5@5 - Spice up your holiday soiree
December 20th, 2011
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

Holiday food traditions exist for a reason: they're as feel-good as a Nora Ephron movie and keep the past alive for future generations.

But after 15 years of Aunt Betsy's (in)famous casserole, sometimes change is appreciated.

Chris Yeo, the chef and owner of the Straits Restaurant Group, recommends five spicy additions to make this year's holiday dinner one to remember - in a good way.

Five Spices to Make Your Ordinary Holiday Dishes Extraordinary: Chris Yeo

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Filed under: 5@5 • Bite • Christmas • Holidays • Make • Recipes • Think

Box lunch: Pudding bias and party pants
December 20th, 2011
12:00 PM ET
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Sink your teeth into today's top stories from around the globe.

  • A new pudding vending machine is for adults only; and contains the technology to refuse samples to children to prove it. - USA Today

  • Go shorty! It's your birthday! We're going to stuff $283 worth of food in your pants like it's your birthday. - CBS Charlotte

  • Kim Jong Il had a taste for the finer things in life, like Hennessey and mugwort-filled rice cakes. - Bon Appétit
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Filed under: Box Lunch • News

December 20th, 2011
11:55 AM ET
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Marilynn Shcolnik of Snohomish County, Washington, shared photos of awe-inspiring gingerbread houses from the 19th annual Gingerbread Village fundraiser in Seattle. The creations are all made by architects partnering with hotel chefs, to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Northwest chapter. The theme this year was “Holiday Express.”

Is there a food that makes the holidays bright in your home? We want to hear all about it. Immortalize your food tradition in words, recipes, pictures or video, submit it as an iReport and we'll show off some of our favorites on CNN's Eatocracy food blog through the end of the holiday season.

See the assignment on iReport

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Filed under: Buzz • Chilled Out and Cheery • Christmas • Feature • Holidays • iReport • It's not the holidays without

How to drink sake
December 20th, 2011
09:05 AM ET
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How do you make a 1,200-year-old drink, hip?  One way is by calling it the “new wine” and making it an essential ingredient in killer cocktails. That’s what’s happened to sake, the rice-based liquor that is associated with all that is traditional about Japan. Yet from its origins in Shinto ceremonies in the 8th century and its place modern-day weddings, it is currently undergoing a revival.

It may be a laggard compared to sushi in its global appeal but it is increasingly popular among connoisseurs of Japanese cuisine, says Kelvin Zeia, the sake sommelier of Japanese restaurant Zuma in Hong Kong.

“The palate goes from sweet to dry, but there are subtleties between different types of sake,” he says. The alcohol content of around 15% also means it can be a discreet mixer in cocktails.

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Filed under: Asian • Cuisines • Feature • Japan • Japan Eats • Japanese • Sake • Sip

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