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DateLine Thursday, 18 December 2008

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Give your taste buds something to remember :

Culinary delights for festive season

There was a buzz of activity everywhere. Figures dressed in white with aprons and caps were busy kneading dough, slicing vegetables and garnishing rather appetizing dishes. The aroma of freshly baked goodies and dishes filled the air and sent tummies rumbling.

Chef Lloyd Opatha

In the midst of this hustle and bustle, Executive Chef of Galadari Hotel, Lloyd Opatha treated us to a range of scrumptious dishes which are sure to be among favourites on your menu for the festive season.

Chef Opatha has been in the culinary field for more than 30 years. He first joined the field as a kitchen helper before ascending to the top. His first appointment had been to Moonlight Beach Hotel, Trincomalee, in 1976.

Through the years Opatha had carved a niche for himself as a culinary expert who had introduced many new cookery items and ingredients to the housewife.

"Chef Publis Silva of Mt. Lavinia Hotel disseminates knowledge on Sri Lankan cookery. I began with international cuisine and have been introducing many ingredients to Sri Lankan housewives through Swarnavahini's Rasa Saraniya programme for around eight years. Those days people did not know what to buy from the supermarket but today they recognise the items and know how to use them in cooking," he related with a glow of pride adding that he had become quite a trend-setter as more and more chefs have joined the arena.

"My stint abroad was extremely educational. You can pick up a lot of things from global cuisine. Those days a green olive or a black olive was alien to us. There were restrictions on bringing foreign food items here. I have demonstrated making a variety of dishes using different types of pasta, spaghetti, herbs, cauliflower, lettuce, and broccoli. People in the city can identify the ingredients," he said.

The festive season is generally considered as the time for friend and family reunions and merriment. Christmas is a festival sans religious barriers because it is a period of the year which the whole world celebrates.

Though the Catholics go to church and engage in religious practices the festive atmosphere is shared by everyone. "Though people face economic difficulties they try to do something to bring the festive air into their life. For example some may include yellow rice for lunch to make a difference to their daily rice and curry menu," he pointed out adding that life as a chef becomes quite hectic as the festive season draws near.

"Christmas cake, Yule log, Christmas pudding, brandy sauce, cookies, minced pies, breuhder are normally included as the traditional items on the Christmas menu much like the kevum, Milk Rice and Kokis during the Sinhala and Tamil Avurudu season. If you go to any hotel or house in any country during the Christmas season, you will find these goodies.

In Sri Lanka, the Christmas cake recipe is different. It is more like a love cake or a rich fruit cake, much richer than the European version, since it includes a variety of fruits, smashed cashew and almond paste. It is advisable not to include dates to this mixture as this increases the risk of the cake getting spoilt," he noted.

"Turkey is synonymous with the season. You can substitute turkey with a chicken or a lamb leg. Salads are quite popular too. You are free to create your own dishes once you have noted ingredients which blend well together. Chefs have to be innovative constantly. There are certain basics to be learnt though. You cannot make a duck salad by merely adding rice and duck.

You need some iceberg lettuce; some roast duck and marinade it with olive oil. Duck and orange wedges go well together. You can even add some cherry tomatoes to bring out the taste and colour to the dish."

According to Opatha, breuhder can be served for breakfast as well as tea. This slightly sweetened bread is tasty when spread with butter or jam. Some even prefer it with bananas. It all depends upon the person's taste. "If you wish to host a dinner during Christmas it is best to choose a colour theme for decorations. Everything from the Christmas tree decorations to the curtains, table d‚cor and the lighting should be of that shade.

You can take a cucumber, peel it and make it into a Christmas tree for the dining table. You can even hang some cherry tomatoes. Your guests will be fascinated," he advised adding that he hopes for a better Christmas with peace dawning in 2009.

Let your home bloom...

If you're ready to dive into the waters of fresh flower arranging in this festive season to create a blooming atmosphere, it's important that you understand the placement guidelines. You can't just stick flowers wherever you'd like, there is an art to placing the materials.

Here are some rules to adhere to:

The largest and darkest flowers are usually placed close to the base of the design.

