Saturday, December 24, 2011

God Jul & the Solstice Julbord

God Jul, my merry readers! I felt that this Swedish saying was rather appropriate for this post, because Sweden has truly inspired my household this holiday season. On the twenty-first, family and friends sat around the dining room table for a three-course feast similar to the one I had last year with Sofia’s family. It was my first Christmas away from home, though her family kept homesickness at bay. We played games and sang songs in between bites. We walked on the frozen lake and watched Donald Duck in various cartoons. The boyfriend and I were given presents of tomte sculptures and Swedish Jul music. 

This family showed us the true Swedish Christmas spirit, and I was determined to do the same in the United States.

After our Ikea outing a few weeks back, Mama Dazz and I came home with edible goodies, including pickled herring, fish paste, seaweed “caviar”, non-alcoholic glögg, cookies, and lingonberry nectar. From there we came up with a menu for our very own Julbord.

Now, for those who do not know about Scandinavian culture, the Julbord is a buffet-style meal with various courses served at the table. The Julbord is a form of the Smörgåsbord, Swedish for open-faced sandwich (smörgås) and table (bord). There are hot and cold dishes, and the meal usually starts with bread, butter, cheese (and lots of it), and pickled seafood. The second course is then served, with deli meats, cold veggies, and crisp breads with more cheese. The third course would be the warm dishes, with meatballs, sausages, carbohydrate-laden casseroles and cooked veggies. Depending on the family, there may or may not be dessert, but an after dinner fika is expected.

We had an amazing menu, and the people around the table were stuffed to the gills. So what did we have, you may ask? Well, I’ll tell you.

Spiced wine*
Moscow Mule* (a mixed drink made with potato vodka, ginger beer, and lime)
Hot tea

First course
Pumpernickel bread
Cracker assortment
Cheese: Havarti with Dill, Holland sharp cheddar
Garlic-stuffed Olives
Deli meat: Sliced pancetta, capiola
Pickled herring
Applegate beef hotdogs with Dijon mustard
Deviled eggs with real caviar
Yuletide sugarplums

Second course
Dairy free creamed spinach
Marinated ruby red salad
Sautéed Brussel sprout mash
Jansson’s temptation (eller Janssons frestelse), without the bread on top
Swedish meatballs (recipe in post)
Third Course
Fresh berries, biscotti, and whipped cream

It was an amazing meal, with amazing people to share it with. I hope I did you proud, Sweden.

God Jul to all, and have a safe holiday (whichever one(s) you may celebrate).
Swedish Meatballs (adapted from The Joy of Cooking cookbook)

64 g (> 2.25 oz.) CGF rolled oats
100 g Whole milk
12 oz. (340 g) Ground beef
12 oz. (340 g) Ground pork
2 Eggs, beaten
1 tbsp. (14 g) Butter, melted
1/4 c. (30 g) Minced dried onion
3 tbsp. Dried parsley
1 scant tsp. Sea salt
1/4 tsp. Paprika, Spanish smoked
1/2 tsp. Grated lemon rind
1 tsp. Lemon juice
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
1/8 tsp. Allspice
2 c. (16 oz./ 454 g) Chicken stock, for pan gravy

Coarsely grind the rolled oats through the food processor, and in a small mixing bowl, soak in the milk throughout the other prep processes on the counter, about thirty to fort-five minutes.
In a larger mixing bowl, mix together the ground meats with the eggs.
While both bowls are setting, sauté the minced onions in the olive oil until golden and allow cooling.
Add the onion in with the meat, as well as the remaining spices and the rolled oats, and mix (either by hand or a wooden spoon) until the ingredients are fully integrated.
In a large pot, put the chicken stock on medium heat.
Shape into balls (I was rather anal about this: the mixture equals 992 g, so to make 18 I measured each to be around 55 g), about 2 inches.
Drop into the bowling stock and cook until done, about fifteen minutes, and then proceed to make pan gravy.

Makes 18 meatballs. Serves 6 – 9 people.
Pan Gravy

2 c. (16 oz/ 454 g) boiling cooking liquid (in this case, the chicken stock)
2 tbsp. (20 g) Garbanzo bean flour
1/2 c. (90 g) Heavy whipping cream
1/4 tsp. Grated lemon rind
1/4 tsp. Dill

In a small bowl, mix the garbanzo bean flour in with a ladle of the hot liquid and stir until a thick slurry is formed.
Pour the slurry into the cooking liquid (with the meatballs still in the pot), and lower the heat to a steady simmer for five minutes.
Add in the lemon rind and nutmeg.
Turn the heat to the lowest setting, and slowly add the cream to cook for another minute or so.
Serve immediately.
*Alcoholic drinks: I want to remind my readers to please please please drink responsibly. Everyone at the Julbord was over the age of 21 (the legal drinking age of the United States), and waited a good number of hours before driving. I encourage the use of designated drivers, staying hydrated with water, and eating a ton of food when alcohol is present. I want you to have fun, and I want you to be safe.

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