Guide To International Cooking For The Holidays
By Sophie Vinograd
During the wintertime, most people turn to the big turkey and traditional comfort foods for their holiday feast. But it’s time to go global! This year, try out some new recipes from around the world to spice up your regular cold weather fare. We’re highlighting some exciting recipes to try that will warm you up, and even directing you toward the best places to pick up all the best ingredients.
French Onion Soup (Recipe)
Yes, it’s become a staple on the menus of more than just French restaurants these days, but this classique du France is possibly one of the yummiest comfort soups out there. Salty beef broth with sweet caramelized onions and creamy gruyere melted over crusty crostini…we can’t imagine anything more perfect (and cravable) to thaw you out on those chilling winter days.
Pick up the pieces: Peruse the cheese sections at the Whole Foods Markets in Harbor East (1001 Fleet St.) or Mt. Washington (1330 Smith Ave.) for some fine gruyere, or a Swiss substitute if you prefer. Trader Joe’s in Towson (1 E. Joppa Road) also has a slammin’ cheese section. Yes, they’re technically chains, but both of these grocery stores still have some of the best dairy selections out there, and many of them carry products from local farms.
Smoked Salmon Tarama (Recipe)
This Greek spread is the perfect hors d’oeuvre to set out at any holiday gathering. The smoky flavor of the salmon pairs wonderfully with dill, lemon and shallots flavors for a fresh and delicious Mediterranean treat. It’s sure to liven up the menu at any party.
Pick up the pieces: For the smoked salmon, your best choice is, without a doubt, Neopol Smokery. This amazing fish market (and beyond) is located in Belvedere Square Market in Towson (529 Eat Belvedere Ave.), and offers some of the most interesting and delightful smoked salmon we’ve tried. And do try one of their savory pies while you’re snatching up ingredients…you will not regret it.
Swedish Pancakes with Lingonberries (Recipe)
A perfect pancake for winter breakfast. But let’s be honest: we’d eat these anytime, anywhere. The crepe-style pancake is served with lingonberry preserve, a simultaneously tart and sweet red berry that is a staple food all over Scandanavia. This dish is the perfect Saturday or Sunday morning indulgence, but make sure save your leftovers for later!
Pick up the pieces: Unsurprisingly, find a variety of lingonberry treats at Ikea. Locations in Woodbridge (2901 Potomac Mills Circle) and College Park (10100 Baltimore Ave.). Maybe you’ll find a good coffee table at the same time.
Coconut-Vegetable Curry (Recipe)
Just because it’s cold and grey doesn’t mean you can’t spice up your palate with spices from the Far East. And what’s better: you’ll get your full serving of vegetables in one dish! This beautiful cultivation of sweet coconut, spicy curry and fresh veggies is sure to liven up even the most lethargic appetite, and remind you of warmer days to come.
Pick up the pieces: Buy local! Get the vegetables you need for this yummy stew at your local Farmers’ Market. The Baltimore Farmers’ Market and Bazaar, located beneath the Jones Falls Expressway between Holliday and Saratoga streets, is open all the way through Dec. 18, so even when it’s brisk, you can still buy a fresh harvest. And once it gets too cold for local farms, we suggest heading to Whole Foods—they consistently have the best produce department out there.
Sophie Vinograd is a writer, creative strategist and funk enthusiast living in Charles Village. You can check out her portfolio at http://www.sophievinograd.com and her social commentary blog, Blackout Factory, at http://blackoutfactory.blogspot.com.