Gearing up for Christmas and meeting a lovely little budding chef

With Christmas around the corner life simply seems to get more and more stressful, and in the middle it is time to start to enjoy Christmas and feel the spirit. I have started the Christmas preparations, wrapped presents, ordered a ham and a turkey at the local butcher and watched Christmas movies to get in to the mood.
I saw the first snow of the year in Glasgow, by the time I was leaving the snowfall picked up and started to come down fast and thick. Luckily this was not London Heathrow and we took off no problems at all.

The week continued with, not snow but cold weather and slush in a grey and very dark Stockholm. I seem to forget just quite how dark it can get. I heard somewhere that Sweden is the second largest country to consume coffee on a per capita basis and it helped me stay awake!

I went to see a friend she cooked a wonderful fish soup with lots of chunks for wonderful cod, salmon, prawns and scallops, spiced with garlic, white wine and saffron, so nice and served with a crunchy salad. A perfect dish to make you feel welcome and have a great evening.

Whilst cooking one of her daughters helped us and cut up some salami to nibble on, a professional looking little chef!

Whilst in Sweden I also had a proper Swedish Christmas dinner. It is never easy to say what we eat in Sweden at Christmas. The traditional dinner is a large buffet.

The pride and joy is a ham, either cooked in the oven or boiled and the glazed with mustard and honey.
Getting ahead of myself, it starts with the cold foods, depending on where you go it will differ, in this case there were seven kinds of pickled herring, one of my favourites. Also served are eggs with a roe mixture on top and various seafood salads. The herring is washed down with Swedish schnapps and I love Hallands Fläder, it is flavoured with elderflowers.

There are also cold meats, veal aspic, beetroot salad, gravlax, hot smoked salmon, cold smoked salmon, pickled chantarelles, the ham, different salamis, one made from mouse meat.

After this you can move on to the warm foods; small frankfurter style sausages, meatballs, ribs and my favourite, Jansons temptation. Jansons temptation was created by opera singer Janson who loved to entertain his friends but he was always poor. He often invited friends over to his at the end of a night out and by then everyone had worked up a bit of an appetite. Janson rustled up potatoes cut julienne, layered with anchovy, poured cream over it and baked until golden and soft. This is the second of my favorites and it is nice on its own but also with the meatballs and sausage!
Come Christmas I will make my own Jansons and I can’t wait.

There was a dessert buffet as well serving different cheese with gingerbread snaps, perfect with the blue cheese!

There was the traditional porridge mixed with cream and vanilla, very sweet and smooth, and then also sweets.

The dinner was followed by coffee and liqueur and then some gin & tonic, a very traditional Christmas dinner indeed.

Once home again there was no more snow and slosh but some lovely sunshine and I had friends coming over for dinner.
To start I cut up veg and dips and mulled wine.

Not having had proper time to prepare the main course I made “Porterstek”, beef steak boiled in a stout mixture, it makes for the loveliest sauce to go with it. I served with fluffy mash potato, broccoli, mushrooms and apple jelly, proper winter food.

For dessert I mixed meringue with whipped cream, ice-cream, jam and berries, a very light ending to a rich dinner.

Recovering from the past week today the Christmas tree went up and the house is almost all decorated and ready, all I have to do now is to get through a couple of truly manic weeks and I will be ready as well!


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