What's Cooking 4Xmas!
The Christmas season in Greece is a time of high religious importance as well as a special time when family and friends reconnect and gather around the table to eat. Even though traditions from abroad have altered Greek customs to a certain degree in the past years . . . what people eat at Christmas still depends on family and local traditions!
In my husband’s family, Christmas luncheon usually consisted of a light egg/lemon soup and rice stuffed boiled chicken. To be honest, on my first visit to Greece at Christmas time I found this quite strange as I had imagined something much more elaborate on this special day! However, as I quickly understood, this meal was the perfect way to break the fast before Xmas and to prepare your stomach for all the delicacies that followed!
The Christopsomo (Christ Bread), a crucial element of the family Christmas meal, was without doubt something new for me. Made with dried fruit, nuts, aromatic spices, wine and olive oil it was delicious . . . as well as beautiful with a cross made out of the bread dough.
Nowadays, I have to admit that I rarely make my own Christospomo, but instead, I buy a much simpler version (seen in photo above) from my local baker or I stick with my home made Nordic saffron buns that I really adore! I just hope that my late father-in-law forgives me for stepping away from tradition . . . as he would always start the meal by making the sign of the cross over the bread before slicing it and handing it out to all present . . . symbolizing a blessing and good health!
This Christmas, many families here in Greece will be eating turkey stuffed with rice or minced meat with chestnuts, herbs and raisins and/or some sort of pork served oven baked with leek, prunes and oven baked potatoes or some other local variation.
I’ve decided to roast a fresh turkey that my butcher ordered for me from the American Farm School in Thessaloniki . . . which produces some of the best turkeys one get here in Greece!!! Turkey is one of my all time favorite Christmas foods . . . truly delicious and so easy to prepare!
To cook the bird, Just roast it without stuffing in a hot oven (175C - 200C). Add a little water to the pan and baste the turkey frequently with a mixture of melted butter and olive oil while cooking.
The most important thing to keep in mind is not to overcook the bird! For perfect results cook the the turkey for 15 minutes per ½ kg of turkey!
Instead of potatoes and veggies, I’m going to serve the bird with a scrumptious tasting Exotic Saffron Rice that I've been making since my sojourn in Tehran, Iran in the late 1980's. It's truly superb with turkey, chicken or pork and to make your life even easier, it can be cooked ahead of time and re-heated in a microwave-oven without a problem.
For dessert I’ve decided on a Chocolate Dream Cake with fresh berries and sour cream sauce or sweetened whipped cream. And, it goes without saying that I’ve already made the common Greek Christmas sweets . . . Kourabiedes (rich butter cookies) and honey drenched melamakarona. It wouldn’t be Xmas in Greece without them!
With these sweet thoughts, I wish you all a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season! Until soon again!