Monday, 28 December 2015

A Tapas Style Party

As the year winds down, it’s a lovely opportunity to spend some quality time with near and dear ones. If you plan to forego the loud, over-crowded parties at bars with a carefully put together bash of your own then consider taking a page or two from the Spaniard’s guide to a good time. With a vibe that can be upscaled into an elegant soiree, enjoyed as a casual gathering of friends or host to an intimate party, hosting a Spanish themed party is a great idea. The focus on small bites of food in captivating flavours along with bold wines is definitely a culinary trend that is quickly picking as people look to curate ‘something new’ that is exciting yet easy to prepare.

A tapas party is marked by the variety of dishes, usually meats, breads, potatoes and fried foods; all of which are great to nibble on while enjoying a glass of wine or sherry. So triangles of hard cheese, hunks of crusty bread, paper thin slices of cured ham are must-haves at a tapas spreads for guests to eat in between dishes. 

It’s a good idea to have bowls, plates and platters of food in different parts of the room to encourage conversation and nibbling through the evening. With low lighting and the strumming of Spanish guitars, your guests will find it a comforting, pleasant alternative to a rowdy evening on the town.

The tapas party aims to serve absolutely delicious food while giving people a chance to talk together. Plan to have plenty of bowls of fried olives on hand as they are a real crowd-pleaser. Simply coat whole green olives in an egg wash, roll in bread crumbs and deep fry till crisp.

A colourful dish from Spain is red and yellow bell pepper wedges stuffed with a mixture of chopped, garlic, anchovies, tomato, saffron, bread crumbs and oil. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with chopped parsley. These are perfect to make ahead of time and bake half an hour before the party. Serve it warm.

 A permanent fixture on any tapas menu are patatas bravas; fried potato wedges, served with a spicy tomato sauce and a garlicky aioli. Play around with the party staple; devilled eggs. Top the creamed yolks with crispy chorizo, a drizzle with chorizo oil and dusting of smoked paprika for a mouthful of Spain’s classic flavours in one bite.

Stay with the Spanish tapas theme for dessert as well with churros fried as small balls and served with a luscious, dark chocolate sauce. It really is the perfect way to round out an evening of great food, wine and the company of friends and family.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Are you Ready for Christmas?

Have you finished baking your gingerbread men? Iced your cookies? Set out the fairy lights, Christmas tree and hung up the stockings? Ready to celebrate the joy that is this season all over the country?

But if you find yourself lagging a bit behind, then no problem! We at Nature’s Basket pride ourselves on being a one-stop shop for all your shopping needs; be it whole birds for roasting, fancy cheese to arrange on a board, demarara sugar, molasses or flavoured syrups for your desserts or maybe a hamper of Christmassy treats for that special someone in your life. Here is a ready reckoner to get Christmas ready quickly!

Without doubt, carving a whole roasted bird is a classic Christmas tradition and now you can participate in the same too. Imagine yourself serving up tender, juicy slices of perfectly cooked meat with all the fixings for your family and friends. You can actually make this dream happen with our range of premium whole chicken, stuffed turkey and roasted ham. Flavour your chicken with lots of fresh sage and garlic and roast till the skin is crispy. You can serve it up with cheesy mashed potatoes and a kale-cranberry-pecan salad for a fantastic meal. Or try roasting a honey-glazed ham and serve it up accompanied with braised fennel, artichoke hearts with hollandaise sauce and a potato gratin. For a sweet note, serve your guests, mince pies from Theobroma that are small, boozy, fruit-filled bites. Then sit back and bask in the compliments that flow in.

A permanent fixture on a Christmas menu has to be the rich, dense cake studded with fruits and nuts with a slight boozy kick. People typically soak their dried fruit and nuts in rum, brandy or juice months in advance for that perfect bake. But if you haven’t managed to do so yet, then don’t worry. Our nifty trick will help you out. Simply soak organic fruits and nuts overnight in the soaking liquid of choice, then bake it into the cake the next day, Once it cools down, pick it with a skewer and brush the cake with the soaking liquid till it absorbs as much as is possible. Then wrap it tightly in a muslin cloth and repeat this each day till Christmas. The cake will be moist and flavourful.

If you have kids, then there has to be a gingerbread house. Now the golden syrup, unsalted butter, flaked almonds and candies are easily available at the store which means a gingerbread house making project with the kids is possible. But if you struggle with icing, then we have some beautifully decorated ginger bread houses; the sight of which will light your kids eyes.

Want to celebrate the season with friends and family but struggling to find the time or energy to pull it off? Here’s an easy way to feel cheerful while entertaining well. 20 minutes before your guests arrive, heat ½ cup red wine with orange and lemon slices, caster sugar, whole cloves, cinnamon, bay leaf and star anise. When it becomes a thick syrup, pour 2 bottles of Chianti into the pot and leave to simmer for 5 minutes before serving this mulled wine to your guests. It’s a warm, fragrant way to welcome your loved ones while having your home smell wonderful.

Spending the day with lots of relatives? Plan ahead and get ready to serve an amazing breakfast on Christmas morning. Amidst the rush to open presents and squeals of joy and happiness, quickly put together this large delicious dish. Just remember to pick up some bread, ham, cheese and fresh sage and thyme to whisk and bake into a quick, savoury breakfast casserole.

Of course no celebration can be complete without gifts. Did you know that in some countries people place oranges in stockings as a symbol of the legendary St. Nicholas and his sack of gold and as a reminder of gifts that are shared? Whether oranges or not, you can easily find just the right gift that will please your loved one in our chic range of Christmas hampers. For instance our Christmas Essentials Hamper is packed to the brim with delightful treats like a rich fruit cake from Theobroma, a bar of L’Exclusif dark chocolate and much more.

As we work to spreading joy and cheer to you and your loved ones, we have tied up with SOS Children’s Village of India to share this festive feeling with under-privileged kids and you can help too! At each store we have set up a Christmas tree but instead of the typical baubles we offer you the chance to buy a charm that goes up on the tree. For each charm you buy, we contribute the amount to this NGO who works to ensure the welfare of orphaned and abandoned kids. Join us as we share the merry-making with them this Christmas!