Nigella Lawson takes the stress out of Christmas
Nigella's Christmas Kitchen
Monday 15 to Thursday 18 December on BBC TWO
(See Week 51 Unplaced)
Feature added Tuesday 25 November
Programme copy (episode 1)
Programme copy (episode 2)
Programme copy (episode 3)
Nigella Lawson returns to BBC Two this December with a special week of programmes to help viewers cook up the perfect Christmas. Here, she tells Programme Information about the new programmes, about her own perfect Christmas, and the not-so-perfect one, which saw her walking down the street, in her pyjamas, holding a turkey in an oven tray.
Tell us about the Christmas programmes.
"They're all about setting the scene for Christmas, getting in the mood, ushering in the season. I love the Big Day itself, but there are so many suppers and lunches, friends and family to feed, in the run up as well, and I want to make that as enjoyable for myself as for everyone coming."
What are the main things viewers will learn from the Christmas programmes?
"These programmes really focus not just on how to make food that you can take pleasure in, but also on how to make your life easier, too. For example, there is a whole programme on food you can make ahead and stash in your freezer, which can be a life-saver; another programme is all about edible gifts, which I think is timely, for not only do these presents save money, but also your sanity. I would so much rather be making presents in my kitchen than queuing up to buy them in the shopping mall! And these are gifts that really mean something when you give them. They also do double-duty: good for presents for friends and family; a must for the Christmas pantry for yourself.
"There is also a programme that really wallows in the sweet treats that everyone allows themselves, or should allow themself, to indulge in at this time of year, such as my Christmas Rocky Road – a simple, sensational seasonal treat."
What's the secret to preparing the perfect Christmas dinner?
"First you have to acknowledge there is no secret and no perfect Christmas dinner! But your life is so much simpler if you do what you can in advance – and that's a lot – and write yourself a bossy list and timetable. That way, you can stick to the schedule even after the first glass of wine."
What secret ingredient couldn't you do without at Christmas?
"Semolina – a couple of tablespoons added to the parboiled potatoes creates the perfect, golden, sweet crunchiness that Christmas roasties need to have."
Do you manage to enjoy Christmas, despite all the stress of cooking what many think is the most important meal of the year?
"Not only do I enjoy Christmas, but I revel in it. Yes, there are moments of stress, but actually the cooking is the least of it! Sometimes, when there are 25 people in the house, some of them whining children, I go in to the kitchen and enjoy the silence. I pretend to be working, but in fact I am escaping!"
Have you had any Christmas dinner disasters (that you're happy to share with us!)?
"One year my oven broke, and I had to run down the road to my friend's house – in pyjamas and a woolly scarf and hastily thrown-on coat – to bung my turkey and everything in her oven. I spent the entire morning running back and forth, still not dressed, to baste the turkey and turn over potatoes. It wasn't a disaster, but it wasn't my smoothest-running Christmas. And it was pretty embarrassing when I bumped into someone I knew, while in pyjamas, holding a turkey in an oven tray, in the middle of Christmas Day!"
Describe your perfect Christmas Day.
"The children would wait till 9am to wake me up, and not leave wrapping paper all over the floor. I'd be in the kitchen from a leisurely 10am, reheating what I'd prepared ahead and stirring all my fresh pots and pans, and getting the turkey and all its accompaniments cooked. I'd have my scribbled-out timetable to hand, and stick to it! Then, at 2 or 2.30pm everyone comes: I have a tableful of food, a roomful of people and this is what it's all about."
What's your favourite Christmas memory?
"Waking up at the crack of dawn to feel the leg-stifling weight of a filled stocking bearing down on me. It was the most exciting feeling in the world – and nothing really as a grown up at Christmas can come near to that childhood memory."
How will you be spending Christmas this year?
"At home, with as many friends and family as I can round up!"
What's your favourite Christmas song/carol, and why?
"I just have always adored O Come O Come Emmanuel. There's something about its sweet melancholy: it is a song of celebration that sounds like a dirge."
What Christmas leftover are you picking from the fridge at midnight on Christmas evening?
"A big fat sandwich made of proper white bread and cold turkey, stuffing, bread sauce, cranberry sauce, mayo, mustard and mango chutney. Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without it!"