This is not the season to be spontaneously jolly. It is the season for list makers and other organizers, a time when receiving an invitation for dinner means wouldn't it be nice to take them a little something.
If you're smart, and have been through the ritual of reciprocal cheer before you have 30 pints of bread-and-butter pickles tucked away somewhere, capped with calico cloth and tied with colored ribbon, just waiting for such an opportunity as this. However, if you are new on the circuit and an unexpected invitation arrives before you've had a chance to bake, cook or can, here are a few easy (Oh, it's just a little thing I whipped up) gifts from the kitchen. MARINATED MUSHROOMS (Makes 1 Gift) 1/2 pound firm mushrooms 3/4 cup virgin olive oil 2 or 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh parsely Salt to taste
Wipe mushrooms with paper towel and place in a glass bowl. Combine olive oil, garlic and parsley and pour over mushrooms. Marinate in the refrigerator for 48 hours (in the same bowl), stirring occasionally. Add salt when marinated. Put in a covered jar -- don't forget the calico and ribbon. The mushrooms will keep for about 2 weeks. ROASTED PEPPERS (Makes 4 cups) 8 large red and green sweet peppers 2 cloves garlic, peeled and split 3 tablespoons olive oil 1/2 teaspoon dried basil 2 teaspoons wine vinegar Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to broil. Place peppers on a cookie sheet covered with foil and broil, 4 inches from the heat, turning peppers until skins blister and blacken evenly on all sides -- about 15 to 20 minutes. Place charred peppers in a paper bag, close tightly and let stand a minute or two so steam forms in the bag. Remove the peppers one at a time and peel under cool running water.
Slice peeled peppers in long strips and place in a wide-bottomed bowl. Combined garlic, oil, basil vinegar and salt and pepper to taste and pour over the peppers. Marinate for several hours, then put in jars and refrigerate. INDIAN CHUTNEY (Makes 1 1/3 cups) 2 cups of apples, peeled, cored and chopped 1/2 cup chopped onion 1/2 cup seedless raisins 1/3 cup vinegar 1/4 cup brown sugar 1/4 cup water 2 tablespoons candied citron 1 tablespoon curry powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon 2 cloves garlic, minced
Throw everthing into an uncovered pot and cook over low heat for 50 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Cool and pour into fancy jam jars.