The closer it got to Christmas this year, the more I found myself missing
We stayed at Lucy and Eigil’s for ten days. We ate, explored the countryside, learned some Danish, ate some more, relaxed, made Christmas candy, ate it, visited friends, bought souvenirs, went to a movie, visited museums, and ate.
After Christmas we went to
Of course (you knew it was coming), one of my favourite parts of the trip was the food.
The best meal of the day, in my opinion, was breakfast. We always had a variety of delicious choices:
Granola with thick Greek yogourt and honey
Toast (toasted on their old-fashioned flat grill toaster) with any number of spreads: peanut butter, jam, lemon curd, cheese …
Tea, juice, fizzy juice, hot chocolate (There’s something about having a variety of nice drinks around that makes things feel special)
We also made pepparkakor, the traditional Swedish Christmas cookies, and marzipan candy. Marzipan is everywhere in
We ate applewood-smoked cheddar and bright green sage-laced cheddar that we bought from a very nice man at a cheese cart behind the church in Kerteminde. We went to a little restaurant in the mall where we had traditional Danish sandwiches of thin rye bread topped with all sorts of things – salami, shrimp, fish, and vegetables.
The most memorable meal we had was on Christmas Eve – Juleaften. In
After the main meal, when we were already stuffed to the gills, Jytte brought out the dessert: Danish rice pudding, or Riz à l’Amande. This is also traditional. You put lots of chopped almonds in the pudding but keep one almond whole. The person who gets the whole almond is supposed to be lucky all year. At this house, the tradition is to keep it a secret if you get the almond, and only tell after all of the rice pudding has been eaten. Then there are prizes, such as boxes of chocolates, to give out to everyone.
J and I loved this rice pudding so much that we decided to make it again this year on Christmas Eve. I emailed Lucy for Jytte’s recipe and she sent it back to me. It’s quite easy but it takes several hours to prepare. It’s also very rich. The recipe said it served four, and since we had nine people at J’s house that night we decided to double it. We really didn’t need to. It’s so filling that after one helping most of us couldn’t eat any more. But … you’re supposed to eat the whole thing to make sure you find the almond! Well, it all worked out. J found the almond (just like he did last year! He must be very lucky) and we put the leftovers in the fridge.
Everyone liked this pudding, and it made J and me nostalgic for our Christmas in
God Jul to all!
Danish Rice Pudding from Jytte Nikolajsen
Thanks to Lucy for translating the recipe! We didn’t make the traditional cherry sauce to go with this because we couldn’t find canned or frozen cherries at the store. But I think next year I’ll make another cherry sauce recipe I saw in the Moosewood Desserts cookbook that calls for cherry juice and dried cherries. This year on Christmas Eve we ate this with tiny shortbread cookies and apple cider. Yum!
Serves 4 people
65 g. short-grained rice
2 cups milk
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
125 g. blanched almonds
1 cup whipping cream
Bring the milk to a boil while stirring. Add the rice gradually and let the mixture simmer on low for about 10 minutes while you stir. Then turn the burner on high, stir until it boils again, and take off the burner. Pack the covered saucepan in newspapers and blankets to finish cooking. (We just put the pot to bed – wrapped it up in blankets in our bed.) Two hours later you can unpack it and decide whether it’s a bit thin and might need to be boiled one last time.
When it’s cooled, add the sugar, vanilla and chopped almonds and mix. When it’s totally cold, whip the cream and fold it in. The dessert can be frozen. It should be served with cherry sauce:
½ l. cherries, either canned or frozen
2 dl. water
2 tsp. potato flour
cinnamon, vanilla, whole cloves
Add the water to the canned cherries and warm in a saucepan with sugar. When it’s hot, add the potato flour that you’ve blended beforehand with a little water into a runny paste. The spices are optional.
If using frozen cherries, thaw them and add 4-5 dl. water, vanilla and sugar to taste and a little cinnamon, then bring to a boil. When it’s hot, add the potato flour that you’ve blended beforehand with a little water into a runny paste. The cloves are optional. The sound of angels singing can also be heard.
The sauce can be served warm (not too hot) or cold.
Important: Let one of the blanched almonds remain whole and put it in the pudding before serving. The person who gets the whole almond should discreetly save it so no one else notices it and when the whole pudding is eaten the search will begin for the person who gets the almond prize. Finally the almond is discovered and the prize (usually a box of good chocolates) is awarded. There is no expectation that the almond prize will be shared!