Is this really Jamie’s first Christmas book? Yes, his 19th book is his seasonal debut. Of course there are no turkey twizzlers. Instead he balances healthy eating with traditional family favourites. So each recipe has a detailed table of nutritional information, including calories per serving. And there are whole chapters devoted to vegetarian and vegan alternatives beyond nut roast, with salads and slaws exciting enough to serve on the big day.
Doesn’t it take all the fun out of Christmas? Jamie’s laid-back tone is still entertaining, and there are plenty of sweet anecdotes involving his family and beloved nan. His instructions are comprehensive but not overwhelming. The man who taught a generation how to roast keeps his turkey technique simple and includes a useful photo guide on how to carve the bird. He has one eye on reducing food waste too, coming up with tasty recipes for leftovers.
Seasonal showstopper Hasselbacks: potatoes roasted in turkey dripping with blue cheese and crushed hazelnut crumbs.
Top tip Give vegan gravy a kick with dried porcini, Marmite, blackcurrant jam and port.
Another Christmas debut? Yes, but Erskine’s new book covers all the celebrations that now make up winter party season. So she starts with a spooky-faced coq au vin pie for Halloween, continues through Bonfire Night apple-cider fritters and ends with a breakfast carbonara to cure hangovers on New Year’s Day.
What about the classics? The retro-loving chef includes all the Christmas staples and a simple schedule for first-time cooks. But before the bird is roasted she insists on either wet-brining à la Nigella’s well-known method (sticking it in a vat of salty water) or dry-brining (covering it in spiced salt for two days).
Seasonal showstopper Clementine and ginger trifle.
Top tip For mince pies, only blitz half the filling, leaving the rest chunky, and add soured dried pineapple for a kick.
Looks decadent from the cover… Lawson’s books are as much about the pleasure of reading as cooking, and this classic collection is full of essays on the roots of Christmas in paganism and Roman Saturnalia, along with mouth- watering photos. And the writer herself donning some furry reindeer horns.
And the actual cooking? She starts off with a high-end cocktail section and there’s an extensive list of foodie gifts to make. But Lawson takes Christmas dinner very seriously, with the pudding to be prepared weeks in advance and turkey soaked the day before.
Seasonal showstopper Ultimate Christmas pudding.
Top tip Use maple syrup instead of honey to roast parsnips.
Just like your gran would cook it! Christmas isn’t Christmas without Mary Berry, so no apologies for returning to her seasonal staple. She brings calm experience to what is for many the most complicated meal of the year. Berry is very big on preparation, with shopping lists and countdowns running up to Christmas Day. Plus there are time charts for Aga owners. But pescatarians and vegetarians are taken care of with tempting smoked haddock florentine, and aubergine and goats’ cheese roast.
Not much baking then? Berry still places an emphasis on sweet indulgences, advocating two puddings on the big day and showing her more radical side with frangipane mince pies and orange panna cotta.
Seasonal showstopper Ice cream Christmas pudding.
Top tip Use frozen chestnuts that you can buy in supermarkets from mid November.
Have they done a partridge in a pear tree? No, but the reissue of their seasonal offering overflows with recipes for goose, venison and even pigeon, with haggis and whisky sauce for New Year’s Eve and, to end Twelfth Night, a traditional Kingy Cake.
What about drinks? The bearded duo advise on matching beers with turkey and cranberry and lime jelly shots to get the party started.
Seasonal showstopper Stollen.
Top tip Instead of making a sauce, just add halved apples to the pan when roasting pork.
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