Christmas dinner is a meal like no different. It represents continuity, conjuring recollections of bygone feasts.

There’s practically at all times a component of household historical past within the meals we select for the large day; distinctive rituals that make the meal particular, tastes that join us to our previous.

In my case I do what my mom did. Perhaps not in each respect, however at all times with regards to her wonderful fruity turkey stuffing, which survives to at the present time, lengthy after her demise.

It’s not solely about the primary dinner. There are different specialities that I nonetheless cherish that are a part of the ether of her affect. Some are posh, resembling Elvas plums which you should purchase in Fortnum & Mason, others are a little bit trashy: within the run-up to Christmas I comb outlets for cheese footballs, with diminishing success.

Smoked salmon was an enormous deal with in my Seventies upbringing — not like now when you should purchase it in each grocery store with various levels of high quality.

UK-based writers including winner of The Great British Bake Off in 2016 Candice Brown (pictured) share festive memories and recipes to inspire you to create your own at home

UK-based writers together with winner of The Nice British Bake Off in 2016 Candice Brown (pictured) share festive recollections and recipes to encourage you to create your individual at house

Christmas Day morning started with a glass of bubbly for the grown-ups and a little bit smoked salmon on brown bread for everybody; squeeze of lemon juice and a flip of black pepper — utter luxurious. In some way, after blinis blew into our social gathering meals lingo, I started to experiment, taking my childhood deal with and turning it into one thing new, which has, in flip, develop into an integral a part of my daughter’s Christmas expertise.

I make skinny however wealthy buckwheat flour pancakes then roll them with smoked salmon, cream cheese, dill and a copse of child salad leaves. Afterwards, I lower them to make little vibrant coils. My daughter fell in love with them, and so they have been made on each Christmas Day since — at all times together with her assist.

From gingerbread homes to Christmas Eve curries, learn on to find extra festive recollections — and recipes to encourage you to create your individual at house.


CANDICE BROWN, 36, gained The Nice British Bake Off in 2016. She runs a pub, The Inexperienced Man, in Eversholt, Milton Keynes, together with her brother, Ben. She says:

Margaret Florence, my dad’s mum, was my favorite individual on the planet. She was essentially the most unbelievable cook dinner, essentially the most unbelievable baker. She did every part by hand.

My first reminiscence is of dragging my chair over to look at her make pastry. I could possibly be fairly an anxious youngster however, due to Nan, cooking gave me confidence. I baked biscuits together with her. She gave me my ‘style’ for baking.

My dad and mom ran pubs for 25 years so we at all times had Christmas on the pub. Nan and Grandad would arrive a few days earlier than and it could be steady prep. Nan would make the Christmas cake, a boiled fruit cake, which my grandfather adored. We might boil the gammon and put crosses within the Brussels sprouts, which I nonetheless do now. On Christmas Eve we’d poach the salmon.

Nan didn’t drink, however she’d have a tiny glass of Glayva (whisky liqueur) whereas we have been cooking.

When she died unexpectedly aged 84, my world fell aside. Every part modified for ever. However I slipped into the position of doing the issues that she did. I discovered her recipe e-book, stuffed with notes and buying lists. Some recipes have been in cups and grams. There have been references to cooking at ‘blood temperature’, a phrase I like.

And 7 years in the past, I took over cooking Christmas dinner for the household. It simply grew to become a solace for me when my mind began being a little bit bit unkind.

My gingerbread home is a tribute to Nan. I like the concept of individuals sitting with household or mates, or little ones with grandparents, constructing and sticking partitions with icing, sneaking sweeties as an alternative of putting them on the home. It’s a joyous factor.

Once I’m baking it, I’ll have a glass of Glayva and toast Nan’s reminiscence. It looks like she’s nonetheless with us.

