reason, an undeniable cheer infects the air, and there’s no better way to enjoy it than by spreading this happiness to others. Things will be a little different this year as gatherings will be reasonably limited. But despite the restraints we have to cautiously observe, we still have two cheer-giving constants: gifts and food.
Gifts, of course, are an inseparable concept for this time. And what would these festivities be without food? Although it won’t be the same as being in a huge noisy party filled with laughter over presents and feasting, gifts and food (as gifts) can still be sent out with our fondest wishes for everyone we care for. In that way, we will still be able to share the warmth that truthfully is the essence of this season. And so we’ll be talking about several handmade and heartfelt recipes to give out to friends and family.
Stress less, cook (and give) more
In an ideal world, we will have the time to leisurely browse through local markets, spend weekends churning out homemade treats, and have days wrapping everything daintily with a bow. But the reality is, we all have full time jobs that get busier by the last month of the year, families that supply distractions to no end, and there’s this pressure to be Instagram-worthy in all of our endeavours, Christmas-time especially.
So before we start on our cooking spree, here are some pointers to save your time, energy, and sanity.
- Make a plan
Nothing saves sanity as much as good preparation and clear planning. Know what recipes will you make, what stuff and how much of these do you need to make things happen, what’s the budget, and when do you actually—realistically—have time to do all of these. It might sound tedious at first but a good outline helps you avoid last minute decision-making and unplanned trips to the market. Make that recipe plan, the grocery list, the budget plan, the timetable, and of course, your gift checklist.
- Shop for ingredients and supplies online
After having spent much of the year taking precautions to avoid crowds and getting sick, shopping for groceries online has gained the traction that it deserves, and should be a trend to follow for this period. Not only that, online shopping makes it easier to stick to your list and stops you from impulse purchases. The running total in online shopping sites is a constant reminder of how big of a bill are you racking up, so you’re not tempted to go over-budget.
- Do things ahead of time, especially the little things
Have a few hours to spare? Make use of the freezer and prepare the things that could be frozen in your recipes. Or even just start filling out (or print) those greeting cards and gift labels (with addresses) so you have some things out of the way. And get those non-perishable ingredients delivered, like flours, oils, and dry spices, so they’re already there when you’re ready to cook.
- Make it simple
You don’t have to make every gift handmade to make someone feel appreciated. Pair your small homemade gift with a storebought item, like some fresh or dried fruit and good quality tea. Use gift bags to save time on wrapping. Above all, remind yourself that there’s no pressure in making things perfect because it’s the thought that ultimately counts.
Gift-giving, the Borges Way
Our little compilation of gift ideas is easy to prepare ahead of time and can be made in large quantities without sacrificing taste. The secret is in using a few high-quality ingredients that are already robust in flavour so they provide the main character of the recipe. With a variation of sweet, sour, and salty options, there’s definitely something in here for everybody.
Lemony Olives and Feta
Borges Whole Olives, 1 green and 1 black bottle
2 cups feta cheese, cubed
Zest from 2 lemons
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp whole peppercorns, black or white
Fresh parsley, roughly chopped
Fresh rosemary sprigs
Clean bottles for gifting*
Wash and carefully zest two lemons, avoiding the white pith. In a bowl, mix together all of the ingredients except the rosemary and olive oil. Fill your bottles with the olive mixture. Push in a sprig of rosemary on the side of every bottle, then submerge the whole mixture with olive oil, leaving a bit of space from the brim. Refrigerate and eat or give away after 24 hours. The flavours slowly mellow out the longer it is marinated.
*Sterilise bottles by immersing them in boiling water for 10 seconds. Drain and let air-dry completely.
Gourmet Spiced Nuts
3 cups of raw nuts (any preferred variety, e.g. cashews, peanuts, almonds)
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
½ tsp Garam Masala
2 tbsp Borges Balsamic Vinegar
2 tbsp Borges Olive Oil
2 tbsp brown sugar
Containers for gifting (glass or plastic)
Mix together the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and sugar in one bowl, and the nuts and other spices in another bowl. Spread evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place in an oven pre-heated to 140 °C. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until golden but not burnt. Let the roasted nuts cool completely before placing in containers for gifting.
Make-ahead Glazed Almond Cookies
1 cup butter, cold but slightly softened
¾ c white sugar
1 tsp almond extract
2 cups All-purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
Glaze: ½ cup powdered sugar, 3-4 tsp Borges Natura Nut Drink - Almond
Optional: Almond slivers, sprinkles, or other decorative icing toppings
With a whisk, cream the butter, sugar, and almond extract until lighter in colour and texture. Separately, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add ½ cup of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and whisk until it is well incorporated, then repeating this until all of the dry ingredients have been blended.
If making ahead, roll the cookie mixture into a log, wrap completely with a plastic film, and freeze. Thaw the cookie dough for 2 hours at room temperature before baking.
Cut the log into disks that are ¼ inch thick. Optionally, the dough can be flattened out and cut into playful shapes with cookie cutters. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake the cookies in a 200°C oven for 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool the cookies on a rack.
To make the glaze, whisk in the Borges Almond drink a teaspoon at a time into the powdered sugar until the mixture is pourable but not runny. Pour a spoonful of glaze over each cookie and quickly top with a few almond slivers or decor, if using. Let the glaze dry completely before placing the cookies in containers for giving away.
In full optimism, there is no doubt that we will be making plans for big gatherings again, conditions permitting, for the next holiday season. For now, celebrating with just our nearest and dearest is still something to be cherished. But hopefully with our gifts in the laps of their recipients, then we will be able to bring a sparkle to the eyes of distant loved ones.
Image 1: https://unsplash.com/photos/vcX5AhBwk6s
 Adapted from https://katerinaskouzina.com/recipe-items/marinated-olives-with-feta/
 Adapted from https://www.foodfashionparty.com/2015/12/07/balsamic-spiced-mixed-nuts/
 Adapted from https://www.the-girl-who-ate-everything.com/almond-cookies/