Scotland's culinary scene is enriched by the expertise of chefs from around the world who have made our country their home. So how did they celebrate Christmas in their native lands? Three international gourmets share their festive memories with Russell Leadbetter – along with some very special recipes

FRANCE

Jean Michel Gauffre, chef-patron, La Garrigue, Edinburgh

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One of Scotland’s most prominent (and most accolade-laden) French chefs, Jean Michel Gauffre comes from the Languedoc region. He worked in high-profile roles at a number of luxury hotels in this country before opening his own restaurant, La Garrigue, in Edinburgh's Jeffrey Street, in 2001. The restaurant – Gordon Ramsay's favourite French bistro – specialises in the food of Gauffre's home region.

“In my family,” he says, “Christmas Eve was as important as Christmas Day itself. The ‘Reveillon’ dinner was a late meal with family and friends when the children were excitedly talking about the presents they were hoping to receive the next morning; the adults would talk about the ‘good old days’ and tell old stories about past Christmases.

“Then it was the trip to church for the midnight mass before returning home for a plate of onion soup or some oreillettes (sweet fritters) before collapsing into bed.

“After the chaos of Christmas morning, including a rushed breakfast and the opening of presents, the morning was devoted to preparing lunch. I remember that everyone lent a hand. My dad and uncles were in charge of the wine and the opening of the oysters and helped clean the langouste or seafood while my grandmother was in charge of the main dish.

“Goose, duck, capon or turkey were traditionally served but what strikes me now was the way it was cooked. There was always a different approach from the recipe served during the year, and more spices or exotic fruits were used in the preparation.

“My own favourite was when the duck or goose was served with fruits like oranges, quince or pineapple. The buche de Noel, or yule log, was a must, of course. After a long lunch, there was the traditional walk down by the riverside before we returned home for a ‘light dinner’. There was not much TV in those days!”

http://www.lagarrigue.co.uk, 0131 557 3032

JEAN Michel Gauffre's duck with pineapple

Choose a fresh duck between 1.5kg to 2kg. Fill the inside with a thick slice of bread grated with garlic and crushed juniper berries. Add some salt, black and pink peppercorn and nut of butter.

In a roasting pot place a spoonful of butter and a spoonful of olive oil, bring to a medium heat and seal the duck for five minutes on each side then place in a preheated oven at 250 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes depending on size. Baste repeatedly during the cooking to keep it moist.

Remove from the tray and keep on the side to rest the meat.

Pour fat from roasting tray into a bowl, add a roughly chopped onion and a spoonful of brown sugar and place on a low heat to make a caramel. Add a few chunks of pineapple, and 500 cl of orange juice. Slowly reduce to a liquor.

Meanwhile, pan-fry some pineapple slices in butter to give them a nice brown colour and reserve.

Strain the sauce and reserve.

Place the pineapple slices on the serving dish, put the duck on top and heat up in the oven.

Warm up a spoonful of rum and pour over the duck and flambé. Carve and serve!

Alternatively you may cut the duck prior to flambéing it with the rum but you lose the visual celebration effect.

SWEDEN

Anna Christopherson, co-owner Joseph Pearce's and Boda Bar, Edinburgh

THERE is one item on the festive menu of the Edinburgh restaurant Joseph Pearce’s that always reminds Anna Christopherson of her Christmases at home in Sweden. The popular Julskinka dish is made up of roast potatoes, sausage, gravy and parsnip – and the key component, mustard-glazed ham. “The ham," she says, is “the ‘must’ - something which you simply have to have on the Swedish Christmas Smorgasbord.

“Essentially, you make this big ham and you eat it all through Christmas. You have it in the morning with a bit of mustard. You have it with meatballs, you have it on your plate with herring, with pates and red cabbages and sausages.

“It’s very traditional, the Swedish Christmas, and a lot of it revolves around food,” says Christopherson. “I think that goes back to the earliest farmer days, where families didn’t have refrigeration. Everything had to be salted so that it could be stored for a long time.”