Gingerbread home


  • 700g plain flour
  • 3 tsp floor cinnamon
  • 3 tsp floor ginger
  • ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 450g unsalted butter
  • 700g darkish mushy brown sugar
  • 2 massive eggs
  • 100g stem ginger in syrup, finely chopped
  • 1 x bag of colored boiled sweets (you want about 6-10 for the home windows, however you may want some to eat whereas adorning!)
  • 200g caster sugar


  • 200g darkish chocolate (minimal 70 per cent cocoa solids)
  • 300g icing sugar
  • Meals colouring gels of your selection
  • Collection of sweets, resembling jellies, milk and white chocolate buttons, sugar-coated candies and/or jelly beans
  • Collection of nuts, resembling almonds and hazelnuts
  • Desiccated coconut

1. Warmth the oven to 160c fan (180c/350f/fuel 4) and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

2. Sift the flour, spices and salt right into a bowl. Then, utilizing an electrical mixer, mix the butter and brown sugar till fluffy. Add the eggs, then the dry substances and stem ginger, and blend till simply coming collectively.

3. Use your fingers to type the dough right into a ball. Flatten, wrap in cling movie and chill in fridge for half-hour.

4. Roll out dough between two sheets of greaseproof paper till 5mm-6mm thick. Reduce out two sections within the form of the back and front of a home — it ought to appear to be a rectangle with a triangle on high. The lengthy edge ought to be 18cm and the quick edges 16cm, with the triangle sides 13cm every and sloping to type some extent. Make two 16cm x 18cm rectangles for the facet partitions and two 18cm x 15.5cm rectangles for the roof.

Switch to the baking tray, then lower out the home windows and door from the back and front sections. Place within the fridge for 30-45 minutes.

5. Take away from the fridge and bake for 10-Quarter-hour relying on the scale of the part. About midway by way of baking (after 8 minutes), place a colored boiled candy in every empty window/door house.

6. Take away from oven and, whereas scorching and nonetheless mushy, neaten the perimeters utilizing a pointy knife. Cool on a wire rack.

7. To make the caramel for sticking, put the caster sugar and 50ml water in a saucepan over a medium warmth. Swirl and permit the sugar to dissolve. Place a cooking thermometer within the caramel and watch till the temperature reaches 160c (325f). Swirl it round so it’s a fair color and take away from the warmth.

8. Dip the perimeters of the partitions which are being joined within the caramel, one by one. Maintain the partitions collectively till they stick. Utilizing a pastry brush, brush one facet and one lengthy fringe of a roof piece (the place it should be a part of the opposite) with the caramel and maintain on high of the partitions. Repeat with the second roof piece and depart to set.

9. Soften the darkish chocolate and brush on for a thatched-roof impact.

10. Combine icing sugar with water and meals colouring to make a pipeable paste. Switch to a piping bag and use to embellish, including sweets, nuts and coconut. Depart to set.

  • Recipe from Blissful Cooking by Candice Brown (£22, Ebury Press).


CLODAGH McKENNA, 46, is an Irish chef and TV presenter on ITV’s This Morning. She lives together with her husband Harry Herbert, 62, at Broadspear Home, within the grounds of Highclere Citadel (of Downton Abbey fame) in Hampshire. She says:

Rising up in Eire, it was a household ritual to eat fish on Christmas Eve: from fish pie to lobster or smoked salmon. I come from Cork, a port city, so there was a lot contemporary, regionally caught seafood.

Within the morning, we’d all go to the close by English Market to choose up a fish for dinner, plus the turkey, ham and cheese for the following day. Then we’d eat lunch on a terrace overlooking the indoor market.

Clodagh McKenna (pictured), who cooks every night with husband Harry, revealed they will be making her recipe for Goan fish curry this Christmas Eve

Clodagh McKenna (pictured), who cooks each evening with husband Harry, revealed they are going to be making her recipe for Goan fish curry this Christmas Eve

Six years in the past, my father sadly handed away. I nonetheless miss him lots — and Christmas is such a delicate time. Every part concerning the festive interval reminds you of the years earlier than, so it’s about protecting these recollections of household and closeness going.

Nonetheless, this yr, I’m additionally excited to be creating new recollections with my fantastic husband Harry, whom I married in August. We met by likelihood at a lunch in 2017, and I knew in a short time that this was it as a result of it felt really easy. The next yr, we moved to Broadspear Home within the grounds of Highclere Citadel. We cook dinner collectively each evening. Harry loves meals as a lot as me. It’s wonderful if you discover your ‘one’ and may create a house collectively.

