Our Transnational Christmas Dinner – including easy-to-follow recipes

Come on in, join us at our transnational Christmas dinner table – or prepare it for your own family, following my easy-to-make recipes.

Starter of our Transnational Christmas Dinner 2020
Our Christmas Dinner: Pâté en Croûte with Portwine cubes, accompanied by a fruity white wine.

Driving Staying Home For Christmas

I spent at least half of the Christmasses of my adult life somewhere more or less far away. Sometimes by myself, sometimes in the company of my daughter. Sometimes I visited friends.

Christmas decoration in the shape of a suitcase that symbolizes the transnational dinner 2020.
This year, we’re inviting the world and have a transnational dinner at home.

I spent Christmasses far away in tropical places like Jamaica, Belize, Honduras, and Hawaii. But I also went on trips to France, Greece, or I hopped across the border to Austria.

This year, we’ll be travelling until mid of December and are therefore spending Christmas at home.

Christmas Tree and gifts we opened after Our Transnational Christmas Dinner 2020
Gifts under the Tree.

Although I’m a restless and avid globetrotter, I can also develop a very homely side. Obviously, I’ve already proved this in my post on pickled and preserved Mediterranean delicacies.

During these travel-restricted times, what’s better than bringing international favorites to the table? So come and join us at our table where we enjoyed a Transnational Christmas Dinner.

And so you can share this Holiday Season with us, I added all my easy-to-follow recipes below.

Dinner on Christmas Eve

The Starter

As I mentioned above, I’ve spent Christmas in France – as a matter of fact, in total about eight times. Hence, I’ll never forget the first time I attended Christmas dinner at my friend’s home. I don’t know how his mom did it since she didn’t have any help and still served about twelve different courses.

Welcome! For the Apéritif, I was serving a Crémant with an edible hibiscus blossom.

There were starters and soup, obviously. There were oysters and there was ris de veau – which visitors to France tend to mistake for some fried rice or so. Nope, actually, it’s sweetbread from a calf.
Pardon – what is ‘sweetbread’?
Well, sweetbread is the fancy term for the animal’s thymus or pancreas. Sounds gross, tastes delicious, especially drowned in a creamy sauce.

So anyway, after the large family was stuffed to the brim – the immediate family was joined by about a dozen aunts’n’uncles – there was still so much left that we feasted on those delicacies for days.

Starter of Our Transnational Christmas Dinner 2020
Pâté en croûte in its mold. In first picture, you can see it cut in slices and spiced up with some gelly cubes made from port wine.

To honor those wonderful Christmas memories from France, I decided on a classic Pâté en Croûte as a starter.

Diced meat is mixed with lots of fresh herbs, eventually ground with a bit of bread, and finally wrapped in a buttery shortcrust.

The Soup

Our soup pays tribute to our North German home – namely the city of Hamburg. It’s a potato chowder with a generous dash of cream. I’m adding some of the veggies that I purchase for the duck sauce of the following main course. Hence, the soup will be a bit zingier.

Soup of Our Transnational Christmas Dinner 2020
Mustard Soup

The smooth vegetable cream is finally seasoned with a generous share of grainy mustard and topped with strips of smoked salmon and some fresh dill.

The Main Course

Our main course will be a duck with a couple of complementing sides. As a matter of fact, this dish – in its local variations – could be eaten all over Europe and possibly even in the US and Canada.

The duck is brushed with orange juice – for the taste and for the color. Its main sidekick are dumplings made from a mix of potatoes, chopped Brussels sprouts, and bacon bits. I use this dough also for the duck’s filling.

Main Course Our Transnational Christmas Dinner 2020
Orange Duck, accompanied by a baked apple and a potato-brussels sprout dumpling and two kinds of cabbage – red and savoy.

Finally, a baked apple filled with a mix of marzipan, ginger, and rosemary adds some spicy and a bit exotic zing.

The veggie sides are a fruity red cabbage with lots of delicious apple slices as well as cream-braised savoy cabbage.

