I’ve already admitted to a bad cookbook habit so it won’t come as a great surprise I have several Christmas cookbooks. I thought I’d review my three general Christmas cookbooks.
- Delia Smith’s Christmas
Delia Smith’s Christmas is my oldest and most well thumbed Christmas cook book. It was the book I used every year to get turkey cooking times and after an unsuccessful attempt with classic mincemeat that went off I subsequently always used Delia’s method of melting the suet. The red cabbage recipe is a classic and whilst I’ve never used Delia’s countdown religiously it has always been useful guidance.
In the past I’ve made the roasted red peppers stuffed with fennel which was good and I make the mushroom risotto from this book regularly. I made her venison casserole this year and will be making that again. There are still many recipes in this book that I’ve never tried. I have often thought I must try her Irish coffee pudding so this time I really will make a note to make it soon.
It contains all the information you might need for successful food at Christmas. Recipes as well as lists, timings and advice. She includes several interesting vegetarian options for Christmas dinner. Justifiably a classic, some recipes may look almost retro but all look good.
The book is spit up into the following chapters:
Lists and More Lists
All kinds of Christmas Cakes
Talking Turkey…and Geese and Hams
Christmas Puddings and Mincemeat
Preserves, Pickles and Chutneys
Christmas on Ice
Canapes and Nibbles
A Party Selection
A Vegetarian Christmas
Ducks, Geese and Game
Roasted Meats and Cold Cuts
Winter Vegetable Dishes and Salads
Christmas Desserts and Sweet Dishes
Homemade Sweets and Chocolates
The Last 36 Hours
Supper Dishes and Left-overs
Mail Order and Home Delivery Suppliers (curiously old fashioned these days)
More About Turkeys
- Nigella Christmas
I like the Nigella Christmas cookbook, it conveys her love of entertaining combined with a ‘don’t stress it’ approach. Although even with my tendency to feed anyone who comes through the door I found the idea of a ‘Welcome table’ groaning with food just to greet anyone who turned up odd. One of my criticisms with this book is its footprint. It is too big to hold easily (in my opinion large format cook books only work if they are slim enough not to be too heavy). A number of the recipes in this book have appeared in previous Nigella cookbooks and it contains at least one spectacular failure – I tried her gingerbread stuffing the Christmas after I got this book and threw it away after one taste. Aidan made her yule log which was nice but nothing spectacular.
That said I make her spruced up vanilla cake from this book several times each year, it’s a very easy cake to make before visiting family and friends and is always well received as it looks special and tastes nice. Browsing through the book for this review I noticed she includes some nice ideas for winter dinner party meals that are not christmassy so I’ll try a couple more recipes before I put this book away for the year.
The book is organised as follows:
The More the Merrier Cocktails, Canapes and Manageable Mass Catering
Seasonal Support Soups, Salads, Sauces and Serve-later sides
Come On Over…Stress free suppers
The Main Event
Joy to the World Christmas Baking and Sweet Treats
All Wrapped Up Edible Presents and Party Preserves
A Christmas Brunch for 6-8
A Bevy of Hot Drinks
Dr Lawson Prescribes…
- Sarah Raven’s Complete Christmas
Sarah Raven’s Complete Christmas is the most inspirational book, with stunning photographs. Sarah’s planning for Christmas includes flowers and starts in September! It is the sort of book which makes you wish you had a large well stocked garden and lots of free autumn weekends to potter around since at least half of the book is floral and foliage decorations for christmas and there are a number of edible gift recipes. Although the recipes look lovely I’ve only made the christmas pudding ice cream so far which was delicious. I suspect if I didn’t already have Delia’s book this would be my guide to making Christmas dinner as it is thorough without being over complicated. This book is split into the following sections:
Planning Ahead which includes forcing bulbs for Christmas as well as homemade chutneys.
Decorations which includes ideas for decorating your Christmas tree and making wreaths
A Christmas Party which has more flowers and lots of canape recipes
Christmas Eve Recipes from breakfast through light lunch to 3 course dinner
Christmas Day How to do all the essentials including roast goose with interesting ideas and variants for basics such as stuffings
Boxing Day Lots of interesting ideas for using up leftovers
New Year’s Eve with winter dinner party recipes