Recipes of the month: December edition


02 december 2018
Auteur(s): Seyhan Kâhya
Do you want to surprise your family this holiday? If so, put your books down and head to your kitchen! Here are recipes from Slovenia, Norway, India, Poland, Portugal, Israel, Switzerland, & Belgium!

by Seyhan Kâhya

Internationals Editor

“Material consisting essentially of protein, carbohydrate, and fat used in the body of an organism to sustain growth, repair, and vital processes and to furnish energy,” the definition of ‘food’ according to Merriam-Webster. It would be, however, very sad to reduce food to this merely functional view simply because food gives our taste buds a treat, brightens our mood, its diversity enriches our lives, and last but not least, cooking together is a great way to bond with classmates in Leuven! For us, these are enough reasons to publish monthly recipes by international and Belgian students.

To serve you these recipes nicely, we will publish them under a certain theme. Hence, we’d like to introduce different dish served on certain occasions. And that’s not all, we also want to give you some background information or fun facts about the dish. The recipes are not only to satisfy your daily appetite, but also to give you some palatable facts as food for thought.

December gives plenty of reasons to have a feast together: On the one hand, Hanukkah and Christmas are just waiting right around the corner. On the more secular hand, December is the last chance to have a nicely prepared dish with your friends before the madness of the exams begin (ask your Flemish friends, what it means ‘to blok’). Thus, our first collection of recipes cover dishes during different festivities or life per se.

We are always very glad to receive recipes from your home country! Please don’t hesitate to approach us especially if you are a chef with a need to share traditional dishes that suits our themes!

The themes for the next two months are:

  • 'Quick & easy: Treats for the Blok': January is known for being the infamous, anti-social month of barricading in the library and binge-watching tutorials on 'principles of calculus' or videos explaining ‘international political economy’. And while life is all of a sudden only about exams, we want to fuel “our engines” with something healthier than 'Redbull & cigarettes', don't we?
  • 'Break the ice: Recipes to get to know each': We’d like to gather recipes that would help arriving students in February to meet people and get to know each. And of course, recipes for the hopeless romantic who hope to find their meaning for the 14th of February and spice up their ... (If this date doesn't ring a bell, never mind. ;) )

Have fun reading about these dishes and trying the recipes out!

On a final note, we hope to publish the next recipes more gender-balanced.


                                                                      Michael R Perry

Orehova Potica [vegetarian]

by Anja Mlinar (Slovenia) 

Slovenian Potica is one of the most traditional and famous Slovenian pastries. We are baking and serving this dessert at different occasions like Christmas, Easter, birthday parties etc. Potica consists from rolled dough with special stuffing. It can contain many different fillings from sweet too salty one, but probably the oldest and the most famous one is with walnuts-we call it Orehova potica.

Potica is a dessert which accompanying Slovenian people since 1575. Those are the years of Primož Trubar, he is the first one who mentioned Potica in his work Abecednik in Katekizem (=1. Work in Slovenian language). Through years Potica had different names, but since 19. Century we are using expression Potica. In general the name is usually consists of two words: First one labels the filling (Orehova: made from wanuts) and the second one is Potica.

Potica is nowadays well known in the world, many countries know it because of Melania Trump and pope. If you come across Potica someday, don’t forget to try it because it is among the most desirable desserts in the Vatican!

Dober tek!

Ingredients for plenty of students:

The dough:

- 600 g flour

- 30 g baker’s yeast (the packages with compressed yeast)

- 2 dl milk

- 140 g of sugar

- 140 g of butter

- 4  egg yolk

- 1 package vanilla sugar

- torn lemon peel  

The filling:

- 2 dl of milk (or even better sweet cream)

- 250 g sugar

- 2 spoons of rum

- 2-3 egg white

- 400 g ground walnuts


Step 1. Preparation of baker yeast:

Mix the package of baker yeast with one spoon of sugar, one spoon of flour and few spoons of warm milk. Leave the mixture to rise.

Step 2. Preparation of filling:

Mix ground walnuts and sugar, then add the sweet cream with rum. At the end add the snow from egg whites. Be careful filling shouldn’t be too thin/liquid.

Step 3. Preparation of dough:

All the ingredients, except the yeast, first put in to the same pot and mix them very well. Then add prepared yeast and start stirring until you get the structure of dough. (Try to mix everything with your bare hand, because the heat of your body will melt the butter).

