You love cooking at Xmas, we all do, but why not take a break on the day you dress the tree and let Côte at Home do all the hard work?

It’s hard graft enjoying yourself, especially doing the cooking. Nigella makes it all look easy as she smiles that stoner grin at the camera, but she’s got a mob of interns out back doing the graft, as well as the washing up. You haven’t.

Cote at Home have really got the home delivery/ready to cook meal thing nailed down. With an act honed to perfection during the dark days of lockdown, its service helped it to survive when its restaurants were closed and now is part of its main business.

The secret is quality. And choice. Plus good ideas and here is the latest

Côte has launched the first of its festive Experience Boxes designed to make the most of this year’s Christmas moments – the first one, ‘Deck the Halls’ has been curated to perfectly match the day you deck your tree. In fact the box contains

There are two to choose from. The non-veg menu for four has salmon rillettes and baguette for starters, Côte’s signature rich beef bourguignon served with a creamy mash and minted peas for mains and then a pile of profiteroles

Inside the box is also a specially produced Côte at Home guide to the most fashionable tree ‘looks’ for 2021, compiled by top interiors stylist Sandra Baker, as well as a step-by-step manual to no-nonsense tree decorating. (Also in the Box are chocolate tree decorations.)

As so many people are eating less meat now, including us, we thought we’d give the veggie option a go and soon a giant box was on our doorstep exactly at the time promised. Well packed out with bubble wrap and chilled with disposable ice blocks.

Inside was everything needed: a starter of butternut squash, carrots and ginger soup with a rosemary and garlic dressing (plus French bread), spiced vegetable tagine with giant couscous and profiteroles with chocolate sauce.

The foods come in plastic trays and bags and obviously are not oven safe. You can decant the soup into a microwave bowl, ditto the giant couscous and the tagine.

We nuked the soup and the giant couscous, but heated the tagine in a saucepan on the hob as we wanted to keep an eye on it. Nothing took more than five minutes.

The bread we heated up in our Ninja, it crisped up very well.

The soup was good and thick, but could have had a bit more ginger in it, it certainly warmed us up on what was a bitterly cold evening.

On to the tagine. This was chunky with lots of veg and mildly spicy. We had harissa on the side because quite frankly for us it’s not a tagine without harissa’s pungent power.

The giant couscous made an interesting  change from standard couscous ,and what it lacked in the former’s sauce absorbency skills  it made up for with a pleasant chewy texture.

And so to the profiteroles. Somehow I’d managed to upend the box, so a bit of rebuilding was required. The chocolate sauce I decided to gently warm up by putting the sealed sachet in simmering water.

Delicious and messy, which is how I like my profiteroles

We enjoyed the whole meal, which was fuss free and really did give us time to sort out the Xmas tree. Unfortunately by the time I’d finally got the lights untangled it was time for bed but at least I hadn’t had the stress of cooking at the same time!

Côte’s sommelier proposes warming Negronis as your aperitif, with a light Fleurie and a festive Cremant to accompany.

Check out Côte at Home’s whole range at the Côte at Home website.