13 easy Christmas recipes that are full of joy and flavourhttps://indianexpress.com/photo-news/lifestyle/13-easy-christmas-recipes-that-are-full-of-joy-and-flavour/

13 easy Christmas recipes that are full of joy and flavour

Planning a grand feast this Christmas, but don't know where to start. These are some easy but delicious Christmas recipes from professional chefs.

Come Christmas and one instantly thinks of Santa Claus, stockings, gifts and Christmas trees. Christmas tradition carries several culinary delights, without which the celebration will be incomplete. Here are a few recipes apt for Christmas by expert chefs of the city.

Warm Christmas Punch: Warm Christmas punch is a traditional English drink. Hemant Singh — Head Chef of Cafe Dalal Street — shows us how to give it a spicy twist. Ingredients Red Wine - 75ml Orange - Half-round, sliced Plum - 2 pieces, diced Brandy - 75ml Honey and Sugar - 50-60g Whole cloves - 8 Cinnamon stick - 2 Star Anise - 6 Whole Black Pepper - 12 corns Method * Add all spices and fruits in a pan and toss them for 1 min. Then add the rest of ingredients and simmer over low flame for 15 mins. Make sure not to boil the contents. * Brandy and sugar can be adjusted to one's flavour and needs. * Serve warm — with or without — straining.

Plum cake: Store-bought plum cakes just don't rise up in comparison to home-made ones. Cafe Dalal Street's Singh has a recipe to share. Ingredients Rum-soaked, dry fruits (cashew nuts, black currant, raisins, three types of Tutti Frutti, dry figs) - 50g 5 spices 2 eggs Breakfast sugar - 100g Refined flour - 300g Ginger powder - 5g Caramel colour - 10ml Butter - 150g Vanilla essence - 5ml Brandy - 50ml Rum - 20ml Method * Mix sugar and butter in a bowl to make a creamy mixture. * Add 2 whole eggs to the bowl and whip the mixture to make it fluffy. * Add all  the dry fruits and spices. * Add vanilla essence, caramel colour and brandy to the mix. * Steam bake the entire mixture for 45 minutes on a temperature of 180 degrees Celsius. * Prepare a liquid consisting of 50ml of water and 20ml of rum and pour it over the bake. * Serve it warm with brandy sauce.

Hot toddy: Hot toddy is a mixture of liquor and water with honey, herbs and spices. It is perfect for this weather as it is served hot. Pankaj Sharma — Head Chef of Dramz Whiskey Bar & Lounge — shows how to make an ideal glass of hot toddy. Ingredients Brandy/ dark rum - 60ml Hot water - 120ml Honey - 20g Cinnamon - 1 stick Cloves - 2 Green cardamom - 1 Star anise - 1 Orange slice studded with cloves - 1 Method * Muddle together honey and the spices. * Pour 60ml of the hot water over the muddled spices, and let the water infuse for 5 minutes. * Pour the brandy/dark rum in a serving glass. * Strain the infused water over the brandy/dark rum. * Pour the remaining hot water in the serving glass and garnish it with cinnamon stick and orange slice. * Serve hot.

Cranberry Chicken and Nutty Delight: If you're facing a chicken burnout, add a dash of cranberry flavour to the preparation. It lends a sweet-tangy taste. Chef Gajendra Singh of Unplugged Courtyard shows us how we can revive traditional chicken and make it delightful. Ingredients Chopped onion - 1/4 cup Dried cranberries - 1/2 cup Nuts (chopped raisins, roasted almonds and cashews) - 1/2 cup Uncooked brown rice - 1/2 cup Garlic cloves - 2 Butter - 2 tbsp Chicken stock - 3-1/2 cups Minced fresh parsley - 1 tbsp Dried thyme - 1/4 tsp Pepper - 1/4 tsp Boneless chicken breast halves - 4 Honey - 1/2 cup Salt - To taste Method * Boil brown rice with chicken stock, bring to a boil. Cook it for 55-65 minutes, or until rice is tender. Drain excess liquid if necessary. * Sauté onion and garlic in butter until tender in a large saucepan. Stir in the cranberries, nuts, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper. Mix boiled rice in it. * Flatten chicken breast to at least 1/2-inch in thickness. Fill it with 1/4 cup rice and cranberries mixture. Roll it and lock it with toothpicks. * Pour the honey on chicken rolls. Bake chicken at 325 degrees Celsius for 28-30 minutes — or until chicken is no longer pink and brown. * Serve hot.

