I was asked on Instagram the other day; what is my favourite Christmas book?
After thinking of answering either Hogfather or Little Women, which were the first books that sprung to mind, it was a Christmas cookery book that was my final answer.
Specifically, Nigella Lawson’s book Nigella Christmas. If you love Christmas it should definitely be in your bookcase, even if you are not a cook.
It’s easy to answer why; I don’t consider this to be just a Christmas recipe book. Although I have certainly used it as such, as the food stained cover and pages testify.
It’s a state of mind, and a very Christmassy one.
The subtitle for the book is “Food, Family, Friends, Festivities” and to me that perfectly sums up all there is to love about Christmas.
This is no ordinary Christmas Cookery Book
This is not just a book for the kitchen, on a rainy day, it’s perfect for curling up with for a bit of Christmas comfort and I guarantee it will lift your mood. Nigella’s scrumptious writing throughout the book, from her introduction, to the little pieces she writes before each Christmas recipe, do a wonderful job of capturing all the joys of the season.
Each year around the beginning of September I take this book out and pour over its pages making a list of all the Christmas recipes I plan to make over the holiday period. I also use it throughout the year, it’s the first book I pull out if I have people coming for dinner and I want something easy to prepare, looks beautiful on the table and that’s guaranteed to be delicious.
In addition to recommending the book to bring on the festive feeling all year round. I wanted to highlight my favourite 10 Christmas recipes from Nigella Christmas that I have used all year round – year in, year out – since I bought the book 11 years ago.
I’m not going to write out the recipes here for you, just signpost them so you know they are in the book and explain why I have included them. I really recommend buying this book for yourself so you can enjoy the prose and beautiful Christmas photography in addition to the recipes.
My 10 Best Christmas Recipes from the book
Note: There are tons of super luscious recipes in this Christmas cookery book, not just these 10 below and I have made a great many of them. These are just my favourite picks.
Fully Loaded Potato Skins
These beauties are in “the more the merrier” section of the book featuring cocktails, canapés and Christmas recipe buffet ideas. I make these all the time; they are a staple of any buffet spread year round and are really adaptable. Just use the basic recipe featuring cheese, spring onions and bacon but adapt to your favourite flavours.
Perfect Roast Potatoes
Who knew that Semolina was the secret key to crispy roast potatoes? Nigella did. From “the main event” section of the book which has Christmas recipes for all the basics together as one point of reference. If you are cooking Christmas for the first time, you could just get this book and follow the recipes in this one section and you are sorted. Each recipe in the book also has make ahead tips. So you can easily see where you can take some pressure off by being organised a day or so in advance.
Bourbon Glazed Ribs, Spoonbread and Boston Baked Beans
These three recipes all go together for me and I love to serve them as a meal for people in the autumn. It has comfy, cosy goodness baked right through it. The ribs and spoonbread are from the “come on over” section of the book which has stress-free supper ideas. The Boston baked beans are from the “seasonal support” section which has your soups, salads, sauces and sides. Note: I quite often make the bourbon glazed ribs using sausages instead, as Nigella herself recommends in the text with the recipe. Also, for the Boston baked beans, I use pre-soaked haricot beans from a can, drained and added to the other ingredients. Sorry Nigella.
Incredibly Easy Chocolate Fruit Cake
In “joy to the world” the baking and sweet treats section of the book. My love for this recipe is unbounded. It is the second time I have mentioned it in this blog and I have only written 7 posts (see the liqueur section of my Best Christmas Drinks Post).
As I say there, it is my husband’s favourite, I make it every year and you need to try this cake. This page in my Nigella Christmas recipe book is covered in the sticky memories of Christmas cakes past.
Christmas Rocky Road
A similarly sticky page is the one showing the recipe for Christmas rocky road. Like the loaded potato skins, these are a year round, go to recipe. Quick and easy, these opulent little squares of loveliness don’t even need cooking in the oven. If you can use a wooden spoon, you can make these.
May Nigella forgive me; I’m not a slave to the recipe. Though I always have the book open to channel my inner Nigella and to follow the approximate quantities. But I liberally substitute whatever I have in the cupboard. I leave stuff out, I add things in. Just remember to keep the proportions the same. Some substitution ideas: Chocolate oranges for the chocolate. Bourbons or Oreos (read any biscuits) for the amaretti. Mixed fruit instead of the nuts. I also like to add a little bit of mixed spice or cinnamon to mine.
Make your own Reese’s Pieces. Yet another sticky Christmas cookery book page. Enough said.
Spruced up Vanilla Cake
A simple flavoured, but really tasty cake for all year round. At time of writing this was on the Nigella’s website, here. Don’t be deceived by the fancy tin, this is just as yummy made in a standard cake or bundt tin. But I can’t deny I have been seduced into buying a fancy tin too.
Christmas Puddini Bonbons
From the “all wrapped up” section which has Christmas recipe ideas for edible gifts. I love these and don’t see how anyone would not want to make them for everyone they can think of after one look at the photos. Plus it is easy; you don’t need to spend hours fussing over jam or chutneys to make a homemade Christmas gift. Just another sticky festive exercise in melting and stirring.
To sum up
There you have it, an ode to my favourite Christmas recipe book, in fact, my favourite Christmas book.
If you liked this post you might like my post about creating a Christmas Bar List, find it here.
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