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Swedish Christmas


ldubois2
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Hello,

Every year my family celebrates Christmas Eve with a smorgasbord that is rather Americanized. We are able to purchase some food in Andersonville (a changing neighborhood that was once populated by Swedish immigrants, became largely Puerto Rican and is now trendy) at a Swedish deli. There I get potato sausage, silta, prinz corv, some cheeses, frozen lingonberries, a variety of herring, sausage from Gotteborg (forgive the spelling) and a fresh ham. And yule limpa and hardtack.

We prepare meatballs (without gravy), cucumbers in vinegar, potato salad, rice pudding, the ham (of course), shrimp, and whatever else suits us.

I am interested in knowing what you would do in Sweden, would love a good, authentic, smorgasbord meatball recipe, and to discover if other people with Swedish ancestry celebrate in a similar fashion.

Thanks for any input.

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There is a good show currently on pbs that focuses on scandinavian cooking. They do have a sample xmas menu here.

They also have quite a few other recipes on their site.

John

I am interested in knowing what you would do in Sweden, would love a good, authentic, smorgasbord meatball recipe, and to discover if other people with Swedish ancestry celebrate in a similar fashion.

Thanks for any input.

John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

--

I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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It seems that you've managed to assemble most of the the stuff that goes onto our christmas smorgasbord (julbord). We usually have a variety of herrings, cold-smoked salmon, a terrin or paté, ham, sylta, a couple of different sausages including "prinskorv", meatballs (without gravy), braised cabbage, lutfisk, pork ribs.

Other items that may be present on a typical swedish chrismas smorgasbord are different lax presentations, smoked eel, yet more kinds of cabbage preparations and brussel sprouts.

The ham is as you say fresh, although it is brined. We usually roast it in the oven, but other swears by simmering it covered in water instead. The broth that you get from this is then traditionally used to dip your bread in.

The sausage you talk about is probably from Göteborg, although I'm not sure of what it is. Could you describe it? My family has always made a special sausage for christmas since many generations back but I've never found any similarly tasting sausage elsewhere.

The pork ribs are roasted in the oven and glazed with a mix of honey and powdered dry ginger. I will not make those this year though, instead I will make a terrine.

I'll post a recipe for meatballs later.

To all this we either drink english ales or a drink called "mumma".

Christofer Kanljung

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The pork ribs are roasted in the oven and glazed with a mix of honey and powdered dry ginger. I will not make those this year though, instead I will make a terrine.

I'll post a recipe for meatballs later.

To all this we either drink english ales or a drink called "mumma".

The sausage is similar to what we would call "summer sausage". It is dried or cured with whole pepper corns. It is wonderful.

What is mumma? We serve glogg on Christmas Eve.

What kind of terrine will you make?

By the way, we also put out a collection of Tomte and Dala horses. Straw goats, too.

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This thread reminded me of a little part of our family's thoroughly Austrian Christmas celebration that has a Swedish angle.

Many years ago, my Mom bought what was called a "Swedish Christmas Tree" from a large Scandinavian Shop in CT (The Tri Kroner). It is a two-dimensional 'tree' made out of light colored wooden dowels that sits on a table or window sill. The main 'trunk' rises vertically from a wooden base and there are graduated 'branches' made out of wooden dowels that stick out from the sides in one dimension. The tree is decorated with small Swedish Christmas ornaments like santas, apples, goats, stars, angels, etc that are made out of painted wood and straw. We keep the color scheme to primarily red, white and straw. The ends of the wooden dowels have red, shiny painted wooden balls screwed on the end. The store is no longer in existence but eveyone in my family has one of these trees with ornaments. It doesn't replace our 'regular' tree but it is a cherished Christmas decoration.

Does anyone know if this type of decoration is typical or widely available or is it just a charming albeit ersatz American/Scandinavian invention? Or maybe just from this one store!?

Thanks for the wonderful descriptions of your Christmas Eve smorgasbords. This type of dinner is similar to the cold Austrian dinner buffet we have on Christmas Eve--except that the coldcuts, cheeses, sausages, fish, breads, etc are those more typical of Austrian traditions. IT is also followed up with a huge platter of 10-12 different Austrian/German Christmas cookies!

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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The sausage is similar to what we would call "summer sausage".  It is dried or cured with whole pepper corns.  It is wonderful. 

What is mumma?  We serve glogg on Christmas Eve.

What kind of terrine will you make?

By the way, we also put out a collection of Tomte and Dala horses. Straw goats, too.

There are a kind of cured sausages that are usually served on a christmas smorgasbord, they are often smoked. it could be one of these.

The sausage that we makes for christmas is a fresh sausage and when I come to think of it, it probably is what you called a potato sausage. It contains ground pork, ground beef, potatoes, onions, pork fatback, ground white and black pepper and powdered dry ginger.