Christopherson is originally from a “tiny place” in Sweden called Boda, in Örsås parish in Västergötaland county. She and her husband Mike run a chain of successful bars and restaurants in Edinburgh, including Pearce’s, Akva, Victoria, Sofi’s, Hemma and Boda Bar – all under the Boda umbrella.

Of Christmas back home, she recalls: “We would start early on December 23, where we taste the Christmas food. You have a little bit of everything – the ham, red cabbage, meatballs and the herring.

“On Christmas Eve morning we always started with hot chocolate and ham sandwiches, and a saffron bun. After church you have coffee and start preparing lunch. Our tradition was that you saved the salty water the ham had been boiled in, and you dunked rye bread into it, to accompany home-made moose sausages and some boiled meat. And there would be snaps, too: Aquavit, obviously: and there would also be singing.” The food didn’t stop there: to follow there would be ris à la Malta, a rice pudding containing oranges.

“Then, at 3pm, all of Sweden would settle down in front of the television. The kids would watch Donald Duck cartoons and the adults would fall asleep on the sofa.” Santa – or someone dressed at him – would arrive later, bearing presents. In the evening there would be more food, and home-made treats.

Christmas Day, by contrast, was all about fish. “You would take fish that had been dried since the summer," says Anna "and put it in water so that it would expand, then boil it and eat with potatoes and a white bechamel sauce, and you would also have more of the ham.”

http://www.bodabar.com

Anna Christopherson's mustard-glazed ham

1 cured gammon, 3-5 kg

3 whole black peppercorns

1 bay leaf

1 yellow onion, sliced

1 carrot, chopped

Remove plastic bag from the ham, but leave the net. Rinse the ham quickly in cold water and insert the meat meter so that the tip is in the middle of the ham's thickest part.

Put the ham in a pot with the thermometer visible and pour on so much water that it covers the ham. Keep pan lid on so the water boils and foams thoroughly.

Add spicy pepper, bay leaves, onion and carrot. Boil again, lower the heat and simmer under cover. The Christmas ham is ready when the thermometer shows 70-75 degrees. When the thermometer shows 70 degrees, the ham is really juicy, at 72 degrees it is perfect and at 75 degrees it is well cooked. It takes about ¾ -1 ¼ hour per kilo of ham.

Remove the ham and remove the thermometer. Cut off the net when the ham has cooled slightly. Pull away the think skin while the ham is lukewarm. Smooth to the fat edges to make it look nice. Allow the ham to cool and keep it cool. If you want to grind it, however, you should do this when the ham is still hot.

Mustard glaze

1 egg yolk

3 tablespoons mustard

2-3 tablespoons of breadcrumbs

Whisk together egg yolk and mustard and pat over the ham then sprinkle over the breadcrumbs. Put in the oven at 225-250° until it becomes golden. Serve slightly warm or cold. Delicious with a nice wholegrain mustard on a piece of rye bread in the morning.

BRAZIL

Marcello Tully, chef director, Kinloch Lodge, Skye

"My childhood memory of Christmas is of a house full of friends and family with much laughter and merriment. There was no rush to sit and eat quickly. The food was more suited to grazing, and on Christmas Eve people would help themselves over the course of the evening to a Christmas supper, often continuing into the early hours of Christmas Day.

"The table consisted of a delicious buffet of roast turkey, cold meats, deep fried bacalhau balls (salt cod – deriving from Portugal), a selection of salads, including potato with apples and raisins, typically a green salad, fried rice with garlic, seasoned kale, fresh and dried fruits (guava, pineapple, cherries and mangoes), and a selection of nuts.

"For dessert there were Rabanadas. In my view these make a Brazilian Christmas. Translated, it means "gusts of wind". They’re traditionally made using stale bread dipped in milk and eggs, fried and sprinkled with generous amounts of sugar and cinnamon. Another inclusion to the table at any celebration would have to be "Brigadeiros" – delicious chocolate fudge bon-bons.

