Christmas Kitchens: Part 1

Food | Worldwide

Christmas Kitchens: Part 1

Dec 2020 | posted by Tourism Portfolio
It's time to start thinking of everything festive, Christmas season is here!
Earlier in 2020 we had some great success with our ‘Visiting the World’s Kitchen’ series and now, we welcome you to our special ‘Christmas Kitchens’ edition.
Whether its a snack, drink, meal idea or special dessert - we've got you covered.

As you cook up a storm, don't forget to share on and tag us.
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Mince Pies from Scotland

Be it an afternoon snack or the dessert you reach for on Christmas day when you've already had too much to eat, we know many Aussies are familar with mince pies, but have you ever made your own?  Our friends in Scotland at K&N Travel have sent us their best recipe to try and a suggestion that it's perfect with a spoonful of cream or Brandy Butter... we have to agree!

Scotland

Ingredients for Mince

  • 150g raisins
  • 150g currants
  • 75g chopped peel
  • 3 tsp Brandy
  • 150g cold butter, grated
  • 125g dark brown sugar or muscovado sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds scrapped
  • 1 Bramley apple, peeled, grated, core discarded
  • 1 orange, juice and zest
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest

Ingredients for Pastry

  • 350g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 150g unsalted butter, softened, cubed
  • 50g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 orange, zest only
  • 2 free range egg yolks

To glaze

  • 2 free range eggs, beaten
  • 50g demerara sugar

Method:

  1. Combine all mince ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.  Cover with cling film and leave for 24 hours.
  2. For pastry, sift flour into a bowl, add softened butter, icing sugar and orange zest.  Gently incorporate with hands until mixture resembles bread crumbs.  Mix in egg yolks and then add 2-3 tablespoons of water to help bring it together.  Squeeze the pastry together gently until you have a soft ball of pastry.  Flatten to a disc, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 
  3. Preheat oven to 180*C / 160C Fan
  4. Grease a bun or muffin tin.  Unwrap the pastry and roll out on lightly floured surface to the thickness of a coin.  Cut our 12 discs of pastry with cutter slightly bigger than tin holes.  Press pastry into the bottom of each hole.  Fill each case with mincemeat and then cut further 12 rounds of pastry, with slightly smaller cutter.  Brush rims of the pastry cases with a little beaten egg and press the lids on, pressing the edges with the ends of a fork to seal.
  5. Brush the lids with beaten egg and the use small knife or skewer to make a slit in the top of each pie.  Sprinkle with demerara sugar and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  6. Bake the mince pies for 20-25 minutes, or until golden-brown and crisp.  Transfer to wire rack to cool and the turn out to serve.  Any left over mincemeat should be spooned into sterilised jars and sealed.

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Strudel from Hungary

You can't think of Central Europe with caving strudel, one of Hungary’s favourite festive desserts - well at least we can't!  Strudel, or in Hungarian “rétes” is a type of layered pastry with a filling that is usually sweet.  Our DMC in the region, IMS - Vienna, Budapest & Prague, let us know that while strudel is easy to eat, the making itself is considered to be a very complicated and time-consuming process - 'something that only our grandmothers would do at special occasions'.

Hungary

Ingredients:

  • For the dough:
  • 420 g (~3 1/3 cups) flour
  • 40 g (~1/4 cup) sugar
  • 10 g (~3/4 tbsp) lard
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 250 ml (~1 cup) milk
  • 3-4 tbsp lard for spreading the dough

For the cottage cheese filling:

  • 1 kg (~2 1/4 lbs) cottage cheese
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 200 g (~1 cup) sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150 g (~1 1/4 cups) sour cream
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 egg whites
  • 400-500 g (~1 lb) pitted sour cherries

Method:

  1. Place 3-4 tablespoons of lard in a small bowl and stir until airy and creamy. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl knead together flour, sugar, lard, salt, egg and milk by using dough hooks until well combined. The dough will be sticky, but don’t worry.
  3. Turn it out on a floured surface, add approx. 10 grams (1 1/4 tbsp) of flour and knead into a smooth and pliable ball.
  4. Divide the dough into 7 equal parts and form balls.
  5. Roll out a dough ball into a 25 cm / 10 inch circle. Place it onto a floured pastry board or baking sheet and spread it with lard.
  6. Roll out the second the dough ball into a circle of the same size, put on top of the spread dough, and spread lard on this layer too.
  7. Repeat the kneading, layering and spreading process until dough balls run out.
  8. Spread lard on top of the 7th layer too. Cover the layered dough with a large pot or bowl and let it rest for 90 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile prepare the cottage cheese filling. Combine cottage cheese, sour cream, egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, salt and lemon zest, then gently fold in the whisked egg whites. Set aside.
  10. Line 5-6 baking pans with parchment paper.
  11. Cover a big table with a tablecloth, slightly flour it, then transfer the dough in the middle of the table.
  12. Start stretching the dough. Use your fingers and the back of your hands to stretch it carefully without tearing it until the dough sheet gets paper thin and covers almost the whole table.
  13. Cut off thick ends. Now comes the filling. Sprinkle semolina or bread crumbs on the dough (they prevent it from getting soaked), spoon cottage cheese mixture in a row, then scatter cherries on the top. Roll the dough over the filling, starting at the filling topped end, lifting the filling’s weight with the cloth. Roll it twice.
  14. Cut the dough, then depending on the size of your baking pan cut the roll in 2 or 3 parts. Put the rolls in a baking pan. Repeat the process until the fillings run out. Place the strudels in the oven preheated to 200°C and bake for 15-20 minutes.

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Roasted Chicken from Malaysia

Moving away from tempting your sweet-tooth for a minute, we're heading to Asia.  Christmas in Malaysia is widely celebrated the western way with decorations and typical dishes. However Malaysians are getting more creative by adding a few traditional delicacies or a fusion of Malay-Western recipes. Our DMC in Malaysia, Asian Trails sent us this recipe for Malaysian roasted chicken with local spices called Ayam Percik.

 Malaysia

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken
  • ½ tsp. turmeric powder

Sauce

  • 6 shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 3 red chillies
  • 2 tbsp. chilli paste
  • 2 stalks lemon grass (bruised)
  • 1 tsp. roasted belacan
  • 1 tsp. dried tamarind
  • 1 tsp. fenugreek seeds
  • 200ml fresh coconut milk
  • 400ml water

Method:

  1. Massage the turmeric powder onto the chicken.
  2. For the sauce, blend the shallots, garlic, ginger and red chillies. Then mix the blended paste together with the rest of the ingredients in a pot, cook on a medium heat until the oil from coconut milk splits.
  3. Add the chicken halves into the sauce and cook until the juices run clear.
  4. Remove the chicken from the pot and grill on a hot griddle. Douse it with sauce and keep grilling until you see charred marks.
  5. Douse it again with sauce for 3 to 4 more rounds and the chicken is ready.
  6. Cut each halves into 2 before serving. Serve with the remaining sauce in the pot.

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Sup Brenebon from Indonesia

Sticking with Asia, but jumping to neighboring Indonesia...  When celebrating Christmas in Indonesia, this Sup Brenebon (Red Beans & Beef ) is a must have soup. Indonesia is known to have various types of culinary delights in delicious soups, this one is from Manado (North of Sulawesi) which is really soft, made from red beans and beef.

Indonesia

Ingredients:

  • 500 gr beef shank
  • 500 gr short ribs
  • 150 gr kidney beans (soak in cold water overnight, replace the water to soak the beans twice)
  • 3 carrots, cut into a round thin shape
  • 3 tbsp cooking oil
  • 6 garlic
  • 5 shallots (about 100 gr)
  • 1 thumb of ginger, cut into thin slices
  • 3 salam or bay leaves
  • 5 lime leaves
  • 6 cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground caraway seeds (or substitute with ground fennel seeds) or jinten in Bahasa Indonesia
  • 1/2 nutmeg, grated
  • 2 tbsp salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp pepper, or to taste
  • 5 tbsp fried shallots
  • 10 scallions or green onions, minced
  • 2 tomatoes, cut each into 8

Method:

  1. Blanch the beef to remove any impurities. Prepare a large pot and fill half the pot with water, then boil the water in medium heat. Add all the beef (the water in the pot must cover the meat) and boil it again in medium heat for another 5 minutes. Discard the water and wash the meat in running tap water
  2. Add shallots, garlic and caraway seeds with cooking oil into a blender and blend until smooth, then transfer to a wok
  3. Cook the mixture while stirring occasionally until it is fragrant and dry and reduced in volume (it will take about 10 minutes in medium heat). Transfer the mixture to the cooking pot
  4. To the same pot, add beef cut, water, ginger, salam leaves, lime leaves, cloves, grated nutmeg, salt, sugar and pepper. Cook in low heat until beef is half done or starts to soften, then add kidney beans. Cook until beef and beans are thoroughly cooked and tender. If during the cooking process the amount of water is reduced, add water accordingly (you don’t have to add water if using a slow cooker or multi-function cooker as the water will stay the same). Turn off the heat and let cool for about 15 minutes
  5. Add carrots and continue cooking until carrots are soft
  6. Turn off the heat, add fried shallots, green onions and tomatoes and stir to mix
  7. Transfer to serving bowls and serve hot with steam rice
  8. Serves 4 - 6