Chocolate Pinata Cake: Traditional Pinatas are hit so they burst with goodies. However, we needn't be so violent. Trade the Pinata horse for a chocolate cake hidden with candy-treasures. This one is sure to be a hit with the kids. Don't worry, it's not as difficult as it sounds. Chef Stephen Golmes from L'Adresse Kitchen and Barrahu shows us how to make a chocolate pinata cake. Ingredients For the cake: Cocoa powder - 100g Unsalted butter, softened - 200g Eggs - 6 Flour - 400g Caster sugar - 450g Baking powder - 2 tsp Cream - 150ml Vanilla extract - 2 tsp Boiling water - 200ml For the buttercream: Cocoa powder - 3 tbsp Boiling water - 3 tbsp Unsalted butter, softened - 115g Icing sugar - 225g For the filling: Colourful Gems - 450g For the decoration: Buttercream and Gems Method * Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. * The cake is prepared and baked in two stages. For the first cake, combine 50g of the cocoa with 90ml boiling water in a bowl for a very smooth paste. Set aside to cool down. * Take another bowl and mix 3 eggs, 225g sugar and 100g butter. * Mix 200g of flour, 1 tsp baking powder, cocoa mixture, cream and vanilla extract. Combine all the ingredients until smooth with the help of an electronic hand mixer. * Grease the cake tin, spoon the cake mix and smoothen the surface. Carefully put the pinata insert into place, making sure it is in the locked position. * Bake it for 40-45 minutes on low heat or until well risen. * Leave the cake to cool completely. Once it is completely cooled, carefully remove the insert and turn the cake out using a large plate to help you invert it. Set aside with the largest part of the cake underneath. * Now make the second cake by following steps 2 to 7. * For the buttercream, mix the cocoa powder into a smooth paste with 3 tbsp boiling water in a bowl and keep aside to cool. Beat the butter with the icing sugar until very soft and then gradually beat in the icing sugar and finally the cocoa mix until smooth and well combined. * To assemble your cake, position one cake half with the narrower end on a plate. Fill your gems in the centre of the cake. Spread buttercream around the edge of this cake. Then, carefully top with the other cake half and leave to set. * Decorate the cake with buttercream and Gems. Tip: This cake is best enjoyed on the day it’s made.

Berry Merry Christmas Cake: Have a truly merry Christmas with a merry berry Christmas cake, using this recipe from Chef Nadir Ali of Pamphilos Kitchen and Bar. Ingredients Black currants - 500g Cocoa powder - 2 tbsp Dried green grapes - 350g Red cherries, rinsed, thoroughly dried and quartered - 350g Raisins - 175g Finely grated zest of oranges - 2 Eggs - 4 Butter - 250g Sugar - 250g Sugar syrup - 1 tbsp Blanched almonds, chopped - 75g Baking powder - 1 tsp Flour - 250g Mixed spice - 1½ tsp For garnishing: Warm blueberry jam - about 5 tbsp Sun-dried blueberries - 20 berries Method * In a medium bowl, mix all the dried fruit, pour over the sherry and stir in orange zest. * Cover it and soak it for three days, stirring daily. * Preheat the oven to 120 degrees Celsius/Gas * Grease a deep round tin. * In a large bowl, beat butter, cocoa powder, sugar, eggs, sugar syrup, and almonds. Put the spices and mix it. Further, add the flours and blend it. Stir in the soaked fruit. Pour the cake mixture into a tin. * Bake it for 4-4½ hours, or until the cake feels firm to the touch and is a rich golden brown. Check after 2 hours. If the cake is a perfect colour, cover with foil and leave the cake to cool in the tin. * When cool, wrap the completely cold cake in a double layer of greaseproof paper and again in foil and store in a cool place for up to three months. (Don't remove the lining paper when storing as this helps to keep the cake moist). * Decorate with cake with blueberry jam and dried blueberries.

