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6 Scrumptious Holiday Food Gifts To Make And Give

Photo illustration via Shutterstock.com

    Some people might be content with a nice sweater as a holiday gift, but foodies know that the only way of truly capturing loved ones’ hearts is through the stomach. Even better if your gifted goodies are made by hand.

    Let these budget-friendly gifts, inspired by the flavors of Israel and the Middle East, say it all for you.

    Sfinge (Moroccan Donut) Mix

    Sfinge made from homemade mix. Photo by Jessica Halfin

    Sfinge (Moroccan Donut) Mix

    When it comes to making donuts, breaking out the ingredients can be half the battle. Gifting this Moroccan donut mix negates the giftee’s need to track down yeast and crack open (or even worse, buy) a bag of flour for their mandatory Hanukkah treats.

    Cranberry Pistachio Halva

    Cranberry-pistachio halva. Photo by Jessica Halfin

    Cranberry Pistachio Halva

    Simply the word for “candy” in Arabic, halva can be found in an endless variety of flavors these days throughout Israel.

    The combination of brightly hued and deeply savory whole pistachio nuts and sweet –and-tangy dried cranberries is a festive mix that anyone would be happy to receive.

    The process, though exact, is actually quite easy and quick if done right, making it an ideal choice for a DIY food gift, even for beginning candy-makers.

    Turkish Coffee Liqueur

    Homemade Turkish coffee liqueur. Photo by Jessica Halfin

    Turkish Coffee Liqueur

    Cardamom-laced Turkish coffee makes a traditional finish to any good meal, and is often offered on the house in hummus shops around Israel as your plate runs low.

    Add a sweetened alcohol base to create a liqueur, and you elevate the coffee to the realm of an elegant digestif. Sip it as is, for an after-dinner jolt, or mix it into a drink to get a delicious white Russian or coffee-flavored martini.

    Marinated Galilean Olives

    Marinated Galilean olives. Photo by Jessica Halfin

    Marinated Galilean Olives

    These marinated olives can be adjusted to your taste and personality, to transform boring canned olives into a festive party-ready snack. Make sure you use high-quality olive oil in the marinade, so your guests can enjoy the flavored oil left behind, either for cooking or to sop up with fresh bread.

    Orange Blossom-Scented Strudel Cookies

    Strudel cookies ready for gifting. Photo by Jessica Halfin

    Orange Blossom-Scented Strudel Cookies

    Nothing could be more Eastern European than strudel cookies. Often found with poppy seed or walnut fillings, swap in date spread and orange blossom water, and it brings this cookie to the exotic Middle East.

    Every bit as delicious as the original, this celebratory cookie is ready to be devoured or savored with a hot cup of robust tea or coffee.

    Quince in Spiced Syrup

    Spiced quince in syrup. Photo by Jessica Halfin

    Quince in Spiced Syrup

    There is a certain romantic quality in Old World recipes. They are often made best by chubby babushka fingers, with love and patience. Here is a recipe not often seen outside of Savta’s kitchen, but one whose aroma draws people in.

    Quince, the wobbly perfumed cousin of the pear, is the perfect celebratory gift because of the bright cheery pink tone of the finished syrup. Wait for the hue to deepen, and you’ll know your sweet and spicy gift is ready to share.

    Which Wine Is Best To Sip With Sufganiyot?

    Which wine goes best with Hanukkah donuts? Photo by Nina Mikryukova/Shutterstock.com

    This Hanukkah, have a glass of spicy, medium-bodied Gewürztraminer wine with your potato latkes and sour cream to accentuate the flavor of the pancakes and complement the viscosity of the cream.

    Or try the more acidic Sauvignon Blanc if you prefer your potato pancakes topped by applesauce. The applesauce will taste sweeter and the wine’s grass and herbal notes will bring out the earthiness of the potato.

    Arab Cuisine To Blanket Haifa With Tantalizing Aromas

    Kadaif meat dumplings from Chef Salah Kurdi. Photo by Assaf Ambram

    More than 70 Arab and Jewish chefs and culinary experts will present a variety of flavors and stories from Arab cuisine in dozens of restaurants and bars in downtown Haifa, December 13-15, 2017.

    A-sham, the Arab Food Festival, is taking place for the third consecutive year under the creative direction of 2014 Master Chef Israel winner Nof Atamna-Ismaeel.

    Tel Aviv’s Bakery Serves Up Deep-Fried Donut Tradition

    Hanukkah donuts by Bakery in Tel Aviv. Photo: courtesy

    Hanukkah starts tonight and sufganiyah season has been in full swing for the past several weeks. With an estimated 24 million of these deep-fried, jelly-filled holiday treats consumed in Israel each year, it’s no surprise that the dash for donuts starts long before the eight-day Festival of Lights begins.

    Many bakeries aim for over-the-top creative flavors, fillings and toppings like mountains of sprinkles, cream and candies. But at Bakery, the French-inspired confectionery shop by the owners of Tel Aviv’s trendy Brasserie and CoffeeBar, the focus remains on taste and tradition.