Planning for Christmas

I get very exited this time of year. Halloween is over. Bonfire night is over. Next thing up is Christmas and I can start planning. The food, that is. Everything else is left to the last minute normally… So who’s coming over? Are we having an English or Swedish Christmas? What are we eating? What new techniques or foods can we try?

I’m in luck this year because we’re having both a Swedish Christmas on the 24th and an English Christmas on the 25th! So lots of food for me to plan. Hurray!

Swedish Christmas food is a smörgåsbord of hot and cold meat and fish dishes and I tend to pick out my favourites and try to do them really well.  We have to have a Jansson’s Temptation of course. Home cured salmon. Hot smoked salmon that we smoke ourselves. Pickled herring. This year I will do these myself for the first time. Little pork meatballs. Beetroot salad. Home smoked venison with a blueberry and juniper chutney. Granddad’s sticky pork ribs. A big honey and mustard roast ham.  Sometimes we do a thick oven omelette with prawns in a rich béchamel sauce. And that’s it! And schnapps of course. And a few sweet treats. And a whole lot of sloe gin. Last year’s harvest is waiting, patiently, in the bedroom wardrobe. We thought it would be safest there. If we hid it from ourselves it would be safe from being drunk… At least there’s some left and hopefully it will last us through Christmas.

The English Christmas dinner is just like any other Sunday roast… All right, I didn’t grow up here so I don’t have the same sentimental attachment to the turkey. Which is why the turkey never pays a visit to my kitchen. The cow is welcome however, as is the duck. The lamb is as well and the goose comes once in a while. For this year I’m thinking something different. Boar, whole suckling pig or whole lamb cooked over open fire. We’ll do the honey parsnips but with chilli. Brussel sprouts because Nick says so. Some lovely hasselback potatoes, plenty of green veg with a twist and a killer gravy. And home made rowanberry jelly. We’ll need some sort of light pudding after, a rose and raspberry sorbet or similar. And something fishy to start, probably a ceviché.

And then there’s New Year’s Eve! More fun food to plan! A Swedish New Year’s Eve is as far from a British one you can get. There are no fireworks here! No gourmet dinner parties where all focus is on dressing up, celebrating, eating and drinking well. No, here it’s get drunk on cheap wine and pick at some shop bought “canapés”. My first New Year’s Eve in England I was so disappointed over the food that I spend the entire evening getting drunk on the stairs playing cards with the other guests’ children. I learned that night that children don’t appreciate when adults cheat. I thought it was hilarious… Our first child was only one then, we hadn’t learned very many parenting rules yet. Anyway, New Year’s Eve food should top all the other Christmas food in one long three (or more) sit down dinner with friends. That’s my opinion. And I also still think that it’s acceptable to cheat whilst playing a boring game of cards, but apparently you can only do that with grown ups…

There’s lots more naughtiness to come leading up to Christmas!




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