Step 4. Potica: Roll prepared dough out to a 30′ x 20” rectangle and coat it with filling and torn lemon peel (to 1.5 cm from the edge). Then roll in everything together very tightly and put rolled potica in greased backing tray. Cover everything and leave it to rise up over the night (or at least 6 hours).


                                                                     Seyhan Kâhya

Risengrynsgrøt [vegetarian]

by Amalie Hilde (Norway)


This dish is traditionally served on Saturdays, and on any day in the month leading up to Christmas. Many families enjoy this dish on the 23rd of December to determine who will be the Risengrynsgrøt champion of the coming year. How do you do this? As follows: Put an almond into hot water for a few minutes until the skin come off and put the skinned almond in the porridge. Whoever gets the almond in her/his plate wins a price (usually a marzipan pig).

Trick: If you find the almond in your plate, don’t reveal it until the end of the meal as your friends/family will continue to eat in the hope of finding the almond. In this way you make sure they all finish their plates!

Trick 2: If there are leftovers, mix it with cream and sugar and you have a perfect desert for later!

Ingredients for 4 students:

- 4 deciliters of round grain rice

- 8 deciliters of water

- 2 liters of milk

- 1 teaspoon of salt


Step 1. Put the rice and water in a big casserole and let it boil for about 10 minutes until the water is almost completely absorbed.

Step 2. Add the milk and reduce the heat. Make sure it doesn't boil over! Let it simmer on a low heat for about one hour or until it reaches the right consistency.

Step 3. Stir every once in a while so that it doesn't stick too much to the bottom of the pot. Season with salt until it has the right taste.

Step 4. Serve with a butter eye in the middle and cinnamon and sugar on top.



Sarson ka saag [vegetarian]

by Kranti Navare (India)


This winter special meal makes everyone drool in winters. It is a traditional dish from Punjab (a province in the north of India). Saag means green and Sarso means mustard. And this 'green curry of mustard leaves' is served with a steaming hot makki roti (bread of corn) and a dollop of butter or ghee (Indian butter). Alternatively, this dish can also be served with European bread or rice. This recipe is lip smacking treat in winters, and it just gets better when served jaggery as an accompaniment to dish.

Ingredients: 750 g Sarson (Mustard leaves – if not found, could be replaced by Spinach leaves)  

250 g Palak (Spinach leaves)

2 cups Water with a pinch of salt

1 1/2 cup Makki atta (Corn flour)

4 Green chilly

25 g grated ginger

2 Onions

6 cloves Garlic

100 g Ghee (Indian butter. If not available, use belgian butter)

1/2 tsp Red pepper powder

1/2 tsp Garam masala: Indian mix of spices [*]

1/2 tsp Coriander powder [*]

[*] These ingredients can be found at the Indian supermarket: Everest House, Brusselsestraat 128, Leuven


Step 1. Add the mustard (or spinach), salt and water into a pot and cook over low heat for 1/2 hours (or until the leaves are cooked)

Step 2. Squeeze out green leaves and keep water aside. Mash green leaves in the pot until coarsely ground, add corn flour and stir.

Step 3. Put back water and a little fresh water and boil over slow fire.

Step 4. Add green chilies, ginger and cook till the mixture gets thick.

Step 5. In another small pot, add oil. Once heated, add chopped onions, ginger, garlic, red pepper powder, garam masala, coriander powder & saute until onions are light brown.

Step 6. Mix the two & garnish with julienne or ginger fried in ghee.



Borscht (Polish beetroot soup)

by Paulina Murzyn (Poland)


Borscht, originally coming from a Region in Ukraine, is a sour soup commonly consumed in many Eastern and Central European countries as a first course or warming meal for the cold and long winter’s nights.  Even though the soup’s ingredients vary by region, beets are the inherent component of the dish. Sour flavour is obtained from fermented beets, lemon juice or (as in this recipe) apple cider vinegar. It goes very well with a sweetness of the beets and other veggies. In Poland, borscht is one of the traditional dishes served at a Christmas Eve dinner (on December 24). This ruby-coloured beetroot bouillon is eaten with a croquette or small ear-shaped dumplings called "uszka". A little drawback of preparing this meal could be the intensive red colour of your fingers, but wonderful aroma and its characteristic sour flavour will compensate for losses! :)

Ingredients for 3 students:

