At Christmas time we get really, really busy. Our Bronte especially, as she often ends up in the café, writing down festive recipes for homesick people on pieces of till roll. It is that time of year when people want to know just how Mamma used to make the rice pudding and how Granddad used to cook the Christmas ham.
So, Bronte decided that her 6th book should be a book about Christmas. It also happens to be her favourite time of the year. A book takes quite some time to write, which sneakily meant that Bronte’s Christmas last year started in November and ended in mid February. By this time, her kids were going bananas due to all the festive music and tinsel still present in her little kitchen in Queens Park: “I needed the inspiration” she reasoned. Really, she just loves Christmas and relished being able to drag it out.
What’s in the book? It is split into different sections:
It is always hard to make decisions on what to include, so Bronte decided to take the lead of all the wonderful people who follow us on social media and asked what recipes they most often have to go look for – as well as how often she gets asked for specific recipes in the café.
Here’s a sneak peak of the introduction (click on the image to get a readable version):
Danish Baking Season at ScandiKitchen: Danish Christmas Pancakes (æbleskiver)
Danes love eating Æbleskiver (or ebelskiver, as some people who are not Danish call them) on Sundays in advent – this recipe is from our cookbook ‘Fika & Hygge’.
To make these, you need a special pan called an æbleskive pan – you can find these on Amazon and speciality shops. You can also use a Japanese takoyaki pan.
If you use a frying pan, they will look like mini pancakes instead but will still be delicious.
Danish Christmas Pancakes (æbleskiver)
3 eggs, separated
300 ml buttermilk
100 ml double cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon caster sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
250 g plain flour
grated zest of 1 medium lemon (or to taste)
50g butter, melted for frying
icing sugar, for dusting
raspberry jam, for dipping (optional)
Mix together the egg yolks, buttermilk, double cream and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients including the cardamom.
In another clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff using a handheld electric whisk on high speed.
Add the egg and cream mixture to the dry ingredients, then carefully fold in the beaten egg whites and lemon zest. Leave to rest for 30 minutes in the refrigerator before using.
Place the pan over high heat to warm through and add a little melted butter to the pan to stop the pancakes from sticking. If you are using an æbleskive pan, carefully add enough batter to each hole so that it reaches about 0.25 cm from the top. If you are using a normal frying pan, add spoonfuls of batter as you would if making normal small pancakes. Leave to cook for a few minutes until the edges become firm then, using a fork or knitting needle (knitting needle is easier!), gently turn the pancakes over to cook on the other side. If you have filled the holes too much, this can be tricky – you’ll get the hang of it after a few.
Once browned on both sides (3–4 minutes per batch), keep the cooked æbleskiver warm in the oven until you have finished frying.
Serve dusted with icing sugar and a little pot of raspberry jam for dipping.
13th December is the Lucia Celebrations all over the Nordic countries. It’s a big thing. It’s also known as the Festival of Lights – processions, candles, singing – the lot.
If you are Scandinavian and feel a bit homesick, click HERE before you start reading and keep it playing in the background. On repeat.
This is what December looks like in many parts of the Nordics
Because of this, we have an excuse to light hundreds of candles.
St Lucia means you get to dress up in white robes (grandma’s nightgown can work). Add a red sash around your waist – it’s a symbol of death, but lets not mention that – it gets all dark and macabre then.
St Lucia originally comes from Sicily.
She died in the year 304. Lucia of Syracuse, also known as Saint Lucy, or Saint Lucia, was a young Christian martyr who died during the Diocletianic Persecution.
You get to fight to become the Lucia Bride (usually a girl, but now also sometimes a boy because, why not?)
It’s every little girls dream to be a Lucia bride
Swedes eat Lucia buns (Saffron flavoured buns with raisins in them). Swedes love Saffron so much that in December they try to sneak Saffron into as many treats as possible. From the traditional buns to any other cake that can possibly have half a gram of saffron added (even semlor buns)
Danes eat æbleskiver – literally: Apple slices. They little pancake balls, but they don’t contain apples. 100 million + are eaten in Denmark every year. Eat with jam and icing sugar.
It’s also a very pagan celebration: it was the night when animals became possessed and could talk. Okay, not quite like these, but they are funny…
The processions start early mornings on 13th December and carry on throughout the whole day and evening. This means we get to drink THIS at 7 am. It has alcohol in it. The day starts here.
Which makes us look like this
And Swedes drink a gallon of this, too.
