Christmas Is a Time of Food and Fun

European Traveler has gathered Christmas holiday recipes from around Europe, and we present them here in a special tribute to the countries from which they come. You’ll find a variety of tasty foods in these selections, from desserts and breads to main dishes, to cookies and candies. As December progresses, we plan to add more, so stay tuned!

Please note that some of the recipes are in metric measurements and may need to be converted.

Bon Appetit!



Eva Draxler / Vienna Tourist Board

1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter
2/3 cup finely ground nuts (almonds or hazelnuts)
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
dash of salt

Knead all ingredients together quickly – keep them cool. Cool in refrigerator for several hours. When forming crescents, take out only the amount of dough you are working with. Form into large, sausage-like rolls with a diameter of about 2 inches. Cut thin slices and quickly roll each of them in the palms of your hands, thus forming small crescents. Place on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes. Let cool for no more than five minutes. While still warm, roll in vanilla sugar.



Courtesy Monica Bensaude Fernandes/Bensaude Turismo


Cod "com todos"

2 cod steaks
300 grs of cooked chickpeas
1 Portuguese cabbage
200 grs carrots chopped in thin circles
2 dls extra virgin olive oil
30 grs fresh coriander
1 salted pickled red pepper cut length wise
6 dry garlic cloves
200 grs crumbed corn bread
100 ml cream
Salt and white pepper
Boil cod for 5 minutes. Remove skin and bones. Grate chickpeas in a tasse-vite. Add cream and season with salt and pepper. Blanch cabbage, drain and sauté in olive oil and garlic.
Sauté carrots in olive oil and garlic.
Using a rim, first layer chickpeas, and then carrots. On top, place cod, broken apart. Cover it with sautéed cabbage and lastly, the crumbed corn bread. Give it a little color by briefly placing in a very hot oven. Decorate with olive oil and fresh coriander.

Duck breast

2 boneless duck breasts
300 grs red cabbage, julienned
4 oranges
300 grs potatoes, cut in extra fine rounds (chip style)
50 grs crushed walnuts
50 grs crushed pine nuts
50 grs S.Jorge cheese sliced thin
½ cup Brandy
Salt and white pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
10 grs sugar
Sauté duck in high heat for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Zest the orange. Set aside. Juice the oranges and add it to pan. Let it reduce and set aside the sauce. Bake potatoes in a fan format with the thinly sliced cheese on top. Sauté cabbage with a little olive oil. Add balsamic vinegar, sugar and dried fruit.
At the top, place the fanned potatoes. In the center, place red cabbage and beneath position the laminated duck. Cover with sauce and orange zest.

veal loin

400 grs veal loin
300 grs potatoes
400 grs carrots
Verdelho wine from Pico Island
Salt and pepper (local, if possible)
Season veal with salt and pepper. Blush or sauté loin in high heat for 5 minutes. Remove veal, add onions and leeks and brown. Add red wine and let it reduce. Season and sift sauce. Grate carrots and sauté in a little olive oil. Bake potatoes, which have been previously stuffed with a bay leaf and bacon, in alternating cuts.
Place carrots at the center, potatoes in the back, veal in the front of plate, and cover with sauce.


Victoria Keefe Larson/German National Tourist Office

Perfect for those dark and cold winter evenings.

2 bottles red wine
1 cup sugar
3 cups water
1 lemon, sliced
20 whole cloves
6 to 8 cinnamon sticks
1 orange, sliced for garnish

Mix water, lemon and spices and simmer for an hour. Strain. Heat but do not boil the red wine. Add wine to hot water mixture. Ladle into cups and serve with half a slice of orange.


Dios es Makos beigli
Poppy seed and nut rolls (bagels)

From Culinary Hungary/courtesy Elvira Vida/Hungarian National Tourist Office

Makes 4 rolls; the filling ingredients are calculated for 2 rolls respectively.

