Chef David Tsirekas shares his Christmas Day menu with a Greek twist

Christmas is just around the corner and for many homes, preparations are already well underway.

From decorating Christmas trees to setting up the dinner table, there is a lot to be done if you are the one hosting Christmas this year.

Fear not though as The Greek Herald has taken one thing off your plate (pun intended). We asked chef David Tsirekas to put together a Greek feast like no other for your Christmas Day lunch.

Entrée – Pumpkin Filo Pie:


  • 1 large butternut pumpkin
  • 2 green zucchinis
  • 1 red capsicum
  • 1 bunch shallots
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1 cup of steamed rice
  • 1/2 bunch parsley
  • 1/2 bunch dill
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon fine semolina
  • Antoniou brand filo pastry
  • Carraway seeds
  • Vegetable ghee


  1. Preheat oven to 180°.
  2. Peel and grate pumpkin using food processor set to thick grate, or use box grater.
  3. Repeat for zucchini and capsicum.
  4. Chop entire shallots except for the roots.
  5. Place all in mixing bowl.
  6. Add roughly chopped parsley and dill, cumin, chilli flakes (optional) and place into a muslin cloth, tie and twist to remove any excess water.
  7. Add rice and semolina. These will act as an absorbent in the cooking process as it releases liquids which will make the filo watery and stop it from going buttery and flaky.
  8. Melt ghee.
  9. Cut filo into 20cm squares. Brush a square liberally with ghee then place another square sheet, rotating it 45 degrees so it looks like a star.
  10. Repeat again another 6 sheets. 8 in total making sure you add ghee each time.
  11. Spoon in a cup full of the mix into the centre.
  12. Wrap filo around the mix towards the centre making sure you encase it like a pillow. Brush ghee so the filo sticks together.
  13. Place on flat tray with the overlapping filo placed downwards onto the tray with baking paper and repeat for rest of mixture until all used.
  14. Sprinkle with carraway seeds and place in oven until golden brown.
  15. Serve with fresh yoghurt or creamed fetta with toasted pecans.

Main – Mavrodaphne and petimezi glazed pork neck:



  • 300ml Mavrodaphne Wine
  • 450ml Petimezi – grape must syrup
  • 4 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cracked pepper
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 pieces of cloves
  • 6 cloves of black garlic
  • 1 whole piece pork neck with fat capped on and trimmed neatly – skinless


  1. If you’re not confident trussing pork neck and rounding out the capped fat then ask your butcher to truss and trim. It’s always best to do this first step before roasting the pork.
  2. Add mavrodaphne into saucepan.
  3. In a food processor, add grape must syrup and black garlic cloves. Pulse until smooth.
  4. Add to wine.
  5. Add remaining ingredients (except for pork) and bring to boil. Simmer for 30 mins. Set aside to cool.
  6. Place pork into bowl. Pour over some of the marinade and rub all over the pork generously. Keep some marinade for roasting.
  7. Cover pork and chill overnight for best results. Four hours for minimum infusion of flavour.
  8. Set oven to 200°.
  9. Place pork into deep baking tray, preferably with a lid and a wire rack to sit on, and fill up to wire rack with water to steam. If you don’t have one, a normal roasting dish with a wire rack will do. Cover first with baking paper and then foil.
  10. Turn oven down to 150° and cook slowly for 1.5 hours.
  11. Remove lid or covering, and snip off twine now that the pork has roasted into shape. Turn oven up to 180°. Baste pork generously all around with chilled mavrodaphne glaze.
  12. Roast uncovered for 15 minutes and then baste again. Roast for 10 minutes again.
  13. Baste generously with glaze, turn oven up to 200° and roast for 10 last minutes.
  14. Bring out, baste and allow to sit at room temp for five minutes before carving.

Dessert – Greek Christmas trifle:

SERVES 10-16

Ingredients for yoghurt cheesecake cream layer:

  • 500G mascarpone cheese
  • 500g thick Greek yoghurt
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 100g thyme honey
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. Fold all ingredients together being careful not to beat the mix too much or the mascarpone will split. Set aside to chill.

