Cookbook author Trine Hahnemann lets us in on the secrets of glögg, goose and good times
Rooms suffused with candlelight, tables scattered with pastries and goblets of darkly spiced mulled wines: Scandinavia might just have the best handle on Christmas. Ever.
And they take it very, very seriously.
"We really embrace the cold," says Trine Hahnemann, a cookbook author and the woman known as 'The Danish Delia'.
"We start to decorate from the beginning of December and go into full-on celebration mode: lots of food, lots of parties at home," she says.
Fancy stealing a touch of that Nordic magic this Yuletide? Here's how it's done.
1. Get in a pickle
"We do most of our preserving in the late summer and early autumn – things like courgettes," Trine says. "But there's also cucumbers and beetroots, which pickle well." Check out our guide to mastering the art of pickling – and then crack out your lovingly made jars on Christmas Day to pair with your spread.
2. Amp up the Christmas scents
"We love to stud oranges with cloves and hang them in the window to get loads of festive aromas going," explains Trine. Just prick your fruit, insert the spices, then criss-cross a piece of red ribbon over each one, leaving a long piece from the top for them to dangle from. Too good.
3. Get the glögg in
Like mulled wine? Then you'll go nuts for glögg. "Heat a bottle of red wine with a few glugs of inexpensive brandy in a big saucepan and add cinnamon sticks, cloves and orange peel, before simmering for 45 minutes. Strain and serve over sugar lumps, almonds and raisins," says Trine.
4. Try a three-day festive affair
"We have a big supper and presents on Christmas Eve," says Trine. "We eat roasted pork with red cabbage and crackling, goose, caramel potatoes (melt sugar until golden brown, add butter, whisk, then tumble spuds in, before roasting) and gravy. And then big lunches, followed by long walks on the 25th and 26th." A trio of big days? We'll take that.
5. Find a cure
Another key bit of prep is curing a side of salmon. "I do a three-day cure, so start around the 22 December," Trine advises. "It's just a rub of salt, sugar, cloves, nutmeg, ground coriander and orange zest. Work it into the fish, before covering in clingfilm. Pop in the fridge, weighted down by a casserole dish. After a few days, wash the cure mix off and serve." Eat with horseradish cream and rye bread.
6. Don't forget pudding
For the main Christmas lunch, dessert is relatively simple. "We have a cooked rice pudding, which is served cold with a warm cherry sauce, lots of vanilla and flaked almonds. We have a tradition, which is a bit like putting a sixpence in your Christmas pudding in the UK. A whole almond goes in, and, whoever gets it, wins a little prize." Get the recipe here.