Christmas is my favorite time of the year.
I love the smells of the (real) Christmas tree, the “Glögg” (mulled wine), the candles burning, all the food and all other smells that lingers in the house all through early December until the first week of January.
Some people say to me that Christmas is just here for one day. What a crime to only celebrate it for just one simple day. I start with first of advent and go strong until end of the Swedish Christmas season which is at the beginning of January when we throw out the tree.
I start making my snaps early. The same with “Glögg”. We tend to drink a whole bunch of it during the month of December. It is so nice to just crawl up on the couch with a cup of steaming hot “Glögg” after getting home from work.
We always have little Christmas dinner parties all through the season. It is my way of stretching it out as much as possible. I make sure that totally through it all, I have made all the traditional food that the Swedes would serve at the Christmas table. I try to not totally kill it with a giant spread on Christmas Eve which is the day we have a mayor dinner. After all, how much can one person eat in one sitting. It is so much better to spread it out. This way one can really enjoy all the different dishes.
I always change my Christmas tables around.
It is so much fun to decorate. I make sure that my guests gets feel right at home and that they love all the Christmas spirit at our house as well as the food that we serve.
The most prominent dish on our Christmas table would of course be the ham. I always bake it in the oven. You could boil it as well, but I think it becomes a little “pale” in the taste.
The Swedish Christmas ham is a ham that has been resting in a brine (salt solution) for some time. You can ask your butcher if you can get a ham in a brine.
When you prepare it, you first have to rinse the ham off in regular water.
Pad it dry with a paper towel. Place in an oven proof dish and cover with foil. Use a food thermometer and push the very tip into the middle and thickest part of the ham (through the foil).
Bake in a 350 F (175 C) degree oven. About 40 minutes per pound. Make sure to place the ham with the pork rind facing up. The ham is done when the inner temperature reaches 140F (70 C). Take it out just before it reaches 140F degrees since it will keep cooking. Let it rest and cool down.
Take off the pork rind. Cut off as much of the fat as you want. Mix one egg yolk, 2-3 tbsp. of your favorite mustard. You can add a little brown sugar or honey if you want to (about 1 tsp.) Brush it on to the very top of the ham. Sprinkle over about 1-2 tbsp of bread crumbs. You could also cut a diagonal pattern through the mustard mixture and place a clove in the meeting corners. It is not needed but it is pretty.
Bake in a 450 F (225C) degree oven for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Make sure it doesn’t burn though.
The first slice right out of the oven is the best you could ever imagine.
A lot of people actually buy a ham on sale after Christmas. They will cook it and have it as sandwich meat. I still do this. It is the best.
The Swedish meatballs also has a place on the Christmas table. It is served with lingon berries. We eat cocktail sausages and ribs as well.
There are lot’s of cabbage and kale dishes on the Scandinavian Christmas tables. One thing that I used to hate when I was a kid is Brussel sprouts but now I love them.
I start with steaming them half way through.
I finely cut up about 5 slices of bacon to 3 cups of Brussel sprouts.
Ultimately I use dry dried cranberries but I take what I have. This time I used some dried mango slices that I cut up finely.
You just fry off the bacon halfway. Add the berries/fruit and the Brussel sprouts. Fry until slightly browned.
Salt and pepper to taste. I add some hot sauce of course, but it is optional.
Christmas would be the ultimate time to bring out all the traditional Swedish old things & crafty stuff.
I always have “branch candles” in the house. I used to make them with my mother when I was a child. I love to make candles.
The lights in the house makes me happy…
I try to not over decorate but I can’t help myself sometimes.
My mother-in-law said when she saw the bows in the kitchen ceiling lamp that they where exactly like the bows her mom used to put in her hair before going to school. Well, a bow is a bow I guess.
This years tree…
For the different dinners that we would host through the holidays, I try to keep it somewhat simple. The theme and decorations would be the same but I try to change it up a little.
With all this said about Christmas dinners, It really doesn’t matter what you serve. The best and most important thing is being together with friends and family.
All my best to all of you.