Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Make Your Holiday Food Sparkle!

We’ve all heard the expression that we eat with our eyes. Attractive food sets up an expectation that the food will taste wonderful. In this season of entertaining, there are many opportunities to make our holiday food sparkle. It is not difficult to add that final garnish that sets your food apart from the others in the holiday pot luck. Here are a few suggestions. Think colors. Christmas colors of red and green are commonly found amongst fruits and vegetables. Adding colorful vegetables to a dish is a healthy practice,often including additional vitamins. Dark green vegetables are high in vitamin A. Many red vegetables contain vitamins A and C. Red fruits and vegetables that make attractive garnishes are red bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, Delicious apples, red cabbage, beets, red pears, pomegranate seeds and cranberries. Dice the colorful additions to add lots of contrast or top your dish with a few pieces, placed in an interesting pattern. Even a sprinkling of herbs, sundried tomatoes or colorful peppercorns can contribute some holiday colors. Add shapes. It may seem like more effort than you can take on right now but having small cookie cutters on hand can elevate your dish gourmet status without changing the ingredients. Cut stars from bread and toast for a dip garnish. Cut hard vegetables like turnips, beets, jicama or carrots with a small cookie cutter or knife into a holiday shape. Just a few will bring raves from your guests. Children will really appreciate a snowflake or Santa garnishing a side dish. Use what’s on hand. Do you have doilies from past projects that would add interest to a cookie tray or even under a salad dish? Any red or green dishes can be called into play. How about plaid dish towels, napkins, scarves or even colorful washcloths? Layer them in a basket to cushion your dish-to-go or add interest to buffet entrees. I have a flower pot with a plastic liner that I use for rolls. Antique silverware, trays, old dishes and even glasses can be combined in interesting ways. Look outside. Evergreens, winter berries, rose hips, hardy herbs, nuts, Osage orange balls, pine cones and even bare branches can make wonderful centerpieces. Add a few sparkly ornaments and your company will be complimenting your creativity. As you do your final shopping for the big day, include some colorful garnish materials and put the family to work preparing the garnishes while you get the food on the table. They'll enjoy taking part in making the holiday food sparkle. And that is what holidays are all about - sharing good times (and special food)with those we love. Happy Holidays!

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