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Season's Eatings 2023

Posted by Nigella on the 1st December 2023
Image of Nigella In Red And White Jumper With Cake
Photo by Robin Fox

It feels like it was summer only a minute ago, and suddenly Christmas is upon us! I’m not complaining, though: the cocooning comfort that winter affords appeals so much more to me than the glare of the sun (with apologies to those in the Southern hemisphere). And I’m looking forward to Christmas with the excitement of a child. There’s nothing quite like the warm glow of a lit-up Christmas tree to lift the spirits as the days grow shorter and darker; in fact, it makes me glad for them.

And, as you don’t actually need me to tell you, I adore Christmas food. I’ve got so much to tell you about, however, that I won’t follow my greedy impulse to itemise my every time-honoured, festive favourite, but instead and with great restraint, simply let you know that you can find all these recipes by clicking on these links for Christmas drinks, Christmas canapés and picky things, Christmas main courses and sides and, of course, Christmas desserts and sweet treats. And, should you want the whole shebang in one, just click on All Things Christmassy!

I do, however, want to go into a little more detail in telling you about some recipes that I’m thrilled are making their debut on First up, I’ve added three quince recipes: while not exclusively Christmassy, they are just perfect at this time of year. And let me tell you about them, starting with the simplest, which are the Roast Quinces — and when I say simplest, these could scarcely be any simpler — and I am tempted to make these in place of the traditional parsnips for my Christmas dinner: this richly perfumed, savagely sharp fruit needs no more than to be cut into quarters or eighths (depending on size) and roasted unpeeled to create an exceptional accompaniment and foil to rich meats — goose, duck or pork clamour for them — but even though turkey is not rich in itself, once the stuffing and the little sausages have been added, it becomes a feast that finds a ready place for this fabulous fruit. The other two recipes are both puddings: Red Roast Quinces which, after long, slow cooking turn almost into a dessert form of Membrillo, the Spanish quince paste that is far more complicated to make; and my Pomegranate-Poached Quinces which are just gorgeously Christmassy.

And talking of gorgeously Christmassy, I just have to tell you about my Winter Wonderland Cake over on Ocado, especially for those who cannot abide dried fruit and so shy away from a traditional Christmas cake, though it can certainly be an “as well as” not just an “instead of”: in my house there will most definitely be both!

Winter Wonderland Cake

CookbookCorner, as you know, usually features just one book and one recipe, but — to celebrate seasonal abundance — I bring you a special Christmas CookbookCorner, with a pick of 6 books and 11 recipes! From the Queen of Gluten-Free cooking, Becky Excell, comes Gluten-Free Christmas and her Cheesy Garlic Gluten-Free Dough Ball Wreath and Mini Gluten-Free Christmas Puddings. And this book will be invaluable to so many people. As will Sam Dixon’s Very Vegan Christmas, a beautiful little book with so much in it, from which, I’m happy to bring you her Vegan Christmas Cake and Vegan Mincemeat Pancakes. Helena Garcia’s Book of Gingerbread also features here, and is smile-inducingly represented by her Gingerbread Present Brownies and Gingerbread Eggnog Cocktail. Next up, we have the Ginger Pig’s Christmas Cookbook, from which I’ve chosen the Ginger Pig Venison Bourguignon Pie and Boxing Day Bubble and Squeak for you. The next two titles are not themselves Christmas books, but have yielded, between them, three uber-Christmassy recipes. From the wonderful German Baking by Jürgen Krauss, I bring you with great cheer his Apple Marzipan Tart and splendid Stollen, Dresden-Style. And from The Tucci Table, a Christmas present in itself, I give you Stanley Tucci’s Sausage Rolls.

Cookbook Corner

As well as the Christmas CookbookCorner, the site also boasts, this month, a special Christmas Cookalong featuring an old favourite in the form of a Bûche de Noël, aka Yule Log. And, incidentally, it’s flourless, and therefore gluten-free and lusciously light into the bargain!

Xmas 2023 Cookalong
December Cookalong

But we all know what Christmas really means on here. Yes, it’s time for the annual Christmas Pudding Hunt! I know that many of you are regular entrants, but those of you who are playing for the first time can find out what’s involved here. I want to thank NordicWare for their generosity in providing this year’s prize, which is a bonanza baking bundle featuring their Smiley Face Pancake Pan, Cake Lifter, Rectangular Copper Cake Cooling Rack, Naturals Prism Jelly Roll Pan, Naturals Prism Quarter Sheet Pan, Naturals Prism 9 x 13 Rectangular Cake Pan, 2 Piece Small Spatula Set, and (yes, there’s still more) their beautiful Pine Forest Bundt® Pan, Gingerbread House Bundt® Pan Frozen and Snowflake Cakelet Pan.

Christmas Pudding Hunt

In further festive news, I must tell you that my new Amsterdam Christmas Special will be broadcast on BBC1 at 8pm on Thursday the 21st of December (I’m afraid I don’t know about where or when it will be shown outside of the UK) and I’m more excited than I can say! On the evening itself I shall be adding the 9 new recipes from it to, and I just can’t wait.

All that remains for now, my lovelies, is to wish you a happy and healthy Christmas, which I do from the bottom of my heart.  

Winter Wonderland Cake