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Baked Chicken from India

From our DMC in India, Distinct Destinations, their recipe for baked chicken and vegetables.  India and Australia share a history entwined with Britain so it is no surprise that both countries have adopted their Christmas traditions of baked meals, though adapted to local tastes - try yours this year with an Indian influence?

India

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken with skin (about 4 pounds)
  • salt and freshly grounded pepper
  • 6 small carrots, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 3 Potatoes, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • Two cups of button Mushroom
  • Ginger & Garlic Paste one Tablespoon each
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • A Cup of chopped coriander.
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • Precooked fried rice for filling in the chicken (Optional)

Method:

  1. Place chicken on a large plate and prick the entire surface with a toothpick.
  2. Season with Salt Pepper & Ginger Garlic Paste. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 mins. 
  3. Now mix butter and chopped coriander well and apply it on the chicken evenly. If possible you can also try to put some of the marinade beneath the skin. Firstly, refrigerate for 60 mins and later 30 mins at room temp.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Fill chicken with fried rice and tie chicken legs with a twine.
  6. Add some salt and pepper to carrots, Mushrooms & potatoes, and mix well with a Tablespoon of olive oil.
  7. Arrange in a large roasting pan, with Mushrooms in centre and carrots, potatoes, and lemon toward edges.
  8. Put the whole chicken on this Vegetable bed and add ¼ cup of water to the dish.
  9. Now cook at 350 degrees for 60 mins.
  10. Once cooked keep it aside for 15 mins before serving.

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Mulled Wine from France

We're at the half way mark of our recipes and it's time to insert a festive drink into all this delicious food...  Vin chaud (French for "hot wine") is a traditional Christmas and winter warmer - particularly famous in Alsace but loved all over France. This unique recipe steeps the wine in the spices to infuse the flavours without using heat (heat can evaporate the alcohol and bring out unwanted flavours from the wine).

While our DMC in France, TERRAEVENTS, recommend your Enjoy vin chaud after dinner, on its own or with a spiced cookie.

 France

Ingredients: (serving for approx. 4 people)

  • Pinot Noir, preferably from Alsace (1 bottle)
  • Picon biere liqueur (a good substitute would be Cointreau) (50 ml)
  • Honey (2 Tbsp)
  • Orange Marmalade (2 Tbsp)
    - APPLE PASTE -
  • Apple (1 large)
  • Sugar (1 Tbsp)
  • Honey (1 Tbsp)
    - QUATRE ÉPICES - (French four-spice blend)
  • Ground White pepper, (black can be used too) (1 teaspoon)
  • Ground Nutmeg, (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Ground Ginger, (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Ground Cloves, (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Optional: 1 star aniseed and/or 1 cinnamon stick             

There are a lot of variations for quatre épices, so play with the proportions of the different spices if you like. If using Cointreau, keep in mind it's twice as strong, so adjust if needed!  Alsatian Pinot Noirs work well because they tend to be light, fruity and rustic. Alternatively, a fruity Merlot, Beaujolais, or petite Syrah works as well. It should be good but not expensive!

Method:

  1. Cut apple into small pieces and add to a small pot with 2-3 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 tablespoon honey. Cover and simmer until soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Turn the softened apples into a paste by mashing or using a food processor.
  3. To make quatre épices (French four spice blend), grind and mix the spices.
  4. In a pot, mix together the wine, 3 Tbsp of the apple paste, 2 Tbsp each of marmalade and honey, 50 ml of Picon and 1-2 tsp of the spice mix. Toss in the star anise and cinnamon if using. Feel free to adjust the amount of spices, and sweetners according to the level of spiciness and sweetness you like.
  5. Cover and let steep for 3 days in the refrigerator. This lets all the flavors slowly soak in.
  6. When ready to drink, heat on low until just hot, but don't let it boil.* If you can't bare to wait 3 days, warm on very low heat for 20-30 minutes and drink immediately.
  7. Serve hot in mugs, straining out the pulp and spices if you like.

