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Given Jamie’s Swedish roots, we like to do a traditional (if somewhat bastardised) Christmas Eve dinner. This year was pared back slightly given the disobedient oven. But we still managed to have the pickled herring (not to everyone’s tastes, but they are delicious I swear and they come with various pickles if you can find them, Ikea is an obvious choice or you can make your own, although this year we just bought one jar from Waitrose for sake of ease), gravadlax, dill sauce, red cabbage, boiled eggs, rye bread, Jansson’s Temptation, ham¸ meatballs¸and sausages. The leftovers have been wonderful too; it’s so nice to have a variety of foodstuffs to pick and choose from. Below are the recipes for the main components of the smorgasbord. You traditionally start with the cold dishes, so the fish and boiled eggs and then move on to the meats and potato and cabbage.

Dill Sauce

This sauce is quick and easy. Delicious with smoked salmon, but also works with leftover meatballs.

3 tblsp Dijon mustard

1 tblsp sugar

1 tblsp white wine vinegar

Salt

White pepper

120ml vegetable oil

Bunch of dill

Whisk the mustard, sugar, vinegar and seasoning. Slowly add the oil, whilst whisking, to form an emulsion. Stir in the chopped dill.

Ham

Fill up pot with cold water to cover ham, bring to boil. Then discard water. Then add half a pint of perry, fill up rest with cold water to cover ham. Quartered onion, half a dozen peppercorns, thyme, bay. Then bring to boil and simmer for half an hour. Then remove, allow to cool, remove skin, slash fat with diamond pattern. Then bake for twenty minutes – we had to do a combination of grill and low bake as our oven isn’t capable of going above 150c. This is obviously all weight dependent – our gammon joint weighed in at 1 kilo. You can obviously glaze the ham or stud it with cloves or juniper or whatever you fancy, but we were keeping it simple as we weren’t too sure the oven would cope anyway. It worked, much to Molly’s relief.

Jansson’s Temptation

For those that aren’t familiar with this dish, it’s basically a Swedish version of a gratin dauphinoise, only the potatoes are chip shaped, and anchovies are included. Before you go, ‘eurgh’, consider it. The addition may sound weird to the non-Swede, but they’re subtle enough to add a lovely saltiness to the gooey creamy dish. Try it. Thanks go to Eva for this recipe.

Serves Four

1 tin anchovy in lobster sauce if you can get it, if not just an ordinary tin of anchovy in oil

6 – 8 big potatoes, chipped

2 big yellow onions, diced

4 tbsp marg / butter

White pepper

Salt

3 dl cream and milk or 3 dl double cream missed with anchovy lobster sauce

2 – 3 tbsp breadcrumbs

Pre-heat oven to 250c (this was compromised for us, but shall give Eva’s instructions as we had to slowly cook with grill again, having parboiled the potatoes). Put chips in bowl of cold water, and rinse under tap (this gets rid of excess starch). Fry the onions in butter for a few minutes (or if using oily anchovies, use this oil). Add the potatoes for a few minutes, and put the potatoes and onions, plus anchovies in an ovenproof dish. Season (go easy on the salt). Pour 1.5 dl cream over the dish, sprinkle top with breadcrumbs and dot with butter. Cook in oven for half an hour, and then pour remaining 1.5 dl of cream over and cook for a further 15 minutes.

Braised Red Cabbage

I love red cabbage. A vital component of the Swedish fare on Christmas Eve, but was also great with the Christmas day roast rib of beef and all the ham leftovers we’ve been having. So it makes enough to have around the house for the festive period. I decided to throw a chilli in with the tried and tested recipe below, because it seemed like a good idea. It was a bit much even for me. Sorry Dad.

1 medium red cabbage

1 large red onion

1 ½ tspns of coriander seeds

1 tspn cumin seeds

3 cloves

10 or so peppercorns

Thumb of ginger

½ lemon

1 red chilli

½ tspn turmeric

1 tspn mustard powder

Small sprinkle of cinnamon (or 1 stick)

2 tbspn honey

Glass of red wine

Good glug of Worcestershire sauce

Heat the coriander, cumin, cloves, peppercorn in a dry pan (lidded preferably as shall need this later) until fragrant. Crush with salt in pestle and mortar. Add butter and olive oil to pan and over a medium heat fry the onion until soft. Add the cabbage, ginger and chilli, and cook with lid on, until cabbage is nice and shiny (about fifteen minutes). Add the ground spices halfway through.

Add all the remaining ingredients and braise on a low heat for about half an hour. Taste towards end and adjust seasoning to taste, continue cooking if cabbage not sticky and soft.

Meatballs

Bork! The ultimate creature. Unfortunately as it doesn’t yet exist, we have to manually mix pork and beef together. These meatballs are awesome, and the recipe allows plenty for leftovers. Plus we’ve just discovered that Molly loves the meatballs with some of the pizza tomato sauce, with grated cheese on top.

500g pork mince

500g beef mince

Handful of chopped dill and parsley

1 chopped onion

1 egg

100ml milk

75g breadcrumbs

1 tspn ground allspice

Squelch all the ingredients together in a bowl with your hands. Form into balls. Fry in oil. Try not to eat all at once.