The smallest and lightest flowers are generally placed at the outer edges of the arrangements.

In symmetrical arrangements, flowers should be spaced evenly throughout the arrangement.

In asymmetrical arrangements the materials should be placed in a way that visual weight is distributed evenly throughout the display.

Use harmony and contrast

If you're wondering how to arrange flowers, a great place to start is by understanding harmony and contrast. These two elements are used together to create unity within an arrangement as well as to help it work with its surroundings. The two work as follows:

Harmony: is when the arrangement compliments its surroundings by being similar in a way that makes it seem to belong. This is achieved when elements of the surroundings exist within the arrangement (like similar colours or textures).

Contrast: is created when the arrangement uses elements that are different enough from the surroundings that it won't blend in completely. It needs to stand out to be noticed.

Contain those flowers with style

Before you start deciding how to arrange a flower bouquet exactly the way you want it you will need to figure out what you're going to put those flowers in. Containers are an integral part of flower arranging and can make or break the entire arrangement. When picking something to put your flowers in, consider line direction, color, texture, and arrangement size.

Overall, the container needs to compliment both the arrangement and the surrounding in which it will be placed. As you probably know, vases are the most popular containers used to hold arrangements. Don't limit yourself, however, this is the time to allow your creativity to shine through. Here are some great ideas:

Country containers: terra cotta pots, baskets, watering cans, and clay pitchers.

Contemporary containers: simple shapes with even lines and minimal details.

Traditional containers: elegant containers made of traditional materials like silver and porcelain (tea pots and candy dishes).

Ensure that your arrangement is appropriate for its surroundings

When creating a fresh flower arrangement, it's essential that you think about a lot of things to ensure that it goes with its surroundings. Here are some questions to ask yourself before arranging:

Which room will the arrangement be placed in? Make sure that the arrangement makes sense in the room you place it in-you wouldn't want to place a fancy arrangement fit for a formal dining room in a kitchen or the bathroom.

What is the colour scheme in the room and what is the rest of the decor in the room like? Make sure that the colours in the arrangement blend with the colours in the room and that the d‚cor is consistent. For example, if the room is decorated in a Victorian style, you wouldn't want bright flowers in a sleek, modern vase.

Will the arrangement be a centerpiece or will it be off to the side? If the arrangement will be used as a centerpiece, it is important that it is full enough to make an adequate centerpiece but not so tall that people have to strain to see over or around it.



Split ends

You probably see all sorts of shampoo or conditioner ads that claim to fix split ends, but let's start by acknowledging that the only way to fix split ends is to cut them off. You can't mend split ends, but you can trim them away and give the hair a chance to grow out again under more favorable conditions.

Preventing split ends

On the other hand, you can prevent split ends to some extent by keeping your hair from drying out. The main causes of split ends are time and dryness. Drying and aging hair tends to become brittle and break: keeping it in good shape can hold split ends at bay longer than usual, so treating your hair with kindness is a good rule.

Keeping breakage to a minimum involves avoiding heat, permanent or straightening fluids and daily styling with irons or hair driers.

Colouring weakens its structure and makes it even weaker, so that women with black hair who want to use colourants run the risk of thinning their hair or winding up with bald spots. Such hair demands extra gentle treatment and frequent conditioning with rich emollients such as coconut oil.

These natural remedies are also ideal for keeping the scalp healthy. Keeping Black hair in its natural state is healthiest! Forget straighteners or colours and your hair will be stronger and shinier.

Tight braids can also damage your hair and may even damage the roots, which can cause you to lose your hair in places, so keep it loose as possible. If you must color your hair, go for henna, which smoothes the hair shaft and deposits the colour atop the hair instead of opening the cuticle and adding the colour inside the hair. Henna doesn't last quite as long as chemically-based permanent colours, but it actually makes hair healthier when you use it: other colours make it weaker.

No lasting solution

Eventually, all hair will develop split ends if it isn't cared for properly. Most hair experts recommend getting a trim every six to eight weeks, so ends don't have a chance to dry out and split.

