Recipes for Christmas – A beverage bonanza

A cold Christmas is ideal for enjoying some excellent spirits. Not only champagne, but beer too is a welcome drink on Christmas Eve in many parts of the world. Special beers for Christmas are made by brewers all around the world. Surprisingly, they have different tastes and strengths and are made suitable for drinking during extreme cold weather conditions. Wine forms a popular drink in the Middle of Europe.
Christmas drinks are meant to warm the cockles of the heart, should be nutritious, fun and memorable. The drinks should highlight the holiday theme and flavour including the garnishes and decorated glassware. These add a festive touch as well as a dash of glamour to any gathering. In order to make a Christmas cocktail or mocktail, be innovative. Catch the eye of the drinker and also satisfy the taste buds. It should not be rich or creamy or sweet because it can spoil the appetite for Christmas dinner.
The presentation techniques play a great role. In this case, make sure to enhance the appearance by garnishing a drink. This can be easily done with ingredients such as sprigs of mint or rosemary, basil leaves, stalks of lemongrass, olives, cinnamon sticks, carrot, celery sticks or cucumber sticks, strawberries, cherries or pineapple wedges. Another interesting way of adding visual appeal to beverage recipes for Christmas is by frosting. Frosting means rimming a cocktail or other glass with sugar or salt. One can use pretty plastic straws, swizzle sticks or any other such decorative item to give a colourful and creative look to the drink. Enjoy these samples: Orange Beer, Cranberry Twister.

Some garnishes
  • To make an orange screw, with a zester scrape a thin strip, starting at the tip of the orange on side and going round the orange to end at the tip again. Similarly remove more strips leaving a strip of the peel between each. Then slice the orange horizontally to give screw shaped slices. Give a small slit at one end of the slice and slip it onto the rim of the glass.
  • To make a pineapple stick, cut pineapple into small cubes. Take small skewers and string one cube followed by two pineapple leaves held at a cross and end with another pineapple slice. Press them gently and place it over the rim of the glass.
  • To make flavoured ice cubes, add a little water to pineapple, orange, khus and raspberry syrups. Pour them into separate ice trays and keep them in the freezer to set. Serve with soda.

Diwali sweet recipes – Ah, the sweet tooth is waiting patiently!

Diwali means mithai, meetha, and more! Actually serving the sweets part is simpler than the savoury salty part. Our ideas what you could develop further: make Chilli Icecream and expect raised eyebrows at the name but pleased grins at the tasting! The mithai part can be continued in a Mithai Sundae with vanilla and butterscotch ice creams layered with crushed chikki, mini gulab jamuns, jam and cake! Cake is also superb paired with gajar halwa but sizzle it with rabdi and wow the guests with this ‘active’ dessert. Perfect fireworks on the table! For those who prefer dairy, dish up Apple Rabdi. It will score high on the novelty chart. Well, all is not done yet.
For an offering of Diwali sweet recipes with a difference make Beancurd Peda. Grate 100 grams of beancurd and place in a bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of grated khoya and mix. Add sufficient sweetened condensed milk to mix the above mixture into a soft dough. Divide into marble sized portions and shape into balls. Flatten the balls lightly and serve. Or you could impress your relatives with a Colourful Lassi. Blend hung yogurt with sugar to make thick lassi. Divide the lassi into four portions. Mix two tablespoons of strawberry puree with one portion, two tablespoons of kiwi puree with second portion and saffron with third portion. Let the fourth portion remain white. Take a tall glass and first pour the saffron lassi. Place two slices of kiwifruit over it and then pour a little of the kiwi lassi. Place three slices of strawberry over it. Now pour the strawberry lassi and place a few strawberry slices over this too. Finally pour the white lassi over it and place some more strawberry slices over it and serve immediately. If there is a rush, serve Vanilla Ice cream with Cookie Crumble. Place two scoops of vanilla ice cream in a long stemmed glass; sprinkle four crushed chocolate chip cookies and drizzle chocolate sauce as required and serve.
As you read through the Diwali sweet recipes, look out in this space for some low-cal Diwali snacks.

Dine not on these

What are the foods that make good morning snacks or lunches and are not wanted for dinner? There are certain foods that take a long time to be digested properly. It is best recommended that such foods be taken only when you are sure you have enough time for them to be digested before you retire for sleep. Late night dinners cause problems for some. Even if you do have a good digestion power, heavy dinners are not recommended for long-term healthy living.
Fried chips, burgers, tikkis, batter-fried nuggets etc are a strict no-no. These foods are high in fat, are greasy and pose tough problems for the digestive juices. If you must have them, have them early in the day …or then go for baked alternatives.
Orange, grapefruit, lemon juice all have acidic bases. And can possibly harm the lining of the stomach when the stomach’s own juices are lethargic at night. An empty stomach in the morning has a strong acidic medium because no food has been put in it. Those who have orange juice on an empty stomach are adding acid to acid and this can create a stomach ache or later acid reflux problems. Have a glass of fresh juice at midday as a snack. Synthetic juices are avoidable because of the high sugar content.
Ice cream makes the quickest dessert after a nice dinner, right? It is also the slowest of all the foods to be digested because the fat takes the longest to break down! Ice creams with their high fat content can cause bloating, cramping and gas if had late at night. We certainly do not recommend that you have it for breakfast but as a snack, and if your daily calorie count allows, ice cream is fun.
Cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower are a nutritious lot and loved in salads. Being rich in fibre they are healthy but for one reason are dismissed from many plates: they cause gas build-up in the gut when had raw. The solution is simple, lightly blanch them and add to salads. Cooking deactivates the sulphur compounds that cause gas.
If you have stopped having beans because they give you gas trouble, I suggest you keep trying them till your stomach produces enough enzymes to be able to digest them. The enzyme needed to break down beans is found only in our stomach bacteria. And if you don’t routinely eat beans, you might not have enough of this enzyme to comfortably digest them. The result, of course, is that once in while helping of beans gives you gas and bloating. Beans are the healthiest thing around so be open to having them regularly.
Believe it or not chocolate! You must be sorely disappointed to read this, but yes, chocolate can cause distress. But only if you overeat it! Forewarned is forearmed so one occasional treat of a brownie or milk chocolate is recommended but not a big feast of it. But anyone who suffers from gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can experience problems from even a small portion of chocolate. That’s because chocolate causes the lower oesophageal sphincter to relax, allowing stomach acid to come back up.
Food with the kick of peppers is fun to have but can also irritate the lining of the oesophagus on the way down. The result: an unpleasant heartburn-like feeling after you eat. So rather than trying to mask spice with high-fat cream, opt for milder versions if you routinely suffer side effects.
So what is a good dinner dish? Try these suggestions!

Till I write again
Sanjeev Kapoor.