On the twelfth day of Xmas... celebrate the festive season with food traditions from around the world

On the twelfth day of Xmas... celebrate the festive season with food traditions from around the world

Recipe for the classic Beef Wellington below!

In the mood for beef wellington? Check out the recipe below! Image Credit: Supplied

The twelfth and final day of Xmas is here and it’s time to celebrate with friends, family and food. Did you get your tree trimmed, presents wrapped and cookies baked?

It’s okay if you haven’t because you’d be surprised how different Xmas is the world over. From seafood by the beach in Australia to a warm bowl of rice porridge in Russia, Denmark and Finland, to Pavlova in New Zealand, there are many ways to ring in the celebrations this year if not with a Xmas tree.

Seafood in Australia

Snowman in the sand? Head to Australia Image Credit: Shutterstock

Imagine celebrating Xmas in the summer. Extremely unusual, right? Maybe to the rest of the world, but a traditional Xmas table in Australia features barbequed meat, cold drinks, followed by a rich pudding. And the best part of it all is that this festive meal is shared on the beach. Not to mention, a sandcastle Xmas tree to go with it all. Prawns, lobster, and sweets before cricket or taking a dip? Why not!

Xmas Fried Chicken in Japan

KFC for a Japanese Xmas day! Image Credit: Shutterstock

Who needs a turkey when you can head to one of the world’s most popular fast-food chains – KFC? 3.6 million families go out to eat at the restaurant on Xmas Eve, however, they need to reserve a spot for themselves two months in advance. But how did this come to be a tradition? During the 1970s, the fast-food chain put together a holiday party bucket of fried chicken as a part of its marketing strategy.

Since the country had no specific dish to eat during the festive season, they filled the void by telling customers “here is something that you should do on Xmas”. However, the festive meal isn’t just all about the chicken… it also comes with cake!

Latkes in Israel

Latkes are a part of a traditional Xmas table Image Credit: Shutterstock

Quite a traditional fare, latkes are fried potato pancakes served with cream cheese, salmon and/or apple sauce. Other dishes include fried doughnuts, savoury fritters and even chocolate gold coins, which are given to children by relatives. Here’s our recipe for potato latkes.

Tamales in Costa Rica

Image Credit: Shutterstock

You will never find two of the same recipes in Costa Rica for tamales. Every family has their own ‘secret recipe’ for making tamales – a dish made with steamed corn or banana leaves, with meat fillings mixed with cheese, vegetables, and dried fruits. It was made a holiday tradition because in Mesoamerica, corn was always viewed as a substance of life. Ever since then, corn tamales were offered to these deities as ritual offerings as well.

Tamales are quite tasty to eat and do deserve all the praise, ritual offering or not. So, here’s our recipe for it.

Rice pudding in Sweden

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Of course, Sweden has its version of rice puddings for Xmas only that it is called Risgrynsgröt (pronounced as reese-grins-rot). This rice pudding isn’t like your usual bowl, because it has an almond hidden in the porridge. Served for breakfast and dinner, this bowl of rice pudding goes by several other names in the country and are eaten on the eve of Xmas Eve (23rd December), where it is called lillejulaften or little Xmas eve.

If you can’t make a traditional Swedish rice pudding this year, try out our recipes for other rice puddings like phirni, payesh, muhalabia and payasam.

Xmas cake in England

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Ever wondered where the fruitcake came from on Xmas? While it is known for its popularity in England and other European countries, fruit cake was introduced by the Romans, who made a mishmash of barley, pomegranate seeds, nuts and raisins as a sort of energy bar. Over time, the combination of these ingredients grew popular, so much so that there were several variations – the Germans have stollen, Italians have a dense version of fruitcake, which they call panfore and another cake called panettone.

Kiwi Pavlova

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Although this dish originates in Australia, New Zealand’s famed Pavlova is one for the books. Often made as a festive regular, the Pavlova takes a different form during Xmas where it is made in the form of a wreath, topped with whipped cream and berries. The inspiration behind the Pavlova emerged from famed Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, who toured Australia and New Zealand during the 1920s.

As the New Zealand story goes, the chef of a Wellington hotel at the time created the billowy dessert to honour her and claimed that the idea of the dish was inspired by her tutu.

While Xmas across these countries means a lot of food options, here are a few common recipes you can try and make at home:

Pie dough

Day 12 of Xmas Image Credit: Shutterstock

255 gms unsalted butter

435 gms all-purpose flour

5 gms salt

2 gms baking powder

200 gms cream cheese

65 gms heavy cream

22 gms cider vinegar


1. Begin by cutting the butter into small cubes and placing it in the freezer, you want the butter as cold as possible through the whole process to get the flakiest dough.

2. Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Sift the dry ingredients to combine and avoid any lumps.

3. Add the butter to the flour mixture and using just your fingertips, smear the butter until you have a loose gravely mixture. You want pea-sized lumps of butter to still be visible.

4. Break the cream cheese into small bits and using a spatula or sturdy kitchen spoon. Give it a small mix just to combine.

5. Add the cream and vinegar and again mix until just combined.

Note: The finished dough should be loose. We will fix this in the final stage of rolling the dough, but if you were to work the mixture until it was completely combined, it would result in a finished dough that is dense and chewy, not airy and flaky.