And eat a mountain of ginger biscuits. Buy them ready made, or buy the dough. Nobody will judge you. Or make your own, whatever, you show off…
If you live in Scandinavia, you will attend at least one Lucia every year. If in Sweden, around 5 (and dodge a few).
Processions take place everywhere – from offices to old people’s homes, schools and more. If there is a hallway with a light switch, Lucia will happen
In Denmark, everybody is in white robes, but in Sweden, they also have star boys, gingerbread men and other fancy inventions. Some look happier than others.
Everybody will have candles in their hands but the Lucia bride will have a crown of candles. Real ones. On average, Lucia brides spend 6 hours picking wax out of their hair afterwards. It’s the price you pay for being the bride.
The best known song is Sankta Lucia. Most people know only the first verse. Here is a phonetic Swedish version.
SUNK TAR LOU, SEE YA
Nut and gore tune-off yet
Ruined gourd ox-stew, vah
Cring you’d some sulfer yet
School gore, now roux vah
Doughy wort murk a whose
Steeger met end-a-juice
Sunk tar Lou, see ya
Sunk taaaar Lou, see ya!
You will cry. All of a sudden, Christmas has arrived…
If abroad, scramble for the last no view seats at the churches/embassies/clubs… Here is where to see it in the UK. Sorry, most places have sold out – but there are sometimes cancellations to be found:
How to better understand Scandinavians this Christmas
Most Scandinavians really, really like Christmas. Even if they say they don’t, they probably hum jingle bells in secret and wraps presents when nobody’s looking. We’re really good at Christmas and we find joy in even the darkest days of the year.
Call it what you want – we have many names for it: Hygge, Koselig, Mysigt. That state of mind where you relax with people you care about and time doesn’t exist. Christmas is high season for hygge. No, you can’t buy it. You have to create it and BE in it.
We enjoy this kind of snow.
Fluffy, beautiful, delicious, cotton wool snow.
We’re not cold! It’s warm inside and cold outside. We have heating, log fires, stillongs and kärlek.
Little chocolates every day? Pah! Do it like a Dane and give a present for each day in December. Now THAT’S an advent calendar. For both kids and adults. Yes, it’s a thing: One present every single day.
Sundays in Advent
The last four Sundays before Christmas, Scandinavians meet up for glögg (mulled wine) parties, eat ginger biscuits and get red ears and cheeks from the mulled wine. It’s a real thing and it’s important. Christmas begins the first Sunday in advent. One candle is lit every Sunday.
Candles in the windows. ALL the windows.
Let’s face it: It’s dark. Very dark. Can’t see a darn thing anywhere. Most people have big stars or 7-candle bridges in the windows.
We have Christmas Beers and they are delicious.
The Danish Tuborg Julebryg is only available for 10 weeks out of the year and it is the 4th best selling beer in Denmark. Also, you get to wear blue hats and stuff. Usually served at all the…
Going home drunk in the snow after the office do is awful. Watching someone else trying to get home and failing? Great.
Feast of St Lucia
13th December, every year – this happens all over the Nordic countries. In the dark, hundreds of candles and song, so sing in the light. Drink more mulled wine.
Nobody has fake trees in Scandinavia. Just don’t go there. It’s a quick sure fire way to pure Scandi disbelief. We love our trees, our real trees.
In Denmark, they even dance around the tree and sing songs. Oh, and yes, they light real candles on the trees.
Does it require batteries, light up and sing a merry tune? We don’t want it. Does it sparkle in seven different colours? No thanks. Give us simple decorations. No tinsel. Add Christmas elves.
We get to celebrate the big day a day early
Our Christmas happens on Christmas eve 24th December (NOT on the 25th) – dinner, drink, tree, sing-song, presents.
Under no circumstances do we want to go to the pub on the 24th, or to a party, or to anywhere not involving people we really, really like. No. We won’t go.
Donald Duck (Kalle Anka)
At 3 pm, every year, especially in Sweden: Watch the Donald Duck Christmas Show from 1972. Cry when Jiminy Cricket sings ‘When you wish upon a star’ and feel blessed.
Tyrkey? No thanks.
Fed up with Turkey? Join us – in Scandinavia, Christmas dinners range from ham to roast pork, roast duck, sugar fried potatoes, smoked racks of lamb and, eh, cod steeped in lye (ehhh, yes, some do).
[who the hell invited the pineapple?!]
For Swedes, it’s Christmas Eve… For Danes and the rest, its all the other days: Bring out the herring, the aquavit, the left overs, the everything-you-can-think-of-table. Add beer. Aquavit.
