These Dishes from European Cuisine are a Must for Christmas Celebration
Christmas is one of the most popular festivals around the world. Traditionally celebrated as a Christian event from cultural and religious aspects, the event is hugely popular amongst non-Christians as well. Although the event in itself is observed on the 25th of December commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, the anticipation and preparations surrounding the event begin much earlier. Christmas markets are set up weeks ahead of the festival and the festive spirit continues to linger till the first week of New Year. People start to decorate their houses with cute and symbolic decorations, upholding various facets of the Christmas traditions.
Apart from gifts, which are planned for weeks and sometimes months ahead, other important parts of this festival are the Christmas celebration and Christmas dinner, which take days of planning to set in motion. Starting from appetisers, main course, desserts to drinks, every course of the dinner needs to be pre-planned. This is primarily because of three reasons:
One, it takes a long time to gather the ingredients, and given the Christmas rush, there is a high chance that your trusted store might run out of that secret spice that would have made a world of difference to your mince pies.
Two, during Christmas, people often have guests over. When you have a guest list in hand, it makes organising a dinner party less overwhelming and daunting if you know for certain what it is that you are going to cook. To reduce workload, you can even prep things a day in advance and keep them in the freezer, in airtight containers.
Three, food is a very important part of any festive celebration. People bond over their love for food like no other, and when you plan, execute and enjoy a massive feast with your loved ones, it builds lasting memories and upholds the merry spirit of the festivities.
Keeping the importance of a Christmas feast in mind, let us take a quick look at some dishes from European cuisine, which make Christmas holidays memorable and Christmas dinners delectable.
Galette Des Rois which translates to King Cake is a traditional French delicacy consumed on the 6th of January to celebrate Epiphany, the day when the Magi visited baby Jesus. The cake starts to appear in bakeries and markets from December and stays till January. Since it is widely available during the Christmas holidays, it often makes an appearance at Christmas dinners. The cake is made of flaky puff pastry with a custard filling made from sweet almonds. Although the dish is 700 years old, Galette Des Rois is in most cases exclusively consumed only in France, and so, the only way to taste it is either by making it at home or visiting France or one of the surrounding nations during the time of the Christmas festival. The cake is irresistibly tasty and comes with a king crown as well as a special charm which can be found stuffed inside the pastry. As per tradition, if you get the charm, you are crowned king for the day!
For the filling of the cake, mix the sugar and unsalted butter until the batter becomes light and creamy. Add almond flour, salt, one whole egg, separate the whites from the yolk and just blend in the white part, mix in the extract and the rum (optional). Cover the almond custard mixture and refrigerate it for an hour.
Take the reserved yolk, mix one teaspoon cold water, cover and put it in the refrigerator.
For the dough, take some refrigerated ready-made puff-pastry dough, and put it on a baking sheet coated with parchment paper to prevent sticking. Spread the almond custard filling and ensure even distribution. Tuck in the charm (for example, almond or dried bean) and moisten the border with a little bit of cold water. Place the second half of the dough over the filling and seal the border by gently pressing with your fingers. Take a knife and scallop the edges. Refrigerate the pastry for around 30-60 minutes before popping it in the oven.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Celsius. Eggwash the top layer of the galette being extra careful not to glaze the border, or the cake won’t rise properly. Make six small incisions to let the steam out. Set the temperature down to 400, put the galette inside and bake for 30-40 minutes.
If you are looking to taste some authentic European Cuisine, you should definitely bite into a mince pie. Mince pies are a traditional English delicacy consumed with much affection across the Island nation during the Christmas holidays. Although referred to as mince pies, these pies have little to do with meat and everything to do with the sweeter side of things. Mince pies originated in Medieval England when the Knights on their way back from the crusades brought back bags full of spices and dried fruits. Another reason why mince pies are symbolic of Christmas is due to the trio of ingredients used in making it- cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg; the spices gifted by the Magi to Baby Jesus. Opposed to traditional savoury pies, these mince pies have a mind-blowing combination of sweet and spicy (being made from raisins), and also tend to have a better shelf life. A very English product forming the core of traditional European food, mince pies are not always readily available, which is why it is a good idea to prepare them at home.
To make the mincemeat filling, you will need to peel and grate one large apple, mixed dried fruits, finely chopped hazelnuts, black cherries, zest and juice of one orange, allspice, dark brown sugar, cinnamon and ginger. Mix all the ingredients in the roasting tray and then bake it in the oven with a foil covering for 40-45 minutes. Take the tray out when the sugar has dissolved completely and the mixture is bubbly. Set the tray aside to cool.
To make the pastry dough, mix flour and butter until the mixture becomes crumbly. Add sugar, vodka and a few drops of ice-cold water and combine. Once the dough is ready, put it in plastic wrapping and put it in the refrigerator for around 30 minutes.
Take the pastry dough out of the refrigerator, size it into cupcake tins, add a spoonful of mincemeat filling in the middle, and cover the top bit with some dough. Before putting the pies into the oven, you can either brush the top with egg wash or milk. Bake for 30 minutes until crisp. Once done, dust the top with icing sugar.
When it comes to the main Christmas dinner, you cannot have one without enjoying some crispy and soft roast potatoes on the table. Blame it on the weather or the festive spirit, roast potatoes cooked during Christmas are irresistibly tasty.
Firstly, you need to parboil the chopped potatoes for around 3-4 minutes. For this, you will need to heat a pot of water with a teaspoon of salt.
Once the potatoes are done, drain them and let them cool for around 5 minutes. Add some cornflour, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, red chilli powder or peri peri powder. Once the water has drained completely, sprinkle some flour and coat the potatoes well.
Heat a frying pan with oil and butter and roast the potatoes for 30-40 minutes until they are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. And voila, they are ready to eat.
A juicy and moist roast chicken is essential to complete a Christmas celebration. It is wholesome, delicious, warm and customary. Nothing looks as festive and welcoming as a well-cooked, aromatic roast chicken, decorating your Christmas dinner table. And the best part about this dish is that whatever leftover you have, you can shred it into bits and use it for making sandwiches or stuffed omelettes the next morning.
You need to prep your oven by preheating it at 220 degrees Celsius. After you have cleaned your chicken thoroughly and dried it with kitchen paper, place it on the roasting tray.
Take a bowl separately; add in the butter, thyme, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and garlic powder. Now with a brush or with your fingers, coat the chicken with this butter mixture, both inside and out. Drizzle wine all over the chicken and roast it for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes have passed, reduce the temperature to 190 degrees Celsius and further roast the chicken for another hour or so, constantly basting it. If the chicken seems to become dry, you can add wine or water. To check if the chicken is done, you can poke it with a knife.
Christmas is celebrated with much love all over the country but states like Himachal Pradesh and Goa and cities like Puducherry and Kolkata are the ones to look out for if you are planning a Christmas holiday in India. These places offer a multitude of traditional European cuisine dishes owing to the significant Christian population residing there.
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