13 Chefs' International Christmas Celebrations and Recipes (Slideshow)
December 23, 2013
Chefs share their international Christmas memories from their home countries
Laurent Kalkotour’s Fougasse
Laurent Kalkotour, formerly of DB Bistro Moderne and chef behind the French-inspired menu at Atrium DUMBO, shares a recipe from his youth in Provence. "Les Treize is a tradition in the south of France where after the big dinner, we have 13 different desserts placed on the table at the same time. It is meant to represent Jesus and his 12 apostles. The desserts vary from region to region and family to family. Out of all 13, my favorite is one my mother made called Fougasse. It's a sweetened olive oil bread with a dash of orange blossom water. For me it was perfect, fruity and fragrant from the olive oil and orange water, but not overly sweet. It is more of a savory dessert."
Wolfgang Puck’s ‘My Mother’s Linzer Cookies’
This is one of Wolfgang's traditional Austrian recipes that he makes for the holidays. “My mother would always begin baking early in December and keep it up right through the holidays. I remember the smell of cookies baking in the oven and that would remind me that Christmas was right around the corner. This is one of my favorite recipes.”
Masaharu Morimoto’s Sukiyaki
Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, known throughout the world for his seamless integration of Western and Japanese ingredients and techniques, has several family Christmas traditions that he developed while growing up in Hiroshima, Japan:
"My traditional holiday dish to make and eat with my family is Sukiyaki, which is a one-pot soup or stew that is usually cooked at the table as you eat with family and friends. The typical ingredients are beef, vegetables, and tofu,, which are simmered at the table in a shallow iron pot of soy sauce, sugar, and mirin. On Christmas night, my family would get together and eat Sukiyaki which is always a great memory for me. When I was little, beef was really expensive, so my sister and I would always fight over the beef in the dish! It's funny to look back on now, and eating Sukiyaki with my family is one of my fondest memories."
Francesco Mazzei’s M’Pigliatia
“The Pitta M'Pigliata is a traditional Christmas dessert from the remote Sila Mountains in Calabria: baked pastry rosettes with walnuts, almonds, raisins, cinnamon, cloves and drizzled with honey. Francesco grew up baking these cakes with his grandmother and mother two weeks prior to Christmas. His grandmother always glazed them with musto cotto and took them as little gifts when visiting friends and family and enjoyed with some sweet wine, Sambuca or Grappa.”
Sarah Wilson’s Christmas Berry Trifle Parfait
Australian Chef Sarah Wilson says “ I love this sugar-free parfait - in part because it can be prepared (mostly) in advance, it's lush-but-light, looks spectacular and is really rather nutritious. So much so, it's even healthy enough to have as a Christmas brunch meal. Christmas doesn't have to be a sugar-laden, toxic affair and a heavy, hot Holiday meal doesn't have to be finished off with a dried fruit-laden pudding. Dried fruit is up to 70 per cent sugar and a slice of Christmas cake or pudding can contain 5-6 teaspoons of sugar per serve!"
Robert Irvine’s Raspberry Porter Trifle with Chocolate Ganache and Whipped Cream
British Chef Robert Irvine says “The British Christmas traditions and US traditions are fairly similar in a lot of ways, besides the fact that we Brits say "Happy Christmas" instead of "Merry" and we refer to St. Nick as "Father Christmas." There are some big differences with regard to the food we serve on Christmas Day. One of my favorites that you do not see much in the States is the English Trifle, comprised of differing layers of various sweet flavors such as: fruit, whipped cream, chocolate, and Crème anglaise. This dish has a bit of everything for your "sweet tooth."
Luca Mancini’s Chestnut and Black Truffle Stuffed Roast Chicken (Pollo ripeno alle castagne e tartufo nero)
Executive Chef, Luca Mancini of Paresa Resort in Phuket, Thailand is originally from Italy. A seasoned chef with extensive luxury hotel experience, Chef Mancini has spent several years honing his culinary skills around the world. “Every year I have to respect my family tradition which is the chestnut and black truffle stuffed roast chicken with rosemary and sage roasted new potato.”
