Hampers are a great gift for Christmas (although we’d welcome them at any time of year!) and recently we were lucky enough to receive one packed full of tasty French treats. The hamper itself was a pretty wicker basket with leather buckles – perfect for summer picnics – but its contents were what really appealed to us greedy sisters. We had the vegetarian option, which was full of Mediterranean tapenades, infused olive oils, jam, pate, honey and mustard. Two chunky strings of garlic, one smoked and one white, and a bottle of Picpoul de Pinet wine completed the delicious basket of goodies.
Some of the ingredients will last months, but we’ve (predictably) already managed to finish many of the contents. The first meal we made was a creamy baked camembert, served with crusty bread, more cheese, fig chutney and a leafy green salad drizzled with basil oil. You’ll find the recipe for baked camembert here, taken from a greedy visit to France earlier this year.
Next up on our hamper meals was baked smoked garlic. Just chop the tops off a bulb of garlic, rub with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, then bake in a medium oven for around 30 minutes. Rub the bulb on a slice of chunky bread for your own fresh garlic bread, or squeeze out one of the cloves and spread it on piece of cheese, ham or more bread!
One of the most versatile products in the French hamper was a tangy tomato tapenade, which has been used in all sorts of dishes during the past few weeks. It’s the ideal topping for a piece of crunchy bruschetta, and equally yummy in a sandwich with roasted vegetables and feta cheese. It also went perfectly with the basil oil as an easy pasta sauce, as well as making a nice topping for boiled new potatoes served with a simple white fish.
As you can see, the great thing about hampers is that it gets you thinking about all the meals that you could base on the contents. They usually include something you wouldn’t ordinarily pick up in the supermarket, forcing you to get inventive. Let us know if you receive anything unusual in your Christmas hampers this year!
Thanks to FrenchFlavour.co.uk for our vegetarian hamper.