Fun sidenote: The other day, I’ve heard a funny explanation where the tradition of having duck or goose for Christmas comes from. Strictly speaking, Christmas eve is still within the fasting period. Since ducks and geese are swimming, they were declared fish and therefore allowed even during this time.
I don’t know if this story is true, but it’s funny just the same – and we truly enjoy our once feathered ‘fish’.

The Desserts

As a matter of fact, I’m no dessert person. However, I’ll make even two desserts.

I love rich creams, hence, both desserts are made with Mascarpone. Obviously, this is a tribute to my beloved Italy.

Desser of Our Transnational Christmas Dinner 2020
Baked Apple Dessert.

As for the baked apple dessert, I pile layers of apples stewed in homemade caramel, crumbs of speculoos, and finally the heavy cream in little jars. For serving, I sprinkled the treat with chopped burnt walnuts.

Trifle
Gingerbread Trifle

The trifle is basically the same idea only that I use mixed frozen berries instead of apples, and the crumbs are made from chocolate-covered gingerbread. I first soaked the crumbs in black currant liqueur I still have from my trip to Riga.

Breakfast on Christmas Day

Scones

After this feast, we’ll need something special to tickle our appetite the next morning. Therefore, I’ll serve freshly baked scones – enriched with a dash of marzipan and some aromatic orange peel.

Scones
Scones with all the fixings: A light, buttery spread, and orange marmalade

Like many other foods, to us, scones are not just a pastry but a culinary reminder of lovely stays in London where we enjoyed many cream teas over the years.

Raspberry Tart

Also, I’ll prepare a beautiful Tarte Linzer Torte-style – which is a traditional Austrian pastry. As I mentioned above, two years ago, we had spent Christmas at a friend’s home in Vienna – so with this Tarte, I pay tribute to one of my favorite cities in the world.

Raspberry Tart
Raspberry Tart

Below, I leave the recipes to all those treats for you and hope you’ll enjoy them as much as we do.

Happy Holidays!

Recipes

Pâté en Croûte

This Is What You Need…

…for ten slices

Pâté
  • lean pork, 250 grams
  • veal, 100 grams
  • back bacon, fat and unsmoked, 100 grams
  • marjoram, fresh, ¼ bunch
  • garlic, one clove
  • bay leaf
  • salt
  • pepper
  • milk, 2.5 tablespoons
  • toast, one slice
  • ham, one slice of 125 grams
Dough
  • flour, 200 grams
  • salt
  • egg
  • butter, 100 grams
  • milk, one tablespoon
  • flour for the surface
  • butter for the mold
  • egg yolk for decoration
Portwine Jelly
  • gelatin, two leaves
  • port wine, 75 milliliters – alternatively sherry or grape juice
  • sugar, ½ tablespoon

…And This Is How You Do It

  1. Cut the pork, veal and bacon into cubes.
  2. Then, rinse the marjoram and thyme, shake dry and chop. Peel and chop garlic. Mix the meat, herbs, garlic, bay leaves and add a teaspoon salt and pepper. Cover and chill.
  3. Now mix the flour, salt, egg, cold butter in flakes and milk in a bowl. Start kneading with a hand mixer, then with your hands. Wrap the dough in foil and put it in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  4. For the filling, heat the milk, pour it over the diced toast and let it steep for 5 minutes. Then remove the bay leaves from the meat mixture, add the soaked bread, and grind everything in portions in a blender.
  5. Dice the ham and stir in. Season the meat mixture with salt and pepper, mix well and refrigerate again.
  6. Roll out about 2/3 of the dough on a little flour to about 1/2 centimeters. Grease a small pie mold before placing the dough. The dough should overlap about 1.5 centimeters.
  7. Pour the filling into the mold and press firmly so that no air holes remain.
  8. Roll out the remaining dough and cover the pie with it. With the help of a little egg white, press the edges of the dough together
  9. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees celsius. With an apple cutter, cut 2 holes in the upper dough layer.
    Roll up small pieces of greaseproof paper and insert them into the holes as “chimneys”.
    Finally, cut out leaves and flowers from the remaining dough and decorate the pie with it with the help of some egg white.
  10. Whisk the egg yolk and a little water and brush the pastry cover with it.
  11. Bake the pie in the oven for 15 minutes. Then, turn the temperature down to 180 degrees and bake for another 40 minutes.
  12. Let the pie cool completely in the mold at room temperature.
  13. Soak gelatine in plenty of cold water.
    Season port wine with a little salt, pepper and sugar.
    Dissolve the gelatine according to the instructions on the package.
    Stir in the port wine.
    As soon as the liquid begins to gel, pour the port jelly onto the pate through the holes in the pastry lid so that the gaps are filled. Let it set in the refrigerator.
Note