Mumma is a a drink consisting of porter, gin, some other type of beer, It is topped up with a fizzy softdrink akin to Sprite. Sometimes other things like madeira is thrown inot the mix too. Glögg (mulled wine) is of course part of the christmas tradition as well. The non-alcoholic drink of choice for christmas is Julmust, which is a juniper flavoured soft drink.

We usually buy some kind of paté for christmas. This year I'd like to have a go at making my own. I'll use Julia Child's recipe for a ham and veal terrine. I'm thinking of substituting either the veal or ham for strips of venison or roebuck and marinate the meat in gin instead of cognac.

This thread reminded me of a little part of our family's thoroughly Austrian Christmas celebration that has a Swedish angle. 

Many years ago, my Mom bought what was called a "Swedish Christmas Tree" from a large Scandinavian Shop in CT (The Tri Kroner).  It is a  two-dimensional 'tree' made out of light colored wooden dowels that sits on a table or window sill.  The main 'trunk' rises vertically from a wooden base and there are graduated 'branches' made out of wooden dowels that stick out from the sides in one dimension.  The tree is decorated with small Swedish Christmas ornaments like santas, apples, goats, stars, angels, etc that are made out of painted wood and straw.  We keep the color scheme to primarily red, white and straw.  The ends of the wooden dowels have red, shiny painted wooden balls screwed on the end.  The store is no longer in existence but eveyone in my family has one of these trees with ornaments.  It doesn't replace our 'regular' tree but it is a cherished Christmas decoration.

Does anyone know if this type of decoration is typical or widely available or is it just a charming albeit ersatz American/Scandinavian invention?  Or maybe just from this one store!?

I haven't seen exactly one of these, but that doesn't mean that it isn't swedish. It coud be a regional thing. The painted woodwork and the straw ornaments are certainly typical for swedish christmas decorations. The red wooden balls also sounds rather typical.

Christofer Kanljung

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There's probably a difference in the choice of dishes of the christmas smörgåsbord in every houshold in Sweden. People ussually makes their old time favorites, traditional recipes etcetra. For example in my family, we've never had any potato sausage at christmas.

We ussually have a bit different than Kanjung: brown spiced bread (vört), freshly homemade cheese, cured salmon, brown cabbage, red cabbage, red cabbage salad, cinnamon spiced meatballs (made with more than century old family recipe), big smoked leg of lamb, boiled pork sausage, pickled cucumbers

many different kinds of pickled herring, herring with mustard, herring with roe and sour cream, herring with onions, herring with loads of herbs etcetra. + loads of other ways of doing herring

homemade coarse sweet and strong "skånsk" mustard to go with the ham, rye bread, kale in a sauce of ham stock and cream, swedish brown beans, finnish root vegetables, "Janssons Tempation", rolled lamb side filled with herbs, kale soup with boiled meatballs,

then there's the dessert things.

chocolate dipped marzipan, toffee, nut toffee, saffron buns, almond pudding. rice a la malta. etcetra

There's to much to eat at christmas, I know I'm forgetting much dishes. :biggrin:

Edited by Hector (log)
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A very fine Swedish Meatball recipe.. after request:

1 very finely chopped onion.

2 mashed potatoes

3 tablespoon breadcrumbs

500 grams of good ground meat (cow, or calf, or a mixture of those with pork)

5 tbsp whipping cream

a bunch of fresh parsley

salt

white pepper

1 egg

3 tbsp butter.

2 tbsp oil.

Fry the onion a bit. Mix potatoes, breadcrumbs, meat, parsley, egg, fried onion, salt, pepper, cream and form round little meatballs. Put on a plate and stand cold for an hour (if you don't have time you don't have to). Then heat up oil and butter and fry them. Shake the pan instead of turning the meatballs, (it's a matter of technique.)

(my family recipe, omits potatoes, and adds cinnamon and some other spices which are a well guarded "secret ingridients")

Edited by Hector (log)
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Hector,

Thank you for the meatball recipe. It is similar to the one I use. We add allspice. I forgot to mention brown beans.

I'd love the mustard recipe if you can share. Also what is Almond pudding? Is rice a la malta similar to rice pudding?

We travel to Wisconsin on the 26th to prepare an additional smorgasbord for my father. He is the one who has perpetuated the tradition in our family. By the way, he built a home there that is modelled after Carl Larsen's home in Sundborn. He calls it New Sundborn.

Very beautiful. That part of Wisconsin is very scandinavian: mostly norwegians but alot of swedes too.

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Hector,

Thank you for the meatball recipe.  It is similar to the one I use.  We add allspice.  I forgot to mention brown beans. 

I'd love the mustard recipe if you can share.  Also what is Almond pudding? Is rice a la malta similar to rice pudding?

We travel to Wisconsin on the 26th to prepare an additional smorgasbord for my father.  He is the one who has perpetuated the tradition in our family.  By the way, he built a home there that is modelled after Carl Larsen's home in Sundborn.  He calls it New Sundborn.

