This year for Christmas, J’s parents, older brother and brother’s girlfriend are coming to celebrate in Tallinn with us (luckily my parents own an apartment in Tallinn that is usually vacant, so his family will be staying there, not in our place). It’ll be a new experience for all of us– J’s family has always celebrated Christmas in their home in Liminka and J and I have never hosted a family holiday before, so there’ll be plenty of new traditions being created! We decided to make sure everyone’s culture got a little playing time: on December 24 we’ll be enjoying a Finnish Christmas meal, on December 25 I’m in charge of an American Christmas meal, and on December 26 we’re going to a restaurant in Tallinn to enjoy traditional Estonian Christmas foods. Sounds like fun, right? 🙂
At first I was a little thrown by being asked to make an “American” Christmas dinner, since my family’s traditions were primarily Estonian. However, with a little bit of thought I came up with a menu that is American, includes things my family does eat at either Thanksgiving or Christmas, and is distinctly different from the Finnish and Estonian meals we’ll be having. Here it is:
- Roast turkey. Since both the Finnish and Estonian Christmas meals are very pork-heavy, I thought a bird would be a nice change of pace. I’ve never thawed and roasted a frozen turkey before, so wish me luck.
- Stuffing. A very American side dish and I’m pretty sure J’s family has never tried anything like it. I can’t put any onions in it since somebody is allergic, but I’ll be adding mushrooms to give it some good depth of flavor.
- Cranberry sauce. They sell Ocean Spray canned cranberry sauce at the Stockmann department store. A few months ago they also had whole cranberries, but I haven’t seen those recently. If I find the whole berries, I’ll of course make the sauce from scratch.
- Buttermilk biscuits. So proud of myself for coming up with this idea! I made a test batch this week using this recipe and while the texture was perfect, J pointed out that the soda taste was a bit strong and came across as quite bitter. I need to try another recipe… any recommendations?
- Roasted Brussels sprouts. Because I need to get some veggies in there somewhere!
- Pumpkin pie with whipped cream. Nice traditional holiday dessert that I hope will be amazing made with my very own pumpkin puree.
- Snacks before or after dinner. I was also thinking of putting out cut veggies with dip and hummus as an appetizer, I have a bag of Pretzel M&M’s I’d love to share, and there’s chocolate chip cookie dough in the freezer in case I decide that it would be fun to have those too.
Appetizers from Christmas with my family three years ago in Tallinn.
So there you have it! A menu that I think will introduce some features of American holiday cuisine to our guests without being too exotic (I am sort of wondering how they’ll react to a “casserole” made mostly of bread cubes!). I’ve also worked out most of the logistics already, and if I get enough prep work done this meal should be pretty easy to pull off on the 25th. Can’t wait for next week!