As for Christmas Day – this was very often spent at the beach, along with many other families, enjoying the weather and playing a game of football with my friends."

• Marcello Tully’s book, The Key Ingredient (£25) is available from Kinloch Lodge and www.marcellotully.com

Marcello Tully's Bacalhau balls

This recipe uses bacalhau (dried, salted cod), which originates from Portugal. It requires soaking in fresh water overnight ideally before using. But if you can’t get hold of this, then smoked haddock can be used as an alternative. Makes 20-30.

Main fish mix

600 gm salmon and other trimmings

2 whole eggs

½ onion

60gm cornflour

½ fennel

½ red pepper

10gm fresh ginger

2 cloves fresh garlic

2gm fresh chilli

15gm caster sugar

5gm salt

3gm Tabasco

18gm white wine vinegar

Additions: 1 bag blanched spinach; 200gm bacalhau – salted cod (or use smoked haddock fillets, gently poached for 5 minutes); ½ bag chopped raw spinach

Method

1. Blend the fish trimmings in a food processor.

2. Add the eggs and mix again for a short period of time.

3. Add Tabasco, caster sugar, salt, white wine vinegar and cornflour; blend again.

4. Remove from the food processor and place into a large mixing bowl.

5. Now add the fennel, red pepper and onion into the food processor and blend to a pulpy liquid. Add this to the large bowl, holding the fish mix.

6. Chop the chillies, ginger and garlic by hand and add to the mix.

7. Blanch the spinach by dowsing in boiling water and removing immediately and cooling. Once cold, squeeze the excess juice from the spinach.

8. Roughly chop the blanched spinach along with the raw spinach and combine into the mix, along with the salt cod or haddock, flaked by hand. Give the mix a really good mix as gently as possible.

9. Portion the mix into a whole walnut size and deep fry for 2-3 minutes.

10. Allow to drain and serve with a sweet chilli dip.

Sweet chilli dip

170gm white wine vinegar

50ml water

350gm caster sugar

25gm fish sauce

2 red chillies

1 clove garlic

2 tsp fresh ginger

2 pinches salt

2 pinches of cornflour (mixed with a little cold water to dilute)

Method

1. Remove seeds and stalks from chillies and finely chop. 2. Finely chop the garlic and ginger. 3. Add all the ingredients to saucepan apart from the dissolved cornflour and bring to the boil. 4. Once boiling, whisk in the diluted cornflour and boil for a further 1-2 minutes, then set aside to cool.

Rabanadas

3 thick slices of old white bread

4 Eggs

100gm Caster Sugar

25gm Ground Cinnamon

Oil to Fry

Method

1. Cut the bread into large triangles or whichever shape desired. 2. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl and then pour into a dish which is suitable for the bread to be immersed in the eggs for a good 20-40 minutes. 3. Mix the caster sugar with the cinnamon and set aside. 4. Carefully remove the pieces of bread from the egg mix and fry on both sides until golden brown.

5. Generally sprinkle over the sugar and cinnamon mix and serve with pouring cream or a quenelle of cream which has been whisked with vanilla and a touch of sugar.

Marcello Tully's Brigadeiros (Chocolate Brigadiers, makes 50)

Delicious chocolate bonbons which no celebration or birthday party in Brazil is complete without. This recipe has Scotch whisky added.

1 can condensed milk

60ml milk

50gm good quality dark chocolate drops

25gm butter

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon clear honey

100gm crumbled shortbread biscuits or similar

25ml whisky (optional)

Chocolate sprinkles

Method

1. Heat the condensed milk, milk, chocolate, butter, egg yolk and honey in a heavy-based pan, stirring continuously, until you reach a temperature of 120 degrees centigrade. 2. Remove from the heat and add the crumbled shortbread and whisky. 3. Allow to cool until the mix can be handled. 4. Form into small balls and roll in the chocolate sprinkles.