Very beautiful.  That part of Wisconsin is very scandinavian: mostly norwegians but alot of swedes too.

Beautiful, really traditional that!

Mustard recipe coming up...

Almond pudding is a cold gelatinous kind of pudding that is made with gelatine, sugar, cream, toasted blanched almonds, eggs (I think) It's more like the italian panna cotta (or "lemon fromage"; another Swedish dessert); than ris a la malta or rice pudding. Almond pudding is not a common dessert in Sweden but it used to be more common. It's really good! A variant of Almond pudding is replacing the almond with lingonberry.

Edited by Hector (log)
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  • 5 years later...

Swedish Christmas update. We no longer have the ability to travel to the Swedish neighborhood in preparation of the Smorgasbord. Have changed the tradition and started preparing the foods we would purchase there. This will be the fourth year of making Gravlax...thanks to the topic posted here. Last year made Sylta...will make again and this year will make sausage. I have not been a fan of potato sausage over the years and was not excited about attempting. Found a recipe in a Swedish/American cookbook (1955 American Daughters of Sweden) that I am going to make today. It is called Julkorv and contains pork shoulder, veal, potato starch, pepper, ground cloves, ground ginger, powdered sage, ground all spice, sugar and salt....I have never attempted sausage before. Have the Kitchen Aid meat grinder/sausage stuffer attachment so am optimistic.

Coffee cake and cookies.

Also purchased a Lucia crown for my granddaughter with light bulbs...not the 13th of December but we incorporate that into our Christmas Eve tradition. If she goes along with it, she is four and rather choleric.

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My family includes a few dishes from my mother's Swedish heritage in our Christmas food line-up. The favorite is a Swedish coffee bread, a brioche-like dough flavored with cardamom. My mother's version is braided with apples. It's delicious, not too sweet and perfect with coffee on Christmas morning.


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  • 4 months later...

Christmas is a really big deal in Sweden, despite the fact that no one goes to church there.

As in the US, each Swedish family has its own traditions. My mother emigrated to US from Sweden in the late '50s and has done a rather authentic Swedish style "Julbord" each year. It's a multi-course smorgasbord affair. The table and Julbord are elaborately and festively set. Candles figure prominently and light-up the otherwise very short days.

Prior do dinner, we serve Glogg, a heavily-spiced port wine and vodka drink. Kids get no vodka in their unless they sneak it in--or drink Julmust (an old-style soda drink).

The first course is a herring and cold fish course and we have several different sorts of pickled herring, usually including the traditional glassblower's herring, matjes, and a few others. Many add Eel and/or Gravad Lax. This course is accompanied by Janssons' Temptation, a rich potato gratin with swedish anchovies (not the salty kind)--some wait to serve this particular dish until the third course. It's also accompanied by a few shots of ice-cold Aquavit, followed by Pilsner-style beer.

The next course is a cold meat course, and often includes:

-Swedish Christmas ham (rather different and less salty than typical US ham).

-Thin sliced roast beef

-Liver pate

-Prins sausages

-Assorted cheeses

-Assorted breads

-Boiled potatoes

Depending on the age and spiritedness of the crowd, more rounds of Aquavit and beer. Aquavit drinking technique is vitally important-this web site shows the correct technique:

www.amateurgourmet.com/2009/06/skoaling.html

The third course is a warm meat course, and often includes:

-Swedish meatballs (the Christmas version has a bit more aromatic spicing than the workaday ones)

-Potato sausage (the above looks like the real deal)

-Braised red cabbage (in vinegar, brown sugar, with a bit of allspice and whatnot)

-More Jansson's Temptation, boiled potatoes, assorted breads, etc.

-Swedish mustard

For desert, we'd have a large assortment of Swedish cookies, including Krumkake, Spritz (almond butter), Not Flarn (nut lace), and other confections such as Knack (caramel candies with almonds), and very strong coffee. Many other families instead serve rice desert porridge (Ris a la Malta)--and the chef hides an almond in one and whoever gets the almond is supposed to be blessed with good luck for the upcoming year.

The straw Christmas tree decorations are standard Swedish stock on Swedes' trees, along with small strings of flags, clear lights (or candles, with fire extinguisher nearby), "tomten" figures carved from wood, red paper hearts/stars, etc.

Ingebretsen's in Minneapolis among other mail order sources sell them and other tree/home items (http://ingebretsens.com). Ingebretsen's also is a Swedish butcher shop and beefy blond-haired butchers sell excellent and very authentic Swedish style hams, meatball mix, potato sausage, herring, anchovies, etc. Nothing quite like it anywhere else in the US--not even in Chicago or Seattle. Ikea often has many key ingredients and can be helpful, including various types of herrings, Vasterbotten cheese (pairs well with herring), ginger snaps, mustards, etc.

If you're ever in Stockholm during the Christmas season, check with major restaurants to see if they're offering a Julbord. The Grand Hotel and Ulriksdals Wärdshus are my favorites.

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