When making my pie, there wasn’t much space between the meat and the crust. Therefore, I filled the port wine gelatine in an ice-cube mold and let it set. To serve, I cut it into small cubes.

Mustard Soup with Salmon

This Is What You Need…

…for four servings

  • shallots, 100 grams
  • potatos, 100 grams
  • olive oil, 1 tablespoon
  • white wine, 200 milliliters
  • vegetable stock, 500 milliliters
  • liquid cream, 350 milliliters
  • milk, 250 milliliters
  • salt
  • pepper
  • smoked salmon, 4 slices
  • whole-grain mustard, 6 tablespoons
  • dill, one spring

…And This Is How You Do It

  1. Peel and dice shallots, then peel the potatos and cut them into thin slices.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and sauté the shallots over medium heat. Then, add the potatos and sauté for 1 minute. Add white wine and reduce to half. Finally, pour in the stock, cream and milk and cook for 15 minutes over a medium heat.
  3. Finely puree the soup in a blender, season with salt and pepper.
  4. Halve the salmon slices, cut half into strips.
  5. Heat the soup, add the mustard, and mix with an immersion blender.
  6. Pour the soup into the preheated soup plates and top it with salmon and garnish with dill.

Stuffed Duck With Orange Sauce

This Is What You Need…

…for four servings

  • duck including neck, approx. 2 kilograms
  • half of the dumpling dough, see recipe below
  • orange juice, 200 milliliters
  • sugar, 2 tablespoons
  • onions, mild, 400 grams
  • carrots, 80 grams
  • celery, 160 grams
  • goose fat, 40 grams – alternatively butter
  • tomato paste, 2 tablespoons
  • port wine, 200 milliliters
  • red wine, 200 milliliters
  • duck stock, 300 milliliters
  • bay leaf
  • clove
  • cornstarch, 1 tablespoon
  • salt
  • pepper
  • apples, 4 medium-sized
  • marzipan paste, 40 grams
  • ginger, fresh, 30 grams
  • rosemary, 2 springs
  • milk, 250 milliliters

…And This Is How You Do It

  1. Remove the rump of the duck, then separate the neck and wing tips from the body. Cut everything into small pieces with a cleaver and set aside.
  2. Carefully dab the inside of the duck, season with salt and place on a baking sheet.
  3. Fill the duck with the brussels sprouts and potato dough – see below. Close the opening with a wooden skewer, then tie the ends of the legs together with kitchen twine so that they overlap.
  4. Caramelize the sugar in a saucepan until light brown, deglaze with orange juice and cook until the sugar has dissolved. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and let cool slightly.
  5. Brush the duck again and again over the next 30 minutes.
  6. Next, core the apples.
  7. Finely chop the ginger and the rosemary needles.
  8. Then, knead the ginger and rosemary with the marzipan and stuff into the apples.
  9. Cook the duck in the preheated oven at 180 degrees celsius for 2 hours.
  10. Place the apples on the tray under the duck 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time.
  11. In the meantime, dice the onion for the sauce.
  12. Clean, peel and dice the carrots and celery.
  13. Heat the lard in a cast iron saucepan. Roast the rump, neck, and wing tips in it over a high heat for 10 minutes.
  14. Add onions and roast for 5 minutes until dark brown.
  15. Reduce the heat a little, add the carrots and celery, roast for 5 minutes. Then, stir in tomato paste and cook for a minute.
  16. Top up with port and red wine, reduce strongly.
  17. Then, top up with the stock, the remaining orange juice and 400 milliliters of cold water. Add bay leaf, juniper, and cloves, and cook for 30 minutes over a mild heat.
  18. Then, pour the sauce through a fine sieve into a saucepan and bring to the boil.
  19. Mix cornstarch with a little water and stir into the sauce. Cook for 5 minutes over a mild heat, then, season lightly with salt and pepper.
  20. Take the duck out of the oven. Cut off the legs and cook them in the oven for another 30 minutes. Then, cut open the rib cage along the rib bone. Finally, remove the filling and cut it into slices.

