Entertain with ethnic flavours

Christmas is a time for entertaining friends and family, and we look for new ideas.

These recipes are taken from many cultures. Tourtière is traditional French Canadian, ponche caliente is a warm nonalcoholic punch from Mexico and gravlax is traditional Scandinavian. Whatever you make, there is nothing more warming than home cooking.

Baked brie

  • wedge or round of brie
  • hot pepper jelly
  • dried cranberries and cherries

Slice brie in half to make two layers. Place on a preheated baking stone or in a heavy pan. Generously add a layer of hot pepper jelly with dried berries in the centre and on top of the brie. Place in hot oven at 400 F (205 C) until cheese begins to melt.
Serve immediately with crackers or baguette.


This can be served warm or at room temperature. Make it in a pie plate or as a log. It can also be made with ground wild game and made ahead and frozen. Thaw for 24 hours in the refrigerator before baking. Serve with green tomato relish.

  • 1 lb. ground pork 500 g
  • 3/4 lb. ground beef 375 g
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon 3 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves 2 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper 2 mL
  • 1 tsp. salt 5 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme 3 mL
  • 1/2 c. beef or chicken broth 125 mL
  • 2 tbsp. breadcrumbs 30 mL

Put the stock in a large pan or pot and bring to a boil. Add the pork, beef, onions, and seasonings. Cook with the lid on until the meat is completely broken down and cooked, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove the lid and cook until all of the liquid has evaporated. Add bread crumbs one tablespoon at a time to soak up any oil. Cool completely before filling the pastry.
Roll pastry into a rectangle. Place a strip of filling in the middle and fold pastry over on the long sides and then fold up the ends. Trim excess pastry because otherwise it may not fully cook. Milk can be used to help seal the seams so that it doesn’t fall apart. Place on a baking sheet, seam side down. Cut a few steam vents in the top and decorate with more pastry, if you wish. Brush with milk. Bake at 425 F (220 C) for about 20 minutes or until golden in colour.

Sour cream pastry

  • 1 1/4 c. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch (3 cm ) cubes 310 mL
  • 3 1/4 c. all-purpose flour 810 mL
  • 1 tsp. salt 5 mL
  • 1 1/4 c. chilled sour cream 310 mL
  • 4 to 6 tbsp. ice water 60 to 90 mL

Blend together flour, butter, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips, a pastry blender or food processor until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with the remainder in small lumps, roughly the size of peas. Add sour cream and blend just until incorporated. Drizzle four tablespoons (60 mL) water over mixture and mix just until incorporated. Test mixture by gently squeezing a small handful. It should hold together without crumbling apart. If necessary, add enough remaining water, one tablespoon (15 mL) at a time. The pastry will be tough if you overwork or add too much water.
Turn mixture out onto a work surface and divide into four portions if making pies or one piece if making a log. With heel of hand, smear each portion once in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather dough together and form it into a disc while rotating it on work surface. Chill dough, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least one hour or up to one day.

Ponche Caliente

Tamarind is a tropical flavour that is both sweet and sour. If you cannot find it, substitute with lime juice and brown sugar.

  • 1/2 pineapple, cut into 5 cm 1 inch pieces
  • 1 green apple, diced
  • 1 orange sliced and then each slice quartered
  • 1 tsp. tamarind concentrate 5 mL
  • 5 c. unrefined apple juice or cider 1.25 L
  • 1/2 c. raw sugar 125 mL
  • 3/4 c. raisins 200 mL
  • 3/4 c. coarsely chopped walnuts 200 mL
  • 2 long cinnamon sticks, broken
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 4 whole allspice
  • 8 c. water 2 L

Combine all in a pot and simmer for about an hour or until mellow. Serve in glasses with the fruits and a spoon so the fruits can also be eaten.

Steelhead trout gravlax

Serve thinly sliced as an appetizer with crème fraiche or sour cream, finely diced red onion and capers with thinly sliced pumpernickel or rye bread.

  • 1 fillet of steelhead trout with skin on
  • 1/2 c. kosher salt 125 mL
  • 1 c. sugar 250 mL
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. coriander seeds 20 mL
  • 2 tbsp. juniper berries 30 mL
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. fennel seeds 20 mL
  • 1 tbsp. black peppercorns 15 mL

Remove any pin bones in the fish.
Mix the salt and sugar together in a bowl.
To prepare the curing mixture, grind all the seasonings in a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder until fine. Add to sugar and salt mixture and mix well. Place fish skin side down in a baking dish. Pour curing mixture over fish to completely cover it. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 24 hours.
Remove fish from the curing mixture, turn it over, and cover again with curing mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a second 24 hours.
Remove and turn over as before and refrigerate for a third 24 hours.
Remove fish from curing mixture and rinse under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels. Place uncovered in pan in refrigerator for 24 hours to dry out the surface.
Slice thinly and arrange on a plate. Serve with crème fraiche or sour cream, finely diced red onions, capers and small thin rounds of rye bread.
Another option is to make potato bowls and fill with crème fraiche, finely chopped red onion, capers, lemon zest and gravlax.

Potato bowl

Coarsely grate a baking potato. Soak in water with one tsp. (5 mL) salt. Drain and dry. Add one lightly beaten egg, one tbsp. (15 mL) flour and black pepper to taste.
Generously grease a mini sized muffin pan. Preheat the pan in the oven to 375 F (190 C). When the pan is hot, add the shredded potato mixture to form little bowls. Bake until browned, about 20 minutes.
Remove from pan and cool. Deep fry the little potato bowls at 375 F (190 C) until crispy.
Drain on paper towels.

Sarah Galvin is a home economist, teacher and farmers’ market vendor at Swift Current, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. She writes a blog at allourfingersinthepie.blogspot.ca. Contact: [email protected].


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