Blueberry Cheesecake: Creamy cheesecake with the tang of blueberries and a buttery layer of biscuit as the base, why not? Follow the recipe of Chef Vijayant Rawat, Executive Chef, Mosaic Hotel. Ingredients Graham cracker crumbs - 1 cup White sugar - 2 tbsp Eggs - 4 Packaged cream cheese, softened - 2 Melted butter - 1/4 cup Sour cream - 1 cup White sugar - 3/4 cup Vanilla extract - 1 tsp All-purpose flour - 2 tbsp Frozen blueberries, dry pack - 2 cups Blueberry jelly - 1/3 cup Method * Combine crumbs, 2 tbsp butter and sugar. Pat mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch pan. * Mash cream cheese until it is soft and creamy. Gradually beat in sour cream, 3/4 cup sugar, vanilla and flour. Beat in eggs one at a time. * Pour the mixture into the crumb-lined pan. Bake in a preheated 165 degrees Celsius oven for 1 hour, or until it is firm to the touch. * Cool and then remove cake from the pan by loosening the edges with a knife. Place frozen blueberries on top of cake. * Chill and it is ready to serve.

Chocolate Marquise Pie: A heaven of dark chocolate, the Chocolate Marquise Pie is perfect for serious chocolate lovers. Impress your friends who relish dark chocolate. Follow the recipe by Mosaic Hotel's Chef Rawat. Ingredients Bittersweet chocolate - 2 and 1/2 ounces Heavy cream - 1/2 pint Butter - 2/3 cup Sweet cream butter Unsweetened cocoa powder - 1 cup Egg yolks - 6 Instant coffee granules - 1/2 cup Water - 2 tbsp White sugar - 2/3 Method * In the microwave, melt chocolate and stir it until it is smooth. * In a bowl, cream together butter and cocoa powder. In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks and dissolve instant coffee in water, and beat dissolved coffee, sugar into egg yolks until smooth. Slowly beat in slightly cooled chocolate. Beat in the cocoa mixture as well. * Whip cream until stiff peaks, form and fold into chocolate mixture. * Serve when cold.

Yule Log: In European tradition, yule log is a specially selected log for burning. However, we can deviate from rituals a little. Executive Chef Rawat of Mosaic Hotel shows how we can enjoy — if not the warmth — the rich chocolate flavour of the Yule Log. Ingredients Eggs - 15 Sugar - 400g Vanilla essence - 10ml Refined flour - 450g Rich cream - 750g Butter - 200g Dark chocolate - 300g Method * Mix butter and sugar, and then egg together. Add refined flour and vanilla essence. * Place the mix in a tray and bake at 160 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes. * Mix chocolate and rich cream till it is smooth in texture. * Prepare chocolate Swiss rolls. * Cut a small portion of the Swiss roll off and place to one side of the log to form a branch, and then cover the whole cake with the remaining icing, marking with a fork to look like a log. Decorate with Christmas decorations, pieces of chocolate flake or simply dust with icing sugar.

Ginger Bread Dough: Ginger bread man/house is an evergreen baking favourite. Prepare the dough so you could use it later on to make merry ginger bread men and edible houses. Follow Foodhall's Corporate Chef Olivier Vincenot's recipe. Ingredients Flour - 500g Honey - 330g Sugar - 85g Mix spice - 12g Milk - 55g Eggs - 1.5 Lemon juice - 12g Lemon zest - 1g Baking soda - 12g (Baking soda) Method * Heat up together honey and sugar to 40 degrees Celsius in a saucepan. * Mix all the other ingredients together in a dough mixer using the paddle, then add the honey sugar. * Rest the dough in the fridge for 1 hour, then roll to thickness desired. * Bake at 180 degrees Celsius in the oven. * Let it cool down and stick the brick lookalike on the premade ginger bread house structure using royal icing.

