Tag Archives: Christmas

A Foodie Christmas Story

25 Dec

MarketIn my family, food defines holidays. Butcher-made hot dogs reign on the Fourth of July. Red beat eggs take over Easter. And Thanksgiving’s solidified by Nana and Pop Pop’s home-made mashed potatoes. But no holiday compares to the food fest known as Christmas.

Christmas isn’t marked by a single food or even a traditional dish. Instead, it’s comprised of all of the favorites, no matter how strangely they pair together.

Christmas Eve breakfast — 9:00 a.m.

It all starts with Christmas Eve breakfast. Every Christmas Eve my family wakes up and heads down to Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market. If you haven’t been there, it’s a mecca for food lovers, boasting everything from Amish shoofly pie to an oyster bar.

While the market houses to two diners and a hand-rolled doughnut shop, my family loves to start the morning right with a warm rotisserie chicken, washed down with fresh-squeezed orange juice. The combination has no right making sense, but it does.

Next, we divide and conquer, scouring the market for our yearly stands. I typically head up collecting gyros (pronounced YEE-rows for those non-Greeks) and an assortment of cheeses mostly consisting of Gouda.

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Christmas Baklava Recipe

22 Dec

Baklava6If you haven’t figured it out, I’m part Greek. My great grandfather moved to America when he was 17, settled down in central Pennsylvania, and ran a shoe repair shop until his death in 1966. I never met him, but I also can’t help but be proud of my Greek heritage.

Food remains the one Greek tradition that trickled down through my family. We lost my grandfather’s original recipes but continue to make Greek-inspired dishes all year round, with feta, pita, and Kalamata olives serving as household staples.

For Christmas specifically, we make baklava. Baklava is a traditional Greek dessert comprised of three main ingredients — phyllo dough, walnuts, and honey. It’s a sweet, sticky, light, and crispy treat, perfect with a cup of tea by the fire.

Baklava Recipe

Baklava Syrup Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups honey
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Step 1: Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks and let cool. 

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