For me, one of the greatest pleasures of preparing for the holiday season is perusing Christmas cookbooks for ideas and recipes. Returning to old favourites and experimenting with new ideas is part of the build up and anticipation of the season ahead.
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My Favourite Christmas Cookbooks
Nigella Christmas – My Favourite of all Christmas Cookbooks
This is definitely one of my all time favourite Christmas cookbooks. It has been a part of our Christmas celebrations ever since Nigella herself signed my copy back in November 2008. She was just as lovely as she appears on television and seemed genuinely interested in talking with me, despite the fact that the queue snaked out for what seemed like miles.
Nigella Christmas is set out in sections, from cocktails and canapés to ‘Seasonal Support’, ‘The Main Event’ and the appropriately titled ‘Joy to the World’, a chapter covering Christmas baking. There are also chapters with menus and recipes for specific meals, like a seasonal brunch. Practical advice on how long to cook your turkey and other seasonal dilemmas are also covered plus there’s a chapter of recipes for gifts from the kitchen.
Featuring lots of lovely photographs and a selection of recipes so vast I’m still working my way through them twelve years later, Nigella Christmas is my kitchen companion from November to January every year. The recipes I return to again and again include Cranberry and Soy Glazed Cocktail Sausages, Crab Crostini, Gingerbread Stuffing, Christmas Rocky Road and Nigella’s Incredibly Easy Chocolate Fruit Cake.
New York Christmas
Lisa Nieschlag and Lars Wentrup take readers on a virtual visit to New York City, one of the cities I believe does Christmas best. Delicious recipes are interspersed with stories and beautiful photographs, giving a sense of what a New York Christmas is really like. As someone who has been lucky enough to be in New York City at Christmas a number of times, this book serves as a wonderful reminder of our visits.
The accessible seasonal recipes all have accompanying photographs. They cover everything from appetizers and classic breads to main courses and irresistible Christmas desserts. Working my way through the recipes in New York Christmas is a joy. I highly recommend the Sweet Potato Gratin with Mushrooms and Leeks and the Blueberry Brownies! Next up in my kitchen? The Carrot Cake with Coconut Frosting!
Christmas at Highclere – Another of My Favourite Christmas Cookbooks
More than a cookbook, Christmas at Highclere is a glimpse behind the scenes at Highclere Castle, The Real Downton Abbey. The Countess of Carnarvon shares the history of Christmases past at this iconic property along with delicious recipes from Highclere cooks past and present.
Modern celebrations are covered too and the book is full of photographs of people enjoying all that Highclere has to offer. I may have been predisposed to enjoy a book that has a photograph of me in it (bottom left on page 144 if you are interested) but it’s hard not to love this beautifully written and photographed tome.
There is a photograph with every recipe, and instructions are clear and easy to follow. Whether you are a fan of Downton Abbey, a history buff, or simply a keen cook, Christmas at Highclere is one of those Christmas cookbooks you are sure to enjoy. Like all the books I’ve written about here, it makes a wonderful holiday gift as well.
Christmas with Southern Living 2020
I have had the pleasure of visiting the Southern states many times and I’m always impressed by the wonderful hospitality we experience there. Christmas with Southern Living shares a taste of Christmas in the South with beautiful decorating ideas, entertaining tips and delicious recipes the whole family will love.
This cookbook covers everything from easy main dishes for busy days during the holidays to cocktails and show stopping desserts. I’d love to serve the Orange Glazed Cranberry Christmas wreath for breakfast Christmas Day and I’m definitely going to give the Pecan Vodka Old-Fashioned a try. There are also menus for everything from a Southern Sit Down to a Bake and Take party. When we can entertain again properly, introducing the concept of a Bake and Take to our friends and neighbours here in the UK will be first on my list!
The Little Library Christmas
I’m already a fan of Kate Young’s The Little Library Cookbook and the Little Library Year, and this sequel does not disappoint. The Little Library Christmas is full of wonderful recipes, inspired by well loved books and stories.
There’s a recipe for Turkish Delight in honour of Edmund’s first visit to Narnia in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C S Lewis. Smoking Bishop, the Victorian version of mulled wine from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and Christmas Pudding from Michael Bond’s Paddington Bear also feature.
The author includes recipes and anecdotes from her own family Christmases too, including a rather intriguing Grief Wellington – a Beef Wellington without the beef! This is one of those cookbooks that makes you want to head to the kitchen, but that you can also simply read with a cup of tea on a rainy afternoon.
Whether you are looking to increase your own cookbook collection or are seeking gift ideas for the keen cooks and foodies in your life, one of my favourite Christmas cookbooks is sure to please! Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas.