CULTURE

Delectable Christmas feast

Christmas is the perfect occasion to invite friends and family for a delectable dinner at home that includes unusual culinary treats. In a special festive magazine edition that is now in its third year, Kathimerini asked five reputable Greek chefs to propose a variety of dishes for a special dinner party. Nena Ismyrnoglou, chef at the restaurant Gefseis me Onomasia Proelefsis, Alexandors Yiotis, head chef at the Gallery cafe-restaurant, Lefteris Lazarou, chef and proprietor of Varoulko, Chrysanthos Karamolengos from Apla, and Yiannis Glendis from Orizontes, put their imaginations to work on presenting a complete menu. Below are some of their suggestions (for four servings): Starter Finocchio Soup A tasty soup is a perfect starter, and Michelin Guide award-winning chef Lefteris Lazarou uses easy-to-find ingredients. Ingredients: 4 large onions, 3 carrots 2 courgettes, 4 large leeks 100 ml olive oil 500 ml chicken stock 2 large finocchio, salt, pepper Finely chop onions and leeks and saute lightly with olive oil in a large saucepan until soft. Add fennel, saute for 5 minutes. Add courgettes and carrots cut into strips, then chicken stock. Boil for 20 minutes or until vegetables are soft, and then puree the mixture in the food processor until smooth. Pour soup through sieve. Season to taste and serve with a sprinkling of olive oil and finely chopped Florence fennel (finocchio). Second course Crispy Kid Ribs For the second course, Chrysanthos Karamolengos suggests crispy ribs with dried figs in a sweet Mavrodaphne wine sauce. Ingredients: 1 1/2 kg of kid ribs 20 dried figs, diced 1 liter Mavrodaphne wine 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar 1 1/4 cups olive oil Boil figs in wine until soft. Hold liquid, sieve figs and puree them in food processor. Add vinegar and oil to fig paste to make dressing. Bake ribs in a hot oven until cooked and serve with sauce and a few slices of fresh figs on the side. Main courses Wild Boar in Myrtle Sauce For the main course, chef Nena Ismyrnoglou turns to a sweet-and-sour blend of meat with a fruit-based sauce. Ingredients: 1 medium-sized wild boar leg For the marinade: 2 liters red wine 1 tsp cumin seeds 2 bay leaves 4 oranges (juice and peel) 6 cloves garlic For the sauce: 500 gr myrtle berries (fresh or frozen) 250 ml meat stock 1 onion, 1 carrot, 1 leek 1 tbs olive oil, 1 cup red wine 1/2 tsp cumin seeds salt, pepper Place meat in baking dish and insert pieces of garlic into flesh. Add marinade and refrigerate for 24 hours, turning meat ocassionally. When ready for baking, remove marinade and cover lightly in olive oil. Cook at 250C for 30 minutes and then at 200C for 45 minutes. Leave in oven and remove liquid for the sauce. For the sauce, finely chop and saute onion, carrot and leek until soft. Add wine and bring to boil. Add stock and liquid from baking. Boil until sauce thickens, add myrtle berries, salt and pepper. Remove from heat and put through blender until smooth. Sieve back into heated pan and add cumin. Cook over low fire until thick. Duck with Dried Fruit Alexandros Yiotis uses a whole duck and combines it with dried figs, chestnuts and apples. Ingredients: 1 good-sized duck 150 gr dried figs 1 tbs butter or duck fat 1 tbs mixed spice (cinnamon, sumac, caraway) 1 large onion, finely chopped 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped Juice from 1 lemon 1/2 cup white-wine vinegar 2 cups white wine 4 green apples, finely sliced 1 kg boiled chestnuts Salt and pepper duck well and place on oven grill with baking tray underneath (with water). Roast in medium-to-hot oven until crispy outside and well-done inside. In the meantime, cube figs and saute in with onions and garlic. Add wine, vinegar and spices and cook until syrupy. Salt and pepper to taste. In a separate frying pan, brown apple slices, add lemon juice, salt and pepper. Saute chestnuts and a bit of garlic separately. Serve duck with fig sauce, chestnuts and apples. Venison in Tomato Sauce For his main course, Lazarou offers venison in tomato sauce. Ingredients: 1 kg cubed venison 2 tbs butter 1 onion, finely chopped 3 cloves garlic 3 tbs sweet paprika 150 ml red wine 3 cups beef stock 1/2 tsp cumin 500 gr chopped tinned tomatoes 200 gr fresh mushrooms 1/2 tsp oregano Saute onion, garlic and paprika in butter until soft. Add meat and brown well. Add wine, beef stock and the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 90 minutes until tender. Serve with mashed potatoes (you can add finely chopped pistachio nuts and sprinkle with mint). Dessert Apples in Crust After a full meal, something simple and light is preferable to rich, creamy desserts. Yiannis Glendis proposes something that is easy and very straightforward. Ingredients: 2 sour apples, 1 can beer 250 gr self-raising flour 1 tbs sugar 10 gr baking powder Wash apples, remove stems and cut into quarters. Make batter with flour, baking powder, sugar and beer. Dip apples into batter and deep fry until golden brown. Serve sprinkled with sugar or ice cream.