Chances are, you’ve been eating the same holiday meal for years. Holidays are a time of tradition and if your mother or grandmother served up a big bird for the holidays with stuffing and mashed potatoes as you were growing up, it’s likely that the meal hasn’t changed much. It often goes back to your heritage and what dishes have been continually popular in that culture.

However, our country is a melting pot, after all, so why not take the opportunity during the holiday meal to expand your horizons with some ethnic dishes that aren’t normally on your menu? Try one of the following recipes shared by some local chefs and ethnic gurus for your big meal.

Warmth from the North

Glögg is a spiced mulled wine that is a common holiday beverage in Scandinavian cultures. Lynda Smith of Munster, who is a founder of Nordikids and helped found the Nordik Folk Lodge No. 761, a cultural club for those of Nordic descent, hosts a glögg making party each season at her home, where the spiced beverage is made. Smith’s ancestors are from Sweden and Germany.

Smith says that the tradition has been carried on for generations. “Sweden is very cold and dark in the winter. This drink is warming and probably helps them chase away their blues,” she says. “I remember my grandpa and my uncles making this and hearing them talk to each other in Swedish.”

About 20 people joined her at her home this November for fellowship and preparation and the lighting of the cauldron on her outdoor deck.

Glögg

Ingredients

1 quart port wine

1 quart moscato wine

3 cinnamon sticks

20 whole cloves

Peel from 1/4 orange, shredded

1/2 cup raisins

30 almonds, blanched and peeled

1 pint bourbon

1 pint grain alcohol

20 sugar cubes

1 cup water

Directions

Mix wines in saucepan. Cover and heat just to boiling.

Wrap cinnamon, cloves and orange peel in a cheesecloth bag. Tie with thread and toss into warm wine. Add almonds and raisins.

Turn off heat and pour in bourbon and grain alcohol. Cover and bring back to just below boiling point. Turn off heat.

Place sugar in a metal strainer and dip into hot liquid. Take outside and carefully light liquid on fire. Keep dipping sugar cubes into liquid and/or use a ladle to pour liquid over sugar. (This caramelizes the sugar.) When nearly dissolved, dump the rest of the sugar into pot and cover quickly. Allow to steep 20- 30 minutes. Remove spice bag. Serve warm with a few almonds and raisins in each mug.

The Main Attraction

While many Americans consume turkey, ham or beef for the holidays, a popular holiday entrée in many cultures is lamb. Carlos Rivero, co-owner of Don Quijote in Valparaiso, offers a recipe for roasted lamb that would be a beautiful centerpiece of your holiday meal. His suggested accompanying dishes are red new potatoes, Brussels sprouts and a tossed salad.

Roasted Lamb

Ingredients

Boneless leg of lamb (4-5 pounds)

1/2 cup olive oil

12 ounces Manzanilla olives, pitted

8 ounces white wine

2 tablespoons flour

Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Place the roast (fatty side up) on the roasting pan; make random cuts with a sharp knife, about 1-1/2 inches deep and about 1 inch apart.

Fill and force with your thumb the olives in the cuts, and rub the roast with the olive oil.

Roast in the oven at high temperature for 2 hours uncovered. Drizzle with half of the white wine and continue cooking for 1 more hour at 350 degrees, basting with the drippings a few times.

When done, take the drippings out and take as much grease out of them as possible. Pour the juices in a saucepan, bring to a boil, and add the flour. Once dissolved, add the rest of the wine, stir, and serve over the lamb portions.

A Southern Side

This traditional southern dish is popular in Louisiana and makes for a hearty helping that combines sausage with numerous vegetables, adding a lot of flavor to your holiday meal. It is provided by Joe Vuskovich, founder of the Valparaiso eatery Yats, which specializes in Cajun and Creole food.

Vuskovich suggests that any leftovers can be mixed with some pancake batter for pancakes or fritters the next morning.

Maque Choux with Andouille Sausage

Ingredients

1 stick of butter

1 cup sugar

1 cup onion, diced

2 pounds corn kernels (7 to 8 cups)

1 cup tomato, diced

1 cup red bell pepper, diced

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2-1/2 cups chicken stock

2 cups half and half or heavy cream

2 cups bacon, diced, or Andouille sausage, diced (browned and set aside)

Parsley

Green onions

Directions

Cut the kernels off an ear of corn, then run the back of a knife along the cob to extract the juices. Melt the butter. Add sugar and whisk until light brown.

Add the onions and corn with juice from the cobs. Cook on high heat until soft. After about 15 minutes, when the corn begins to soften, you will start to see a white film on the bottom of the pan. Add tomatoes, red bell peppers and spices. Add the stock and simmer (be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan). Cook for another 5 minutes. Add cream and reduce. Add in the bacon or sausage. Serve topped with some fresh parsley and green onions.

Delightful Dessert

The sweet treats at the end of the meal can range from rich tortes to fruit pies to decorative cookies, often washed down with some hot cocoa or eggnog. Chef Chris Pohl from Giovanni’s in Munster offers a recipe for an Italian tradition that is best enjoyed by dipping it in a steamy cup of coffee.

Twisted Biscotti

Ingredients

4 ounces butter

1 cup sugar

3 eggs

3 cups flour

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup cocoa

Directions

Cream butter with sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Combine flour with baking powder and add to creamed butter mixture. Divide in half. Add cocoa to one of the halves. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Roll equal size ropes of approximately 1/2 inch diameter and twist the two colors of ropes together. Place on parchment paper, brush with cream, sprinkle with sugar and bake 16 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool slightly. Slice diagonally and place flat sides on parchment paper. Rebake for 7 minutes at 350 degrees.

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