These “flowers” are simply polka dots pulled together with a toothpick (see the video below; photo courtesy Gardenia | NYC).  Any food that isn’t made in a sauce can be decorated (photo courtesy Shalit Foods).  Keep your favorite sauces in the fridge, ready to squeeze (photo courtesy Pure Joy Concepts).  You can buy sauces or make them (photo courtesy Melissa’s).
When you get your food at a good restaurant and the chef has made beautiful chevrons, flowers or hearts from the sauce, are you impressed?
If so, know that some of these are so easy, that all you need are a couple of squeeze bottles and a toothpick or skewer to make them at home.
In fact, the hardest thing to do is to decide which sauces to use with your dish.
So watch the video below, or plenty more on YouTube under “sauce decoration.”
Start with polka dots of sauce before moving into more complex designs.
Look for the color impact as well as the flavors when you select sauces.
The lists below are just guidelines. You can use whatever goes through a squeeze bottle (but steer clear of sauces with inclusions—bits of dill, mustard seeds, etc.).
Aïoli (garlic mayonnaise) or other flavored mayonnaise
 Citrus with beets and greens have eye appeal and taste great (here’s the recipe from Southern Living).  Pretty as a picture (here’s the recipe from Today).  An elegant take on ambrosia (recipe at right, from Fosters Market).
When cold weather limits the choices of both fruits and vegetables, a sprightly citrus salad can be a treat for the eyes and the palate.
It can be served for lunch or dinner:
As the salad course
As the main course with a protein—poached salmon, scallops, shrimp or other shellfish a salad course, as a main with seafood
As dessert, with burrata, goat or other soft cheese
When you mix colors, the results are truly glorious. They’re pretty, taste and good for you!
You can have a base of greens:
Baby arugula and/or spinach
Endive and/or radicchio
The dressings can be:
Blue cheese (add a pinch of brown sugar)
Vinaigrette with a teaspoon of honey or maple syrup
Garnishes can add:
Crunch (grated carrots, sliced or julienned celery or radish, nuts)
Color (carrots, dried cranberries or cherries, green sprouts or cress, pomegranate arils, red bell pepper, red chili flakes or jalapeño)
You can also add another colorful winter favorite, beets, to the salad.
There are endless variations of citrus salads. Here are two classic combinations; elaborate on them as you wish.
RECIPE #1: AMBROSIA WITH CITRUS & FLAKY COCONUT
In Greek mythology, the gods ate ambrosia and drank nectar, fragrant foods that were typically reserved for divine beings.
While no descriptions of either these foods survive (the word ambrosia means delicious or fragrant and nectar indicates a delicious or invigorating drink), scholars have long believed that both ambrosia and nectar were based on honey.
Here’s a recipe for another style of ambrosia from Alton Brown, with a sour cream dressing, pecans, grapes, mini marshmallows and more.
Ingredients For 8 To 10 Servings
2 navel oranges
2 cara cara oranges
2 blood oranges
2 red grapefruits
1/2 cup dried cranberries or cherries
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 Meyer lemon (substitute other lemon or lime)
1. PEEL the citrus. First cut off the tops and bottoms with so the fruit sits flat. Then place on a cutting board and cut away the skin and pith, working around the circle between the fruit and the pith.
2. SLICE each fruit into rounds or half rounds, depending on the size. Remove any seeds.
3. PLACE on a large platter or individual plates, and sprinkle with any juice that has collected on the board. Sprinkle the dried cranberries/cherries and coconut over the top.
4. ZEST the lemon over the salad; then cut in half and squeeze the juice over the citrus.
5. SERVE, or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
RECIPE #2: AVOCADO GRAPEFRUIT SALAD WITH MACADAMIA NUT DRESSING
Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet Blog developed this recipe by browsing the produce aisle and picking up what was available.
“Something about the acidic, subtly sweet citrus, creamy avocado, and crunchy macadamia nuts make this salad utterly unforgettable,” Hannah says. “Don’t just take my word for it, because I’m afraid I can’t do it full justice in a few short sentences. It’s just too good to fully explain in words. This simple, invigorating combination will brighten short winter days.”
If you don’t like avocado, or can’t find a ripe one, she recommends:
“Mix citrus segments with any other fruits that are available; or make an all-citrus salad, combining segments from grapefruits, oranges, blood oranges, cara cara oranges, and so forth. The mix of colors is absolutely gorgeous.”
Ingredients For 2-3 Servings
For The Macadamia Nut Dressing
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 scallions, sliced
1/4 cup raw macadamia nuts
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
For The Salad
8 cups arugula
2 cups thinly sliced fennel
1 small sweet onion, sliced
1 large pink or red grapefruit, sliced into segments
1 large, ripe avocado, sliced
1/3 cup toasted macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
 Grapefruit and avocado with macadamia nut dressing (photo courtesy Bittersweet Blog).  A pretty preparation: dressed TexaSweet red grapefruit segments in an avocado half (photo courtesy Texasweet).
1. MAKE the dressing. Combine the ingredients in a blender or food processor and purée on high, until creamy and completely smooth.
2. PLACE the arugula and fennel in a bowl and toss with the dressing; or if you prefer, serve the dressing on the side. Divide the greens between 2 or 3 bowls.
3. TOP with equal amounts of grapefruit, avocado, and macadamia nuts. Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper as needed, or simply place the shakers on the table for self-service.
But the grapefruit’s ancestor, the pummelo (also pomelo or shaddock), comes from far away—it’s native to Malaysia and Indonesia. Pummelo seeds were brought from the East Indies to the West Indies in 1693 by an English ship commander. The grapefruit may have been a horticultural accident or a deliberate hybridization between the pummelo and the orange
First there was blooming tea: a specially tied bundle of tea leaves and flower petals that opens into a flower when placed in hot water.
Now, there’s the blooming marshmallow, from innovative pastry chef Dominique Ansel.
Blossoming Hot Chocolate—more accurately, blossoming marshmallow—is a thin marshmallow, cut like a flower, and bunched up to resemble a closed flower bud. Some dabs of white chocolate keep the bud closed.
When placed in a cup of hot chocolate, the chocolate melts and the bud expands into the flower.
Check out the videos from Ansel, then the fan recipes (we like the poinsettia the best), in the videos below.
Make plain versions (all white or tinted pink marshmallow) before you try more elaborate colorations.
TIP: Ansel added a small chocolate truffle to the center of the flower. The flower itself is anchored in chocolate. We think that’s a lot of chocolate!
Instead, we’d use a small pecan cookie ball (a pecan sandy), a ball of cookie dough, a piece of caramel hand-rolled into a ball, or a small hard candy ball (as in the photo at right).
Drop the “bud” into hot chocolate and watch the “flower” open (photo courtesy Dominique Ansel).
It’s National Espresso Day, so trade your regular cup of java* for an espresso.
Some people are intimidated by an espresso machine. This video shows how easy it is to use one.
Espresso can only be made in an espresso machine, which exerts a specific amount of pressure on the ground coffee beans. The beans need to be an espresso roast, the darkest roast of coffee beans. The objective is a strong, pleasantly bitter shot of coffee.
You can get an espresso machine with a small footprint that will pay for itself in two weeks, assuming you purchase one espresso daily. With your own machine, you can enjoy a shot—or a double or triple shot—as often as you like, for pennies.
The Capresso espresso machine shown in the video is less than $60.00. Take a closer look at it on Amazon.com).
What if you don’t want to buy an espresso machine? The closest cup of strong, bitter coffee is a brewed Italian roast, made in a regular coffee maker.