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Cookies from Italy

Speaking of spiced cookies with your mulled wine... it's time for a traditional Christmas Gingerbread Man recipe from TERRAEVENTS Italy.

Italy

Ingredients:

  • 350g/12oz plain flour, plus extra for rolling out
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 125g/4½oz butter
  • 175g/6oz light soft brown sugar
  • 1 free-range egg
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup

To decorate

  • writing icing (optional)
    cake decorations (optional)

Method:

  1. Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon and pour into the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and blend until the mix looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.
  2. Lightly beat the egg and golden syrup together, add to the food processor and pulse until the mixture clumps together. Tip the dough out, knead briefly until smooth, wrap in cling film and leave to chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.
  4. Roll the dough out to a 0.5cm/¼in thickness on a lightly floured surface. Using cutters, cut out the gingerbread men shapes and place on the baking tray, leaving a gap between them.
  5. Bake for 12–15 minutes, or until lightly golden-brown. Leave on the tray for 10 minutes and then move to a wire rack to finish cooling. When cooled decorate with the writing icing and cake decorations, if using.

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Pancake Balls from Denmark

Heading to Scandinavia, these pancake balls or 'Aebleskiver' look delicious.  Our DMC in the region DMC Nordic sent over their favourite recipe from nordicfoodliving.com and we agree, these don't just have to be for Christmas dessert, they look perfect for any time of year.

Denmark

Ingredients:  (20 pancake balls)

  • 250 g all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp Natron (baking soda)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla sugar
  • 4 dl buttermilk
  • 100 g butter, melted
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp sugar

Method:

The Aebleskive Batter

  1. Separate the egg whites and yolks in separate bowls.
  2. Whisk the sugar and egg whites fluffy and stiff. The bowl must be completely clean and dry. A tiny bit of water will make the eggs whites impossible to whisk stiff. Set aside.
  3. Mix the egg yolks, all-purpose flour, natron (baking soda), salt and vanilla sugar together in a separate bowl.
  4. Use a hand mixer to mix the ingredients while gradually adding the buttermilk. Keep mixing until the batter is uniform.
  5. Melt the butter and let it cool off a bit. Slowly add the cooled butter to the buttermilk mixture while whisking.
  6. Use a wooden spoon or similar to slowly mix the stiff eggs whites in the batter.

The Cooking of Aebleskiver

  1. You need a special Aebleskive pan for frying. You can get one online or maybe at your local kitchen store.
  2. Heat up the Aebleskive pan at medium heat and add a small piece of butter in each hole. Fill the holes 3/4 with the Aebleskive batter.
  3. When the batter starts to get firm and you can turn them over without cracking, then turn the Aebleskiver 90 degrees (using a wooden stick or similar) and let the batter flow into the pan.
  4. At this point there is a hole in the side of the Aebleskive. Pour a little extra batter into the hole and turn the Aebleskive another 90 degrees so that the hole gets closed.
  5. When the Aebleskiver have a solid surface turn them regularly so they get an even and light-brown crust.

Notes: In step 4 (in cooking of Aebleskiver), try adding different fillings inside the Aebleskiver. I can recommend filling with chocolate chips, strawberry jam or small apple pieces. Serve these Danish aebleskiver together with some jam and icing sugar.

Recipe & Images: NordicFoodLiving.com - Kim Nielsen

Christmas Cheesecake from Estonia

Sticking with Northern Europe, we're next hopping across the Baltic Sea to Estonia for some cranberry and cheesecake with gingerbread crumble - doesn't it just look like Christmas embodied...

Estonia

Ingredients:

Gingerbread crumble:

  • 400 g gingerbread
  • 125 g butter, melted

Filling:

  • 500 g cheese curd
    125 g sugar
    2 eggs
    200 g sour cream
    200 g cranberries

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200 C.
  2. Line the bottom of the square (22 cm) springform pan with baking parchment.
  3. For gingerbread crumble, crush the gingerbread and mix with melted butter. Press 2/3 of the crumble into the bottom of the pan.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the cheese curd with sugar, and add sour cream and slightly beaten eggs. Pour it over the crust. Add cranberries. Sprinkle the remaining gingerbread crust evenly over cranberries.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve cooled.

Recipe and image: Estonian World

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