Delia Smith's Christmas by Delia Smith
|Delia Smith's Christmas by Delia Smith|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A valuable guide to catering for the family and wider gatherings over the Christmas period. Expect fool-proof recipes but not first principles. It's a book I wouldn't like to be without though.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 224||Date: September 1994|
|Publisher: BBC Books|
|External links: Author's website|
I'll come clean straight away. I don't like Christmas. There was nothing in my childhood to make me feel that it was other than a time of misery and heartache and that sort of thing tends to colour the way you think about it in the future.
I do like, though, to think that my family and friends don't have to miss out on the good things that Christmas can bring and on the food front Delia Smith's "Christmas" has been my aide memoire since its publication in 1990.
It's got a Christmas present cover - a picture of green moiré with a red ribbon and gold lettering. It's the inside that's more important though. We begin with some lists of the sort of grocery shopping you're likely to need to do in the period before Christmas. Don't take it as gospel. If you don't like chestnuts Christmas isn't suddenly going to see you consuming chestnut puree. On the other hand, the reminder that you're nearly out of brandy might not go amiss.
The chapters are arranged in roughly the order that you'll need them. I say 'roughly' because my first job is never going to be to make the Christmas cake, because it would get eaten. I leave that until we're into December and hide it as best I can. For eleven years we've had the Creole Christmas Cake, best described as copious amounts of alcohol and fruit held together with as little cake mixture as you can get away with. One of the main reasons for us choosing this cake is that Peter doesn't like marzipan and this cake is so rich that it doesn't really need any decoration, but for those who want a traditional cake all the recipes are there and there's even one for a last minute Mincemeat Cake.
My first job is always the Christmas pudding and I use Delia's recipe with a slight alteration. To accommodate any vegetarians I use butter instead of suet and the result is always delightful. There are recipes for other, lighter puddings for those who find the Christmas pudding too much of a good thing. I'm not too keen on Delia's mincemeat though as I find it a little greasy.
My preserves, pickles and chutneys are usually a result of a glut of fruit or vegetables in the autumn and already in their jars but I used to make up some Christmas Chutney for a friend who loved this recipe. Unfortunately he died earlier this year and it seems strange not to be thinking of making the chutney.
There's plenty of food to cover the pre-Christmas party season, whether you are thinking of informal or formal entertaining. I can vouch for the mulled wine. Well, I think I can, if I remember correctly. For those who are vegetarian there are three excellent menus complete with recipes. We have the roasted red peppers stuffed with fennel on a regular basis. Delia suggests it as a starter, but we often have it as our Saturday lunch with some hot fresh bread.
We're not fans of duck, geese and game but I have used the potato, sage and apple stuffing which she recommends for the goose when we have had pork. It was good on the day and cold with the cold meat too. I have a slight regret for the passing of the days when we did a big family gathering on Boxing Day because I loved to do a traditional baked and glazed ham, but this is a bit of an indulgence when there are only a few of you. Don't miss out though on the caramelised glazed onions - this is another dish that we enjoy regularly in the winter months - and the parmesan-baked parsnips are delightful.
My husband does not normally have a sweet tooth, but there is one dessert which he would kill for and that's Truffle Torte - a confection of rum, chocolate and double cream along with the glucose syrup that first proved Delia's ability to clear shelves of anything she recommended. The recipe serves ten people but I have found that you can halve the quantities and make the dish in ramekins without any problems. I've also frozen it successfully. Oh, and it's on the page before Little Sticky Toffee Puddings! I have, too, to make the caramelised orange trifle for a New Year's treat.
I've never made up any of the homemade sweets and chocolates, mainly because I would eat them, but the chocolate truffles would, I'm sure make a delicious present.
Delia gives a detailed plan for the final 36 hours. I start my preparations whilst I listen to the Kings College Chapel Carol Service on Christmas Eve and that's when Delia does the last of her baking. Following this you would certainly produce a sumptuous meal with all the trimmings. If there was to be a criticism from me it would be that whilst she gives timings for various sizes of turkey she doesn't give the principle by which you could work it out for yourself, although in fairness, she does point out that ovens, and turkeys, vary.
There's a final paragraph with suggestions as to how you can make the best of the left-overs and I can personally recommend the creamed turkey en croute. Don't be afraid though to vary the quantity of turkey - I've added left-over ham and some stuffing to good effect before now!
It's a good book and there's some very enjoyable food in there, with something to suit most tastes. Delia does, occasionally, come over as a little schoolmarmish, but that's probably inevitable if you want recipes which are just about fool-proof provided that you follow them to the letter. It's a book I would not like to be without.
I still don't like Christmas though.
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