In my family we would always wait until the 23rd to decorate the tree. My grandmother always referred to that day as "the day before the day". Ever since I was a kid that day has been special to me.
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Dad would get the tree from the garage and get all the boxes with ornaments from the attic. The radio would be on with christmas carols, there would be plenty of cookies and marzipan and not to forget Mormor's lamb pies. The filling had been cooking all day and driving us crazy with it's amazing smells. We would ask all day when they where ready and the answer was always the same, "When the tree is decorated and lit".

I forgot to mention one thing, we where all in pajamas and robes. Don't know how that started, but that was the rule.

The tree got decorated more or less the same way every year. Red apples, silver ornaments, red ribbons and my collection of old ornaments that I bought at local flea markets. The year four off them fell of the tree and broke is still called the Annus Horribilus.

When all was done and the tree was lit the door to the kitchen would open and Mormor would carry out the pies. Then we all knew christmas was here!

Makes 6 small pies

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
4 lamb shanks
salt and pepper
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 cup red wine
3 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon tomato pure
1/2 teaspoon sugar
puff pastry

  1. Heat oven to 375F.
  2. Melt oil and butter in a large pan.
  3. Rub the shanks well in with salt and pepper.
  4. Brown on all sides in the pan.
  5. Take them out and add onion and garlic.
  6. Sauté until the garlic is soft.
  7. Add bay leaf, cumin, red wine, stock, tomato pure and sugar.
  8. Stir well and add the shanks.
  9. Put on a lid and place in the oven for 2 1/2 hours.
  10. Take them out and let it cool.
  11. Pull of the meat and add the meat to the sauce.
  12. Put the mixture into small pie pans.
  13. Roll out the puff pastry and top each pie with it.
  14. Cut out hearts and place on top.
  15. Bake at 375F until golden.
  16. Serve warm.


Photography by Melina Hammer

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