Elevate your festive feast – 3 scrumptious recipes perfect for the holiday table

A fruity cheese salad, Danish-inspired smørrebrød bread, and a delicious ginger carrot cake add a splash of fun, color, and flavor to your festive table. If you’re scratching your head about what to cook for the holiday season, give these three recipes a try!

Two candles burning and a holiday table setting
How about a refreshing salad for the holiday dinner this year? HAY's candles are placed on a long, oak Lily candlestick and a low, beech Ora candleholder.

AS DELIGHTFUL as holiday dining can be, it can also be a bit challenging at times. Family recipes are guarded like secret treasures, and either no new recipes are allowed on the table, or only one fortunate novelty might be selected.

These recipes are for those occasions when you need something a bit different—perhaps a bit lighter and fresher—or something festive, even if you don't want to prepare a traditional Christmas dinner. Perhaps this time you cook a salad to bring to relatives, bake a sweet cake for the holiday movie marathon, or make sandwiches to enjoy while lounging around in your pyjamas.

Citrus fruits in a basket
Decorate citrus fruits festively by sticking cloves into their peel. The Viilu basket is a fresh take on the traditional birch basket. The linen towel is by Lapuan Kankurit.
A detail of Christmas salad
The colorful salad combines beautifully with a simple 24h plate. The salad servers are by Lokal Helsinki and the pepper mill by valerie_objects.

The festive salad combines different types of flavors: the tangy sweetness of fruits, lightly bitter chicory, caramelized nuts, and salty cheese. It can be served as a side dish on Christmas Eve, as a buffet-style at a holiday gathering, or as a delightful starter on New Year's Eve. Choose your favorite cheese or try Italian gorgonzola, English stilton, or French Roquefort.

Pro tip: salad leaves are often left large and visually striking. While beautiful, it's much more enjoyable to eat a salad that fits into your mouth with a single forkful!

A man serving Christmas bread
These modern smørrebrød are the perfect snack for the holidays. The festive tablecloth is by Marimekko and the Kastehelmi glass is by Iittala.

Christmas breads are a modern version of the famous Danish smørrebrød. Easy to prepare, they are perfect for a post-Christmas breakfast or an early Christmas Eve lunch. The thought of a double dose of potatoes on a sandwich might sound a bit unusual, but trust us: creamy boiled potatoes and crispy chips make an excellent pair!

The traditional choice is to combine horseradish cream cheese and sea-salted chips, while the more adventurous can mix truffle chips with garlic cream cheese. Slice the bread and potatoes thinly for a balanced mouthfeel, as the bread itself is so dense.

Four slices of a carrot cake on a plate
Bake a savory, frosted carrot cake for the Christmas dinner. Holiday flowers bloom in Marimekko's Umpu vase.

In this ginger carrot cake, oil is used instead of butter. The oil-based cake lasts longer in the refrigerator and the cake also stays moist. The traditional way to frost a carrot cake is to casually spread the frosting over the entire cake, but if you want to be on-trend, pipe the frosting onto pre-cut pieces with a round-tipped pastry bag. If you don't want to frost the whole cake at once, you can freeze a portion for later.

The recipes:

Fruity cheese salad on a plate
Choose your favourite cheese for the salad: is it Italian gorgonzola, English stilton, or French Roquefort?

Festive salad

Ingredients (for 4 people as an appetizer):
1 red salad*
1 box of grapes
150 g blue cheese
2–3 ripe persimmons

100 g pecans
2 tbsp water
3 tbsp cane sugar
1 tsp salt

1 dl olive oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar or white balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp Dijon mustard
salt and black pepper

Prepare nuts and vinaigrette before the salad. Add pecans, water, salt, and sugar to a frying pan. Heat while stirring until the mixture starts to bubble and the water begins to evaporate from the pan. Be careful not to burn the sugar. Pour the sticky nuts onto a plate to wait. Whisk the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a tall glass or shake them together in a lidded jar.

Rinse and tear the red salad into pieces on a serving plate. Rinse the grapes and halve them if necessary. Rinse the persimmons and cut them into wedges (remove the stem and white core). Mix the grapes and persimmons with the salad and spoon vinaigrette over them. Finish with crumbled or sliced blue cheese and pecans.

*If you can't find a red salad, you can also use a mix of chicory and frisée or endive.

Slices of Christmas bread on a plate
Crown the smørrebrød with chopped chives and some roe or seaweed caviar.

Smørrebrød or Christmas breads

Ingredients (for 4 people):
1 archipelago bread
250 g boiled potatoes
1/2 lemon
salt and black pepper
1 box of cream cheese (e.g., garlic or horseradish flavored)
1 jar of roe/seaweed caviar
potato chips
1/2 bunch of finely chopped chives

Boil the potatoes until they are tender. Let the potatoes cool and peel them. Slice the potatoes thinly and season them with salt, black pepper, and lemon juice. Cut archipelago bread into thin slices and spread cream cheese on them. Layer on the seasoned potato slices, chips, chopped chives, and roe or seaweed caviar.

Ginger carrot cake on a plate
A minimalist decorates the carrot cake with carefully placed pieces of sugared ginger. Cut the cake with Carelia cake lifter by Hackman. The plate is by Design House Stockholm.

Ginger carrot cake

Ingredients (for 8–10 people):
4 dl grated carrots (200 g)
4 eggs
2.5 dl cane sugar (225 g)
4 dl all-purpose flour (260 g)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp dried ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1.5 dl olive oil or vegetable oil (150 ml)

400 g cream cheese
3–6 tbsp powdered sugar
juice and zest of 1 orange
crystallized ginger for decoration

Cover the base of a springform pan (⌀ 24 cm*) with parchment paper and oil the sides. Peel and grate the carrots using the coarse side of a grater. Measure all the dry ingredients except for sugar into a bowl and mix well. Preheat the oven to 175°C. Mix the sugar and oil together with an electric mixer. Add the eggs to the mixture and continue whipping until the batter is light and fluffy. Stir in the grated carrot and then gently fold in the dry ingredients with a spatula.

Pour the batter into the springform pan and bake for about 40 minutes. Test by placing a wooden stick (or a piece of spaghetti) into the cake – the cake is ready when the stick comes out clean without raw batter. Allow the cake to cool and then run a knife around the edges before removing the pan.

For the frosting, mix cream cheese, orange juice, and zest. Add powdered sugar to taste, one spoonful at a time, until the frosting reaches the desired sweetness. Spread the frosting with a knife into an even layer or pipe it onto individual slices. Optionally, decorate the slices with crystallized ginger.

*You can also use a smaller springform pan for a taller cake. In that case, bake the cake at a slightly lower temperature for a longer time to ensure the center of the cake is baked through.

Christmas table setting
Decorating the Christmas table is easy: a festive tablecloth, a bouquet of beautiful flowers and a few candles create the right atmosphere. The pendant is Astep's Model 2065.

Get inspired

Verso Design
Viilu bread basket
Varvunraita tablecloth
Lily candleholder
Design House Stockholm
Sand plate
24h plate
Teema plate
Smooth bowl
Pepper mill
Carelia dessert fork
Lapuan Kankurit
Linnea hand towel
Gradient candle
Umpu vase
Suvi Kesäläinen

Design Stories contributor Suvi Kesäläinen is a photographer, who loves to create dishes that are not only delicious but also fast and easy to make. She’s passionate about the best seasonal ingredients, local food, and intriguing culinary trends.

See also:

New tableware at Finnish Design Shop >

Text and photos: Suvi Kesäläinen

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