As the holidays near, home cooks may be wondering how to add a different touch to traditional recipes such as the tried-and-true turkey and those staple side dishes of green beans or mashed potatoes.
An easy way to spice up meals is to explore international flavors and serve unexpected recipes to go alongside a family's favorite traditions. To get started, the following are some tips by Chefs and Culinary Arts Instructors from The Art Institute of California ‘«Ű Hollywood and The Art Institute of California ‘«Ű Los Angeles:
‘«ů Stock your pantry with some spices and pantry including olive oil, wine, honey, cinnamon, lemon pepper, dijon mustard, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, basmati rice, and a quality brand of vegetable or chicken bouillon cubes or stock. On the more adventurous side, consider stocking up on garbanzo beans, herbs de provence, agave nectar, hearts of palm, different tapenades, and water chestnuts.
‘«ů In approaching how to incorporate new flavors in a meal, leave the bird alone and add one or two new side dishes for a great way to go exotic. For example, utilizing cumin, coriander and curry powder makes an Indian-inspired version of sweet potatoes or add ginger, soy, sake and garlic to broccoli for spiced up greens.
‘«ů If you are more comfortable just "testing the waters," consider serving an exotic beverage, appetizer or dessert instead of experimenting with the main meal. In Mexican culture, a drink called champurrado is very popular, which is similar to a cocoa and made out of milk and Mexican chocolate. You can go with a Caribbean style touch grilling a fruit such as pineapple and shrimp for a quick appetizer, or add an Asian touch with a spring roll made of sauteed winter vegetables.
‘«ů Going the cheese and charcuterie route is easy, but delicious. Try a Spanish-influenced appetizer cutting a baguette into little crostinis, toasting them lightly and drizzling each piece with good olive oil. Then top the crostinis with manchego cheese (a cheese made in the La Mancha region of Spain from sheep's milk), Spanish chorizo (sausage) and a little quince jam.
‘«ů For dessert, consider picking up a French-style apple tart or assemble Italian cannolies made with a pumpkin puree to replace traditional apple and pumpkin pie.
‘«ů Do be afraid to mix and match flavors. Typically families enjoy many dishes at a holiday meal that most everyone will find something they like, so mixing it up is part of the fun.