When it comes to Christmas dinner in US, it can feel like there’s not much variation. We know the traditional dishes, roast chicken or turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes are usually followed by a slice of pie (or two) and maybe another dessert, to be polite of course! While this food is delicious, it can be easy to find yourself in a holiday rut. Tradition is great! But let’s spice things up a bit.
Around the world, people tuck into all sorts of wonderful and delicious festive fare. Given the upcoming celebration, we’d like to share our 3 favorite holiday recipes from different parts of the world and give you an idea how you can add an exotic flare to your Christmas dinner.
Let’s start with a recipe inspired by traditional Jewish cuisine. As you might know, instead of Christmas, Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah, the Festival of Light, and there’re plenty of amazing Hanukkah recipes worth borrowing and incorporating in your holiday menu. Potato Latkes are the easiest to make, but they aren’t at all lacking in flavor. Made just in a few simple steps, they will make a great appetizer for you and your family.
What you’ll need:
1 small onion
3 tsp salt
1.5 lbs potatoes
¼ cup flour
Oil for frying
Dice the onion and sauté with a little salt until golden brown.
Grate the potatoes and leave them in cold water.
Put the eggs, flour, fried onion and 2 tsp. salt in a bowl. Drain the grated potato, add it to the rest of the ingredients and thoroughly mix everything together.
Heat 2-4 tbsp. of oil in a frying pan, over medium heat. Scoop the batter with a table spoon (about two spoonful) and gently drop it into the oil. Press down gently with the back of the spoon to flatten. Fry 2-3 minutes until golden, then flip and fry additional 1-2 minutes on the other side.
Repeat Step 4 until you run out of the mixture (makes about 16 latkes). Make sure to add more oil to the pan every couple of batches. Enjoy as is, or with a little sour cream or applesauce to taste.
The next recipe comes from Milan but is enjoyed for Christmas and New Year all over Western Europe as well as South America. Italian Christmas bread, Panettone, is deliciously sweet and will become a great alternative to the traditional Pumpkin or Apple pie on your holiday table.
What you’ll need:
3/4 cup Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
A pinch of instant yeast
⅓ cup of cold water
2 1/4 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup lukewarm water
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons soft butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tbsp instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped dried pineapple
2 tbs grated orange or lemon zest
To make the starter: combine the starter ingredients in a bowl, cover, and allow to sit overnight at a room temperature.
To make the dough: Combine all the dough ingredients except the fruit. Mix and knead them together until the dough is elastic and smooth.
Cover the dough and allow to rise for 60-90 min, or until puffy.
Gently “punch” the dough down with your fist and knead in the fruits and zest.
Shape the dough into a ball and place in a tall straight-sided 2-quart pan. Cover the pan and let the dough rise for about 1 hour (until it’s just crested over the rim of the pan).
Preheat the oven to 400°F and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375°F and bake an additional 10 minutes. Then reduce the heat again to 350°F and bake for 25 more minutes.
Cool down completely before serving. Serve immediately or keep wrapped at a room temperature for up to a week.
And the last but not least is a very popular and surprisingly easy to make Russian salad Olivier. Even though the name might tell you otherwise, this recipe is traditionally Russian and is made for the winter holidays by every housewife.
What you’ll need:
6 large potatoes (Yellow Finn, Yukon Gold, or red potatoes)
1/2 lb of your choice of cooked meat (ham, beef or chicken) or mushrooms (for vegetarian version)
1 can of sweet green peas
salt and pepper
mayonnaise (or sour cream to taste)
Boil potatoes, carrots, and eggs until cooked (20-30 min).
Peel and cut all the vegetables and eggs in small cubes. Chop your choice of meat and pickles.
Mix everything together. Add peas.
Dress with mayonnaise or sour cream until evenly coated.
Add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!
With so many wonderful dishes to choose from it was hard for us to pick just three, so don’t worry we’ll be writing more! In the meantime, let us know if your favorite didn’t make the list in the comments below.
Image #1 by Meal Makeover Moms
Image #2 by Nicola
Image #3 by Ivana Sokolović