Thu | May 25, 2017

Putting a twist on Christmas meals

Published:Thursday | December 11, 2014 | 12:00 AM

With the festive season fast approaching, many are putting plans together for their big Christmas meal. Traditionally, this time of year ushers in familiar aromas and the preparation of seasonal dishes that encapsulate what the spirit of Christmas is all about - enjoying flavourful culinary creations with family and friends.

In Jamaica, Christmas cake, eggnog, ham and sorrel are staples on the menu at home. We wanted to depart from the norm by putting a twist on these traditional dishes, which you can try and show off your culinary flair. See recipes below:

Ham

The tradition of curing and eating ham in the festive season dates back centuries in Jamaica, and ham during the holidays remains incredibly popular today. In years gone by, the curing and cooking process took up to two weeks from start to finish, and additional hours on the day of preparation. Caribbean Passion takes the guesswork out of preparing ham by offering fully cooked and ready-to-eat products. Amanda McCreath of Gourmet Jamaica created a Tamarind Coriander Glazed ham that delivers that memorable ham taste with a little twist of spice.

Tamarind Coriander Glazed Ham with Brown Sugar Crust

2lb Caribbean Passion Smoked Chub Ham

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tsp Coriander seeds

2 Cups Tamarind Juice

1/4 cup cloves

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and lay the ham on it flat-side down.

Score the ham with cuts one inch apart and 1/8 inch deep. Do this in two directions, creating a grid pattern over the entire surface of the ham. Stick the cloves into the exterior of the ham.

In a small saucepan, pour the juice and bring to a boil. Mix all the brown sugar for the glaze and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Pour half the glaze over the surface of the ham and bake for 25 minutes.

Pull the ham out of the oven. Pour the rest of the glaze over the ham and place back in the oven for another 20-30 minutes, or until the exterior is dark and crusty and the ham is warmed through.

Chef's note: For a larger ham, double the glaze mixture and bake ham according to package instructions.

Sorrel

Add a spirited kick to your sorrel, this time with a twist of any Moscato of your choice, Gin and some spice. A Christmas take from the classic MGM served at 689 by Brian Lumley, this beverage has elements of sorrel and cinnamon.

Sorrel MGM

4oz sorrel juice

2oz gin

2oz Moscato

1oz soda water

Cinnamon stick (for garnish)

Lime peel (for garnish)

Directions

1. Combine ingredients and stir with ice

2. Pour into a rock glass

3. Garnish with cinnamon stick and lime peel

4. Enjoy

Christmas Cake

Traditional decadent fruit cake is usually a challenge to avoid for those with special dietary needs during the holidays. Vegetarians can now rejoice and try this Christmas cake recipe, without the guilt of using eggs and dairy, from published cookbook author Kimberly McBee.

Vegetarian Jamaican Black FruitCake

(http://www.kimberlymcbee.com/vegetarian-jamaican-black-fruit-cake-christ...)

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour + 2 tablespoons

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinammon

1 teaspoon mixed spice or pumpkin spice

1/3 cup olive oil (vegetable oil or softened shortening)

2/3 cup brown sugar

1 1/4 cups to 2 cups of fruit mixture

1 tablespoon vanilla

2 tablespoons unsulphered molasses (or Jamaican browning colouring)

2 tablespoons rum (substitute brandy or dark fruit juice)

1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice

Fruit mixture

1/3 cup raisins

1/3 cup currants

1/4 cup prunes (pitted)

1 1/2 cups Red Label Wine (port, fruit wine or prune wine)

Prepare fruits

Usually cooks soak fruits a year in advance. This makes the fruits mellow and results in a different flavour to the cakes. If you have presoaked fruits, then simply use in recipe as required.

If fruits are not prepared, steam fruits in a large saucepan for 40 minutes with the wine. This allows the fruits to soften and absorb the flavours of the wine. Stir occasionally to prevent the fruits burning. Cool mixture.

Purée the fruit mixture using the purée feature of your blender or place in a food processor. Reserve some of the fruits whole as per your preference.

Assembling cake

Preheat oven to 325°F/160°C.

Sift the first six ingredients into a bowl while in another large bowl, using a hand mixer, mix the oil for 30 seconds and then mix in the sugar until well combined.

Combine the fruit mixture with the rum, vanilla and molasses. Using a wooden spoon, incorporate the fruit mixture and the flour alternately with the oil mixture until batter is smooth.

Stir in the vinegar and immediately pour into a prepared 6-inch or 7-inch greased and lined baking pan.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Eggnog

Have some fun with this holiday favourite by adding chocolate! You can experiment with spirits such as brandy, liqueurs and rum to find what suits your taste best.

Eggnog Chocolat-ini

1oz eggnog

1.5oz Iced Cake Vodka

1.5oz Baileys

1.5oz créme de cacao

1oz chocolate syrup

Directions

1. Combine the first four ingredients and mix well

2. In a martini glass, pour the chocolate syrup along the edges and let it fall

3. Garnish with a cherry and basil leaf

4. Enjoy