I was thinking of offering a special occasion recipe for new year’s eve – but I gave plenty of festive recipes in the run up to Christmas, so I thought I would take a break! So here’s an easy exotic fruit punch instead.

Actually, winter is the ideal time to buy tropical fruit as there’s such little choice of native fruit in the market anyway. This Caribbean-style non-alcoholic drink will bring the taste of sunshine to the greyest of days, and will make designated drivers at your new year’s eve party feel special. If there’s any left over, it also has the advantage of being a healthy drink to kick-start your new year’s day.

Buy tropical fruits from ethnic greengrocers as they will be fresher and cheaper, and you will have more variety to choose from. Add lemon/ lime juice and sugar according to taste (it depends on the ratio of sweet and sour fruit you use).

If possible, buy artisanal lemonade (which is pale, milky yellow) and ginger ale, available from delicatessens. These are drinks produced by small companies that have less sickly-sweet, more home-style taste than the larger commercial brands. Serves around 10 to 15.

2 lb/ 1 kilo fresh tropical fruit – mixture of pineapple, mango, papaya, guava, kumkquat, mangosteen, star fruit, persimmon, lychee, banana etc (as many varieties as you like)
Pulp of 4 passion fruits
Juice of 6 ortaniques or oranges
1 large or 2 medium bottles lemonade, chilled
1 medium bottle ginger ale, chilled
Juice of lemons or limes, to taste
Lots of crushed ice
Caster sugar, to taste (optional – you’ll only need it if you’re using too much sour fruit)

1. Trim, peel, and slice or dice all the fruit fairly small. Set some aside for garnish (say, a few slices of star fruit, for instance).

2. Place all the ingredients in a large punch bowl and mix well. Pour into glasses and garnish with the reserved fruit.



This potent drink is the Swedish version of mulled wine or gluhwein. It is served in small glasses at festive parties, alongside saffron and raisin buns or gingerbread with blue cheese. Water is not normally used to dilute it, but you can add a cup if you wish. For a non-alcoholic version, follow the recipe using blackcurrant or red grape juice. Serves 6.

1 bottle inexpensive, medium-bodied red wine
6 tablespoons unflavoured Schnapps, vodka or brandy (optional but good)
1-inch piece whole dried ginger (or fresh ginger, peeled and bruised)
2 sticks cinnamon
2 cardamom pods, bruised
6 cloves
1 long strip dried orange peel (or fresh, if you can’t find it)
6 tablespoons brown sugar, or to taste
6 tablespoons raisins
6 tablespoons almonds, blanched, peeled and left whole

1.    Place the wine, Schnapps/ vodka/ brandy, all the spices and orange peel in a non-metallic saucepan or bowl. Leave to marinate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
2.    When you are ready to serve, divide the almonds and raisins between 6 mugs.
3.    Add sugar to the wine mixture, and heat it gently until it is almost boiling. Do not let it boil, or the alcohol will evaporate. Use a cooking thermometer if you want to be accurate.
4.    Taste the hot wine to ensure that it has the right amount of sugar and spice for your taste; then dilute the wine with water, or add more alcohol or sugar if you wish. Pour the wine through a small sieve into individual glasses. Serve immediately.



I don’t know about anywhere else, but it’s absolutely freezing in the UK. It’s been snowing for the third time this season – very unusual, considering it rarely snows in this country anymore. People are talking about the possibility of a White Christmas for the first time in years. And what better way to warm up in cold weather than with a steaming, slightly spicy mug of hot chocolate? Come to think of it, this is my first chocolate recipe on this site. As I love top quality gourmet chocolate, I can’t help wondering: what took me so long?

Here I am giving an express version of Champurrado – Mexican hot chocolate drink that is traditionally made with masa (tortilla dough). It’s served during fiestas, accompanied by tamales (savoury tortilla dough pasties). You can, of course, also serve it with sweet pastries or confectionery. Moreover, its rich, indulgent taste makes it ideal as an afternoon or bedtime drink. Serves 4.

1 pint/ 550 ml full-fat milk
2 heaped tablespoons good-quality dark chocolate, finely grated
2 level tablespoons cornmeal
4 teaspoons light golden brown sugar
1 level teaspoon ground cinnamon
Small pinch ground cloves
Small pinch mild red chilli powder

Optional garnish:
Chocolate flakes

1. Whisk all the ingredients together and cook in a non-stick milk pan on low heat for 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Alternatively, cook in a double-boiler: pour all the ingredients in a bowl and cook over a saucepan of simmering water for half hour. The drink should be quite thick, with the consistency of custard.
2. Pour into cups, top with cream and chocolate flakes if desired, and serve hot.


The key to the success of this recipe is the quality of ginger. Use very fresh, young pink Caribbean ginger that is sometimes available in supermarkets, or else buy it from African and Caribbean grocers or markets. Makes 6 to 7 x 70cl bottles.

4.5 litres/ 1 gallon water
100g/ 4 oz fresh ginger, peeled
1.5 to 2 lb/ 675g to 900g white or light brown sugar
Juice and zest of 1 lime
1 teaspoon uncooked white rice

1.    Bring the water to the boil.
2.    Meanwhile finely crush the ginger in a mortar or a food processor and place it in a bowl. Add the sugar, and lime juice and zest, and mix well.
3.    Pour the boiling water over, and add the grains of rice.
4.    Place the mixture into a stoneware jar, and allow to stand in a cool place for a week. Give the liquid a vigorous stir or shake once every day.
5.    After a week, strain and bottle the ginger beer.
6.    Refrigerate for 1 or 2 weeks.
7.    Serve in tall glasses with lots of ice, slices or lime and, if you like, a splash of rum.

Perfect for after dinner, or for lazy weekend afternoons. Serves 2.

2 red apples, peeled, cored and quartered
1 tablespoon rosewater or orange flower water
2 tablespoons sugar
¾ pint/ 450 ml cold milk
ice cubes
A few pomegranate seeds (optional)

1.    Place apples, flower water, sugar and milk in a blender, and blitz for 15 – 20 seconds.
2.    Serve in small decorative glasses with ice cubes, topped with pomegranate seeds, if using.