Ingredients for custard:

  • 1L milk
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean – split lengthwise
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 200g butter
  • 200g flour


  1. Heat milk in a saucepan with the scraped-out seeds of vanilla bean. Add vanilla pod as well.
  2. While heating milk, cream sugar and egg yolks together in a bowl until pale and creamy.
  3. Bring milk to a simmer and then slowly add in a steady pour into the creamed egg yolks while whisking thoroughly for 2 minutes.
  4. When whisked well, clean out saucepan and melt butter. Add flour and make roux. Cook over low heat for 2 mins.
  5. Slowly add the egg/milk mix into the roux and whisk well while pouring in the egg/milk mix. Add little bits at a time making sure to whisk out any lumps and to smoothen the mix. Add all mix whilst continuing to whisk and allow the mix to thicken to a custard thickness.
  6. Set aside into clean bowl with a piece of baking paper on surface of custard to not allow a thick skin to form. Chill in refrigerator. Set aside until construction.

Ingredients for Crispy Kataifi pastry:

  • 1 packet of Kataifi pastry
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 100g caster sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 160°.
  2. Open up kataifi and rip into smaller pieces. Place in large mixing bowl.
  3. Add caster sugar.
  4. Melt butter and then add to kataifi and sugar. Mix well.
  5. Place onto flat baking tray, spread out well and bake until golden brown.
  6. Occasionally check and stir so it browns evenly.
  7. Set aside at room temperature to cool.

Ingredients for cherry jelly:

  • 1 packet raspberry Aeroplane jelly (if you don’t want to use jelly you can use 3 teaspoons of gelatine powder)
  • 500g jar of Morello cherries pitted
  • 400g tin of Greek sweet cherries
  • 200ml water


  1. Strain and reserve the juice/liquid from both types of cherries from jars and keep the cherries together for construction (see below).
  2. Place liquid into saucepan with water and bring to boil.
  3. Change heat to simmer and whisk in jelly powder.
  4. Cook until all powder has dissolved. Whisk for around 2 minutes whilst simmering.
  5. Take saucepan off heat and to accelerate cooling, place saucepan into a bowl of ice and stir for around 5 minutes. This will reduce some of the heat so we can begin to construct the trifle.

Ingredients for whipped cream (or use canned whipped cream):

  • 500ml pure cream
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste/vanilla sugar


  1. Beat cream until firm peaks form. Set aside to chill.

Ingredients for texture layers:

  • 20 cm trifle bowl – 3 litres
  • 3 melamakarona biscuits
  • 1 loaf tsoureki
  • 1 jar Visino 300g
  • 10 koulouria biscuits

Construction of trifle:

  1. Base – spread just a 2cm base layer of the yoghurt cheesecake mix.
  2. Add the koulouria biscuits around like a flower. Break pieces to fill in any spaces. Push into cream base so they don’t float up when you add the jelly mix to set.
  3. Add the mixed cherries saved from the cherry jelly recipe.
  4. Pour in the cooled jelly mix.
  5. Place into fridge to set – this normally takes about 2 hours. To speed it up you could put it in the freezer but make sure to cover it with glad wrap so ice crystals don’t form.
  6. When jelly is set, add crispy kataifi pastry.
  7. Add chilled custard.
  8. Tear tsoureki into large bitesize pieces and place into custard and fill.
  9. Chill for another 30 mins just so the tsoureki sets with the custard absorbs some of the moisture.
  10. Add remaining cream yoghurt cheese mixture. Pour slowly around the edges working your way into the centre. Using a wet rubber spatula, even out yoghurt cream cheese mix and spread out. Cover and set aside to set and chill.
  11. Pipe whipped cream on top with crumbled melomakarona.
  12. Drizzle with sour cherry pieces over to finish.
  13. Serve and enjoy!


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