Red noses, red cheeks, sneaky kisses under the mistletoe.
It’s also our thing. No, not mulled wine. We don’t add drabs of left over stuff to our glögg, nor do we add half a litre of orange juice. No. We carefully blend spices, sugar and red wine… heat it up and add secret yuletide cheer to every pot. Why is Glögg so much better than mulled wine? Cardamom, dried Seville orange peel, cinnamon, cloves and ginger are the scents of a truly Scandinavian Christmas. It makes us feel all warm and happy inside.
Things flavoured with saffron
Swedes and Norwegians eat Saffron buns. Actually, the Swedes will to flavour almost anything with saffron (drinks, biscuits, Semlor, cakes… ). The Danes eat little pancake balls called Æbleskiver. Over 100 million of those are eaten every year in Denmark (they really, really like them). Æbleskiver means apple slicers, although, oddly, rarely contain any apple.
Like a weirdly flat coke mixed with root beer. It’s available all through Christmas and outsells CocoCola by a mile. Do not attempt to separate a Swede from his Julmust drink
Like a raspberry fizzy soft drink. It’s available all through Christmas and outsells CocoCola by a mile. Do not attempt to separate a Norwegian from his Julebrus drink.
Also, don’t give Julmust to a Norwegian and don’t give Julebrus to a Swede. And the Danes only want the beer.
We can’t agree on where he lives. The Danes are sure he lives on Greenland, the rest knows it is in the North Pole. Or in Finland. Or he doesn’t exist at all because we believe in the Christmas gnomes, not Santa (and then he is called Tomten or Nissen). It gets confusing. Anyway, he wears a red hat. He often visits the house in the afternoon and he looks like Uncle Björn.
90th Birthday – every year
We watch this clip every single New Year. Every single year – on the telly, over and over. Since the beginning of time, we have done this and we will continue. Same procedure as last year, James, same procedure as last year.
When you are done, send us a picture and we will put the best ones up on Instagram and Facebook and the blog during December.
We have four categories:
Adult – Beautiful: This is the main award. The most beautiful house you can make from a very basic kit of gingerbread house.
Adult – Super Creative. This is the crazy house – like the house eaten by dragons, murder scenes, brothels, discos – whatever you can do to pimp up your house to silly standards with great use of imagination.
Child – up to 7 years old. It’s okay that your Mum and Dad help out, but here we do want to see real kids efforts. We know what seven year olds can do with a ginger bread kit – we want to see kids being allowed to unleash creativity. It’s fine to add Lego men and other toys to the mix or make a gingerbread house for your favourite dolls.
Young person 8-16 – We want to see your imagination run wild here. Make the house your own.
THIS YEAR’S PRIZES:
First prize this year in category ‘beautiful’ is £50 online OR in-store voucher for ScandiKitchen, a signed copy of our new baking book ‘Fika & Hygge’ and one of our fancy new mugs.
Adult – Creative – A hamper full of goodies and treats plus a signed baking book.
Children under 7: Sweeties. And more Sweeties. So many sweeties your Mum will be quite annoyed with us all the way through till January.
Young person 8-16 prize: Sweets. And more Sweets. So many sweeties your Mum will be quite annoyed with us and also a little jealous that it is all for you.
All entries MUST be made from a basic Gingerbread House kit. We stock the one from Anna’s, which is the preferred one, but if you use the IKEA version that is also fine (they are similar in shape and size). Basically, the basic shape of the house must be the same so we can see just how creative you can be with a pre-fab kit. Any entries not made from the similar in size and shape to the Ikea and Anna’s kit will not be accepted, sorry.
When you submit photos, you need to state what category you are entering into.
Only one entry per person
If more than one person submits the same entry, the prize will be shared.
No alternative prize, no cash prizes, no exchanges.
A few years ago, a mini trend kicked off in Norway – slow TV.
The concept of slow TV is simple and can be summed up as enjoying a journey in real time. No cutting, fast forwarding, music or commentary – just beautiful scenery and the sounds of the scene. The sleigh ride follows an ancient Sami postal route with no sounds except the crunching of snow and twinkling of reindeer bells.
We’ve teamed up with our friends at Nordic Noir again and have 4 copies to hand out – 1 winner will receive the DVD and a selection of sweet treats, 3 others the DVDs. Yay!
All Aboard! The Sleigh Ride’ was released on DVD Monday 21st November by Nordic Noir & Beyond.
To win – just answer this simple question;
What do the moomins do at Christmas?
Celebrate it with a big feast for all of moomin valley
Go on holiday to the south
Sleep – they’re hibernating, like bears.