- 1 tablespoon butter

- 1 onion

- 4 cloves of garlic

- 4 medium sized beets

- 2 carrots

- 1 celery stalk

- 2 whole allspice berries

- 1 bay leaf

- 4 cups of stock (beef or vegetable)

- 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

- 1 teaspoon sugar

- ¼ teaspoons ground black pepper

- Pinch of salt


Step 1. Dice the onion and celery stalk, mince the cloves of garlic

Step 2. Cut the carrots into rounds, peel and cut the beets in 1-2 cm pieces

Step 3. Melt butter in a large pot. Add garlic and onion, then cook over medium heat until the veggies are soft (around 5 minutes)

Step 4. Add the rest of the vegetables (beets, carrots, celery) as well as allspice and bay leaf

Step 5. Add stock and boil it up over a slow fire. Cook until the veggies are tender (around 10 minutes)

Step 6. Remove the pot from the heat and strain the vegetables from your borscht

Step 7. Add vinegar, sugar, pepper and salt as desired

Step 8. Optionally it can be served with "uszka", croquettes or sour cream



Bacalhau Espiritual

by Joana Pais (Portugal)


As you may have heard, Portuguese people have 1000 different ways to prepare their precious norwegian cod and of course we could not let it pass on one of the most important holidays for the country, Christmas. Each family has their own meal traditions but whichever way you prepare cod it MUST be on the table whether you like it or not. Mum and I follow the following recipe of Bacalhau Espiritual (spiritual cod).

This dish gained its popularity around 1947, when a fancy restaurant opened in the old kitchen of the Queluz palace, but it needed something special to serve its customers. The countess, Almeida Araújo, inspired by her travels to France, brought a cod dish called "Brandade Chaude de Morue" and adapted it. You will find many Portuguese friends if you know how to cook at least one of the many cod dishes.

Ingredients for 4 well-eating students:

600 g cod

3 medium carrots

2 yellow onions

1 package Béchamel sauce

3 slices of white bread

Milk (to soak the bread, around 250ml)

1 bay leaf

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

Some ground parmesan cheese


Step 1: Shred the carrots and cut the crust from the bread

Step 2: Cook the cod in boiling water for 10 min, let it cool down and mince it thinly, removing all the fishbones and outer skin. Set it aside.

Step 3: Heat a large pan on medium heat. Cut the onions in half-moons thinly and braise them in olive oil. Once the onions are golden, add the cod, the bayleaf and shredded carrots. Soak the bread in milk and also add it to the mixture in pieces. Carrots should be softened. Lastly, add the béchamel sauce. Mix it well, season it with salt and pepper and remove the bayleaf.

Step 4:  Put everything on an oven safe tray (e.g. pyrex), sprinkle the top with parmesan and gratinate it in the oven for 20 min at 180 °C.


                                                                     Tal Swissa

Sufganiyah [vegan]

by Rita Bogorad (Israel / Russia)


As you probably know, December is famous for being a festive month, but not only because of Christmas. Jews all over the world celebrate the holiday of light, called Hanukkah. The traditional Hanukkah food is called Sufganiyah. The most classic version is with sugar powder on top or strawberry jam inside. Nowadays you can see ALL possible variations of fillings inside, starting from pistachio crème to chocolate rum. You can personalize your very own Sufganiyah with ‘Lotus Biscoff spread’ or with peanut butter, all the options will work perfectly well with these sweets. Following Hanukkah tradition, we use as much fat and sweets possible, Sufganiyah is a perfect way to increase your sugar blood level, middle east style.


1 kg flour

1 tea spoon of yeast

1/4 cup oil (sunflower or canola)

1 tea spoon of salt

3-4 cups of water (depending on the consistency)

your favourite jam

icing sugar


Step 1. Mix the flour, yeast, oil and salt. Then, knead it properly.

Step 2. Add water until the dough becomes soft and nice the dough has no stop being sticky.

Step 3. Resting the dough in the for an hour and half, covered with kitchen towel (pro trick: leave let it rest near the heater to speed up the process).

Step 4. Form the dough to balls (diameter of 5 cm), when the dough gets big and soft.

Step 5. Heat up the oil for deep frying in medium heat. Make sure, there is enough oil to fry all the balls.

Step 6. Deep fry the dough balls until the colour turns nicely gold/brown.

Step 7. Use a piping bag to fill the Sufganiyah with your favourite jam.

Step 8. Serve it with icing sugar.


