How to spice up food over the holidays

Over the years, there is no doubt that cooking the same old food over the Christmas period has become a tad monotonous for some. But, adding a bit of alcohol can make even the blandest and most boring recipe pop with flavour. But remember, don’t eat and drive!

1. Apple Bourbon Baked Ham



4 kgs fully cooked bone-in smoked ham
15 to 20 whole cloves
1/2 cup bourbon whiskey, divided use
1-1/2 cups water
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup apple cider, divided use
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice

Unwrap the ham, place on a rack in a deep roasting pan, and let stand for 1 hour to bring to room temperature. Then, preheat oven to 170ºC.

Trim the fat from the ham leaving 1/4-inch-thick layer of fat. Score the fat in a diamond pattern and stud with whole cloves. Stir half of the bourbon whiskey into the water, and then pour the bourbon water into the bottom of the roasting pan. Tent the top of the ham with foil and bake for a full 30 minutes.

While the ham is baking, whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup of bourbon, brown sugar, and half of the apple cider in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, while stirring, until brown sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the Dijon mustard, pepper and allspice.

After 30 minutes of baking time, remove ham and baste with 1/4 of the bourbon apple sauce. Return to the oven and continue baking an additional 1 &1/2 hours, basting three more times as the ham cooks. Add water as needed to the bottom of the roasting pan if it boils out.

Place ham on a platter and tent with foil. Let stand 15 minutes.

Pour pan drippings into a large glass measuring cup. Skim off any fat and discard. Place roasting pan over two stove-top burners over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1/2 cup apple cider to the roasting pan and scrape up any browned bits. Add reserved drippings, along with any accumulated juices from the platter, to the roasting pan. Simmer five minutes. Serve pan juices with the ham.

2. Tequila Shrimp Taco’s


500kg peeled, uncooked shrimp cut into smallish pieces
2 large cloves garlic, minced fine
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped fine
Peanut oil, for sautéing
1/4 cup Tequila
1/4 cup Beer, preferably Brown Ale
10 corn tortillas, warmed
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup purple cabbage, shredded fine
Drizzle hot sauce

Combine shrimp, cilantro and garlic in a medium bowl – mix well and let sit about 10 minutes. If you have more time to marinate, just put them in the fridge.
Heat a non-stick pan really well and then add about 1 Tablespoon of peanut oil. Add shrimp and stir fry quickly – they’ll cook fast!
When the shrimp are almost cooked, remove from heat (you don’t want a flame-up) and add the Tequila and the Brown Ale. Mix gently.
After about a minute, return to the heat and stir well.
Serve by putting sour cream on a tortilla, add a little cabbage, the shrimp and a final drizzle of the hot sauce.
Recipe makes 10 shrimp tacos.

3. Drunken Spare- ribs


1/4 cup bourbon
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons ketchup
2.5kgs spareribs

Preheat oven to 170ºC. Line a deep roasting pan with foil. Insert rack.

Whisk together bourbon, soy sauce, brown sugar, Dijon mustard, and ketchup. Brush both sides of the spareribs with sauce, reserving the remainder of the sauce for basting.

Place spareribs on the rack in the prepared pan. Roast about 1&1/2 to 2 hours, turning once mid-way through cooking. Baste every 30 minutes, until tender. Let spareribs rest for 10 minutes before cutting to serve.

4. Tequila Marinade
This is a great marinade for beef, though it works well with everything else. It adds a great south-western flavour and is a good marinade for fajitas.


1/2 cup tequila
1 tablespoon pepper
2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 teaspoon salt

Quite simply combine all ingredients and mix until the salt effervesces.

5. Baked Fruit Compote Recipe

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup wine (any decent kind)
2 1/2 cups dried apricots
1 cup pitted prunes
1 can pineapple chunks in juice, not drained
1 can cherry pie filling

Heat oven to 180ºC. Have a relatively shallow baking dish ready.

Dissolve sugar in wine. Put dried and canned fruits in baking dish, add wine mixture and stir to mix. Cover with foil.

Bake for one hour, or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Uncover, cool and transfer to serving dish; cover and refrigerate overnight.

Serve cold or at room temperature.

6. Fun – Do


1 cup (whipped) cream
400 grams bittersweet chocolate, broken up into small pieces
4 tablespoons orange liqueur
2 tablespoons crème de menthe
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1⁄8 teaspoon salt

Dippers: cubes of cake, Rice Krispies treats, mini–cream puffs, madeleines, fresh vanilla or chocolate marshmallows, dried apricots, crystallized ginger slices, bananas, seedless grapes, clementine segments, raspberries, fresh pear cubes


Heat the cream over medium heat in a medium saucepan until just steaming.

Remove from heat; add chocolate and let stand about 2 minutes until chocolate softens. Whisk until chocolate is smooth; stir in alcohol, vanilla and salt.

Transfer to a fondue pot and keep warm. (You can also use a very small slow-cooker set on low.) Serve immediately with a variety of dippers to skewer.

7. Mocha Espresso Cheesecake Cups Recipe



Cheesecake Cups
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
250grams semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoon coffee liqueur
1/8 teaspoon salt
250 grams cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

“Creme” Topping
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
Ground cinnamon, for dusting

Heat oven to 170ºC. Place six one cup ovenproof coffee cups into a 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Bring milk and espresso powder to a simmer over medium heat; whisk to blend. Remove from heat; add chocolate. Let stand for three minutes; stir until smooth. Stir in liqueur and salt. Let cool to room temperature.

Bring a kettle of water to a boil. Place cream cheese and sugar in food processor; process until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; process until smooth. Pour into a glass measure; whisk in chocolate mixture until blended. Pour mixture into cups, filling each about 2/3 full. Fill baking pan with enough boiling water to come halfway up sides of cups.

Bake 40 minutes, or until just set and slightly soft in centers. Transfer baking pan to wire rack, cool cups in water bath until just warm to the touch.

Topping: Whip cream with confectioners’ sugar until very soft peaks form. Spoon over each serving and dust with cinnamon.

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