12 ways to do Christmas like Nigella

We spoke to cookery doyenne Nigella Lawson about how she celebrates Christmas at home. Read her 12 ingredients of Christmas to discover her ultimate dessert, top condiments and what you'll find at the bottom of her stocking (it's not a clementine).

12 ways to do Christmas like Nigella

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!

Do it yourself... choose one of our 43 best Christmas cakes to make at home

2. Pickles

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 the many meals that need to get onto the table. My quick-pickled beetroot with ginger is fabulously festive, but I have others up my seasonal sleeve too!

Do it yourself... make a jar of homemade pickled beetroot

Roasted ham3. 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.

Do it yourself... learn how to perfectly glaze and cook a ham

4. Sprouts

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.

Do it yourself... try a new way with sprouts

Pavlova5. Pavlova

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.

Do it yourself... 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.

Do it yourself... serve marron glacé in our Mont Blanc-tini cocktail

7. Poinsettia

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. 

Do it yourself... make a speedy Prosecco cocktail in a few minutes

bark8. Chocolate

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.

Do it yourself... make your own version of mint chocolate bark

9. Turkey

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.

Do it yourself... master the art of Christmas turkey

Pomegranate cheesecake10. Pomegranate

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.

Do it yourself... try cooking with pomegranate

11. Parsnips

This means maple-roast parsnips for Christmas lunch, and a spiced parsnip & spinach soup throughout the season.

Do it yourself... discover 10 great ideas for parsnips

Decorations12. 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!

Do it yourself... deck the halls with an edible decoration

Simply Nigella by Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus) is out now.


Visit our Christmas kitchen for more cookery advice from top chefs and BBC Good Food experts, plus heaps of recipes for the festive season.

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