Enjoy Delicious Holiday Recipes from Around the World

Posted by Cindy Clarke on 11/18/2015
Posted in: Tauck’s Travelogue
Tags: Africa, Athens, Austria, Belgium, British, Charleston, Christmas Markets, Dining, Europe, Food, Food and Wine, Germany, Greece, Holiday, Italy, Small Ship Cruising, Tauck, Travel, USA

We’re dishing up some of our favorite around-the-world holiday recipes… so you can enjoy them at home!

food_introTravel is all about experiencing a taste of life in new destinations. So it comes as no surprise that, for many of us, food plays a big role in the memories we bring home with us after our travels afar.

If you’ve been dreaming of those warm-from-the-oven, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate croissants or puffy cheese gougères after your trip to France… or handmade pasta, à la traditions centuries old, perfectly plated and dressed with sauces that send your senses reeling back to those romantic Tuscan villas… or Austrian strudel, apple fresh, sugar dusted and pastry pinched, and that warm pumpkin soup you may have sampled and savored in Austria… or Turkish delights, both the unique candied treats typically enriched by pomegranate and pistachio, and regional dishes boasting spices and honey that made your small ship cruise there even sweeter or so many other delectable memories of a much-enjoyed vacation, then read on!

During the holidays, different countries’ regional favorites turn the tables on what you might eat at home, but after traveling to places exotic and enticing, you just might want to add some of their holiday favorites to your feast… or at the very least relive your delectable culinary moments at places that serve up authentic international fare!
If you only remember a little French from your school days, you might interpret the phrase hors d’oeuvres, as meaning “out of work,” but in fact it means little snack foods served before or outside of (hors) the main dishes of a meal (the oeuvres). One of my favorites is gougères, a delicate, lighter-than-air cheese pastry that is as easy to make as it is to eat! I first tasted them at a tasting featuring wine locally produced and proudly poured in two family-owned vineyards in the celebrated wine regions of Mercurey and Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and the memory lingers still. Try them at home with this recipe.

Along with wiener schnitzel (breaded veal) and tafelspitz (boiled beef), apple strudel is considered to be the national dish of Austria. (Historically, strudel is related to the Ottoman Empire's pastry prepared for sultans, baklava, but more on that later!) But did you know that pumpkins have made their way to the top of Austrian menus, thanks to the award-winning status of pumpkin seed oil, known as black gold that is famous the world over! Tauck river cruisers along the Danube tried this pumpkin soup recipe this fall; one taste and your Thanksgiving guests will have something new to be thankful for!

Italians traditionally celebrate the December holidays with La Vigilia di Natale, “A Feast of the Seven Fishes.” Their favorite dishes vary from family to family, but you will likely find an array of seafood that includes the freshest catch-of-the-day as well as clams, oysters, mussels, squid, shrimp, and lobster… along with pasta al dente and wine! Thanks to Westport, Connecticut chef, Debra Rubel, a cooking teacher extraordinaire, you can enjoy this dish at home! Clams Vongole recipe.
Having just returned from a bucket list cruise to Homeric ports in the Aegean Sea where Turkish delights and Grecian nights are now immortalized in some of the sweetest memories of my trip… pistachio-infused candy cubes called Turkish Delights, Sultan-pleasing honey-soaked baklava (multi-layered pastries filled with nuts, cinnamon and cloves!) and the creamiest rice pudding I ever tasted. Here’s how I am sharing highlights of my trip at our holiday table… rice pudding recipe.

Christmas market cruisers are off to a wonderland of wintertime treats that showcase regional food specialties in Europe’s riverside towns all decked out in their holiday finest to warm hearts and souls! Think freshly baked gingerbread in Passau, decorative marzipan in Salzburg, “glow wine” – glühwein – in medieval Regensburg… and bountiful Bavarian dream desserts of nuts and warm apples like Bratäpfel; get this recipe here!

Our British friends have a sweet tooth, and every holiday celebration includes some of their favourite traditional treats including trifle, the consummate English pudding, mincemeat pies, butter rich scones and Yorkshire pudding. But for those of us who had the privilege of meeting Carolyn Robb, former personal chef to Prince Charles and Lady Di, our holiday desserts will undoubtedly include this personal royal favorite: Chocolate Biscuit Cake!
In Israel, latkes (potato pancakes) enjoy an honored place at the table, as do pomegranate dishes, both of which are historically symbolic to the Jewish faith. The oil for cooking the latkes is symbolic of the oil from the Hanukkah story that kept the Second Temple of ancient Israel lit with a long-lasting flame that is celebrated as a miracle. Pomegranate is an ancient fruit treasured for its juice and seeds that are associated with 613 commandments in the Torah. Today they are prized for their antioxidants and potent nutritional value. What better way to toast good tidings and good health during the holiday season than with this festive pomegranate punch.

Down south in places like Savannah and Charleston, along with sweet potato anything and she-crab soup, people go nuts for pecans! It wouldn't be a proper holiday celebration without those quintessential and ultra-rich pecan pies, always a favorite dessert at Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Sweet and buttery, the pecans that figure so prominently in that iconic pie are America's only major indigenous tree nut. They're native to the Deep South, and they're the third-most-popular nut in the U.S. behind peanuts and almonds! Today chefs are thinking “out of the pie” as they come up with innovative new recipes for pecans. Try this one for Candied Pecans, but taster beware; they can be addictive!

Kwanzaa is a secular seven-day celebration, beginning each year on December 26, which is observed by many African-Americans. Sweet potatoes, collard greens and black-eyed peas are at the center of a traditional Kwanzaa meal, with corn bread sides are a must to scoop up the savory sauces. Have you ever tried sweet potato pie? It’s a classic ending for Kwanzaa celebrations for the New Year. You can even use some of the candied pecans you may have had the courage to resist as a topping for this Kwanzaa staple!

May your holiday season be a feast of fond memories, good tidings and great food as you share it with family and friends!

Click here to download all of the recipes!


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