3 Delicious International Traditions to Celebrate the Holidays

It seems to happen every year – right after one holiday ends, the next one’s right on its tail. Once the calendar hits Halloween there’s no holding back the snowball effect of all the holiday celebrations leading up to  the midnight new year countdown on December 31st! No matter which holidays you celebrate, foods from around the world can add a welcomed bit of variety to your tasty dining traditions.

Citrus Pumpkin Flan

As the nights grow cooler, finish your meal with a sweet and tangy Citrus Pumpkin Flan. Flan is a traditional dessert of Spain and is popular is many countries with Spanish heritage such as Mexico. This recipe is appropriate for both fall and winter celebrations because it combines the fall ingredient of pumpkin with oranges, which peak in ripeness in winter.

Ginger Pumpkin Flan (Creme Caramel)



2/3 cup sugar

3 eggs, beaten

3/4 cup canned pumpkin

1 5 oz can or 2/3 cup evaporated milk

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon Pumpkin Spice*

1 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel

1 teaspoon vanilla

Pomegranate seeds

 *Ingredients for Pumpkin Spice

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice




  1. First, caramelize the sugar. In a heavy medium skillet melt 2/3 cup sugar over medium-high heat. Do not stir sugar, instead shake the skillet. When the sugar starts to melt, reduce heat to low and stir frequently with a wooden spoon until sugar is golden brown.
  2. Remove the skillet from heat and immediately pour the caramelized sugar into four (4) ungreased 6-ounce custard cups. While holding the cups with potholders, evenly coat the bottoms of the cups by tilting the cups and then placing the cups in a 2-quart square baking dish.
  3. In a mixing bowl stir eggs, pumpkin, pumpkin spice mix, evaporated milk, orange peel, vanilla, and 1/4 cup sugar. Pour this mixture over the caramelized sugar.
  4. Place the baking dish with the cups in it on the oven rack and pour 1 inch of boiling water into the baking dish around the cups.
  5. Bake in an oven at 325°F for 40-45 minutes or until a knife or toothpick inserted in the center of each comes out clean. Remove cups from water with potholders and cool on a wire rack.
  6. Cover and chill for 4-24 hours.

Tip each cup upside down and slide flan out onto serving plate. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and enjoy this delicious Spanish sweet.


Healthy Hanukkah Latkes

 Jewish homes around the world will be preparing to celebrate Hanukkah this December 16-24. According to the Talmud, in ancient times Jewish leaders required olive oil to light candles, but only a single day’s worth was to be found. It is believed this oil lasted for eight days. Because of this miracle, foods for Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights, often feature olive oil as an ingredient.

Homemade Traditional Potato Pancake Latke

One olive oil-based recipe that is commonly made in Jewish culture is potato latkes. Crispy around the edges with a warm potato center, latkes are similar to hash browns commonly found in the Deep South region of the US. This recipe has a slightly sharp taste from the chives and is a wonderful way to add extra flavor to your family’s meals.




Canola oil

Nonstick cooking spray

2 large egg whites

3 tablespoons fresh chives, cut

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice



2 1/2 pounds (about 4 medium sized) baking (russet) potatoes, peeled


  1. Preheat oven to 450° Spray 20 x 14 inch cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, mix egg whites with chives, flour, lemon juice, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper.
  3. Shred potatoes with a box grater or in a food processor with shredding disk attachment. Place shredded potatoes in a colander in sink and squeeze out excess liquid. Stir potatoes into the egg white mixture.
  4. On cookie sheet, place 12 mounds (about 1/3 cup) of potato mixture leaving about 2 inches between each. Flatten each to be about 3 inches round.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, flip and bake for 15 more minutes or until browned and crisp on both sides.

Serve latkes as a breakfast item, side dish, or with applesauce to enjoy throughout the days of Hanukkah and even year round.

Christmas Cod with Tomato-Olive Salsa

Fried SkateIn Italy, the predominately Catholic country is rich in traditions and celebrations for the Christmas season. Fish is a significant part of the country’s dining culture, partially because of the population of its various islands and coastal cities, such as Positano, Cinque Terre, and Sicily. It is also because Catholics traditionally abstain from meat at particular seasons of the year (especially Fridays during Lent or Advent) and they often eat fish or seafood instead.

One way many Italians celebrate Christmas Eve is with the Feast of Seven Fishes before midnight mass. This feast is a large family-style meal featuring a variety of seafood and fish dishes. Introduce a fresh entrée, Cod with Tomato-Olive Salsa, to your family’s holiday this year.





4 fillets of cod, flounder, or sole (6 ounces each, 1/2 inch thick)
1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 pound (2-5) plum tomato(s), diced
12 pitted Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped

8 tablespoons shredded fresh basil

1 teaspoon grated lime zest

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

Lime wedges

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

6 ounces orzo or other tiny pasta

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1. Heat oven to 400° Place fish in an oven safe baking dish. Brush filets with 1 tablespoon olive oil, then sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.

2. In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, olives, 2 tablespoons of the basil, lime zest and juice, 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

3. Bake fish 8 minutes, spoon salsa over fish and bake 2 more minutes. Meanwhile, cook pasta.

4. Drain pasta and toss it with unsalted butter and 4 tablespoon of basil.

Serve fish with basil and lime wedges to taste either plated with or on top of pasta. This is a light, flaky and tasty dish as an entrée for dinner any night of the year.


Don’t keep these dishes tucked in your recipe box just for holiday celebrations; they can be enjoyed throughout the year to brighten your menu with the traditions of other cultures from around the world.

International Food Club wishes you and your family a happy, safe, and delicious holiday season; let the celebrations begin!

Recipes via:

Christmas cod with warm tomato-olive salsa

Citrus pumpkin flan

Hanukkah latkes




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