smorgasbordThe 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!


Per-Erik Berglund/






Christmas Pudding


Day 16 brings Christmas Pudding (centre to the left of the fireplace) and the interesting piece of information that during the Australian gold rush the pudding often contained a gold nugget instead of a coin.  Mine, alas, only contains a candied orange but much safer for the teeth!


St Lucy’s day

advent-day-13The 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.



Satsumas and Pineapples

advent-day12Day 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.



Gingerbread House

advent-day-11It’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.             gingerbread houseMarie


advent-day-10Day 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,



(serves 8)

300ml whole milk

3 eggs

4-5 tbsp caster sugar

1tbsp vanilla extract

250ml brandy

150ml single cream

  1. Heat milk.
  2. Whisk egg yolks and sugar together.
  3. Add vanilla and brandy.
  4. Add cream slowly.
  5. Pour in hot milk.
  6. Fold whisked egg whites into mixture.

It was light and fluffy, which surprised me because I was expecting something custardy.

Marie reduced


Mince Pies

advent-day-9The 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.


Mince Pies

(makes large pies)


175g plain flour

100g butter

6 tbsp caster sugar

3 tbsp gound almonds

1 egg yolk

1tbsp water

  1. Rub flour and butter together until it looks like breadcrumbs.
  2. Add sugar and almonds
  3. Bind with egg yolk beaten with the water.
  4. Roll out and cut with pastry cutters.
  5. Line individual tart tray.
  6. Fill with mincemeat –(I used Tesco finest mixed with home-made marmalade for an orangey flavour.)
  7. Dampen edges and fix top, making a small slit in each.
  8. Sprinkle with sugar.
  9. Bake at 200oC for about 20 minutes.


Yule Log

advent-day-8The 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.