Wow, it’s that most wonderful time of the year again and we’ve been looking forward to this event since last year! In honour of our Christmas excursion to Copenhagen, we had to do a Scandi themed event to close off 2013. Recommended to us by Nigella herself, we used Trina Hahnemann’s beautiful Scandinavian Christmas book as our guide, along with Signe Johannsen’s Scandilicious series.
Over two cold and blustery nights, our wonderful array of guests we welcomed into the warmth and festivities of the Manor. A soothing mug of Glögg (The Scandi version of mulled wine) warmed our diners a treat before we brought through the canapes. The Glogg extract was a mix of blackcurrant juice and Christmas spices, all boiled down to make a wonderful festive cordial that could be added to red wine and brandy. A perfect winter warmer and less sweet than typical mulled wine.
I created three little morsels to tickle the tastebuds and get our guests into the festive spirit. First off were little endive cups filled with my Scandi version of a Waldorf salad – Apple, celery, walnuts and of course beetroot (lovingly home pickled by Dan). The cups looked like they were filled with bright pink sweets! The flavour was bitter, sharp and sweet, this was indeed a delightful mouthful.
Next up were seared beef crostinis with horseradish cream – my take on what you could find on any Smörgåsbord. The beef was meltingley tender which paired well with the creamy pungent horseradish.
Finally I had to come up with my Scandi take on my favourite thing to make – the scotch egg. Not just any scotch egg, these were elk scotch eggs. What could be more Christmassy than eating Rudolph? Teamed with a mustardy dill sauce, these were gamey, and robust, with the sauce cutting through just nicely. They were delicious.
Our amouse bouche was a shot of roasted swede soup. Aside from the hilarious play on words, this swede soup was thick, spiced and comforting.
This was swiftly followed by a starter of gin cured salmon. Dan went on an excursion to Leeds Market to buy a whole salmon which he then cured all week in a mixture of sugar, salt, dill, juniper and gin! This was carved fresh to order and served a atop a salad of the home pickled beetroot, fennel shavings, red onion and creamy, lemony crème fraiche. This created a wonderfully balanced sweet, salty, sour and ginny mouthful!
Our veggie guests were treated to some unusual Norwegian brown cheese to go with their salads. We had a taste of some and thought it was like a medium cheddar spiked with caramac bar! This cheese is the product of caramelising whey, a most bizarre ingredient that also made an unexpected appearance later on in our menu too…
Dan also whipped up some lovely ‘Scandilicious’ bread. to serve with the starters. This was a spelt based dough, given a sour note from buttermilk and fragrance from fennel seeds. Dan reported this to be a delightful dough to work with and it will certainly be one to feature on our up and coming afternoon teas.
For the main event Dan slow roasted huge pork joints on both nights, which led to beautifully soft and tender meat. The pork was marinated in garlic, chilli, star anise, clove and cinnamon before roasting for 5-6 hours in cider. The pulled pork was served on an intriguing root veg cake. The cake was a kind of rosti – grated beetroot, carrot and parsnip bound together with oats, almonds and egg to produce a tasty but filling accompaniment to the meat. A slow cooked festive apple sauce decorated the pork and the plates were finished off with a crunchy red cabbage and walnut salad. We were fighting over the leftovers!
After a short break (we didn’t want to give our guests indigestion!) we served up a cooling pre dessert of forest fruits and star anise sorbet. Spiced, sweet and sharp, this could’ve been a frozen version of the glögg!
Onto desserts and this month our diners had a choice of two delectable delights to end the evening. First up was a lingonberry jelly topped with gin and cassis macerated berries and mini meringues. A hedgerow berry found in Scandinavia, lingonberries are a distant relative of the cranberry. This jelly was softly set and a clean and light way to end the meal.
For the more decadent guests I served up one of the naughtiest desserts we’ve had for a while – our Daim bar brownie ice cream sundae. Dark gooey bitter brownies flecked with Daim pieces, served with a scoop of rich creamy vanilla ice cream, sticky daim caramel sauce and more Daim. This was sweet, sticky salty and ever so naughty, just how we like out puds at the Manor! Our caramel sauce had a very special ingredient too – Norweigian brown cheese! This added a savoury note to the sauce which brought the whole dish together.
Full to the brim, our guests had room for one more morsel – this time in the form of Halloon Cookies. Kind of a cross between a jam tart and a Jammie Dodger, these biscuits were short, buttery and crumbly and topped off with Dan’s homemade gooseberry jam.
We loved serving up this very festive evening and really got us in the mood for our own Scandinavian adventure in a couple of weeks – we’ll definitely be sharing our foodie experiences on here, so keep your eyes peeled.
So that’s the Manor closed for 2013! We’ve had a brilliant year – we just can’t believe is almost over! Once again, thanks to our diners who’ve come to see us over the past twelve months, and also readers of the blog, it’s been fun! Time for a bit of rest and relaxation now but we’ll be back in January for our Peruvian event.
Merry Christmas and a happy new year!