Cooking has at all times been the largest a part of my life. I can’t think about consuming individually.

This Christmas Eve, we’ve determined to make my recipe for Goan fish curry once more. We did it final yr and Harry beloved it, so it’s develop into our new custom. You can also make it with any white fish, and it’s a beautiful gentle, aromatic dish that’s a pleasant break from the heaviness of Christmas Day.

It’s a easy recipe, so solely takes half an hour to make.

Goan Fish Curry


  • 300g basmati rice, washed nicely
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 2 inexperienced chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 3cm piece of contemporary ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp floor cloves
  • 1 tsp floor cumin
  • 2 tsp floor coriander
  • 1 tsp floor turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 massive tomato, chopped
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • 350g haddock, lower into 2.5 cm chunks
  • 250g king prawns, peeled
  • 150 g sugar snap peas
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves, roughly chopped

1. Add rice to a pan of salted boiling water and cook dinner for 10-12 minutes, or till tender. Drain and rinse with boiling water.

2. Whereas the rice is cooking, warmth the oil in a big, ovenproof casserole dish or saucepan. Add the onion and fry for 10 minutes.

3. Add the chillies, garlic, ginger, all of the spices and the bay leaf. Fry for two minutes, stirring always, till fragrant. Add the chopped tomato and fry for two minutes.

4. Pour within the coconut milk, add a pinch of salt and a few pepper and simmer for 8–10 minutes till the sauce has thickened properly.

5. Gently stir by way of the haddock, prawns and sugar snap peas. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes, test the seasoning and serve with the cooked rice and a scattering of coriander leaves. 

  • In Minutes by Clodagh McKenna (£20, Kyle Books).


AINSLEY HARRIOTT, 64, is a TV chef. He has written greater than 20 cookbooks. He says:

Ainsley Harriott (pictured) said his cooking totally changed after the birth of his children, as it took him back to his own childhood

Ainsley Harriott (pictured) mentioned his cooking completely modified after the beginning of his youngsters, because it took him again to his personal childhood 

As a younger chef, I spent 11 years cooking Christmas dinner for different individuals in motels and eating places. However by my early 30s I had my circle of relatives.

I met Clare and shortly she was anticipating our first youngster, Jimmy, now 31. And the way my life modified. Three years later we had Maddie, now 28, and my days have been spent revelling within the true worth of Christmas. The cooking completely modified. It took me again to my very own childhood, when our home could be buzzing.

Now, with the turkey I serve my late mum’s baked ham (rubbed with mustard and sugar) and shred Brussels sprouts and saute them with herbs.

Clare and I break up in 2012 after 23 years of marriage, however we’re nonetheless good mates. On Christmas Day my associate and I invite mates for lunch.

This recipe is so contemporary and simple, I make three or 4 and we eat them as a starter or for supper.

Caramelised pear, pecan & cheese tart


  • 25g butter
  • 2 tbsp runny honey
  • 2 agency pears, cored and sliced
  • ½ lemon, for squeezing
  • 1 x 500g ready-made puff pastry
  • Plain flour, for dusting
  • 125g mushy goat’s cheese
  • 100g dolcelatte cheese
  • Handful pecans/walnuts, chopped
  • Leaves of three–4 thyme sprigs
  • 1 egg, overwhelmed (or a little bit milk)

1. Warmth oven to 200c/180c fan/fuel 6. Line baking sheet with parchment.

2. In a frying pan over a medium warmth, soften butter with honey. Add pears and a squeeze of lemon juice and cook dinner for two minutes on all sides till caramelised. Take away pears and season, reserving honey caramel.

3. Roll pastry right into a 28 x 38cm rectangle 5mm thick. Rating a 2cm border and place on baking sheet.

4. Organize pears throughout the border. Dot within the cheeses, then pecans. Scatter over the thyme and brush border with overwhelmed egg.

5. Bake for 15–20 minutes. Season, then drizzle with leftover caramel.

  • Ainsley’s Good Temper Meals (Ebury Press, £20).

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