The 17th is a Swedish Smorgasbord (middle right). Although Smorgasbord translates as sandwich table it is actually a delicious buffet. Today I haven’t made a Smorgasbord but I here is some posh Smorgasbord that someone else prepared earlier!
The 15th is a selection of Christmas sweets from around the world (on the left beside the Christmas tree) but the blurb talks about Spanish Turron, something else I’d never heard of let alone tried. Thanks to the calendar I’ve put that right. Traditional Turron is a nougat made with honey and toasted almonds.
The 14th brings a strange one – Gannet Pye (under the Yule log in centre panel . Apparently on Captain Cook’s first expedition in 1769 they were off New Zealand’s North Island at Christmas. Unable to find any geese for their Christmas Goose Pye the used a gannet instead. I wonder what that would taste like?
The 13th of December was my Mum’s birthday and she often used to announce it was also St Lucy’s day and today the advent calendar has reminded me too. On St Lucy’s day in Sweden the eldest daughter traditionally serves the family a breakfast of coffee and Lussekatter, sweet saffron buns (to the right of the fireplace). My eldest daughter is busy studying at the moment so I had to make my own coffee this morning, using these Colombian beans.
Day 12 of the calendar has a bowl of satsumas and pineapple (bottom right) which they say have become traditional Christmas fayre. I agree with the satsumas, we always had one in the bottom of our stockings when we were growing up, not that we were ever very impressed by them! But I have to admit I didn’t know pineapples were considered Christmassy. The calendar tells me this is because they are symbols of hospitality. This is what I found in my fruit bowl.
It’s icy and foggy here tonight and I’m really enjoying the warm and cosy feeling of being at home and adding the 11th advent treat to the calendar – a gingerbread house from Finland (to the left of the fireplace). The first gingerbread house I ever had was when I lived in Germany but now they are easy to find in the UK. I was given this one as a gift this year and am looking forward to tasting it on Christmas Eve.
Day 10 brings Eggnog, (between the fireplace and the window on the right) popular in American and Canada, known as Lait de Poule in French. I’d never tried it so when I found an old recipe of my Mum’s I decided to give it a go, despite her instructions being a bit sketchy,
300ml whole milk
4-5 tbsp caster sugar
1tbsp vanilla extract
150ml single cream
It was light and fluffy, which surprised me because I was expecting something custardy.
The 9th day is Mince Pies (bottom left ). Traditionally they were filled meat. Samuel Pepys tells us his contained beef – can you tell we’re doing the Great Fire of London at school? – but their history goes back to the Crusades. This year I’ve tried using almond pastry.
(makes large pies)
175g plain flour
6 tbsp caster sugar
3 tbsp gound almonds
1 egg yolk
The 8th is a Bouche de Noel (centre right) otherwise known as the Yule log. Originally the Yule log was a piece of wood, often Ash, burnt to honour the world tree, Yggdrasil. Usually burned in combination with Yule buck in the fireplace in the winter, essential elements of the Nordic feast of Yule. The buck was a mountain goat braided from straw symbolising the goats that pulled Thor’s cart. Burning the buck and log provided healing ashes and was reputed to bring about outward and inward wealth.
Nowadays Bouche de Noel is a traditional French, sweet roulade. This year I plan to try a Delia recipe but as I want it for Christmas Day I haven’t made it yet. I’ll let you know how it goes.