6. Take the loose dough you’ve made, press it together until just formed, and transfer to a sheet of cling film. Wrap tightly and press it flat. Rest it in the chiller until well chilled before proceeding to roll out the dough.

7. Once your dough has chilled enough, you can take it out of the chiller. Sprinkle flour on the table and press the dough together roughly into the shape of a smooth round disk. Working from the centre and rolling outwards begin rolling out the dough rotating one turn after each roll.

8. Once you’ve rolled to your desired thickness the dough will be much easier to manage if you chill it again before transferring into any prepared pie pan or tart mould.

Apple pie filling

Day 12 of Xmas Image Credit: Shutterstock

650 gms pink lady apples, whole

10 gms lemon juice

40 gms dark brown sugar

35 gms caster sugar

2.5 gms cinnamon

1 gms nutmeg

2 gms salt

20 gms butter

15 gms corn starch, separated

100 gms apple cider


1. To macerate or soften the apples, peel and slice the apples. In a large bowl, mix the sliced apples with brown sugar, caster sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Leave to macerate for a minimum of 30 minutes or up to 3 hours.

2. Complete the filling by transferring the apple and sugar mixture to a colander or strainer. Strain out all the released liquid. You should be left with at least 140 grams.

3. Combine the reserved liquid with the butter and reduce by about a third. Let it cool.

4. In a small saucepan, whisk together the apple cider and 5 grams of corn starch and bring it to a boil until thickened. Let it cool.

5. Combine the remaining 10 grams of corn starch with the reserved sliced apples and both liquids and toss to combine thoroughly.

6. The filling is now ready to be used in the prepared crust of your choice.

Beef Wellington

Beef Wellington Image Credit: Supplied

400 gms beef fillet, cleaned and trimmed

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 tbsp Coleman’s English mustard

150 gms mushroom duxelle

1 crepe

450 gms puff pastry

2 egg yolk, wash

Maldon salt to taste


1. To assemble the Wellington, season the beef with salt and pepper. Sear it well on all sides before transferring it into a chiller.

2. Once the beef is chilled, spread the mustard evenly over the fillet.

3. Lay out a sheet of cling film, lay the crepe down and then spread the duxelle evenly over the crepe.

4. Place the fillet at the top edge of the crepe. Using the cling film, wrap the crepe and duxelle tightly around the fillet, trimming any excess crepe from the ends.

5. Transfer to the chiller and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.

6. Lay out another sheet of cling film, lay the puff pastry down on the cling film and brush with egg wash.

7. Lay the fillet at the top edge of the crepe and using the cling film roll the puff pastry tightly around it.

8. Trim excess puff pastry from the ends, and transfer to the chiller to set for 5 to 10 minutes.

9. Brush the outside of the puff pastry with egg wash and using the back of a paring knife, decoratively score the pastry. Sprinkle the top with Maldon salt and transfer to a baking tray with parchment paper.

10. Bake at 200C for 25 minutes.

11. Serve and enjoy!

Mushroom Duxelle

400 gms Button mushroom, cleaned

400 gms Portabella mushroom, cleaned

150 gms Brunoise shallot

30 ml Pomace oil

30 gms Butter

15 gms Thyme, picked and chopped

15 gms chopped chives

15 ml truffle oil

Salt and pepper, to taste


1. Combine the cleaned mushrooms in a food processor and blend until finely chopped. You can alternatively chop by hand.

2. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Transfer to a clean dry pan, with no oil and cook on medium heat until all the moisture is gone and the mushrooms release the aroma. Reserve the mushrooms.

4. In the same pan, sauté the shallots in the oil and butter.

5. When lightly caramelised, add the mushrooms back to the pan.

6. Turn the heat off and fold in the thyme, chives and truffle oil. Taste and adjust seasoning.

7. Lay out and cool.

Crepe batter

680 gms milk

340 gms cream

10 whole eggs

30 gms pomace or vegetable oil

40 gms sugar

Salt to taste

510 gms all-purpose flour


1. Combine all the wet ingredients, whisk well. Add the flour and whisk until combined.

2. Strain through a fine strainer and reserve for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

3. While preparing, lightly coat a non-stick pan with butter spray. On medium-high heat, add 90 ml of batter to the pan swirling to create one even layer. Cook until a dark golden brown appears on both sides.

Puff Pastry

910 gms all-purpose flour

20 gms salt

910 gms butter, unsalted cut in cubes

450 gms water, cold


1. Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of the stand mixer, add the butter and toss until coated in flour.

2. Add the water and mix with the dough hook until a shaggy mass is achieved.

3. Transfer to a work table and roll out to a rectangle 1-cm thick and 30cm x 75cm.

4. Administer a three-fold and roll out to the same dimensions.

Note: A “three-fold” is kitchen slang for something quite simple, a letter fold. Taking the sheet of dough and treating it as a piece of paper, imagine you are folding that sheet to fit inside an envelope. Working with the long edge facing you fold first one end to a little past the middle then fold the remaining edge over the other. Then roll the dough out to the same dimensions as before resting in the chiller as preparation for the next fold.

1. Administer a total of 3 four-folds resting the dough in the chiller for 30 minutes between each fold.

2. Roll out to 2mm thickness and transfer to the freezer until ready to use.

Share your holiday recipes with us on food@gulfnews.com

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