December 23, 2013


Saturday we had guests over for a smorgasbord.  I'm always interested in knowing how people pull off a party, and maybe you are too, so I'll share what went on behind the scenes for this party.  This is our gourmet group and everyone pitches in.  It's very nice that everyone brings a dish which helps the hostess out tremendously!  The hostess picks a theme, finds the recipes and sends them out.  The hosts are in charge of the main course and any other dishes they choose to do.  Because a smorgasbord has a large variety of food, I also did a few of the salads and the desserts.  I purchased the smoked turkey from our local German butcher and roasted the pork earlier in the day, cooled and sliced and then reheated just befre we served dinner.  The entire dinner was served buffet style at the kitchen table.  My idea was to recreate the memorable Christmas Eve smorgasbords at my Swedish Nana's (Valborg) and Norwegian Papa's (Rangwald) home.  They lived on an egg ranch in southern California, just a few miles from my childhood home.  I visited my grandparents often and ate there often but nothing compared to the spectacular Julebord (Christmas table) my Nana would produce on Christmas Eve.  The centerpiece was a smoked turkey sent from friends from Wisconsin, also a big ham, plus dozens of smaller dishes of salads, sauces and breads.  I loved picking a little bit of this, a little bit of that.  I still love a big buffet and it's my favorite way to entertain.  For inspiration I asked my cousins what favorite dishes they remembered from our childhood Christmas Eves and this was my attempt to recreate those wonderful Julebords of my youth!  "Skol" dearest Nana and Papa.  To have such wonderful memories is a blessing I'll always treasure.
Julebord Menu with links

Gravlax with Mustard Sauce
Caviar with Sweet Potato Chips

Fresh Vegetables with Nana’s Beau Monde Dill Dip
Pickled Herring,  Black Olives
Deviled Eggs
Smoked Turkey with Lingonberry Sauce

Assorted Christmas cookies and chocolates

And a bit more info:  We needed to sit 12 around my table that seats only 8.  Years ago we bought a big piece of plywood and had it cut to 4'x8'.  We store it in the garage and pop it on top the table when we want to squeeze in 12 (barely).  Because it's tight we cannot fit our dining room chairs around so I have to replace with wood folding chairs.  I know they are not too comfy but my kind guests never say a peep.   The napkins, tablecloth, dinner plates and stems are from Cost Plus.  It kills me to use inexpensive things in place of the lovely linens and stems I own, but I wanted a look that was Scandinavian 'spare' and wanted it all to match and love this clean look.  The tea lights are from Pottery Barn, I love low candle light.  The faux pomegranates and trees are also from Pottery Barn purchased a few years ago.

Aquavit and glogg are more traditional Scandinavian drinks, but we don't like either so we went for a choice of champagne, Cabernet, Chardonnay, beer and a few single malt scotches.  We set up a small appetizer station nears the drinks bar.   After a 1 1/2  hour long cocktail hour, longer than usual, but we are a chatty group, I invited everyone to the buffet table.  (I removed myself from the party about 20 minutes before to set it all out with a few volunteers helping out.)  I do everything I possibly can do ahead of time and this was inspired by a the first grown up dinner party I was invited to  when I was 22.  When we walked up the steps we noticed through the picture window, the host and hostess sitting by the fire having a glass of wine.  I was astonished that she was not slaving away in the kitchen!  Instead she had done everything ahead of time and  so immediately put her guests at ease by joining the party and having seemingly nothing to do!  I might add that she had 3 small children upstairs in bed.  What a feat.  A few minutes before dinner was served, she and her husband removed themselves, closed the kitchen door, and within what seemed like minutes returned and invited the guests to the table.  It appeared so easy and effortless, so p e r f e c t, I vowed from that day, that her way of entertaining was going to be my way.  (Yes, Norma, it's you I'm referring to!)  Now I try to get most everything done in advance.  I know the trend is to have guests help in the kitchen, and yes, sometimes you have to ask for help if you are going to eat at all, but I think it's a gift you can give your guests; a night out with nothing to do but relax.

So, with that said, ahem, this was not that kind of party.  I burned the brie and lingonberries, just awful (two days later and the dish is still soaking, ug).  Plus I needed lots of help getting all the dishes out.  A smorgasbord, well, it's a different sort of dinner party for sure.  With the large variety of food, and this needs to be hot and this needs to be cold, it's pretty amazing in all comes together even with a lot of help.   A smorgasbord is a LOT OF WORK!  But it was fun!  Everyone loved walking around the table, doing just what I love to do, a little bit of that and a little bit of that.   Also, there was really too much.  I told my mother and she said, well, that's what a smorgasbord is really, lots of food and plenty left over for the next day.  Anyway, the food is just a bonus, gathering together is all about the people, and I do have the best sort of friends.  But they do tease me about my blog, I guess that's no surprise.  I told them I was going to post their pictures too,  actual faces of actual people, but NO! was the big response.  OK, well, I get that.  But there were people at this party, I can assure you, and they are all nice.

Merry Christmas dear readers!   


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  1. I love your approach to entertaining, even if you didn't get to fully use it this time. I need to strive to be more like you!

    Such a beautiful set-up, and the food looks divine!

    Merry Christmas, Kristen!

  2. While your friends may tease, your readers are charmed. Happy holidays to you.

  3. Merry Christmas Kristen, I love reading your blog. You are just super at everything you do, a real inspiration.

  4. Are you kiddin' me? Your guests wouldn't say anything about the chairs because that is the LAST thing on their minds with a spread like this laid out before them!!!! They're just happy to have a spot to sit and enjoy it!!! I know I would be! I recently invested in 14 ballroom chairs that were listed on Craig's List. They were brand new and reasonably priced. They come in SO handy now for home events that have a large number of guests included at the table, much like your wooden chairs.

    I'm like you and your friend with the little kids...I like to be able to relax a few minutes before the guests begin to arrive. I do as much in advance as humanly possible so that I don't feel that last-minute crunch. It's not always possible, but it's something to strive for. Even with the burned brie & lingonberries (sorry about that dish!), I'm sure everyone enjoyed themselves immensely!!! In the end, it's all about the food and friendship! The fabulous decor and presentation is just a bonus! :-)

  5. My invitation must have been lost in the mail, wink wink! ;) Sounds like fun, and I agree with Alycia, NOBODY would care about the wooden chairs!

  6. Love the story about your friend Norma!! I can never seem to achieve that, no matter how hard I try...

  7. I saw the preparations for this with my own eyes. What beautiful decorations you do put together, my dear, and what a feast it must have been! So fun reading about this!

  8. Thank you for sharing this spectacular post ... love the menu and the beautiful pictures. You can bet that I plan to copy some of your ideas! Too good to pass up! Happy New Year!

  9. I love all of your Wendt and Kuhn angels!!

  10. Such a gorgeous party. Every detail is beautiful! The food looks amazing. Thanks for inviting us for a peek, and Happy New Year! Cherry Kay

  11. Lovely. It makes me miss my friend Anjelica who moved back to Sweden a few years ago...I loved her parties with kaviar, glogg, and all the trimmings!

  12. Very lovely. I used to be in a gourmet group before we moved and miss it very much. You are very lucky and it sounds like a lot fo fun.

  13. How did I miss this post at Christmas? Just beautiful, as always.


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