Camembert, parsnips and sherry – we ask, what is your go-to Christmas dish?

Camembert, parsnips and sherry – we ask, what is your go-to Christmas dish?

Can you believe that it is December already? Here at Bookends HQ, we are MORE than ready for all the joys that the Christmas season brings – including the food! Next up in our Bookends Christmas author series, we’ve asked, what is your go-to Christmas dish?

Jill Mansell, author of This Could Change Everything

Coconut Lindt Lindors, amazing roast potatoes and a glass of sherry. Maybe not all at the same time. Then again, now that I’ve written it down it’s starting to sound rather delicious.

Beth Good, author of Winter Without You

Roast parsnips, for sure. I love them crispy brown on the outside and soft in the middle, and I don’t know why but they taste better at Christmas than any other day of the year.

Holly Bourne, author of How Do You Like Me Now?

My friends and I always have a girls’ night in on Christmas Eve, where we eat one baked Camembert each. Then we feel so ill afterwards that we can’t sleep when we get home, and spend actual Christmas day sleep-deprived, sweaty, groaning and messaging one another: “We’ve got to stop doing this each year. One cheese between three is enough.” But it’s sort of an unbreakable ritual now.

Cate Woods, author of More Than a Feeling

Nigella’s Christmas book introduced me to an Italian liqueur called Tuaca, which she winningly describes as panettone in a glass. A splash of this mixed with Prosecco is the perfect accompaniment to Christmas brunch: it’s like the beverage equivalent of ‘Good King Wenceslas’

This Could Change Everything coverWinter Without YouHow do you like me now coverMore than a feeling cover


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Jo Thomas, Joanna Nell, Karen Cole and Olivia Beirne share their go-to Christmas dishes!

Jo Thomas, Joanna Nell, Karen Cole and Olivia Beirne share their go-to Christmas dishes!

Here at Bookends HQ, Christmas has come early as we ask a selection of our lovely authors to fill us in on their favourite festive dishes!

From pigs in blankets to advent calendar chocolates…
Keep reading if you want to feel seriously hungry!


Jo Thomas, author of A Winter Beneath the Stars

I always make a big Christmas chilli con carne for Christmas Eve. That way it doesn’t matter what time people arrive, dinner is simple and ready to go when we are!

Joanna Nell, author of The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village

The sweltering Australian Christmas takes some getting used to. I’m often homesick for England at this time of the year, and especially nostalgic for my gran’s homemade Christmas puddings (complete with traditional tooth-crumbling sixpence). My rudimentary skills in the kitchen could never match my grandmother’s so I don’t even try. Each year I buy a beautiful brandy and Macadamia nut pudding from a charity that raises money for a school in Uganda. I can pop it in the microwave for a couple of minutes, which leaves plenty of time to swim and sip chilled champagne, my new Christmas day traditions.

Karen Cole, author of Deliver Me

I love Christmas food and my mouth is watering just thinking about it! I make a delicious cashew nut loaf and my mother-in-law makes great veggie sausage rolls. My mum’s Christmas pudding with my aunt’s brandy butter… I could go on!

Olivia Beirne, author of The List That Changed My Life

Oh my lord pigs in blankets. I’m obsessed with them. It was a testing Christmas the first year I wasn’t living with my parents and realised that nobody could stop me from buying twelve packets and eating them all whilst watching Miranda. I also love advent calendars (obviously) and think we should have them for every day of the year. I once wanted to be grown up and sophisticated (always a terrible idea) and insisted on buying a picture calendar (urgh). I aggressively cursed my smug past self for the following 24 days. 


What's your go-to Christmas dish?

What's your go-to Christmas dish?

Bookends authors share their favourite dishes that make Christmas all-the-more special.

Kirstie Allsopp, author of Kirstie’s Real Kitchen

The gravadlax recipe which I’ve included in Kirstie’s Real Kitchen. I love it because it looks really flashy but is actually dead easy to make. And it’s very versatile, so great for breakfast on Christmas morning, or a light lunch, or as a starter before your main meal.

