Jennifer’s Edible Holiday Gifting Ideas

This time of year, is very busy for those of us in the Service Industry. When we are working long days, late nights, and 7 day weeks, we don’t always have time to shop for gifts or entertain. Even for those not in the Service Industry, it’s a hectic time of year. That’s why I am always on the lookout for ways to ‘simplify’ the holiday season.

With that in mind, we were thrilled to add Claire Tansey’s new cookbook – ‘Uncomplicated’ – to our small collection of books we sell in our Retail Store. Claire, who is originally from Ottawa, is a chef, teacher and former Food Director at Chatelaine. She now focuses her time sharing fun and delicious recipes with her followers at ‘Claire Tansey’s Kitchen’ ( & @tanseyclaire on Instagram) as well as making regular contributions on Cityline, the Toronto Star and on CBC Radio.

Her goal of taking the stress out of home cooking provides the perfect opportunity for us to share some recipes from her cookbook. I chose these recipes with the thought that you might host a small group for a simple weeknight dinner, or want to impress a crowd by offering to bring a spectacular dessert to Christmas Dinner.

These recipes have been re-printed with permission from Claire who will be visiting the Red Apron in February to do a book signing. Follow us on social media and watch for the dates!

I find gift giving a real challenge these days. I don’t always know what people want or need, but I have determined that if I give food, it will never go to waste. If you bundle the items up nicely, you can give both food, and an experience at the same time!

Here are some tasty examples…

Select a high quality pancake mix packaged with a premium maple syrup to someone who you know will enjoy a simple and delicious breakfast. We carry Against the Grain’s Ancient Grain Pancake Mix in our store which is blended with whole grain wheat, barley & corn flours, grown on their farm near Winchester. If you want to glam up the gift, include a griddle pan and flipper from CA Paradis.

One of the best gifts I’ve ever received was a bag of Durum flour from GRAIN, a jar of premium pasta sauce, and pasta recipe book. That one bag of flour inspired me to dust off my pasta maker, and we enjoyed a number of delicious meals, while having tons of fun making pasta!

Select a couple of beautiful Ontario & Quebec cheeses, and pair them with a delicious jam or jelly (like Provisions Food Company’s Crabapple & Rosé Jam, made with wines and fruits from the Niagara region) with a loaf of Sourdough Baguette from Purebread (available at the Lansdowne Farmer’s Market on Sunday) and make a cheese lover VERY happy! Add a bottle of Ontario wine and it’s even better.

Stollen, Traditional Christmas Pudding, Yulke Log or Fruit Cake makes an awesome gift and you know it will get eaten. True Loaf Bread Company makes a beautiful Stollen every year, and we are carrying King George Pudding on our shelves now until Christmas. You can pre-order a Holiday Fruit Cake from Three Tarts bakery on Bank Street and while you are there, pick up a few boxes of sugar cookies!

Pascale’s All Natural Ice Cream is taking orders for Ice Cream Yule Logs. Send a box of organic fruit from GoodFood2U and be sure that it will be enjoyed over the holidays!

The following recipes have been excerpted from Uncomplicated: Taking the stress out of home cooking by Claire Tansey. Copyright © 2018 by Claire Tansey. Published by Penguin Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Ricotta Dumplings
Serves 3 to 4

3 eggs
2 cups ricotta cheese (about 15 ounces/425 g)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons salt
1 Jar of your favourite tomato sauce or use the recipe on page 162 of Uncomplicated

For garnish
Extra-virgin olive oil
Grated Parmesan cheese
Chopped fresh parsley or chives

Cooking the dumplings in barely simmering water is the key to getting the texture just right. You can serve them tossed in melted butter, or in a little warmed tomato sauce.

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Bring a large, wide pot of salted water to a boil; reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

Whisk the eggs in a large bowl, then whisk in the ricotta, then the flour and salt. Use two cereal spoons to drop large blobs of batter into the gently simmering water (use one spoon to hold the batter and the other spoon to scrape the batter into the water). You will need to do this in two batches.

Simmer dumplings 5 minutes or until firm and cooked through. Use a slotted spoon to lift them out of the water and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Keep the first batch warm in the oven while you cook the second batch.

Serve on Tomato Sauce and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, some Parmesan and parsley.

Gingerbread Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze
Serves: 12 – 14

Always buy fancy molasses for baking—cooking molasses is too bitter for cakes..

3⅓ cups (500 g) flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 eggs
1 cup (210 g) canola oil
¾ cup (165 g) granulated sugar
1 cup (330 g) molasses
1 cup (250 g) hot tap water

Lemon Glaze
1 ½ cups (210 g) icing sugar
4 tablespoons lemon juice

To make the Gingerbread Bundt, preheat oven to 325F. Spray a 10-cup bundt pan generously with baking spray. Whisk flour with ginger, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs well. Whisk in oil, then sugar and molasses. Pour egg mixture into flour mixture and stir well. Add hot water and stir well. Scrape into prepared pan. Bake for 55 min or until a cake tester inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a rack 10 min.

To make lemon glaze, whisk the icing sugar with the lemon juice until smooth. Flip cake out onto a rack set over a baking sheet. Let cake cool for another 5 min then poke deep holes all over the cake using a long skewer. Drizzle glaze all over cake, trying to get some into each hole, and brushing the glaze so it covers the entire surface of the cake. Serve warm or let cool completely.