We’re just a few days away from Christmas, and while there’s a lot I love about this time of year – the people, the cold weather, snow (although, not this year…), extra time at home with the kids – food often takes center stage. We spend much of December baking and cooking things that are only made during this time of year, both for our household and for others. For at least ten years now, my beloved and I bake sweets and candies as Christmas gifts to our family and close friends. It’s a tradition both us and our families look forward to.
We also make plenty of things typically for our household (although we always over-bake, and tend to give out lots of these sweets to others). Over the last couple of years, I’ve added three Scandinavian baked goods to our usual December fare: gingerbread (pepperkaker), St. Lucia saffron buns (lussekatter), and sirupsnipper. And then there’s the Christmas meal itself.
For Christmas Eve and Christmas Day meals.
- Oyster stew: My family’s Christmas Eve tradition. As kids, we always attended the Christmas Eve church service, then went to grandma and grandpa’s for oyster stew, before returning home to open a couple of gifts.
- Broccoli cheese soup: For the vegetarians in the household, I typically make this crowd favorite.
- Roasted duck: This is a new one for me this year. In previous years I’ve usually cooked ham or pork loin for Christmas Day, but I’m looking forward to trying this out.
- Gløgg: A Scandinavian-style glüehwein. I’ve made this already this year, but we’re making more. And I’m probably going to use the gløgg to baste the roasted duck.
- Smoked salmon: Can’t have a julebord without salmon or cod being served. Last year, I cooked cod and sandefjordsmør. This year, we’ve got smoked salmon.
- A smattering of other roasted vegetables (broccoli, in particular), surkål, and cheeses.
- Pepperkaker: Is there anyting more Christmas-y than gingerbread? We usually bake this in late November right before the start of Advent.
- Lussekatter: Another baked item of Scandinavian origin are the St. Lucia saffron buns, usually made for St. Lucia’s Day on December 13.
- Sirupsnipper: New this year to me, which I’m probably making tomorrow. These Norwegian Christmas cookies are reminiscent of gingerbread. Diamoned-shaped with a blanched almond in the middle.
- Cinnamon rolls: My family brough the oyster stew tradition to our household; my wife’s family brough the cinnamon roll tradition. I’ll leave it to the reader to decide who got the better deal. We make these on Christmas morning using a recipe handed down from the grandparents.
- Lefse: If you have Norwegian family or heritage, you’ve most certainly had these potato flatbrads. Slather with butter topped with cinnamon and sugar, or roll up some smoked salmon, dill, cucumber, and sour cream.