Brussels Sprouts And Potato Dumplings

This Is What You Need…

…for four servings and filling of the duck – see recipe above

  • potatos, 600 grams
  • bacon, sliced, 30 grams
  • bussels sprouts, 250 grams
  • olive oil, 4 tablespoons
  • vegetable stock, 500 milliliters
  • carbonated mineral water, 100 milliliters
  • butter, 20 grams
  • egg yolks, 2
  • durum wheat semolia, 2 tablespoons
  • cornstarch, 1 tablespoon
  • nutmeg
  • salt
  • pepper

…And This Is How You Do It

  1. Wash the potatos the day before and place them on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Prick the potatos several times with a knife and cook in the preheated oven at 160 degrees celsius for one hour, turning them once after 30 minutes.
  2. Halve the Brussels sprouts lengthways and cut across into fine strips.
  3. Dice the bacon and fry it in a pan over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add brussels sprouts, season with salt and pepper, fill up with mineral water and cook for about 10 minutes over a mild heat.
  4. If necessary, drain the Brussels sprouts in a colander.
  5. Melt the butter in a pan.
  6. Let the cooked potatos cool and peel them while they are still warm. Press them twice through the press into a bowl.
  7. Stir in Brussels sprouts, egg yolks, semolina, starch and butter, season with salt and nutmeg.
  8. Cover and chill the mass overnight.
  9. The next day, set aside half of the mixture for the duck filling and divide the rest of the mixture into 4 portions and roll them into dumplings.
  10. Put the dumplings in plenty of boiling salted water. Reduce heat. As soon as the dumplings float to the surface, simmer for 10-12 minutes. Remove the dumplings with a slotted spoon, drain and serve with the duck.
Note

I must admit that my dough turned out to be far too moist no matter how much cornstarch and semolia I added. Therefore, I didn’t cook them in water. Instead, I greased small molds and filled them with dough. Then, I cooked/baked them for 25 minutes in the oven.
Later, I served them in the molds, however, you can take them out and even slice them before serving if you like

Creamed Cabbage

This Is What You Need…

…for four servings

  • savoy cabbage, 1 kilo
  • onions, 2
  • butter, 40 grams
  • oil, 2 tablespoons
  • liquid cream, 240 milliliters
  • nutmeg
  • salt
  • pepper

…And This Is How You Do It

  1. Clean the cabbage and cut it into quarters and cut off the hard core. Cut the quarters crosswise into thin strips.
  2. Finely dice the onions.
  3. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the oil. Fry the onions in it over medium heat until translucent.
  4. Add savoy cabbage and fry briefly.
  5. Season with freshly grated nutmeg and salt and cook for 5 minutes over a medium heat.
  6. Add the liquid cream, bring to the boil and cook for another 5 minutes over medium heat.
  7. Season the creamed cabbage with pepper and salt to your liking.