                                                              the_junes derivative work

Cheese fondue [vegetarian]

by Seyhan Kâhya (Switzerland)


The concept is very simple: A caquelon - a traditional fondue pot - in the center of the table contains molten cheese, people around dip their bread and pears in it and typically drink wine along. And if somebody looses their bread in the caquelon, they are usually asked to follow up with a slightly embarassing task. The level of embarassment varies on a scale of ‘singing a song’  to ’running naked around the hut’ - for the die-hards. It is commonly eaten in winter (cheese lovers may object and say you can eat it in every season) to have a good time. The following recipe is a very basic one. There is one rule in preparing a cheese fondue: Don't be boring! Feel free to experiment with different cheeses or seasonings (however, I don’t want to be held accountable for the effects of an exaggerated amount of garlic).

Ingredients for 4 students:

- 800g hard cheese (the most basic one, called moite-moite: 400g Gruyère and 400g Vacherin Fribourgeois. Goat cheese fondue is also very tasty. Furthermore, if Swiss cheese is too expensive, ‘Oud Brugge' does the job too. )

- 2-4 cloves of garlic

- 3.5 dl semi-/dry white wine

- tea spoon of lemon juice (the acid will prevent clumping)

- 4 tea spoons of corn starch

- seasoning: nutmeg, black pepper, ...

- 600-700g bread

- Pears


Step 0. Cut the bread and pears into mouth-sized cubes and put them aside.

Step 1. Rub the bottom of the caquelon with a cut clove of garlic, grate the cheese into flakes, slice the cloves of garlic in thin slices and add the garlic and cheese with the tea spoon of lemon juice in the caquelon.

Step 2. Dissolve the corn starch in the white wine and pour it into the caquelon. Then, stir the mixture vigorously.

Step 3. Heat up the stove and quickly boil the mixture for a few seconds. Then, apply seasoning and keep on stirring.

Step 4. Simmer the mixture, and don’t forget to stir.

Step 5. Keep on stirring, until the mixture turns into a viscous mass.

Step 6. Put your caquelon on the table and heat it with the appropriate appliance.

Step 7. Stir with your bread and pears the fondue and enjoy the meal.

* Pitfalls: If you think you need to pour more wine, do it cautiously. Else, it may get runny and will take a lifetime to have it thick again.

* Again, be creative: Season it with whatever you like. Try it with wheat beer instead of wine and with goat cheese seasoned with fresh thyme.



Classic Flemish Stoofvlees

by Lucie D’Haene (Belgium)


Typical Belgian winter dish, combining meat and beer with a special touch here: mustard and gingerbread! Perfectly appropriate when you come back home after a long day, with a red nose and frozen hands due to the cold ... If you can make this stew a day or two in advance you will find it is even better.  And, if this dish is not already magnificent, it freezes beautifully, so make a large batch and freeze. It will keep well for up to six months and defrost thoroughly before reheating.

For five hungry students:

• 1kg beef, cut into 2 cm cubes

• 1 tablespoon brown sugar

• 1l dark beer (Pelforth for a delicate taste, of Brown Leffe for a sweeter taste)

• 400g sliced yellow onions

• salt

• 30g butter

• 250g of smoked bacon in slices

• 5 slices of gingerbread

• Bouquet garni

• 2 teaspoons of muster


Step 1. Heat the butter in a large roomy pan, cook the onions during 10 min, until soft.

Step 2. Cut the bacon and add it to the onions

Step 3. Once the bacon has a nice pink color, put in the whole pan aside

Step 4. Keep the juice of the bacon and add the beef when the pan is at high temperature. Brown the meat in batches, if you add all the beef at once it will lower the temperature too much and the meat will boil rather than sear. Carefully watch the beef to make sure it doesn’t burn though, but give it enough time to develop a nice, rich brown color – the caramelized sugars will greatly enhance the stew’s flavour.

Step 5. Once it is ready, put the beef aside and keep the juice.

Step 6. Add the brown sugar to the juice at a high temperature and let the juice halve.

Step 7. Then, reduce the heat to low and add the bacon and the beef to the ‘syrup’. Add the bouquet garni, the beer and salt it slightly.

Step 8. Gently recover the surface of the pan with the ‘mustered’ gingerbread

Step 9. Simmer for 3 hours without stirring, until the gingerbread smelt. Keep it covered.

Step 10. After 3 hours, you can let the lid partially open. The sauce should stay liquid at the bottom and should really not burn.