Sunday, January 21, 2018
Cooking

Deck your holiday table with these festive food garnishes

The holidays are a time to deck the halls, but the festivities shouldn't stop there. Bring those time-honored decorating traditions to the table by going an extra step with a festive food garnish or decoration. Taking a few minutes to add some special touches to any dish will take your holiday meal up a notch. Try any of these quick and easy tricks:

Sugared cranberries and cherries

A dusting of sugar makes these sweet red fruits look like they've rolled around in the snow, which is perfect for any winter treat. Try them on top of a cake, cupcake or cookie for an old-timey winter garnish.

To make them, simply boil, on medium heat, 1 cup water in a medium saucepan with 1 cup sugar to create a simple syrup. Boil until the liquid thickens (about 10 minutes), and then let cool for 15 minutes. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and place a cooling rack on top of it. Toss 12 ounces cranberries or cherries (or both) in the syrup, in batches to ensure an even coating, then place them on the cooling rack to dry. After they're dry, which will take about 30 to 45 minutes, fill a shallow dish with another cup of sugar and lightly toss the fruit in it, rolling the cranberries or cherries around until they are thinly covered. Recipe adapted from cincyshopper.com.

Frozen whipped cream

For an easy garnish to hot chocolate or a slice of hot apple pie, simply spread a container of whipped topping like Cool Whip on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. You'll have to do this quickly, because whipped topping melts fast. To ensure an even spread, run a spoon or spatula under warm water for a few seconds and use the back edge to smooth out the top. Freeze for several hours, or until the cream has hardened slightly. Use a festive cookie cutter of your choice to punch out snowmen, snowflakes, gingerbread men or any other shapes. Recipe adapted from thecakeblog.com.

Pinecones made out of almonds

Almonds are a great tool for making any piece of chocolate or cheese look more festive. Arrange them atop a cheese ball or hunk of fudge for a creative addition to any appetizer spread. Shape a cheese ball or fudge recipe of your choice into a teardrop shape and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Using whole almonds and pressing firmly, stick the nuts pointy side up into the cheese or fudge, creating rows with the almonds until the entire teardrop is covered and it looks like a large pinecone. Nestle the pinecone atop sprigs of rosemary for added garnish.

Sprigs, herbs and leaves

Flora can be an intimidating garnish, especially when whatever dish you're bringing to your holiday party has to be kid-friendly. But the increasing popularity of using edible flowers and leaves makes it less daunting. Use sprigs of rosemary to resemble evergreen needles; you can insert them upright by the stem to resemble trees or use them as a bed for an appetizer or meat dish. Pull a few leaves from your poinsettias and use with sugared cherries or cranberries to resemble holly, or use cedar leaves to create a wreath on top of a cake. Use whole flowers, like poinsettias or amaryllis, to decorate a serving tray. Check with your local florist to see what they have in stock.

Rock candy

As if you need any more sugar during the holidays, use a clear rock candy stick as a garnish to any drink, like champagne, sangria or cider. The translucent candy looks like icicles and is fun for both kids and adults.

Contact Carlynn Crosby at [email protected]

Comments
Healthful eating is just a one-pan fish dish away

Healthful eating is just a one-pan fish dish away

By Ellie KriegerI recoil at the repentant food chatter that crops up this time of year, dominated by words such as "cleanse" and "detox," which, from what I can tell, are just modern code for "extreme diet." But part of cultivating a healthy, balanc...
Published: 01/17/18
We tried eating the recommended serving of fruit and vegetables for a week, and it was harder than we thought

We tried eating the recommended serving of fruit and vegetables for a week, and it was harder than we thought

I sat at my desk eating chunked pineapple straight out of the can, reading about how much fruit and vegetables we should all be eating every day: 1 1/2 to two cups of fruit, 2 1/2 to three cups of vegetables, at a minimum, per the United States Depar...
Published: 01/17/18
Taste test: pot stickers

Taste test: pot stickers

Whenever I order meals at a Chinese or Japanese restaurant I always look for pot stickers on the menu. The tasty Asian dumplings are filled with pork or chicken and veggies and cooked with a perfect balance of steaming and frying. The reason I order ...
Published: 01/16/18
From the food editor: Recipe for warm, cozy Pita Ribollita soup

From the food editor: Recipe for warm, cozy Pita Ribollita soup

When I first made this soup, Florida was in the grips of a cold weather snap, the likes of which rarely happens in this part of the state. We’re talking a whole week of lows in the 30s. The 30s! It was everything I ever wanted and more — the rare win...
Published: 01/16/18
Will you be drinking mushroom coffee in 2018? Here are some predicted food trends

Will you be drinking mushroom coffee in 2018? Here are some predicted food trends

By Drew JacksonBleeding veggie burgers, edible flowers and tree-based sparkling waters could be the most popular foods of the year.Whole Foods, the organics pioneer and Jeff Bezos-backed supermarket, peered into its crystal milk jug and unveiled what...
Updated one month ago
Tampa’s JoAnne Tucker takes a win in Pillsbury Bake-Off

Tampa’s JoAnne Tucker takes a win in Pillsbury Bake-Off

The Pillsbury Bake-Off is serious business and big bucks. Since 1949, the country’s most competitive home cooks put their thinking caps on: How can I use one of the designated Pillsbury products in a new, original — and here’s the tricky part — outra...
Published: 01/09/18
For something different, embrace the country-style pork rib

For something different, embrace the country-style pork rib

When it comes to pork, most home cooks know the chop, the tenderloin, the loin roast, even the Boston butt. But because I am a sucker for the underdog and the oddball, I have a new favorite cut of pork: the country-style rib.Why oddball? First, it su...
Updated one month ago
From the food editor: Turkey meatloaf and potatoes cook together in this one-pan recipe

From the food editor: Turkey meatloaf and potatoes cook together in this one-pan recipe

January brings a weird dichotomy. I’m often exhausted from December, a month packed with lots of travel and merriment and comfort food. But I also feel energized for the new year, fresh planner in hand and lots of lofty goals ready to be set.It’s the...
Updated one month ago
Dependable lentils are the star in this Thai Red Curry With Lentils and Tofu recipe

Dependable lentils are the star in this Thai Red Curry With Lentils and Tofu recipe

I take lentils for granted. I’ve had bursts of creativity using them, but for the most part they sit in my pantry while I reach for bigger, more tempting members of the legume family week in and week out. Until one day, I’m out of cans of chickpeas, ...
Updated one month ago
‘Fit Foodie’ Mareya Ibrahim talks health, fitness trends for 2018

‘Fit Foodie’ Mareya Ibrahim talks health, fitness trends for 2018

She didn’t have time to shower, fresh from the gym and tucking into an egg white omelet crowded with veggies in the dining room of the Hollander Hotel in St. Petersburg. But still, Mareya Ibrahim, known as "the Fit Foodie," was a vivacious dynamo, gi...
Published: 01/08/18
Updated: 01/19/18