My family is of Scottish descent and my husband’s family is Norwegian. Given the choice between Scottish cuisine and Scandinavian, the Scandies win hands down. Many years ago, I had a Danish friend who kindly offered (because she was homesick for her family) to teach me how to put on a Danish Christmas. The combination of sweet-sour, pickled this and that, the candlelight, cheers, and drinking and eating games incorporated into the feast were so full of family joy and camaraderie, that I’ve practiced the celebration ever since.
On Christmas Eve we begin with serving glögg (hot mulled wine). This warms the heart and loosens tongues. Patés, cheeses, pickled herring, are among the appetizers. The Christmas Eve Dinner menu is normally pork loin roast stuffed with prunes and apples, roasted or carmelized potatoes, or au gratin potatoes with anchovies. We have braised red cabbage, pickled beets, pickled cucumber salad, poached apples with prunes in sherry, rolls, and ris á l’amande. This dish is a rice and almond dessert. It’s full of chopped almonds, whipped cream, and one whole almond. We serve it with raspberry sauce. The person at the table who finds the one whole almond added to the pudding wins a prize. The traditional prize is a pink marzipan pig that is supposed to bring you luck throughout the year. The beverage of choice is good beer and an anise flavored liquor called aquavit. During the dinner, we raise our shot glasses of aquavit and say “Skol” (kind of like “cheers”). Everyone joins in. A young woman at one of our gatherings disappeared under the table as she got up to “powder her nose”. Since then, I limit my “Skols” as it would be undignified for a woman of my age to exit the table in that manner.
Recipe for Pickled Beets
We had loads of beets in our vegetable boxes this year. I am still harvesting them as I leave them in the ground until they are ready to be brought in. To make pickled beets, wash about 3 pounds of beets then cut off greens to be cooked or used in a salad. Roast beets in a covered pan in the oven for about an hour. The skins should slide right off when the beets cool.
While beets roast, put 1/2 cup white vinegar and 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup water, and 1 cup sugar with 2 tsps. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, and about 10 whole cloves in a stainless-steel saucepan and bring to a boil.
Slice the roasted and cooled beets and put them in a stainless steel or porcelain bowl. Pour the liquid over the beets and let marinate for at least 12 hours.
Enjoy these any time of year but they are best as a side dish in the chill of winter.
This is my first effort at writing a recipe so please be tolerant. I’ll get better with practice.
Here’s wishing you the most festive of holiday seasons and a spirit of abundance throughout the year!