Purim Baskets can easily turn into a real treasure trove for all of us making Mishloat Manot gift baskets. Since I only have eyes for kosher, homemade and natural, I find Purim Baskets an unbeatable chance to send a select few some fabulous homemade, fun and useful goodies (did you say fun and useful? Of course! Absolutely not an oxymoron). Do you think you have just found the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe? Or the perfect raspberry vinegar recipe? Or the best chutney recipe? Well then, be a pal and share it with your friends in your Purim Baskets! Let them sample it, and include your recipe. I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but I think these gifts will beat some perplexing …uhh, confections we find in some our Purim baskets and are most often stomped about finding a name, let alone a use, for. The thing with me is I never lose my head when making a menu, not even when the menu is as simple as what to offer for Mishloach Manot, not even when there seems to be an excuse (the just-this-once-excuse as I call it, which as it turns out is invoked much too often for comfort) for inferior and frivolous ingredients. Why serve junk even then, especially when you can, as I always do, start with serious ingredients and end up with fun results?
Just a few guidelines on good choices of Purim Baskets items: Some Purim baskets may not be retrieved right away, so let’s start by not making anything that demands immediate refrigeration, such as a meat- or fish-based sauce, a chocolate truffle, a cheesecake. Let’s also leave the fragile treats such as lace cookies or fruit pie for that time when we are going straight to our hosts and when the goodies will not suffer in transit. Let’s only deal with those items that are sturdy and not temperature-sensitive, and travel well.
Before I share some of my favorite Purim Baskets edible presents with you, let me reassure the reluctant or harried hostess that even if she is totally reticent about “manufacturing” her own confections, there are some perfectly healthy and no-nonsense treats she can fill a basket with, without even boiling water: dry fruit and nuts; high quality tea or coffee; a good wine or liquor bottle; a beautiful pineapple or melon; an unusual premium item your friends may not have in their pantry, such as wasabi or miso or saffron or pasta.
Back to our homemade Purim Baskets goodies: I will leave the presentation entirely up to you, but I would still emphasize that, when you give something wonderful, you should obsess much less about the packaging. Let all the promise be found in, not around, the gift. YUM! I guarantee you will never never again have the heart or the poor judgment to get the store-bought version. I also guarantee, with no less authority, your sinuses will be cleared for the rest of the year!
All recipes are excerpted from my latest cookbook, The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen, which has a very extensive pantry chapter. I have added a lot of goodies to last year’s list of goodies, so you have plenty to choose from. Also, did you know it has a gigantic Passover index. Just saying…. Purim is upon us, so Passover couldn’t be too far behind. You will love to have it on hand!
Hot Pepper Jelly
Chai Tea Spice Mixture
Apple Raisin Chutney
Pesto Sauce. All Variations
Tehina Chocolate Nut Butter. All Variations
Date Power Bars
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Zucchini Walnut Chocolate Chip Bread