Saturday, December 15, 2007

Norwegian Christmas Eve

I enjoy Norwegian Christmas Eve by adoption rather than by heritage having married into a Viking Clan. In our family, as in most families of Scandinavian decent, Christmas Eve is a time for the extended family to gather, usually at Grandma Glady's house, to enjoy the family, sing Christmas Carols, read the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke and enjoy a delicious Christmas smorgasbord.

As our family has grown to include other ethnic groups (including me) the smorgasbord has come to include lasagna, salad (for the vegans in our midst) and other non-Scandinavian recipes, but there is always some Norwegian soul food. Christine usually brings the Creamed Herring and Carol the Kjottkaker (meatballs) which are highlights among other main dishes. Thankfully, we have never had to endure the horror of Lutefisk, a dish made from dried cod fish reconstituted in a solution of water and lye. Although it is traditional in many Norwegian families, it never was in the Pierce home.

The main attraction for Christmas Eve is the sweets. There is always a grand assortment of cookies including Sandkaker, Spritz, Serinakaker, and Krumkaker. Lingenberry jam and whipped cream are on hand to enrich the cookies. Sometimes someone has made it over to Brooklyn to pick up a Kringle, which is a special treat. The main event for the sweets is the Risgrǿt (Norwegian Rice Pudding-see recipe below). It always has an almond buried inside and the lucky person to get the almond in their dish is the winner of a marzipan pig. For some reason this honor is usually won by our nephew Daniel.

This year our celebration is changing to meet the realities of changing family circumstances. Grandma is having trouble walking this year so the celebration will be moved to Aunt Margie and Uncle Richard's house. Also, our celebration will not be on Christmas Eve but the night before as growing families now have to be in different places to share themselves fairly with the in-laws. Whenever it takes place though, the gathering of as much of the extended family as possible around the Christmas tree is one of the most looked forward to events of the year. The warm conversation, the joyful singing, the reverent recounting of the Christmas story and food filled with memories gives us a perspective on what this time of year is all about.

Grandma Glady's Risgrǿt

4 cups long grain white rice
8 cups whole milk
1 t. salt
4 T. unsalted butter
2 cups heavy cream
4 T. sugar
1 t. vanilla

In a heavy sauce pan, cook rice with milk and salt over very gentle heat until rice is thick and tender, stirring frequently. Keep an eye on the rice as it cooks and if milk is absorbed add more milk. When finished rice should be tender (taste it to be sure it is not al dente) and it should be a very thick porridge almost like a soft ball of dough.

Whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the cooked rice. Chill.

Serve risgrǿt in a large bowl with an almond hidden in the bowl. Allow people to serve themselves. Serve risgrǿt with lingonberry jam. The person who finds the almond wins a prize.

1 comment:

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

I love Risgrott! I lived in Norway and I so enjoyed the Christmas eve celebrations! Skal!