Christmas Foods and Traditions: Cooking With Nigella
Last year for Christmas I gave myself one of the best gifts ever! Yes, I do give myself Christmas gifts, why not? When you get up in years you can do whatever you want. It was a subscription to Acorn TV, the All British TV Series. I love it and have watched nearly every show presented on there, every month. I get my moneys worth! The very first show I watched was Nigella Lawson’s Cooking Christmas Special, and I was glad to see it was still available to watch this year and I did watch it again this week!
You can’t help, but come away inspired to cook something! Or to look around your kitchen and say, “I need to drape several strings of fairy lights across my cabinets and place Christmas baubles all over my kitchen counters to be able to cook like Nigella.” Or, “I need a black, sexy, low cut gown or sweater to wear when cooking,” to be like Nigella. Need I say, Nigella is a full bodied, well endowed young woman that every cook would like to look like.
During the show she cooks awhile and then scampers out of the house to the local London street markets to buy the most wonderful ingredients to bring back and add to the pot so to speak. So you get to see the cooking aspect as well as the shopping in the food stalls among all the hustle and bustle of Christmas. We go to the cheese market, the fruit and vegetable stand, and the nut stalls. Never once to the grocery. She does all this while re-iterating that cooking for Christmas need not be stressful, just go with the flow.
To prepare for one of her parties, she places some short ribs in a cranberry sauce mixture and then puts them in the oven for her party later that evening. The ribs need to cook for one and a half hours. So as not to stand around and waste time Nigella flies out of her kitchen to go have pre-party drinks with her friends at a favorite pub. Now, I definitely think that is the thing to do to de-stress the cooking for a party. Later in the evening she is shown passing out the ribs wrapped in a paper napkin to each guest, no plates mind you. She lets us know to supply plenty of baby wipes too, for wiping up our sticky fingers. Baby wipes? Well what do I know! Her guests always are shown drinking a lot. I would too, that way I would not care that I dropped cranberry sauce all down the front of my cleavage, in my low cleavage red gown, and went the entire night that way.
She likes to cook with lots of spices and shops in various spice specialty shops. We follow her along as she shops. The spices come in little plastic bags and she keeps them in her pantry. Yes, you’ll see her pantry, her library, her upstairs, her downstairs and her kitchen in her cooking series. I feel like I live with Nigella I know her house so well. In one episode as she gets out the bags of spices and remarks about how long they keep, she looks at the expiration date on one of the packs. Oh, the spice expired about ten years ago! Now weren’t we just at the spice shop? So, she just pitches it in the trash and moves on. Now haven’t we all been there? I guess that means another trip to the spice man. I think he may be selling more than spices!
Then there is the turkey episode which I liked a lot. She brings out this really, large red plastic bin, the size of a laundry basket to brine the turkey in. She adds several, and I mean several, spices, herbs, and clementines, to the brining salt concoction. She sets the turkey in the brining mixture outside for a day or two to meld. Meanwhile, she is making gingerbread stuffing from a store bought gingerbread cake. What? When did she get this? I’ve been with her for all her shopping haven’t I? She says she likes to buy store bought foods and then build on them to save time and this is one of those times, I guess. Adding to the meal she makes her mother’s bread pudding, roasted Brussels sprouts, a crispy, roasted, red potato dish, (one of her favorites), and a mountain of merengue for dessert. And in-between all that she shows us how to decorate and set the festive Christmas table in the library, where she will be entertaining her guests on Christmas Eve no less. All under no stress and in the fine gown.
But, the best part of the show is the following morning, Christmas Day, when Nigella comes down to the kitchen, disheveled, hair tossed about, and wearing her bright red satin, Christmas dressing gown. She pulls out two chunks of thick white bread, slathers a great swag of gingerbread dressing on, followed by a layer of cranberry sauce, (she made that in another episode), then adds a layer of bread pudding and a layer of turkey and a few gherkins thrown in for good measure. She can not celebrate Christmas without gherkins! The sandwich is now about 4 inches thick and she chows down while leaning heavily on the counter. No, no Christmas cooking stress here! I love this show!
PS I went and ordered the companion cook book containing her Christmas Cooking episodes to make sure I’d have all the stress free recipes! See you tomorrow for more Christmas Foods and Traditions!