Classic Red Cabbage

This Is What You Need…

…for four servings

  • red cabbage, 750 grams
  • butter, 1 tablespoon
  • onions, 2
  • currant jelly, 3 tablespoons
  • vegetable stock, 500 milliliters
  • apples, 200 grams
  • juniper berries, 3
  • cornstarch, 1 tablespoon
  • red vinegar, 2 tablespoons
  • bay leaf
  • thyme
  • salt
  • pepper

…And This Is How You Do It

  1. Clean the red cabbage and remove the protruding outer leaves. Quarter the cabbage and cut out the hard stalk. Cut the quarters crosswise into fine strips.
  2. Finely dice the onions.
  3. Heat the butter and sauté the onions until translucent.
  4. Add the red cabbage and sauté for 5 minutes.
  5. Season with salt, pepper and currant jelly. Add the bay leaf, juniper berries and vegetable stock. Cover and cook for 20 minutes.
  6. Peel and core the apples and dice them 1 cm in size. Add to the red cabbage and cook for another 10 minutes.
  7. Mix the cornstarch with red wine vinegar, mix into the red cabbage and bring to the boil while stirring.
  8. Serve garnished with a little thyme.

Gingerbread Trifle

This Is What You Need…

…for four

  • gingerbread, plain or chocolate-covered, 200 grams
  • mascarpone, 200 grams, alternatively curd cheese
  • whipped cream, 250 grams
  • cinnamon, 1 teaspoon
  • liqueur, preferably blackcurrant, 2 soup spoons*
  • mixed berries, frozen
  • fruit juice, preferably blackcurrant
  • confectioner’s sugar, 100 grams
  • chocolate shavings
Ingredients for our Christmas Trifle
First step: Soak the gingerbread crumbs in black currant liqueur.

…And This Is How You Do It

  1. Crumble gingerbread and soak in liqueur and juice.
  2. Mix the Mascarpone with sugar and cinnamon.
  3. Whip the cream and fold gently into the curd.
  4. Fill a layer of curd into a glass container. Follow with a layer of gingerbread. Then, place a layer of berries on top.
    Repeat and then finish with a last layer of curd.
  5. Finally, sprinkle with grated chocolate and serve refrigerated.

*I’ve used a wonderful souvenir I brought with me from my trip to Riga. Obviously, this is a great way of incorporating travel souvenirs into my kitchen.

Baked Apple Dessert

This Is What You Need…

…for four

Ingredients for our Baked Apple Dessert
Speculoos in crumbs.
  • three big apples
  • one vanilla bean
  • butter, 35 grams
  • brown sugar, 100 grams
  • cinnamon, a pinch
  • Grand Manier (or apple juice), 2 soup spoons
  • Mascarpone (or curd cheese), 200 grams
  • whipped cream, 100 grams
  • speculoos (or other dry cookies), 70 grams
  • chopped burned walnuts or almonds
Whipped  Cream
Rich custard made from Mascarpone and whipped cream.

…And This Is How You Do It

  1. First, peel, core, and dice the apples.
  2. Then, halve the vanilla pod and scrape out.
  3. Put butter, 70 grams of sugar, half of the vanilla pulp, and cinnamon in a saucepan and let simmer briefly without stirring.
  4. As soon as the sugar is a little caramelized, add the apple pieces and liqueur or juice. Simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring well. The apple pieces should be soft but not completely overcooked.
  5. Now remove the apple pieces from the pot with a sieve scoop and place in a bowl.
  6. Simmer the caramel sauce for another 5 minutes until it thickens. Then add the pre-cooked apples again and simmer for another 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Mix the Mascarpone – or, hence, curd cheese – with the remaining sugar and vanilla pulp.
  8. Then whip the cream and fold gently into the curd.
  9. Crumble speculoos.
  10. Now fill a layer of apples into a glass container. Follow with a layer of crumbs. Then, top it with a thick layer of curd.
  11. Finally, decorate with some apple slices and some chopped burned walnuts and serve refrigerated.

Scones

Scones
Scones with a fine note of orange peel.

This Is What You Need…

…for eight to ten pieces

  • marzipan, 70 grams
  • flour, 340 grams
  • sugar, 2 soup spoons
  • zest of an organic orange
  • baking soda, one soup spoon
  • salt, one pinch
  • butter, ice-cold, 115 grams
  • milk or liquid cream, 120 milliliters
  • eggs, two
  • cream, liquid, two soup spoons
Preparing the dough for Scones
To prepare the dough for scones takes a bit of patience – but it’s not complicated and absolutely worth it.