Send your response to email@example.com before Wednesday the 23rd November.
Winner will be drawn from all correct entries.
The usual rules apply. UK residents only. No cheating. One main winner and three DVD winners. No alternative prize and no cash alternative.
For a truly Danish Christmas, you have to serve Roast Pork – also known as Flæskesteg.
At ScandiKitchen, we use a pork loin cut, scored across at 1 cm sections. Ask your butcher to do this as it is quite hard ot get right at home and the cut of the pork is really important to get the right type of crackling.
This is the classic Christmas meal in Denmark. This recipe serves four people, at least.
2kg loin of pork with the skin on, and scored all the way down to just before the flesh in lines 1cm apart (ask the butcher to do this if necessary)
1 or 2 bay leaves
400-500ml boiling water
few sprigs of thyme
Preheat your oven to 250°C.
Place the pork joint skin side down (yes, ‘upside-down’) into a roasting tray. Add just enough boiling water to the tray so that the skin is submerged.
Put the pork in the oven for 20 minutes.
Use a clean tea towel to hold the pork in the roasting tray so you don’t burn yourself while you carefully pour away the water.
Turn the oven down to 160°C, then flip the pork over so it’s the right way up (skin up), and coat the skin with a generous amount of salt and pepper, making sure you get into the crevices created by the scoring. Be careful of your hands at this point, the pork will be hot! Stick the bay leaves into the crevices as well, then add the carrot, onion and thyme to the roasting tin, and pour 400-500ml fresh, cold water in.
Put the pork back in the oven for about an hour or until it is done. Check about halfway through to see if you need to top up the water if it’s starting to evaporate too much.
Using a meat thermometer, check the temperature of the pork after the hour. It should be somewhere between 68-70°C. Pour out the fatty residue into a bowl to use as stock for the gravy.
Increase the oven temperature back up to 250°C and put the roast pork back in to make the crackling. This can take a good 15 minutes, so use the grill if you want to kickstart the process (but keep a close eye on it, or else you could end up with a burnt crackling).
Remove the roast from the oven and check the temperature again. It should be between 70-75°C. This should mean it isn’t overcooked – pork can be terribly boring if you have to gnaw your way through it.
A traditional accompaniment to Danish roast pork. It’s a bit sweet so we only eat these once a year.
1kg peeled and cooked small new potatoes (don’t be afraid to use tinned potatoes for this) – must be COLD.
Add the sugar to a cold frying pan and spread it evenly across the bottom. Melt it on a high heat while you stir for about 2 minutes, then turn the heat down to medium while you add the butter. Turn up the heat to high again.
Put the potatoes in a colander or sieve and run them under a cold tap, then add to the pan. As you can imagine, it’s going to splutter and spit a bit, so be careful.
Get the potatoes covered in caramel and brown them for between 4-6 minutes, turning them carefully. If it looks like they’re getting a bit too dry, add a drop of water (again, take care doing this).
Serve the caramelised potatoes along with normal boiled potatoes – as these are very sweet, they’re more of an extra side dish for the pork rather than a replacement for potatoes altogether.
NOTE: Always use potatoes that are completely cold. If you’re preparing them yourself, peel and cook them the day before. Each potato should be about 3-4cm in size – think salad potatoes. Tinned really is a good option for this dish.
Pinnekjøtt is one of many Christmas dinners eaten in Norway. Traditionally eaten on the west coast of the country, but it is gaining popularity elsewhere too. In many places in the west of Norway, you’ll know it is Christmas when the church bells chime in the afternoon of the 24th and the air has a faint smell of pinnekjøtt cooking. As the sun sets and people move inside and out of the cold, julefreden senker seg. Christmas peace descends across the country.
Pinnekjøtt is ribs from lamb that have been salted, and sometimes also smoked, to preserve it. For preparation, the meat needs to be soaked in water to remove most of the salt. The result is an intensely delicious and savoury piece of lamb – quite unlike anything else, and very very good (why yes, the writer of this recipe is Norwegian – but strictly objective, of course).
Side dishes vary between families, but a type of swede mash is always present. The natural sweetness of swedes works really well with the meat – finish off your plate with a dollop of lingonberry jam and have a shot of aquavit to drink. Some people also serve plain boilt potatoes and green beans, although this is not part of the traditional meal.
Pinnekjøtt is a very easy dish to prepare – just make sure you start it in time.
Serves 5 – allowing approx 400g per person – remember most of the weight is bone.