For the dough:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup/120 ml milk
1 cake/15 g compressed yeast
1/2 cup/5O g confectioner’s sugar
3 1/4 cup/500 g flour
6 1/2 tbsp/100 g butter
6 1/2 tbsp/100 g lard
2 eggs
1 tsp grated lemon zest
pinch of salt

For the nut filling:
Scant 1/2 cup/100 ml milk
1OO g superfine sugar
1 envelope of vanilla sugar
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
3 tbsp/30 g raisins
Pinch of cinnamon
3 cups/250 g ground nuts
3-4 tsp honey (or 1-2 apples or 2-3 tsp apricot jam)

For the poppy seed filling:
Scant 1/2 cup/lOO ml milk
1 1/4 cups/250 g confectioners sugar
1 sachet of vanilla sugar
1 2/3 cups/250 g ground poppy seeds
3 tbsp/30 g raisins
1 tsp grated lemon zest
4 tbsp honey

Butter or lard for the baking sheet
1 egg yolk for glazing

Dissolve the sugar in the lukewarm milk, then add the yeast. Mix the remaining dough ingredients wilh the yeast mixture and knead thoroughly. Cover the dough with a dish towel and leave to rise for about 30 minutes.

To make the nut filling, put the milk in a pan with the sugar and vanilla sugar and bring to a boil. Add the lemon zest, raisins, cinnamon, nuts, and honey (or peeled, grated apples or apricot jam).

For the poppy seed filling, mix the milk with the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla sugar. Bring to a boil and add the poppy seeds and raisins. Simmer for a few minutes, stirring constantly, then remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest and honey.

Divide the dough into four and roll out each piece into a rectangle measuring about 12 x 14 inches/30 x 35 cm. Spread the dough with the nut or poppy seed filling and roll up lengthwise, ensuring that the rolls remain firm. Grease a baking sheet and carefully transfer the rolls onto the sheet and brush with egg yolk.

Bake in a preheated (medium) oven until golden brown. Only remove from the oven when completely cool. If kept covered and stored in a cool, dry place the bagel will stay fresh for a long time. Do not slice until just before serving, arranging the slices like roof tiles on a plate, and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.




16 egg yolks
500 g sugar
1 kg Portuguese white bread

Mix the eggs with 16 tablespoons sugar until it is a thick mix — make a thin syrup out of the rest of the sugar. Use one glass of water for this, then slice the bread, — after letting it sit for one day. Dip the slices into the syrup, drain, and dip in the egg yolk mix. Gently pan sear on a medium stove top, and sprinkle with cinnamon and lemon zest.


(Holiday Bread)

This recipe is from The Foods and Wines of Spain by Penelope Casas
Courtesy Patricia Wood Winn/Tourist Office of Spain

No holiday is more eagerly awaited in Spain than El Dia de los Reyes Magos-the Day of the Three Kings (Epiphany) on January 6. On this date every year, so the legend goes, the Three Wise Men journey to Spain on camels, bearing gifts for all Spanish children. They use ladders to gain access to city apartments aud leave presents in the children’s shoes, which have been carefully laid out the night before, along with fodder for the hungry camels. Kids who have not been good during the year fear the worst: that the kings will fill their shoes with black coal instead of toys.

Rascon de Reyes is baked and eaten only at this time of year. It is a delicious sweetened bread, coated with sugar and candied fruits, and it always contains a surprise-either a coin or a small ceramic figurine, which is to bring luck for the year to the fortunate person who finds it in his piece of bread.

Makes 1 large bread ring

1 package dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon orange flower water (often found in Italian food shops. If unavailable, substitute strong tea)
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind 6 cloves
1/4 pound butter
1 tablespoon lard or vegetable shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 tablespoon brandy, preferably Spanish brandy, or Cognac
1/2 cup milk, scalded and cooled
5 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
Candied fruit slices (orange, lemon, etc.)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, preferably coarse, for sprinkling

Dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup of the warm water. Simmer the remaining 1/2 cup of warm water with the orange flower water, lemon rind, and cloves for 10 minutes, covered. Cool. Discard the cloves. Cream the butter, lard, the sugar, and the salt. Beat in the 2 eggs, then add the brandy, milk, the water-and-lemon mixture, and the softened yeast. Gradually mix in the flour with a wooden spoon until a soft and slightly sticky dough is obtained. Knead on a floured working surface, adding more flour as needed, about 5 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a large oiled bowl, turn to coat with the oil, cover with a towel, and place in a warm spot, such as an unlit oven, to double in size, about 2 hours. Punch down and knead again 5 minutes. Insert a good luck coin – perhaps a silver dollar or half-dollar – or some other appropriate object, such as a cute miniature ceramic animal.

Shape the dough into a large ring, pinching the ends to seal. Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Decorate with the fruit slices, pushing them slightly into the dough. Let the ring rise in a warm spot about 1 hour, or until double in size. Brush with the egg, which has been mixed with a teaspoon of water, sprinkle with sugar, and bake in a 350° F oven 35-40 minutes, or until a deep golden brown.

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