When my friends at Crate & Barrel asked me to write about holiday entertaining I knew instantly that I wanted to share with you all a little glimpse of what the holidays were like for me as a boy. I loved the holidays so much when I was a kid. It was not uncommon for my mother to discover me in my room in the middle of July making plans for holiday decorations and whole menus that we would make together 5 months into the future! I grew up in Oslo Norway and the winters there are very long and very dark. So the bright lights and warmth of gatherings with family and friends were a break from the darkness of the season. People would fill the trees in their yards with thousands of lights and there would be a lantern burning bright outside of each and every house.
My grandmother and my mom were, to put it mildly, “Holiday Crazy”. They would take every opportunity possible to go completely overboard with decorations. Every nook and cranny both inside and outside of our house was covered with Nordic holiday cheer. I like to think that I inherited some of my decorating talent from my mom and grandmother. Everything was done with amazing taste… no plastic allowed, only all natural elements like wood, nuts, oranges, spices, and moss. In fact, the whole house would smell like a wonderful spice shop. I loved it! Our family’s most hallowed holiday decor pieces were these old wooden trees that my grandfather had carved himself. They were intricately cut and oh so beautiful. We always placed them on the mantle in a sea of green moss, they were absolutely stunning. A few years ago they were thrown out by mistake. I still can't talk to my sister about it without us both being so upset by the loss.
I was so happy to see the amazing wood 3D holiday trees and forest animals that Crate and Barrel launched this year. They remind me of my grandfather’s trees and make me really happy. I bought some for myself and for my whole family in Norway. Now we’ll all have a new holiday tradition that we can cherish for years to come!
In the spirit of warmth, love, bright lights, and family tradition I’m sharing a few of my favorite holiday recipes with you here:
This is such a fun and festive presentation antipasto. I guarantee everyone will be talking about this wreath at your holiday gathering! I’m serving it here on the Feast Platter and the Helena napkin in graphite from Crate and Barrel.
1 bunch fresh rosemary
2 cups small grape tomatoes
1 1/2 cups mini mozzarella balls
1 1/2 cup mixed olives
- Start by cutting the rosemary into smaller pieces and place them on a serving tray formed into a wreath shape.
- Top with grape tomatoes, mozzarella and olives.
- Drizzle with a little olive oil and serve with some crusty country style bread.
Norwegian Forest Cocktail
This cocktail is inspired by the Norwegian forest and the wonderful berries you can find there. Fresh rosemary gives it a complex woody-herbal flavor. In true Scandinavian style, I love to serve this cocktail in these beautiful and minimal Wave Highball glasses from Crate and Barrel.
Makes 2 cocktails
2 sprigs of rosemary
4 lime wedges
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 cup simple syrup
1/2 cup vodka
- Divide the berries, rosemary and limes in two glasses.
- Muddle well and fill glasses with ice.
- Add simple syrup and vodka and stir well.
- Top with ginger ale.
Moravian Spice Cookie Icebox Cake
I am a huge fan of no-bake cakes! This cake is inspired by a no-bake terrine dessert that my grandmother used to make in Norway from thin and spicy pepparkakor cookies and cream. The wonderful Moravian Spice Cookies from Crate and Barrelare a PERFECT substitute for my grandmother’s homemade cookies.
4 cups heavy cream
1 container mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup sugar
about 100 Moravian Spice Cookies
- Start by whipping the cream to soft peaks, add mascarpone and sugar and beat until you have a smooth cream.
- Place 7 cookies on a platter or cake stand.
- Spread with a layer of cream.
- Continue layering cookies and cream until you run out of cookies.
- Finish with cream.
- Let the cake set for at least 3 hours or overnight in the fridge.
Spicy Fried Mixed Nuts
These nuts are totally addictive. You’re probably going to want to double this recipe at least! I love to make big batches of this for family gatherings, and I also package them in tins to bring to holiday parties as hostess gifts. I’m serving them here on the Baird Appetizer Plate from Crate and Barrel.
Makes 3 cups
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 cup unsalted cashew nuts
1 cup unsalted almonds
1 cup unsalted macademia nuts
1 rosemary twig, just the leafs
1 tablespoon flaky sea salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
pinch of ted chili flakes
- Heat the oil in a pan or wok.
- Add the nuts and fry them until they start to get golden.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until everything is well coated and your house smells amazing.
- Cool and serve.
This post was sponsored by my friends at Crate and Barrel. Crate and Barrel has
design for the way you celebrate. You can find a gift for everyone on your list.
Good design is so comforting!