Christmas Around the World: Sweden

Who else is itching to put up Christmas decorations already?! I was ready right after Halloween.
I happened to be looking at decor ideas on Pinterest when I came across a post about Swedish Christmas traditions. Sweden usually starts with the first Advent in the end of November, with the Christmas tree going up on the 4th Sunday before Christmas (although this varies from family to family).
Since I am planning more minimalist, Scandinavian decor this year, I figured it would be fun to follow this tradition. The great thing about this is that the festive season doesn’t end until 13 January (St Knut’s day) so the tree can stay up an extra week.
Then of course, my thoughts moved onto food. If you’ve been to IKEA you will have most likely had their Swedish meatballs. So we gave the Christmas variation, called Julköttbullar, a try.
This recipe is a definite winner! I’ll definitely add it to my regular rotation.
Julköttbullar is traditionally served with mashed potatoes, pressed cucumber and lingonberries. This plate was really lacking in colour and flavour without the lingonberries but delicious anyway. The recipe is very easy to make and only takes a few minutes to prepare. The cooking is a little time consuming and next time I will try making them in the oven.
The cream sauce is AMAZING and I wouldn’t make the meatballs without it. It’s such a good sauce that I will make it again to have with other dishes.

Gräddsås (cream sauce)
300ml hot water
1/2 beef stock cube or stock powder
2Tbs plain flour
100ml milk or water
1tsp soy sauce
2-3 Tbs cream
When the meatballs are cooked, remove the pan from the heat and add the warm water and use it to scrap up all the meaty bits in the pan. Bring it up to the boil and let it simmer for a minute or two.
Sieve the mixture into a saucepan, add the stock cube and stir until dissolved.
Mix the flour with the milk or water and stir until dissolved. Pour into the saucepan, whisking continuously as you do so. Simmer the sauce for 5 minutes.
Add the soy sauce and cream. Heat for another couple of minutes, stirring continuously. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
I’m a real sucker for fun traditions and after I read about risgrynsgröt (rice pudding) I decided we needed to give that a try too.
Rice pudding can be served at any time of year, but it is nearly always included as part of a julbord (Christmas buffet). It is normally dusted with cinnamon with an almond is hidden in the pudding. Whoever gets the almond gets a task, like composing thanks in rhyme for the meal. In the old days, if a single young man or woman found the almond, it was a sign that the coming year would bring true love.
Finally it is important to put a dish of risgrynsgröt outside the front door for the Christmas elf, because otherwise he will get annoyed and cause mischief. In some families the risgrynsgröt should be put out before dawn on Christmas Eve, but others leave it until the evening.
I put the rice pudding on the stove and let it cook while I was making the meatballs, keeping an eye on it. It is a very quick and easy recipe but I’m not sure I’ll make it again. I discovered that nobody in my family loves rice pudding.

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