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Cracking Christmas: The Cookbooks You Need.

Christmas cookbooks are fantastic.

They might not be the most useful. At best, you will cook from them for just two weeks of the year. They might not be good for the waist line. In fact, they most definitely may cause some expansion in the belt-buckle area. Who cares! It's Christmas. 'Tis the season to indulge in fantasy (the fantasy that you will fit into your jeans come January), indulge your family in in fine food and indulge yourself in some beautiful new cookbooks.

    Santa'S North Pole Cookbook

    There can surely be no higher authority than Santa Claus himself. After all, Santa has spent years sampling all the delicious treats set out for his delectation by children the world over.  He is surely the definitive expert. In this off-beat cookbook, Santa has co-operated with Jeff Guinn (author of The Christmas Chronicles series, including The Autobiography of Santa Claus) to share his Christmas favourites. Mr. Claus has included some traditional Scandinavian food including Herring Potato Salad and Festive Fried Eel but also plenty of Christmas treats from all around the globe like Black Christmas Fruitcake and Candy Cane Creme Brulee. Santa shares a recipe for stuffed mushrooms which was given to him by his good friend, Attila the Hun. Many of the 70 recipes feature lengthy introductions with historical background to Christmas foods and traditions. The recipe for Hot Chocolate, for instance, comes with a potted history of chocolate from the Aztecs to the first chocolate bar, with an interesting pirate story on the side. If you are searching for something a bit quirky; this is the Christmas Cookbook for you.

    A Simply Delicious Christmas

    'Simply Delicious' is Darina Allen's trademark phrase. If you follow her meticulous instructions you will cook something delicious. It is as simple as that. Irish Mammies have been cooking these recipes since they were first published in 1989. This glistening new edition is a beautiful replacement for the old gravy-spattered paperback or an ideal gift for a new Mammy. The original book cover featured an impressive Chocolate Christmas Tree which instantly became de rigeur in Irish households. I've made it myself and I'll let you in on a secret: It's so easy, it is practically child's play. This, and other old favourites like St. Stephen's Day Pie feature but there are many more contemporary additions. Some modern twists include Christmas Quesadillas, Plum Pudding Icecream (to die for) and Turkey with Harissa.

    Elizabeth David's Christmas

    Elizabeth David is credited with introducing the joys of Italian and French cooking to post-war Britain. She never wrote a Christmas Cookbook but she planned to. She gathered recipes even wrote an introduction. This elegant book is posthumous collection of her notes and recipes. As ever, David's recipes are completely reliable but it is her witty writing which makes this book a must-have. Her own ideal Christmas, she writes, would include, 'a smoked salmon sandwich with a glass of champagne on a tray in bed.' I tend to agree. Many recipes are accompanied by historical notes. There is a description from 1708 of how to prepare a goose by sticking it up a smoking chimney. Also included is an extract from a 1751 cookbook giving a history of plum pudding. Whether you are planning to cook a quintessential British Christmas Lunch or just want to curl up by a log fire and imagine one, this book fits the bill.  Elizabeth David's Christmas book would make a tasteful gift and is a Christmas treat for any foodie.  

    Gluten-Free And Vegan Holidays

    Written by the founder of The Flying Apron Bakery in Seattle, this is an indispensable book for anyone hoping to cater a gluten-free or vegan Christmas. This book is not just for Christmas as it covers all the major holidays of the year including Valentine's day, Easter and Thanksgiving. There are 70 easy-to-follow recipes, good photographs and helpful menu-planning advice.  Recipes include Challah Bread, Shortbread, Matzo Ball Soup, and Coconut Dream Cake.

    Nigella Christmas

    In this perennial favourite, the Domestic Goddess serves up a lavish feast of seasonal recipes with over 250 spectacular photographs. Never one for frugality or waist-watching, Nigella comes into her own at Christmas time. The Divine Lawson revels in the Christmas spirit and her mellow tone of writing will surely get you in the right mood. Roast Turkey, Glazed Ham and all the usual suspects are well-covered. Some of the more unusual recipes include; Beetroot Orzotto, Bourbon-glazed Ribs, Wasabi Crab Cakes, Drunken Devils On Horseback, Chestnut Chocolate Pots and, my personal favourite, Christmas Puddini Bonbons. Those bonbons are a doddle to make, wildly impressive and an absolute staple of my Christmas Eve gatherings.  Nigella promises, 'comfort and joy' and she certainly delivers.       Oozing pure indulgence, this book covers everything from cocktails and canapes to edible tree decorations. If you are after a lavish Christmas, Nigella-style, this is the only book you need. 

    Jamie Oliver's Christmas Cookbook

    Jamie Oliver's first dedicated Christmas Cookbook has arrived, with more fanfare than Santa himself, just in time for Christmas 2016. This is expected to be the number one, non-fiction, bestseller in Britain. The first thing to say is that the book is truly gorgeous. It is of the highest production quality and is bursting at its seams with magical festive photographs. True to Jamie's healthy-eating ethos, every recipe comes complete with comprehensive nutritional information but don't let that put you off! The book is divided into sections from 'Smart Starters' through 'Veggie and Vegan Plates' to 'Cute Edible Gifts' with everything else you expect to find in between. Roast meat options include Turkey Wellington as well as tempting alternatives like duck, porchetta and venison. Jamie's Mum's Retro Trifle is given another outing proving that even Jamie Oliver wants to recreate his childhood Christmas memories. Personally, I'm finding the Hot Buttered Rum recipe hard to resist. 

    Irish blogger and book reviewer. Official contributor to Bookwitty.com and author of Bookwitty's monthly 'Cooking the Books' feature. Erstwhile microbiologist with an MSc in Food Science, she ... Show More