Nigella Lawson reveals her top ten tips for the perfect Xmas including how to avoid a hangover and what to wear

Nigella Lawson reveals her top ten tips for the perfect Xmas including how to avoid a hangover and what to wear

December 21, 2021

WITH her hourglass curves and finger-licking love of good food, she is Britain’s sexiest celebrity cook.

But Nigella Lawson insists the key to having yourself a merry little Christmas Day is to ditch the glam and wear an elasticated waistband and trainers.

The writer and TV chef, 61, was speaking at an event in Bath and revealed her ten top tips for hosting the perfect Christmas Day. Here, we share them with you . .

First drink of the day?

ASKED if champagne is her opening tipple on the big day, Nigella said: “No, tea. The first drink is always tea. I’m not human until I’ve had tea.”

There was laughter among the audience as she spoke of keeping healthy and said: “It’s very important to moisturise from within.”

She said champagne was too gassy to start the day with. But Nigella did reveal her favourite festive cocktail — a good slosh of Moscato wine topped up with lime juice and ice. She said it makes the wine go further and the watering-down effect of the ice keeps you sober

longer. Antioxidants in the lime help considerably with the hangover the next day.

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DITCH the stilettos for trainers and get out the elasticated trousers.

During the two-hour show to talk about her book Cook, Eat, Repeat, Nigella told the audience she has put on weight during lockdown after eating too much chocolate, pasta and potatoes, and is no longer worried about dressing glamorously.

She said: “Sorry, I’m not looking enormously glamorous. Those days are over. I’m now never in high heels. I don’t understand how I did them.

“Since lockdown I have only been wearing elasticated trousers — and from now on in. It has to be done.”

Pointing to her chunky white trainers, she added: “These are not any ordinary trainers, they are not allowed out of the house usually. They are special for tonight.”

Do all the hard work before the big day

CHRISTMAS dinner is all in the planning. She said: “My mother always did a massive amount of pre-cooking, but actually I think early prep is better than pre-cooking, as a load of reheating isn’t always easy.

“Make the cranberry sauce and gravy ahead, it means no pan juices but makes life so much less stressful.

“You could make the bread sauce the day before and add more milk as you reheat gently. Prep sprouts the day before too and peel the potatoes and leave them in cold water.”

To avoid a dry turkey, dip the bird in a bucket of brine (salty water) the night before you cook. Then cook the turkey upside down so the fat from the thighs moistens the breast meat.

No starters for Christmas dinner

IT’S straight to the main event for Nigella. She said: “I’m not particularly pro-starters in the whole of my life. It’s a restaurant thing.

“Restaurants need to make it into a special evening and for it to take longer. You don’t just want to get in there and go out again. The longer you’re there, the more wine you’ll be sold, and in a restaurant the portions tend to be a bit smaller.

“I don’t want many courses in my normal life. Even when I have a friend over, I don’t want to have to get up after one course and clear the table. It can grate the atmosphere.

“I’m a dips and chips kind of person. Or crudités over drinks.

“Or cocktail sausages are the best thing ever. Although John, who works in my back kitchen on the TV shows, says bread and butter are the best canapés in the world.

“So a starter for Christmas seems completely mad. You’re having a big feast. Why do you want to take the edge off your appetite before you sit down to eat?”

Don’t worry about things getting a bit cold

BUT do keep the gravy and plates warm. Nigella said: “My big tip for Christmas dinner, and I’ll probably get told off for health and safety reasons: Things don’t always have to be piping hot.

“It’s not possible in a domestic kitchen to keep everything hot. You want plates that are hot and you want gravy that’s hot.

“I’m not saying keep everything at a really unhealthy temperature, but if it has to stand for 45 minutes, it’s fine. You can’t do it all.”

Forget about perfection – it stifles creativity

A BIT rough around the edges is quite OK. Nigella said: “You know when they do these things on Bake Off, they have to do these 36 biscuits that look identical. I have never done that in my life.

“That is what shop-bought ones — and not even good shop-bought ones — are for. We all cook a bit differently and it is such a release. This need for perfection and conformity, for me, is so antithetical to the creative spirit.

“Not having enormous amounts of skill, which I don’t in a way, doesn’t matter. Technique is not necessary to make food taste good.

“And that is what we are trying to do and not drive ourselves crazy in the process.”

It’s not all about food

THE experience in general is what matters for your guests. She said: “When you have people round for supper or dinner, if the best thing a guest can say of the evening the next day is that the food was fantastic, then it has been a failure.

“You want people to remember a joke someone has told you or a book someone has recommended to you. Or that laughter and slight chaos over the table. People pouring wine and passing dishes. That is what cooking and food is about.”

She added: “Cooking at home has to have a certain amount of playfulness in it. It can’t be taken too seriously.

“You don’t want people to feel they have to stop talking when you bring a dish to the table because they’re expected to applaud.”

Cook’s moment to savour when the work is done

NIGELLA’S favourite part of the day is . . . the turkey sandwich made from leftovers. She said: “I always prefer to have Christmas pudding a few hours later. After that I think, ‘Oh, I am never going to eat again’. Then a few hours later I think, ‘Oh, a sandwich’.

“The turkey sandwich, for me, is something very special. It’s got mayonnaise, mango chutney (that’s from my childhood), a bit of cold roast potato (double carb is always good) and a bit of bread sauce (for anyone in different countries, unfathomable).

“All of that mixed within a few quick-pickled red onions to give it a bit of zing. That is the glorious moment of Christmas Day.”

The big debate, Yorkshire puds or no Yorkshires?

NIGELLA is often asked the big question, which is the talk of many a household. She said: “I often get asked, Yorkshire pudding or not with the meal? I don’t do it.

“But I do think rituals you may have developed as a family over the generations are important.

“There is no right or wrong. Your Christmas always goes back to what it has always been. If Yorkshire pud-ding is part of your tradition, it should be on the table.”

If you are going to cook up some Yorkshires, here is her tip: “You can do it right at the end of the cooking process. Turn the oven right up and get the fat nice and hot.”

Nigella may even be tempted this year. She added: I actually think it’s a good idea. Maybe I’ll do it.”

Tip for washing up – put on your favourite disco tunes

LAST but definitely not least is the task of cleaning up — but some upbeat tunes, and skilful delegation, can help.

Nigella said: “Cooking is the easiest part of a three-pronged deal, shopping can be a bit more of a nightmare than cooking, and washing up as well. Sometimes I don’t mind it, as I listen to my disco collection.”

Or just get the guests to do it. Nigella added: “Guests always come into the kitchen and ask what they can do to help. I tell them if they really want to help, they can do the washing up.”

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