CULTURE

Europe unites at the Christmas table

ith discussions over the future of Europe still fresh from the negotiating table, this year’s recipe for success at the Christmas table could very well be about the continent’s rich and varied culinary traditions. Here are a few recipes for the festive season. Angeliki Diakaki oversees the menu at Tar, a beer restaurant in Ano Patissia, tel 210.223.7717. She suggests a Lobster soup recipe from Germany. Ingredients 4 spring onions 160 grams of celery stalk 320 grams of fresh lobster meat 4 tablespoons of butter 40 ml brandy 1/8 liter of white whine 500 grams of fresh cream 80 grams butter Salt and pepper 8 tablespoons of double cream Dill, paprika Boil the lobster, set aside the stock and remove the meat from the shell. Finely chop the onions and celery. Lightly brown the meat in the butter and add the onions and celery, then the brandy. Then remove the lobster pieces. Add the white wine to the sauce, 300 mls of the stock and the cream and bring to the boil, lowering immediately to a simmer for another five minutes. Then add the double cream, and if desired, pieces of lobster claw or leg, and stir well. Add the lobster meat and serve. Garnish with double cream, dill and paprika. Chef Dionysis Horiatis, responsible for the menu at Phaedra, tel 210.883.5711, drew inspiration from Medieval feasts in Venice and suggests a sweet-and-sour fish. Ingredients 4 large trout 4 medium onions sliced 2/3 cup blanched almonds 1/2 cup black currants 20 prunes 150 ml good white wine 3 tbs red vinegar 3 tbs olive oil 10 strands of saffron 1 large pinch ginger 1 large pinch ground cardamon 1 tsp pepper Cut the heads off the trout and fillet them. Heat the oil in a large heavy pan. Dry the fish well and fry it carefully in the heated olive oil. Remove the fish from the pan and use the same oil to fry the onion until golden. Add the almonds, currants, prunes, spices and salt to taste. Mix and add the wine and vinegar. Simmer for 20 minutes. Place the fish on a deep platter and sprinkle with salt. Then, for a final twist, try adding a glass of sweet wine like moschato or Beaumes de Venise. Anargyros Tsichlias, owner of Couzina Catering, tel 210.867.9209, suggests a fresh garden salad Ingredients 1 large lettuce cut into large pieces 2 bunches rocket 1 bunch watercress 1 bunch chopped kafkalithres< 1 bunch chopped myronia< 2 cups spring onion sliced lengthwise 2 cups carrot sliced lengthwise 10 sliced red radishes 1 white radish sliced lengthwise 1/2 cup chopped dill 1/2 cup chopped fennel 2 fennel roots sliced lengthwise The secret of this salad is in the fresh herbs, readily available in Greece from any good greengrocer or local street market. Mix all the ingredients together well. Garnish with radishes and carrot. Sprinkle with good balsamic vinegar and a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil. Kafkalithres and myronia are available in most farmers' markets and select greengrocers. Tania Koulouri-Datsoyianni cooks at Sveik, 5 Dimou Tseliou, Ambelokipi, tel 210.642.6341. She suggests a rich Czech recipe of goose with apple and chestnut stuffing. Ingredients 1 goose up to 3 kilos 4 large cooking apples peeled and chopped 1 kilo boiled chestnuts 1 tbs ginger 50 ml dry white wine 100 ml water 70 ml Calvados 1 glass apple juice A little flour White pepper and salt Gut the goose and remove any trace of feathers. Wash it thoroughly. Season inside and out with salt and pepper and sprinkle with ginger. Prepare the stuffing by mixing the chopped apple, and peeled and grated chestnuts. Stuff the goose and use toothpicks to seal the cavity. Put the bird on a baking tray, and sprinkle a little oil and Calvados over it. Add 50 ml Calvados, the apple juice, wine and water to the tray. Cover with aluminum foil and cook in a hot oven for about three hours. Remove the foil and let the goose brown. Pour the gravy into a saucepan and heat till it boils. Add flour to bind the sauce and add salt to taste. Pour the sauce over the goose and serve with carrots and sauteed mushrooms or rice. Top Athenian chef Jean de Grylleau, managing chef at Kifissia's Beau Brummel restaurant, 9 Aghiou Dimitriou and Aghion Theodoron, tel 210.623.6780, suggests a glorious, traditional Buche de Noel. Chocolate sponge cake Ingredients 3 eggs (yolks separated from whites), 75 grams of sugar, 75 grams of flour, 10 grams cocoa Beat the egg whites into stiff peaks, adding the sugar gradually. Fold the mixture into the yolks, and add to the flour sifted with the the cocoa. Pour onto a baking tray lined with grease-proof paper and bake at 180C for 10 minutes. Grand Marnier filling Ingredients Half a liter of fresh milk, 60 grams of corn flour, 100 grams of sugar, 4 egg yolks, 50 grams of butter Heat the milk with half the sugar. Beat the yolks with the rest of the sugar, and the corn flour and a little milk. As soon as the milk has boiled, pour the mixture into the yolks and heat over a low flame for about 10 minutes, stirring continually. Remove from the heat, add the butter and then allow to cool. Spread most of the mixture onto the sponge cake, roll it up and cover it with the rest of the cream mixture, then score it with a fork to make a log pattern. Stelios Andonopoulos, owner of Paellia and Spaghetti, 26 Costa Varnali, Halandri, tel 210.682.6849, suggests popular Spanish sweet figs with chocolate, pan de figos. Ingredients 1 kilo dried figs 300 grams pistachios or peanuts 300 grams almonds 1/2 tsp cinnamon 50 grams sugar 1/2 tsp aniseed 1/4 tsp cloves 1/2 tsp pepper Sesame seeds 1 tbs lemon zest 3 pieces of chocolate, melted Brandy or ouzo Roasted, peeled almonds Chop and mix the figs and almonds. Add sugar, cinnamon, aniseed, cloves, 2 tbs sesame seeds and the lemon zest. Mix, adding melted chocolate and enough brandy or ouzo so you can shape the mixture into balls about 5 centimeters in diameter. Roll them in the sesame seeds and almonds. Let dry for a few hours. Keep in the refrigerator.