Eggnog: Eggnog is a classic Christmas beverage, some would even call it synonymous with the festival. Follow this recipe for vanilla-flavoured eggnog. Ingredients Egg yolks - 3 Golden caster sugar - 75g Whole milk - 800ml (1 1/4pints) Vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped - 1 tsp Cinnamon sticks - 2, plus extra to serve Rum or brandy - 150ml (1/4 pint) Whipping cream - 200ml (1/3 pint) Pinch of ground cinnamon or freshly grated nutmeg, to serve Method * Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until well combined. Pour the milk into a saucepan, add the vanilla pod — or extract — and cinnamon sticks, place over a medium low heat and bring just to the boil. * Pour the hot milk over the egg and sugar mix and whisk well. Pour back into the cleaned out pan, place over a low medium heat and stir constantly until thickened slightly. * Remove from the heat and stir in the rum or brandy. Set aside to cool for approximately 20-25 minutes and then chill for at least 3 hours. * Once cool, whisk the cream and fold into the mixture. * Fill 6-8 glasses with ice and pour over the eggnog. Sprinkle with a little ground cinnamon or grate fresh nutmeg and decorate each glass with a cinnamon stick. (Source: Realfood.tesco.com)

Eggless fruit cake: A hint of spices and the richness of dried fruits make eggless fruit cake an attractive and healthy option. This recipe is by Ashima Goyal Siraj. Ingredients Sweetened condensed milk - 1 tin (400g) Butter - 100g Castor sugar - 75g All-purpose flour - 200g + 1 tbsp (for dusting the cake tin) Warm water - 50ml Aerated soda - 150ml Baking powder - 1 tbsp Soda bicarbonate - 1 tbsp Cinnamon powder - 1/2 tbsp Nutmeg powder - 1/2 tbsp Chopped mixed dried fruits (cashew nuts, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, raisins, dried cherries, dried figs) - 250g Method * Measure out all ingredients and keep them handy. * Sift together the flour, baking powder, soda bicarbonate, cinnamon and nutmeg. Keep aside. * Line the bottom of an 8 inch round cake tin with butter paper. Grease the tin with ½ tsp butter. Dust a fine layer of flour. * Preheat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius. * Heat sugar in a pan till it melts and becomes brown. Add warm water (slowly from the side) to make caramel syrup and keep aside. (Be careful while adding warm water as it will sputter). * Mix in 1 tbsp flour to the chopped fruit to coat the fruit with flour and keep aside. * Soften butter in a mixing bowl. Beat in condensed milk. * Fold in the sifted flour with the condensed milk-butter mixture, alternating with aerated soda and caramel syrup till all are over. * Add the chopped dry fruits. Fold into the mix. * Pour the batter into the greased cake tin and bake for an hour at 180 degrees Celsius or till the cake is done. (Prick with the tooth pick in the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean the cake is ready). * Remove from the oven and cool for a while. Loosen sides of the cake, using a knife if necessary. Turnout over a wire rack/plate lined with cloth (to absorb moisture) and cool slightly before cutting into pieces.

Orange Almond and Yogurt Loaf: Another fruit cake idea to try out. Don't be sceptical of the orange flavour. Maria Jose Martin lost all her inhibitions on eating a bite. This is a recipe by her. Ingredients Unsalted butter, softened - 190g Plain flour - 190g Finely grated orange zest - 1 tbsp Caster sugar (check note for substitute) - 190g Large eggs - 3 Ground almonds - 60g Baking powder - 1 tsp Salt - 1/4 tsp Plain yogurt - 25 g Vanilla essence - 1 tsp Flaked almonds - 10g Method * Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius, 10 mins before baking. Grease a 9-inch loaf tin, with butter and dust with flour. * Using a handheld electric whisk or a freestanding electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, orange zest and sugar until the mixture is soft and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl every now and then to ensure the eggs and butter are properly mixed in. * In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt. Tip the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture in two batches and whisk together at a low speed until just incorporated, then mix in the yogurt and vanilla essence. * Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin and sprinkle the flaked almonds on top. Place in the oven and bake for 50-60 mins (refer Note), or until the sponge is firm on top and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. * Remove from the oven and allow the loaf to cool — a little before turning it out of the tin on to a wire rack to cool completely for serving. Note — You can store the cake at room temperature for 2-3 days. This cake tends to dry out easily, so make sure you wrap it nicely in a cling film and store it. — I used 2 oranges to get the required quantity of the zest. My cake was ready in 40-45 mins. — For caster sugar substitute, just pulse normal sugar in a grinder for a few seconds. Make sure you don’t powder it. (Recipe adapted from ‘Cake Days, The Hummingbird Bakery’)