The beauty of your hair really shows when it's shiny, glossy and thick. Keeping the tips trimmed is protection from further damage: split ends tend to work their way up the hair shaft as it sustains further damage over time. The solution to split ends is to act quickly: don't skip the trip to the salon, or get your hair stylist to teach you how to trim your own hair if you don't like to go in that often.

Breakage and frizzy hair

Don't mistake frizzies for split ends. If your hair looks frumpy or frowsy, the ends might be just fine, but the hair shaft is roughed up from humidity in the air or dryness from harsh shampoos. freebeautytips.org

Cream of Asparagus

Ingredients (04 portions)

Asparagus 08 Numbers
For Stock
Carrot 100 g
Leek 100 g
Onions 100 g
Celery 100 g
Pepper corns 04 Numbers

Vegetables stock 800 ml
Flour 150 g
Margarine or butter 100 g
Chopped parsley 05 g
Salt and pepper To taste
Milk 04 tbsp
Margarine or butter 100 g
Bread cut into dices 01 Slice


Prepare a roux with the margarine and flour. Make a veloute with the roux and the vegetable stock. Bring the liquid to the boil and add the milk and simmer along with the asparagus. Return this to a blender and strain if necessary. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with pars

Peaking Roast Duck

Whole duck 01
Black mushroom 15 g
Spring onion 15 g
Ginger 15 g
Bees honey 02 tbsp
Salt To taste
Pepper To taste
Soy sauce 04 tbsp
Coriander leaves 10 g
Peaking Duck Sauce 04 tbsp
Lettuce (salted leaves) 25 g
Cucumber (Julienne) 20 g
Leek (Julienne) 20 g
Tomato (Julienne) 20 g
Oil for frying
Kebab stick number 01


Season the duck with salt, pepper and stuff with black mushroom, ginger and spring onion. Mix the bees honey in water and apply on the duck. Cook in a pre-heated oven (300 F) for 1 1/2 hours, regularly turning it. When cooked deep fry till it turns golden brown.

Cut the duck off the bone and cut in to julienne shape and serve on a lettuce leaf with strips of leek, tomato and cucumber accompanied with Peaking Duck Sauce.

Chocolate Yule Log Ingredients for Chocolate Sponge

Eggs 06
Flour 150 g
Cornflour 50 g
Cocoa powder 30 g
Margarine (Melted) 15 g
Sugar 200 g


Whip the eggs and sugar. Sieve the flour, cocoa powder, and cornflour together and fold it into the mixture. Gradually add the melted margarine. Spread thin onto bread baking sheet and bake at 230C.

Ingredients for Chocolate Butter Icing

Margarine 250 g
Icing Sugar 250 g
Cocoa Powder 35 g


Beat the soft margarine and icing sugar and add the sieved cocoa powder.

Method for Chocolate Swiss Roll

Moisten the chocolate sponge sheet with sugar syrup. Spread the chocolate cream onto the sponge and roll.

Cut the swiss roll into three or four pieces and assemble to resemble a log. Cover with chocolate butter cream and garnish.

Festive Savoury Rice

Ingredients (04 portions)

Small cubes of Chicken and
Lamb 250 g
Sausages (Chicken/Garlic and
Frankfurters) 200 g
Basmathi rice 400 g
Water (01 cup rice to 01 1/2 cup water)
Chopped onion and Garlic 02 tbsp
Bay leaf 02 Numbers
Thyme herbs (Fresh or dry) 01 tsp
Margarine 04 tbsp
Bell Peppers (Tri Colour) 100 g
Button and black mushroom 50 g
Kernel corn and green peas 50 g
Saffron or tumeric powder Little bit
Salt and pepper to taste
Fried chopped cashew and
Chopped parsley little bit Tomato sauce 02 tbsp


Wash the rice and keep it a side.

Heat margarine and fry in a pan and saute onion, garlic, bay leaf and herbs cook for a while.

Add the meat and sausages and other ingredients and cook. While cooking add washed rice, stock or water and bring it to the boil. Add the seasoning and saffron. Cover with a lid and cook till the rice is done. Sprinkle chopped cashew nut and chopped parsley.


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