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9 Easy (yet inexpensive!) Scandinavian Food Gifts

Treats to Tuck into a Scandinavian-themed Gift Basket

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Nothing says "Christmas is Coming!" as much as Scandinavian cookies, fragrant with cardamom, homemade cakes, warming soups, and specialty liquors. Share the joy of the season with your favorite host or hostess by tucking a few of the following treats into a gift basket - a few of the items, difficult to find in America, are easily made and will be welcomed by anyone who loves to cook.

Homemade Gravlax

Gravlax is so ridiculously easy to make that the only reason one should ever buy it in a specialty deli would be if one lacked access to quality salmon. While it takes a few days to marinate, it's worth it to be able to share it with friends as the Scandinavian appetizer par excellence. Accompany it with a jar of homemade dilled mustard(recipe below) for an elegant contribution to your host or hostess' holiday smorgasbord.

Dilled Mustard Sauce

Few things go as beautifully with freshly cured gravlax as this sweet dill mustard sauce. Try it as a condiment with roasted lamb or sliced meats as well.

Kari's Own Pea Soup Mix

Kari's Own Pea Soup Mix
photo ©Kari Diehl, licensed to About.com
If I could have you over to dinner over the holidays, this is probably what I'd serve you as a starter - pea soup, flavored with my own "secret" ingredient, star anise.

Cardamom Extract

Cardamom extract - unavailable in most U.S. stores - is quick and easy to make. Don't be tempted to let it steep for as long as you would homemade vanilla extract, though, as the pods will turn rancid if left for more than two or three days.

Vanilla Sugar

Vanilla sugar is used in Scandinavian baking far more often than vanilla extract - for good reason, since it adds no color to baked goods, dissolves quickly, and lends just the right amount of vanilla flavoring to whipped creams and to desserts like Chocolate Sticky Cake (Kladdkaka) or Serinaker. Since it is both difficult to find in the U.S. and is quite expensive, it's best to make your own and keep a jar on hand; it will keep indefinitely in your cupboard, and you can replenish your supply simply by adding additional sugar to the jar (without having to replace the expensive vanilla bean).

Ingrebretsen's Saga

Ingebretsen's Saga (2011)
photo ©2011 by Ingebretsen's Gift Shop, Inc. Reprinted with permission.
Probably my favorite Nordic Scandinavian-themed cookbook published in 2011, Ingebretsen's Saga celebrates the 90th birthday of Minneapolis' most famous Scandinavian store. Just to give you a "sneak peek" into why you should order the book, have a look at their recipe(below)for Christmas Snaps.

Christmas Snaps

Snaps steeping for Christmas
Owner: Nancy Petersen's Christmas Snaps photo ©Kari Diehl, licensed on 11/29/2011 to About.com
One of the unique recipes featured in Anne Gillespie Lewis' Ingebretsen's Saga: A Family, A Store, A Legacy of Food (2011), this make-ahead coffee snapps is sure to become one of my favorite holiday hostess gifts!

Scandinavian Christmas Glogg

Keeping Santa Jolly
photo ©Kari Diehl, licensed to About.com
Not only does this recipe make a superior glogg, but the fruit used in its preparation is perfect for use in a holiday glogg cake or, when diced fine and warmed, as a compote topping for pancakes or ice cream.

Glogg Cake

Kari's Glogg Cake
photo ©Kari Diehl, licensed to About.com
Use leftover dried fruit and almonds from making glogg for this moist fruitcake. Like all fruitcakes, the already excellent flavor of this cake improves if it is allowed to sit a day or two (or more) before serving.

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