For the meat:
2 kg Pinnekjøtt
Big bowls for soaking the meat in
The day before eating: Place the meat in casseroles or big bowls (or a pyrex dish – anything will do) and cover with plenty of water. Leave in room temperature for approx. 30 hours.
Why do we do this? Pinnekjøtt is meat that has been salted and dried, soaking it ensures it regains its consistency – as well as making it palatable by removing most of the salt. How long this takes depends on the thickness of the meat, as well as the temperature of the water. Tepid water will speed up the process.
On the day of eating, 3 hours before you plan to eat: pour off the water and place the meat to one side.
In your biggest casserole(s), place a metal rack or birch branches in the bottom. Add water until it covers the rack or your branches. Place your meat on top and cover with a lid. Leave to gently steam cook at low heat for approximately 3 hours. Sausage can be added to the casserole for cooking for the last 15-20 minutes; chop into chunks of 2-3 inches to ensure they cook through. It is done when the meat falls easily off the bone.
The traditional side dish to Pinnekjøtt is Rotmos, a mash made from swedes, carrots and potatoes. The amounts of each vary, feel free to adjust to your liking. This is our Mormor Marit’s version.
Serves 5 generously – always very popular though so make a lot!
Swede Mash – Rotmos
1.5 kg Swede, peeled and chopped
3 medium carrots, washed and chopped (peel if you want to)
2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
50 ml double cream
50 ml single cream
4 tbsp salted butter
75 ml cooking stock from the pinnekjott
Pinch of ground nutmeg (optional)
Peel your vegetables and chop coarsely into even-sized pieces. Boil until tender in lightly salted water. Leave for 3 minutes to dry, then mash by hand. Add cream and butter and give it a good stir. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add a pinch (not too much – this has a very strong flavour) of ground nutmeg if liked – the slight sweetness goes really well with the salty meat. If you think the mash is too thick, loosen it with some of the pinnekjøtt cooking water.
Serve with pinnekjøtt, lingonberry jam, perhaps some freshly boilt potatoes and a good shot of aquavit.
This dish is a must on most Scandi Christmas Smorgasbord tables. Mostly in Sweden, where it is absolutely essential. No beetroot salad = no Christmas.
It’s super easy to make it – have a go at home, but please do try to use a Scandinavian pickled beetroot for the best result. It just works better.
Recipe: Rödbetsallad Apple and Beetroot Salad
Author: Bronte Aurell
1 jar of pickled beetroot 300g (drained weight approx. 280g)
50g Crème fraiche
Squeeze of lemon juice
1 tbs chopped chives (optional)
Drain the beetroot well and cut into bitesized pieces. Peel and cut apple into similar sized pieces.
Mix the beetroot and apple in a bowl, add mayonnaise and crème fraiche and stir. You are looking for a good creamy consistency and a medium pink colour (if the beetroot is not drained properly, you will get a runny consistency).
Season to taste (add sugar if using a tart variety of pickled beetroot). Add more mayo and crème fraiche, if a creamier salad is desired.
The colour of the salad will go darker once it sets. Leave to set in the fridge for a few hours or even overnight. If it goes too dark, just add a bit more crème fraiche or mayonnaise just before serving. If using chives, add chopped on top before serving.
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Glögg is an essential part of Christmas all over Scandinavia. This is recipe was created by my sister-in-law Annika in her Gothenburg kitchen. It’s so very easy to make glögg at home – give it a go. You can reduce or increase the sugar to your liking – and do play around with adding and taking some spices away to make your own signature mulled wine.
Serve Nordic ‘Glögg’ mulled wine warm in smaller glasses with raisins and almonds.
Make your own ‘Glögg’ mulled wine at home
Recipe Type: Drink
Author: Bronte Aurell
1 bottle red wine (quality doesn’t matter)
1-2 sticks cinnamon
5g dried root ginger
5g dried Seville orange peel (or other orange if you can’t get Seville)
7 green cardamom pods
15-16 whole cloves
To serve: flaked almonds and raisins
Splash of either vodka, aquavit, rum or cognac (optional)
Pour the wine into a pan, add the spices and heat to around 80C/176F, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for at least an hour.
Strain the mixture and return the mulled wine to the bottle – use a funnel to make life easier for yourself. The wine can be kept for around a week.
To serve, pour the wine into a saucepan and heat it.
Place a few flaked almonds and raisins in the bottom of your serving cups, and pour the glögg over the mixture.
If you want to give your glögg a kick, add a splash of either vodka, aquavit, rum or cognac just after you’ve reheated the wine.