I have a lovely friend, Helen, who I’ve known (electronically) for years and who writes the fabulous website The Foodie Gift Hunter. She is THE go-to person for gift ideas and, frankly, if you like food it’s a great read even if you’re not searching for a gift. We both share a penchant for the ridiculous, the kitsch and the corny, plus we also share a love of cook books. This year, we challenged each other to a little Christmas cook book-off, if you will. A kind of ‘I’ll show you mine if you show me yours’ of our Christmas cookbook selections.
So without further ado, pop pickers… (and in the style of ‘Fluff’ Freeman), here are my top ten Christmas cookbooks:
A Simply Delicious Christmas by Darina Allen. Published in the late 80s, I love it not just because its Irishness reminds me of my years spent living in Cavan, but because the original owner of my copy marked her favourite recipes with Novena cards (they’re like little Catholic prayer cards).
Elizabeth David’s Christmas. I have quite a few of Elizabeth David’s books. Like Rick Stein, I love her writing for the elements of travel (and wisdom) as well as her recipes. This Christmas compilation by Jill Norman is wonderful. I love the eccentricity of it all (goose giblet stew, anyone?) but there are some Christmas classics in there too.
the cnristmas cookbook (I love that Amazon have spelled it incorrectly) – by Nanette Newman. Another 80s classic here. Nanette Newman is so full of warmth – the perfect family Christmas positively oozes from these pages. This is also a great one to refer to for some lovely oldy fashionedy recipes if you’re going a bit retro at your party: chicken with avocado and grapes, for instance, and an AMAZING cheesecake recipe called Eli’s Cheesecake, which I make throughout the year, not just at Christmas.
Not strictly a Christmas book, but Cooking With Mickey and the Disney Chefs by Pam Brandon gets my vote. As you know, I’m a bit of a Disney nutcase, and I was lucky enough to have dinner with Pam Brandon at Walt Disney World on a press trip. I nearly spontaneously combusted when she introduced herself. She writes the Disney Food Blog as well, which is a thing of beauty. This book contains THE BEST Eggs Benedict recipe I’ve ever tried, perfect for Christmas morning.
Peterson’s Holiday Helper: Festive Pick-me-ups, Calm-me-downs, and Handy Hints to Keep You in Good Spirits by Valerie Peterson is a great fun book which comes out every Christmas at English Towers. It contains great recipes, hilarious tips and great cocktails and is a total giggle to read. Everyone should have one.
Scandinavian Christmas is a new one this year. Trine Hahnemann’s delightful book contains scrummy Skandi recipes (including some great cookies to make with kids) and is a joy to read. It would make a great present for any Christmas addict.
Possibly my favourite, just for the sheer joy I get from reading it is Christmas with Paula Deen: Recipes and Stories from My Favorite Holiday. Completely bonkers and full of her more mental recipe suggestions, including ‘The Best Damn Blueberry Muffin You’ll Ever Eat’ – you’ll need to stock up on massive amounts of cream cheese and sticks of buddderrrr, and may die of a coronary afterwards, but God you’d die happy. Merry Christmas Y’all!
The original and best, Merry Kitschmas: The Ultimate Holiday Handbook by Michael D Conway is the book that started my love of Christmas books. Here’s my original post on the subject. I still love it, and try to recreate those AMAZING candy cane cocktails every year.
Christmas would not be Christmas without Martha Stewart telling you how to hand make a personalised gift tag made out of gingerbread. I have several Martha Stewart Christmas books (I know, right?), but Christmas With Martha Stewart Living is still my favourite. It doesn’t matter that I sit and flick through it whilst drinking a cocktail and eating my way through a box of Celebrations – in my head I’m at my sewing machine, painstakingly making presents for each of my loved ones.
Lastly, but certainly not leastly, is the wondrous Nigella. This one comes out every year too – her Chocolate Christmas cake has been made many times, and hey, who cares if you need 8 eggs and several hundredweight of specialist items to create the dishes. It’s Christmas. No cook should be without Nigella Christmas: Food, Family, Friends, Festivities.
And that’s it. Around the Christmas tree in my ten favourite books. Do tell me yours!
Oh and by the way, this post contains affiliate links, which means that if 100,000 of you buy a book via the links, I’ll get about 2p. Thanks!