A Swedish Christmas with English friends
Christmas is a holiday that brings joy but it can also bring stress. I decided many years ago that Christmas should be relaxing and fun. This year so much has happened. I was thinking about friends, new friends, we have meet so many, old friends, so dear to me. Our move this year to the coast was amazing. A lot of things fell in to place and we made some amazing new friends. I decided that it would be lovely to invite them for Christmas Eve and share a Swedish Christmas dinner with them. I am happy to say they all accepted and it was time to start planning. I wanted to avoid stress and launched a plan of action. I ended up with plenty of lists, ingredients lists a list of dishes, grocery lists, to do lists and so on. I separated the English and the Swedish Christmases to make it easy and started planning.
A traditional Swedish Christmas is a large and very foodie affair. I offered a scaled down version, no one eats everything offered at a traditional Swedish Christmas dinner so I picked my favourites. The ham is the centre piece and this is one thing I somehow never get quite right. My friend Camilla usually cook it beautifully but she didn’t come this year so I bought a ready made one and that took a lot of pressure off.
I know it was sort of cheating but it saved time and worrying and it tasted ok, not as good as Camilla’s but it was still good. Glazed with orange and ginger it added some extra spice.
No matter how many things you can buy ready made, there is no cheating when it comes to the meatballs. For those who haven’t had home made meatballs, they taste nothing like IKEA’s. I would usually mix beef and pork mince but at Christmas we use only beef and here are my Swedish Christmas meatballs.
Swedish Christmas meatballs
preparation time 40 minutes
cooking time 5-8 minutes/batch
serves 10 as part of a buffet or 5-6 as a main course
- 750 gr or 26.4 oz mince beef
- 1/2 dl or 1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
- 1 dl or 1/2 cup semi skimmed milk
- 2 medium or 1 large egg
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1 tbsp hot chilli sauce
- 1 tbsp smooth mustard
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 heaped tsp paprika powder
- 1 heaped tsp barbecue spice
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- vegetable oil and butter for frying
Place the dried breadcrumbs and the milk in a bowl and leave it to swell slightly. Add the mince beef and the eggs. Mix through. Grate the onion.
Add the onion, crush the garlic and the hot sauce.
Mix and then add the spices. Roll meatballs, if you rinse the chopping board in cold water and rinse your hands before starting to roll the meatballs they won’t stick.
Pan fry in batches in oil and butter until cooked through. If you are unsure about the spicing pan fry a little piece of the mincemeat and taste. Adjust the spicing if needed.
There were a few things I needed to make it a truly Swedish Christmas dinner and I headed to the Scandinavian Kitchen to top up on the last bits. They have a selection of Nordic ready made foods, ingredients and a cafe, perfect for a hit of home away from home.
I got two kinds of pickle herring. Pickled in a mustard sauce and with onion. I served them with hard boiled eggs.
I wasn’t sure anyone would eat the herring but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised and they went down a treat!
A must have dish at Christmas is Janson’s temptation. I would ever only eat this at Christmas as it is so rich and indulgent. Julienne potatoes, butter a dish and layer potatoes and anchovy, a small jar of 120 gr or 4.2 oz anchovy fillets until the dish is full. Add cream until about 2/3 of the dish is full. Sprinkle over dried breadcrumbs and bake in 175C or 350F for about an hour and a half, until golden brown and the potatoes are cooked through.
I bought Swedish sausages in the Scandinavian Kitchen, they are a must! No matter what food you put on a Swedish Christmas dinner they are always popular.
I got some ginger bread snaps. I wasn’t sure where to get them but managed to stumble over them in a shop not far from home. Christmas was saved! I made a stilton crème to go with them, blue cheese and ginger snaps is a great combination.
I hard boiled eggs and did a prawn stuffing.
Prawn stuffed eggs
preparation time 15 minutes
cooking time 13 mninutes
serves 1 egg/person
Ingredients for 7 eggs
- 7 hard boiled eggs
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- 225 gr or 8 oz peeled prawns
- 4 sprigs of dill + 1 for decoration
- salt and pepper to taste
Cut the eggs in half and place the yolks in a bowl. Mash them with the mayonnaise and taste with salt and pepper. Chop four sprigs of dill.Cut seven prawns in half and chop up the rest. Mix the chopped prawns with the mashed yolks and dill. Decorate with the prawn and dill.
I did a beetroot salad. I had bought a jar of Swedish pickle beetroot, it seems to give the beetroot salad that right acidity, I think it is the pickling that is slightly different. Cube beetroots, a small crunchy apple and mix with mayonnaise and taste with salt.
Smoked salmon rolls
preparation time 10 minutes
cooking time 0 minutes
serves 15 as part of a buffet or 6 as a starter
- 225 gr or 8 oz chunky smoked salmon
- 2 tbsp full fat creme fraiche
- 2 spring onions/scallions
- the zest of 1 lime
- 1 dried hot chilli
- 2 slices of tunnbröd, a thin bread from the north of Sweden
Cut the salmon in to small chunks and place in a bowl. Grate some lime zest over.
Slice the spring onion thinly, crush the chilli and add to the bowl with the salmon. Taste with pepper and spread on to the tunnbröd.
Roll up and slice before serving.
I arranged sliced smoked salmon on a plate.
That was pretty much it. I even had time to wipe the kitchen surface, put a dress on and have a glass of wine to get in to the Christmas spirit before everyone arrived, those lists really worked. It was set up as a buffet for my friends to just tuck in to what they liked the most.
As always I was worried about not having enough food but there was plenty. My ham was only 1.2 kg or 2.6 pounds, a Swedish Christmas ham is usually larger but it was enough. Luckily we had also gotten enough wine! I looked around the table and felt so happy to be there right then and felt lucky to have so many friends around the table, it was just like Christmas should be. I hope you had a great Christmas!