Holiday Foods from Around the World: Select Recipes from Chicagoans (Part 2)

For the 2012 holiday season, I asked for Chicagoans to send me their favorite traditional holiday recipes. And, wow, did I get some amazing stuff. From recipes to stories to traditions, I learned a lot about how people from different cultures celebrate the holidays here in Chicago. While a lot of the celebrations differ from each other, one thing rang through loud and clear - the crucial role food plays in each one. Whether it was part of a tradition passed down through the generations to eat a certain type of food or a wonderful, interactive way to share one culture with another, food reigns supreme.

You can find the complete stories here.

Additional multicultural holiday recipes I received from my fellow Chicagoans (as mentioned in part 1 of this two-part post) follow below:

1) Hawaiian/Japanese: Grandma Helen's Teriyaki Sauce

1 cup soy sauce
3/4 cups water
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup Mirin
1/4 cup honey
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp garlic

1: Heat in a sauce pan until boiling and slightly thickened.
2: Let cool and marinate chicken or use in a stir fry sauce. It keeps well in the fridge.

Note: I add a full tsp of ginger and garlic.

Recipe courtesy of Kristin Rakstang Schmitt.

2) Indian: Spinach & Potato Pakora

Cooking Time: About 30 minutes
Servings: Makes 55 pieces

- Spinach & Potato Pakora Mix plus four additional "everyday ingredients”:
- 2 small russet potatoes (peeled & chopped into small pea-sized squares)
- 1 small yellow onion (cut about the same size as the potatoes)
- I box frozen chopped spinach (thawed, but not drained)
- 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for frying
- ~ 1 cup water (add gradually)

1: Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Gradually add up to 1 cup of water until the mixture reaches “dropping consistency” (so it will drop off the end of your spoon if you hold it up).
2: Heat enough vegetable oil for frying, on medium heat. When the oil is hot, drop the mixture in by small spoonfuls and fry until golden brown, flipping to make sure they brown on each side.
3: Once browned, remove the fritters, cool slightly and enjoy with chutney or tomato sauce.

Recipe courtesy of Elizabeth Chawla of Kaveli.

3) Irish: Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes

10 medium to large Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 potato per person)
1 stick salted, sweet cream butter
3 tablespoons salt
1/2 cup half and half
10 ounce goat cheese "log"

1: Set butter out to soften.
2: In a VERY LARGE POT fill with water and a good amount of salt (at least 3 tablespoons). Potatoes cook better and faster in a large pot so they're not crowding eachother. Cover your pot with its lid; this speeds up boiling time quite a bit, but take lid off as soon as boiling happens or your pot will overflow and make a mess of your stovetop.
3: While water is boiling peel potatoes (it's ok if a little bit of skin remains on) and dice into quarters (for large potatoes, halves if medium sized potatoes).
4: Carefully place diced potatoes into rapidly boiling water. Boil for 8-10 minutes. Test doneness with a fork. Potatoes should be almost soft, but not falling apart.
5: Drain potatoes completely once done. (I let them stand for 5 minutes in strainer to prevent watery, mushy potatoes.) Put fully drained potatoes back into large pot and throw in butter.
Add Half and Half. Use a hand masher for this part first and then mix with large wooden spoon to test for consistency (we like our potatoes more thick than watery, but this is your choice).
6: Once the butter and milk have created the desired consistency stir in one, 10-ounce Goat Cheese "log." Let it melt into the potatoes and then use your hand blender on the lowest speed to fully combine all ingredients and take out any lumps.
7: NOW its ok to start SLOWLY adding salt and pepper to taste. Remember we salted the water, used salted butter as well as added the goat cheese so you will probably want to use less salt than you would for other mashed potato recipes.

Recipe courtesy of Anne Owens.

4) Russian: Traditional Russian Beet Salad

2 - 4 carrots (washed and peeled)
6 medium or 4 large unpeeled beets (washed with stems cut off)
4 eggs
6 sweet gherkin pickles
1 to 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise

1: In very large pot boil water and then add carrots. Then add the beets. Beets should be washed thoroughly and stems cut off before boiling but do not peel.
2: Once beets have cooked in the boiling water just to the point of softness when a fork is stuck into the largest beet in the pot, drain and let cool slightly so that you can rub the skins right off over the sink. Its a good idea to wear disposable gloves for this part as beets stain (also be careful of your countertops -- use your cutting board).
3: Drain carrots at same point as beets (just to softness).
4: In a small saucepan, place eggs in pan and cover with cold water and bring just to a boil. Once the water is boiling turn off flame and cover the pot of eggs. In 20 minutes the eggs will be perfectly hardboiled.
5: Peel eggs while still slightly warm -- the peel comes off easiest this way.
6: While everything is boiling away start dicing up a good handful of sweet gherkin pickles.
7: When beets have cooled and been peeled, dice into 1/2 inch sized cubes. Dice carrots even smaller than that (1/4 inch). Pickles and carrots should be diced to about the same size, while the beets are a bit larger, as they are the "star" of this recipe.
8: In large bowl, combine diced beets, carrots and pickles and now add hard boiled eggs (cut in half and then into fourths). Stir gently to combine all ingredients.
9: When ready to serve, scoop mayonnaise into bowl with all of the ingredients. Again, stir gently to combine. Now its ready to serve. NEVER add the mayonnaise to the beet salad until time to serve.
Beets will stay good in fridge for several days if there is no mayo mixed in.This is traditionally served at room temperature, slightly cooled by the addition of the mayonnaise at serving.

Recipe courtesy of Anya Lempert.

5) Spanish: Spanish Wedding Cookies (with a French Twist)


For the snowballs:
1/2 cup butter
3 tablespoons (10x) conf. sugar
1 cup sifted flour
1 cup finely chopped pecans

For the snow:
(10x) conf. sugar

1: Cream butter & sugar until fluffy in med. bowl; stir in flour gradually, then pecans until well-blended. Chill several hours, or until firm enough to handle.
2: Roll dough 1 tsp-full at a time into balls, place 2" apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in 325 degree over 10 minutes or until lightly golden. cool on cookie sheet 5 min.

Festive Option:
Pin the cookies to a styrofoam cone to make a Christmas tree and then sprinkle with confectioners sugar snow.

Recipe courtesy of Mélissa Wittmeier.

6) Swedish: Spritz Cookies

Cook Time: 8 to 10 minutes
Servings: 6 dozen

3 cups flour
3 sticks butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 egg

1: Let butter soften. Cream butter with egg, sugar & extract.
2: Fold in flour with fork until well mixed.
3: Load into cookie press and squeeze onto ungreased cookie sheet. You can even add food coloring to the dough to make festive color cookies and use different shapes from the cookie press.
4: Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes. Makes 6 dozen.

Recipe courtesy of Angela Deppe and her father, Anders Johanson.

7) Swedish: Mormor's Pepparkakor Cookies

2 1/2 sticks and 1 tsp butter
2 c sugar
Add 1 egg
1/4 c dark corn syrup
1/2 and a little more heavy cream
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp cloves
2 tsp ginger
4 tsp baking soda
5 1/2 cups flour (add a little more as you roll out the pieces - both on the cooking surface and the rolling pin)

1: Mix the ingredients together. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin. Add more flour to the cooking surface and rolling pin as needed.
2: Cut out spaces with cooking cutters and place on greased baking sheet.
3: Bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees for about 6 - 7 minutes.

Recipe courtesy of Kristina Paschall.


You can find more multicultural holiday dishes, recipes and stories from other Chicagoans here.

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