Well, it’s December and my mind is, naturally, turning to Christmas dinner. I’ve never made any secret of my belief that Christmas dinner needs to be turkey. If you think likewise (and, actually, even if you don’t) you need my Spiced and Superjuicy Turkey. The brining really does give the juiciest meat imaginable, and I implore you to give it a go. But don’t take just my word for it: read the comments underneath the recipe! If you feel like you want to stick with turkey, but cook it a little differently this year, then my Italian-inspired Turkey Breast Stuffed with Italian Sausage and Marsala-Steeped Cranberries is most definitely the one for you. But you may want a change from the usual bird. Either way, we can all be happy as I’ve got lots of ideas in mind for festive main courses (and, of course, the rest).
You could go for a goose, and in which case I suggest you try my Roast Goose with Pear and Cranberry Stuffing. Also a contender is my Roast Duck with Orange, Ginger and Soy - I’d suggest a pair of ducks, as don’t think you can feed more than 3 out of one duck, but my method is so simple and fail-safe, that you can add more ducks as needed! And my Roast Rib of Beef with Port and Stilton Gravy is always wonderfully celebratory, so good as an alternative for Christmas Day or for a special dinner around this time. And it also does make for fantastic sandwiches in the days that follow, assuming you have leftovers, of course, which I can’t guarantee. Mind you, it’s hard to beat a Christmas turkey sandwich.
And while we’re on the subject of leftovers - I always, always cook a ham at Christmas, usually on Christmas Eve for supper, and with a view to having cold meats for the days following the Big Day. It’s up to you whether you go for Ham in Coca Cola, Ginger-Glazed Ham or Slow-Cooked Black Treacle Ham. Whichever you go for, do consider serving with my Make-Ahead Mash. Oh, and some Spiced Peaches. If it’s a vegetarian or vegan option you want, then make it magnificent and go for my Roast Stuffed Pumpkin with a Gingery Tomato Sauce: it really is a showstopper.
And for the sweet treats - where should I start? Well, it has to be with the traditional - do try my Ultimate Christmas Pudding, its Pedro-Ximenez-infused fruit is out-of-this-world delicious, and really does deserve its somewhat boastful title. But I know I won’t convert everyone – so I offer you my Chocolate Pudding for Christmas Pudding Haters. Serve either pudding – or, better still, both - with my No-Churn Salted Caramel Bourbon Ice Cream, just substituting the Bourbon with brandy, for a truly sensational alternative to brandy butter. And it just wouldn’t be Christmas without my Star-Topped Mince Pies.
Christmas Cupcakes always go down a storm - decorate them however the mood takes you. And I can’t let the season go past without making my Spruced-Up Vanilla Cake quite a few times. Yes, you do need the special tin to get the wow-factor, but making this has become a Christmas tradition for me. I feel I must also draw your attention to a great favourite in Casa Lawson: the Chocolate Salame. It’s actually a lot easier to make than it looks, and it is just wonderful to bring out to the table with coffee in lieu of actual pudding. And Christmas Day itself really needs to start with a batch of Christmas Morning Muffins - cinnamony and orange-scented, they are the very smell of Christmas.
And if you feel like a bit of pottering around in the kitchen to get yourself into the seasonal spirit, I must tell you about my ideas for edible gifts. Give me the calm of an evening’s gentle cooking in my kitchen any day rather than the horror of the shops at this time of year. You can buy your ingredients in the normal course of your grocery shopping and a pretty preserving jar, or decorative boxes, a handwritten label and maybe a rosette or a ribbon are all you need in the way of wrapping. Don’t forget, though, to write any storage instructions on the label, and a note of how long your present will keep for. My Fig and Olive Chutney is always a hit, and rightly so, as is my Christmas Chutney - which incidentally makes your kitchen smell wonderful, with its scents of cloves and cinnamon. My Chilli Jam also makes for a very welcome present – it’s fiery and fabulous with cold meats or cheese, and is cheeringly as red as Rudolph’s nose.
Sweet treats such as my Christmas Rocky Road, Chocolate Pistachio Fudge and dinky Christmas Puddini Bonbons all lend themselves well to the gift approach. Or buy a pretty tin and fill it with Forgotten Cookies, or Chocolate Christmas Cookies – both worth bearing in mind if you are going to someone’s house, and want to take a little something along. For me, though, Christmas proper starts with my Edible Christmas Tree Decorations. Once my house is filled with their peppery, gingerbready smell, I’m happy. Ritual is so important in life, and our Christmas traditions celebrate that. I find there is something both calming and uplifting about getting together with my children, and taking time together to make, decorate and hang them each year.
Those of us who are lucky enough to be able to feast must be grateful for it, and I am. And, until I go away, I look forward to pottering about in the kitchen sharing food and happiness with recipes that make this time feel special and taste good. I can’t carry on listing everything I’ll cook here, but you can find some of my favourite Christmas recipes by clicking on these links for Christmas Baking, Christmas Cakes, Christmas Desserts, Main courses, Sides and Edible Gifts.
I’m very pleased to announce the return of the nigella.com Christmas Pudding Hunt. Sign in (or register if you haven’t yet signed up - it’s a painless process, and free), get your detective hats on, and start collecting your puds today for a chance to win a fabulous Fortnum & Mason’s hamper, packed full of Christmas deliciousness. All that remains is for me to wish you a very, very Merry Christmas.