Daniel Boulud’s Beer Marinated Pork Rack With a Barley-Mustard Crust
Daniel Boulud is Chef-Owner of several award-winning restaurants and the Feast & Fêtes catering company. While he hails from Lyon, France, it is in New York that he has truly mastered the dining scene and is today considered one of America’s leading culinary authorities. Raised on his family’s farm in the village of St Pierre de Chandieu, the chef remains inspired by the rhythm of the seasons and menus driven by fine ingredients. Since arriving in the US in 1982, Boulud has become renowned for the contemporary appeal he adds to soulful cooking rooted in French tradition. This particular recipe is taken from the ‘Daniel At Home’ section of Chef Boulud’s latest cookbook, Daniel: My French Cuisine, which is comprised of four ‘menus’ of traditional, regional dishes Daniel loves to cook at home.
Pascal Vignau’s Celery Root Salad
You’d be pretty lucky to be a guest at Chef Vignau’s Christmas feast. A typical Christmas dinner for French-born Vignau, who currently serves as Executive Chef at Chandler's at Hilton Carlsbad Oceanfront Resort & Spa, Carlsbad, CA, includes:
Charcuterie and celery root salad, 3 inch Rib steak marinated overnight with herbs, Crack black pepper and olive oil, Field green, heirloom tomato, Mustard vinaigrette, Champagne for reception (need to have plenty on hand), Light pinot noir for the Charcuterie and or Crisp white (Torrontes, Viognier, Albarino), For the meat and cheese, Grenache from central coast , Syrah, cabernet franc, Dessert and of course, more Champagne!
Jonathan Jersualmy’s Chestnut Soup, Foie Gras Flan and Croque-en-Bouche
Sea Island’s Executive Chef Jonathan Jerusalmy is a native Frenchman and has incorporated his French influence into the holiday menus of the resort’s various restaurants with dishes like Chestnut Soup, Foie Gras Flan and Croque-en-Bouche. “Having not spent the holidays with my family in more than 20 years, the way to feel close to them during this time of year is through the smell and taste of holiday dishes I remember. These dishes cradled my childhood and inspired me to become a chef.”
Marc Vidal’s Chicken Canelones (Canelones de la Iaia)
“At Boqueria, NYC and DC's favorite tapas bar, executive chef Marc Vidal creates a flavorful menu of authentic, Spanish tapas dishes. Every year on Christmas, Marc's family traditionally makes Escudella, a traditional Catalan soup made of various meats and vegetables in broth. On the following day, St. Stephen's Day, it is a Catalan tradition to use the leftover meat from the Escudella, and grind it up to make the stuffing for Canelones. Marc prepares the chicken canelones, or Canelones de la Iaia, using the leftover chicken and then creates a béchamel sauce to serve on top.”
Fernanda Capobianco’s Passion Fruit “White Chocolate” Mousse with Fresh Strawberries
"In Brazil we celebrate Christmas during the Summer, however we eat really heavy dishes for Christmas: Roasted turkey, Roasted Ham, "Farofa", which is a side dish, tapioca flour cooked with butter, caramelized onion, raisins and sometimes banana. We also eat grain salads with forbidden rice, nuts and dried fruits, another dish called "saplicao" which is chicken thinly sliced with mayonnaise and shredded and fried potatoes, which obvious I don't like and don't eat! We also eat lots of nuts (especially Brazilian) and dried fruits. The desserts are usually chocolate or typical Brazilian fruit like coconut, banana or passion fruit in mousses or flans. We also eat nut cakes and panettones which are my favorite. I love the flavor of passion fruit – it’s tart, but with a fresh, flowery backnote that is unlike any other fruit. Here I add a passion fruit puree to a rich mousse made with cacao butter and tofu. I like to serve this delicious mousse with a topping of fresh sliced strawberries or other local berries. “
Jose Andres’ Clementine and fennel salad with almonds, olives and pomegranate (Ensalada de clementinas con hinojo, almendras, olivas y Granade)
The recipe is from Jaleo in Washington, D.C., and is part of our Clementina celebration running now through December 30th.
“One of my favorite holiday ingredients is the Spanish Clementine! It’s so sweet and juicy and brings the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity to any dish. The clementine season is very short so each year we pay homage to this beautiful fruit at my restaurant Jaleo in Washington, D.C. This year, we are doing many specials but one of my favorites is a humble clementine salad, with fennel almond, olives and pomegranate which brings together the flavors of my home in a perfect way!"