Having written over 20 cook books, Delia Smith is beyond a household name. She is the Doyenne of British cookery, whilst she is not everyone’s cup of tea, Delia is still every inch the Queen of our culinary empire. Despite being somewhat disappointed with her last literary offering, bearing the same title as her first book in 1971 ‘How to cheat at cooking’, I accept that many people may have found it useful in a ‘does-what-is-says-on-the-tin” capacity. But those were not the musings of the Delia Smith we know and love, because that Delia does not help us cheat… she makes us want to become better cooks.
Her latest book, titled ‘Happy Christmas” is offering me a great deal of enjoyment so far, 311 pages of enjoyment to be precise. With convenient meal planners and a flurry of checklists laid out for you, it seems Christmas is all wrapped up! The first section devotes itself to recipes for cakes and a variety of Christmas puddings, with an especially delicious looking ‘Italian nut cake’ that will most definitely be making an appearance at my Christmas table. Everything from wonderful preserves, canapés and fabulous warming Winter roasts with a generous array of accompaniments ranging from the classic roast accompaniments to a vegetarian Christmas, as well as how to prepare a last minute Christmas meal and even a Hogmanay feast. There is even a handy section called ‘What’s left?” which gives you some useful tip on what to do with that half-eaten truckle of Stilton and the two kilos of turkey meat you are stuck with. Albeit a tad Bridget Jones in a ‘Turkey-Curry-Buffet” kind of way, it’s actually pretty useful.
The truth is Delia is old-school, bordering on a tad fuddy-duddy, so if it’s innovative culinary inspiration that you are after, then there is not much here for you. But, if along with the rest of the nation, you are yearning to go ‘back to basics’ and embrace tradition, old favourites and timeless classics, then this is most definitely a book for you and the whole family. Delia’s cookery has always been consistent, reliable and crowd pleasing, which to be perfectly honest is exactly what you need to get you through stress of the festive season. So in your scramble to nab your copy of ‘Happy Christmas” just remember…. Delia is ‘Not just for Christmas, but for life.”