Apart from a quick November visit to Stockholm a few years back and my birthday trip to Oslo in the snow this March I’m still to fully experience a Nordic ‘Jul’.
So what better way to prepare myself, as well as to turn my excitement levels up even further, than by chatting to the amazing cook and author, Brontë Aurell about her new book ScandiKitchen Christmas.
Though incredibly busy running the ScandiKitchen Café, grocery shop, online store and wholesale business, as well as being a wife and mum, Brontë took time out to talk with me about her delicious recipes and share the festive family traditions that mean so much to her.
Here’s what Brontë had to tell me:
What can we expect from ScandiKitchen Christmas?
Scandinavia is three different countries all with different regional and country specific traditions. It was super hard to choose the recipes because no matter what, there was no way I could include them all, so I’ve tried to balance it between recipes I really like and cook at home with those I keep getting asked for in the café.
There’s everything from Swedish Christmas ham to our traditional rice pudding dessert, marzipan treats, roast duck, Christmas bread, buns, canapés and more. I think – hope – I managed to keep a good balance!
When do Christmas celebrations really get underway for you?
When you are a café/deli owner, Christmas starts in July, that’s just the way it is.
You’d think that this would make me like the festive season less, but it doesn’t. I get very excited when we start the planning. The only thing I’m not allowed to do is play Michael Bublé’s Christmas Album until December!
By November the café and online shop are really kicking off and our feet don’t touch the ground until 13th December. It’s one of the busiest days in the café every year, but I always allow myself to do a reduced day so I can go and see a traditional Lucia procession. THAT is when I really allow myself to feel ready for Christmas. I love it, there is nothing quite like it to put you in the mood.
Once that’s done, I’m ALL about being festive and making people around me feel super festive too. It’s like my extra-Christmas-energy button. Then I’m ready for the last stretch.
How do you bring a Scandi-style Christmas to your London home?
For me there is no other way than a Scandi Christmas. My husband is Swedish and I am Danish, so it is a full on Scandi Christmas for us.
We traditionally celebrate Christmas on the 24th December. We close the café completely in the evening on the 23rd and we don’t open again until 2nd January, everybody goes home and we get to literally put our tired feet up for a good week and a bit.
Our house looks quite Scandi anyway, but once all the decorations and the (real) tree are up, everything smells of cinnamon and spices, then we’re there. Lots of candles and hibernating does the trick.
Which one dish would you say epitomises a traditional Scandinavian Christmas meal?
That is a tricky question, Scandinavia is three and a half times the size of the UK and our landscape is so varied, from the Arctic circle in the North to the flats of Denmark in the South.
There are a few things that cross over however, cold whipped rice pudding for dessert. We all eat this, but with different toppings, cherry for the Danes, orange for the Swedes and raspberry for the Norwegians.
Then there’s always a Christmas Smörgåsbord in some shape or form, this plays a key part in all three countries.
Finally ginger biscuits and glögg (mulled wine), an essential part in making us all feel the festive spirit (as well as getting red noses and ears).
How do you ensure you’re not stuck in the kitchen on Christmas Day?
I don’t mind being stuck in the kitchen at all! With us already celebrating Christmas the night before on Christmas Day itself I usually prepare leftovers for a smörgåsbord, which is really easy. Also, my husband is a fantastic cook so he usually takes over, which is just fab, its like having a mini restaurant in our own house when he let’s himself get stuck in.
We usually have roast duck on Christmas Eve and actually, I prefer roasting it the day before and just heating it on the night, it works really well with duck and gets the skin extra crispy. So, there isn’t that much to do, it is a hot meal and its quite heavy with the rice dessert afterwards (also made the day before, so no prep).
What’s your ultimate foodie Christmas gift?
For our friends, the kids and I make a batch of mixed Nordic biscuits and put them in a nice tin with a bow. I also bring glögg spices or make a bottle of glögg and take it to their house. That to me is a nice personal gift!
Thank you so much to Brontë Aurell for chatting to me. ScandiKitchen Christmas is available now from ScandiKitchen, priced £16.99.
Exciting news! I’ve teamed up with the amazing Brontë to create an Instagram competition. One lucky Nordic Notes reader will win a copy of ScandiKitchen Christmas.
To enter: Just follow Nordic Notes and ScandiKitchen on Instagram, like the competition photo, and leave a comment tagging a friend who may be interested. You can tag as many people as you like, and each tag counts as one entry.
Disclaimer: The giveaway is open to those in the UK only and ends at midnight GMT on Tuesday 16th October. The winner will be announced on my Instagram account afterwards. Good luck!
Please note this competition is in no way associated with or endorsed by Instagram.
Images one, two and three courtesy of the ScandiKitchen Christmas book by Brontë Aurell. Photography by Peter Cassidy and published by Ryland Peters & Small. Image four by Nicola Capper.