…And This Is How You Do It

  1. Grate the marzipan on a kitchen grater. This works best when it’s ice-cold.
  2. Mix flour, sugar, orange zest, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter in pieces and the marzipan and knead into soft small crumbles.
  3. Whisk milk and eggs together and add to the flour mixture and knead everything well with floured hands to a smooth dough.
  4. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin so that it is about 1.5 centimeters thick.
  5. Dip a large cookie cutter or a glass in flour, then carefully cut out disks.
  6. Then, knead the leftover dough together again and roll it out to cut further disks. Repeat until there is no dough left.
  7. Place the disks on a baking sheet and brush with the cream
  8. Bake for about 20 minutes in the pre-heated oven (about 200°C)

Raspberry Tart

This Is What You Need…

  • flour, 250 grams
  • brown sugar, 75 grams
  • sugar, 75 grams
  • baking soda, one teaspoon
  • ground almonds (or hazelnuts), 200 grams
  • salt, one pinch
  • cinnamon, one teaspoon
  • ground clove, one pinch
  • butter, ice-cold, 225 grams
  • egg
  • egg yolk
  • raspberry jam, 500 grams
Hearts of Dough
Bake your good wishes.

…And This Is How You Do It

  1. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, nuts, cinnamon, and clove.
  2. Add the very cold butter in cubes as well as the egg and egg yolk and quickly knead into a shortcrust.
  3. Shape the dough into a flat brick and place it in a covered bowl. Refrigerate for at least one hour, however, preferably overnight.
  4. Roll out 1/3 of the dough so that it is about 0.5 centimeters thick.
  5. Cut out cookies in the shape of your choice – stars, trees, hearts – or a wild mix. I used a cookie stamp* to engrave the wish Feliz Navidad in mine. Place cookies on a plate and refrigerate.
  6. Line a baking pan of approximately 25 x 40 centimeters with baking paper. Ideally, the baking paper sticks out a bit on the sides. This way you can later heave the Tarte out of the mold more easily.
  7. Now roll out the remaining dough the size of your baking pan. Place into the mold. Press it up the edges with your hands. Refrigerate.
    It is crucial to keep the dough as chilled as possible during all steps.
  8. Preheat the oven to 180 ° C
  9. Then, take the baking pan out of the fridge and spread the jam evenly. This should be stirred nice and smooth. If it isn’t spreadable enough, you can briefly heat it up a little, obviously.
  10. Place the cut-out cookies on top in a decorative way of your choice.
  11. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes until the top is light brown.

I hope you’ll like my recipes and enjoy preparing your Christmas treats, obviously. However, if you have questions, you know where to find me.

Also, don’t forget to let me know in the comment section below how it went!

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14 Replies to “Our Transnational Christmas Dinner – including easy-to-follow recipes”

  1. We had a very quiet Christmas at home in 2020 without family or kids. There was a strict lockdown and we could not risk exposing ourselves or the family to any risk. I sure wish I had the tasty transnational Christmas dinner you had! I never think of having duck for Christmas dinner as I am a big turkey fan. But duck with a side of red cabbage brings back memories of holiday dinners from days long gone.

  2. I would love any pate, also my fave from France, as starters and scones with clotted cream, my fave from the UK, for breakfast. But our tradition is to have German stollen and Italian panettone.

    1. You are absolutely right about the Stollen and the Panettone – however, traditionally they contain candied orange and lemon peel and lots of raisins, hence, ingredients I strongly dislike 😉

  3. Delicious dishes, they look so tasty. You had a wonderful Christmas dinner. I would love to make Mustard Soup from your recipe, Orange Duck and Raspberry Tart.

  4. oh wow! I want to eat all of it right now. We have a long New Year’s holiday here with parties and everything, I will try your Christmas dishes for it

  5. Really nice! The photos in this blog post look so delicious. I especially like the baked apple desert and the raspberry cake.

  6. Wow that was a sumptuous spread of food. I love your spirit to keep the festive season alive. Loved the desserts, too yummy

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