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International tastes of Christmas


Last updated 11/21/2007 at Noon

Around the world Christmas dinner tables don’t always look like ours. I have listed a few recipes that are a bit unusual but are traditional for the countries mentioned.

One recipe I looked for but could not find was for a Russian dish called “Kutya.” It is a type of porridge served on Christmas Eve and is made with berries, wheat and honey. I don’t know what else is in it and how much of the aforementioned items are included, so it remains a mystery. The dish is traditionally a sort of good luck food.

My brother and his family will be spending Christmas in Russia this year, so next year I will probably have a Kutya recipe to share. Christmas in Russia was banned after the 1917 revolution and was only reinstated in the early nineties.


Herring Salad

12-ounce jar of wine-marinated herring

1 hard-boiled egg, finely chopped

1 small tart apple, finely chopped

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

Finely chop herring and mix with remaining ingredients. Let sit at least an hour for flavors to develop. Spread on Wasa bread.



Rice paper

8 oz. honey

2 egg whites

1 cup sugar

2 Tbsp water

1 lb blanched almonds

1/2 lb hazelnuts

2 tsp candied orange peel, diced

1 tsp grated lemon peel

Heat honey on stove for 5 minutes. Beat egg whites to soft peaks; fold it into honey. Mix sugar and water in a separate pan and bring to boil without stirring. Mix with honey. Cool until slightly thick and then add in remaining ingredients.

Line three 6”x8” pans with rice paper. Divide mix, pouring to a 2” depth. Cover with rice paper and let set for 20 minutes.


Ponche Navideño

12 quarts water

10 oz tejocotes (can use kumquats)

6 oz walnuts

5 oranges juiced

8 guavas

4 sugar canes

10 oz prunes

3 sticks cinnamon

2 lb. sugar

Wash fruit. Cut sugar cane into strips. Cut guava.

Boil everything together, except the sugar.

When cooked add the sugar.


Spanakopita (Spinach Pie)

One pack thin filo pastry

2 lb. fresh spinach

2 lb. of feta cheese

½ lb. of butter

2 cloves garlic (chopped)

Cook spinach and slice thin. Mix feta cheese with spinach and add chopped garlic. Butter flat oven pan. Place filo pastry on tray and brush softened butter on each. After eight filo slices, spread the spinach/feta mixture on top of filo. Add remaining filo and butter each slice. Cut in 2-inch squares. Cook in oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown.


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