It can be hard to switch up things when it comes to tradition. There are many emotions wrapped up in the food we eat and share with our friends and families, especially during the holidays.
But maybe you’re looking to shake things up or start your own traditions borrowing ideas from shared or favourite cultures. Adding something new to your holiday table doesn’t mean completely doing away with those traditional or family-favourite recipes, but can be just small changes: an addition of global spices, a new way to prepare a traditional dish or the use of a newly discovered technique to bring renewed life to old recipes.
Chef Adam Thompson, head chef of Aurora, the ocean to table restaurant at the Newstead Belmont Hills Golf Resort and Spa, says that it’s okay to be “a bit adventurous” when creating your holiday menu. Take inspiration out of his approach to the seasonal menus he creates at the restaurant where he draws inspiration from around the world including Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Thai fare, that can be added into your own holiday repertoire.
“Going into the festive season, people can be very set in their ways, but sometimes it’s trying something that’s a little out of your comfort zone that can make a real difference to your meal,” he says.
If shaking up the whole meal is too far out of your comfort zone, Chef Adam suggests testing out different flavours in canapés or soup or preparing multicultural dishes like roulades, en croute, curries and samosas, or spanakopita but with the classic fare in mind.
Pumpkin soup is a traditional dish but he suggests adding a twist by roasting the pumpkin first with flavours like all spice and cinnamon. “Roasting it this way will create a nice deep earthy flavour,” he explains.
He also suggests trying new combinations like roast parsnips or celeriac root and apple. The addition of porcini mushrooms or a drizzle of truffle oil will set it apart.
“Even just adding a few new ingredients and experimenting with different flavour profiles can make a little different for traditional Christmas food.”
Experimenting with diverse cooking techniques can also elevate your meal – particularly the often maligned dried out whole roast turkey.
Chef Adam suggests exploring techniques such as sous vide, which involves vacuum-sealing food and cooking to precise and delicious final dish.
While not everyone has access to restaurant-style cooking appliances, Chef Adam says that a quick search online will bring up plenty of DIY techniques that can be replicated at home.
- 1 box frozen filo pastry; defrosted
- Holiday dinner trimmings including turkey, stuffing, and any veggies; finely diced
- 1/2 cup cranberry sauce or cranberry chutney
- 6 tablespoons melted butter
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Once the filo pastry has defrosted, lay it on a work surface and using a sharp knife cut into approximately 2 1/2 inch wide strips lengthwise making sure you have an even number of strips.
- Keep the dough covered with a lightly damp towel to prevent it drying out as you work.
- On one strip use a pastry brush to lightly brush butter directly on the pastry.
- Lay a second strip on top and brush lightly with butter.
- Place a teaspoon of cranberry sauce at the bottom edge of the layered strips then heap a tablespoon of the diced trimmings on top.
- Fold the points over to create a triangle and continue folding in this manner until you reach the end of the strip.
- Place on the prepared pan and cover with another lightly damp towel until all triangles are completed.
- Repeat steps with the remaining strips.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.