Wondering how a domestic goddess prepares for Christmas? Nigella Lawson shares her top tips for putting on a festive feast, including her secrets for cooking sprouts, tricks with turkey and making edible gifts. Plus, her recipe for a quick and Christmassy prosecco cocktail will get your party started.
Browse more ideas for laying on a fabulous festive feast by visiting our Christmas planning hub.
1. Christmas cake
I’ve got a new recipe for mine that’s fudgy with dates, treacly with marmalade, sumptuously dark, and happens to be gluten- and dairy-free, which means that it has almost universal appeal. For me though, the gorgeousness of the taste is the lure. It is also very easy, because everything is melted together in a saucepan before being transferred to a tin and baked, and you can do it at the last minute. Delicious and easy are the bywords!
I’m the condiment queen at Christmas and I make quick pickles that don’t involve hours of faffing. I give them as presents, but keep plenty to eat with roast meats, cold cuts and cheese, or to spruce up many meals. My quick-pickled beetroot with ginger is fabulously festive, but I have others up my seasonal sleeve too!
3. Baked ham
I have a new recipe that is now firmly part of my Christmas Eve repertoire. My slow-cooked black treacle ham pretty much cooks itself, and is as glorious to eat as it is undemanding to make.
There are more ways to eat sprouts than as chestnut-studded accompaniments to Christmas lunch. My stir-fried rice with double sprouts, chilli & pineapple is welcome as a hangover salve or a veggie respite from this great meat feast – although it’s wonderful with leftover ham. It works well hot or cold.
- Try our most indulgent sprout recipes.
I’ve never failed to get a Pavlova on the table at this time of year, and I never want to. My lemon Pavlova is a thing of beauty. I scatter toasted flaked almonds on top, but at Christmas, these can be substituted with ruby-red pomegranate seeds.
- Watch our video guide on how to make a Pavlova.
6. Marron glacé
Nothing says ‘Christmas treat’ to me more than candied chestnuts. They are an extravagance, but I wouldn’t feel it was Christmas without a small jar in the house. I also buy the cheaper broken ones, and sprinkle them over ice cream for an instant dessert.
- Serve marron glacé in our festive Mont Blanc-tini cocktail.
Not the plant but my Christmas Day cocktail: for each bottle of prosecco or dry sparkling white wine, add 125ml orange liqueur and 500ml cranberry juice. It’s stronger than it tastes.
- Make a speedy prosecco cocktail in a few minutes.
Christmas in my house means Quality Street and peppermint bark. The latter is an American tradition, which I’ve adopted more recently. I always have a few tins for me, and plenty to give friends as Christmas presents.
I never want to branch out for Christmas lunch and start serving up goose. For me, it has to be turkey, and my special pre-roasting brine makes it extra juicy. The leftovers are just as important: I make sandwiches with good white bread, leftover cranberry and bread sauces and English mustard.
Ever since I was a small child and got a pomegranate in my stocking, I’ve always associated Christmas with these beautiful fruits with jewel seeds. I keep bowls heaped with them, like edible decorations, and I also scatter the seeds in salads and over puddings to give as much food as I can a gleaming festive flourish.
This means maple-roast parsnips for Christmas lunch, and a spiced parsnip & spinach soup throughout the season.
- Discover 10 great ideas for parsnips.
12. Edible decorations
I’ve made edible tree decorations with my children since they were little, and now they are the essential ritual announcing that Christmas has begun!
- Deck the halls with our edible decorations.
Visit our Christmas kitchen for more cookery advice from top chefs and BBC Good Food experts, plus heaps of recipes for the festive season.