Sheila O’Flanagan, author of Christmas with You

Is it criminal to say anything from Marks & Spencer? I’ve gone past the time when I made every single thing myself and if I’m doing Christmas in Dublin I usually buy everything from Marks. It makes it all so stress free. However I do make some rather good cocktail sausages in a honey and mustard sauce if that counts!

Elizabeth Gill, author of Snow Angels

I presume this means anything outside the house as in Christmas parties. Champagne, I don’t like prosecco as a welcoming drink. I’m a big foodie,  in fact anything which I don’t have to make or wash up after, lots of red wine and a duck is perfect with plum sauce, spring onions and pancakes. Also there has to be cheese, ripe, blue, very gooey up to slide off the plate. I don’t do sweet stuff, puddings or cake.

Chrissie Manby, author of The Worst Case Scenario Cookery Club

Ha ha!  Are you talking to the right person?  The Worst Case Scenario Cookery Club may have hit the dizzy heights of number one in Amazon’s ‘books about cakes’ chart but the idea of me having a ‘dish’ would make most of my friends and family snort egg-nog. If however you’re asking which dish I always want to eat at Christmastime, then I would say Italian cotechino sausage with lentils.  It’s more of a New Year tradition than a Christmas one.  The Italians have it that eating the coin-shaped lentils at midnight on New Year’s Eve will bring you luck in the coming year.  The more lentils you eat, the more money will come your way!

Barbara Bourland, author of I’ll Eat When I’m Dead

Never had one. This year we’ll be in California with my husband’s family. With luck we will go out to the sushi boat place, where your sushi is delivered on a boat that runs though the restaurant on a tiny river.

Emily Phillips, author of Trying

If I wasn’t allergic to wheat, I’d be spending half the time boring a hole into a Panettone, and then the other half scoffing Stollen (all gluten free suggestions welcome). In the meantime, you’ll find me next to a tray of roast potatoes. It’s extremely key to balance the consistency between fluffy and crisped up.

Helen Wallen, author of Baby Boom!

We’re all a bit anti-Turkey in my family (sorry!), so we tend to have a posh roast dinner of some sort each year, but it changes dependent on what everyone fancies. Every year before dinner we always have the same DIY canapés though – Carr’s water biscuits with smoked salmon, cream cheese and some lumpfish caviar. Crackers loaded with tiny black fishy balls that pop in your mouth – what could be more festive than that! Ha! All washed down with plenty of fizz. Naturally.

Your go-to Christmas dish…

Your go-to Christmas dish…

Christmas isn’t Christmas without that all important Christmas dinner. Find out what some of our fabulous Bookends authors like cooking (or buying) during the festive season…

Carmel Harrington, author of Cold Feet

It’s all about the Christmas dinner for me. I adore the ceremony of this meal. I have Christmas china and delph. I know! But it’s so pretty, with green and red garlands. The turkey and ham are placed in the centre of the table, with the side dishes in bowls surrounding it. Amelia, my daughter, is making our Christmas crackers this year.

Fiona Mitchell, author of The Maid’s Room

Anything I don’t have to cook! I love M&S’s nut roast, but struggled to find it last year. If I spot it, I’m going to buy ten of them. I’m a massive fan of any kind of chocolate cake too. We usually spend Christmas Eve with our friends, and I often make an extremely rich chocolate roulade for everyone.

Jo Thomas, author of The Honey Farm on the Hill

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a big pot of chilli con carne made to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipe, with beef mince, diced pork, chorizo and cinnamon, on the stove on Christmas Eve. I make it early in the morning or sometimes a few days before, and on Christmas Eve it sits on the stove to simmer gently, filling the house with its glorious smell. That way, it doesn’t matter what time everyone arrives, dinner is ready when we are. I’ve even been known to take the pot to friend’s houses when we’ve been invited for Christmas Eve drinks. It’s a moveable feast and never fails to bring a smile. It brings everyone together and that’s what Christmas is all about.

Kathryn Hughes, author of The Secret

Out of the twenty-five years I’ve been married, I reckon I’ve cooked Christmas dinner twenty times.  The vegetable selection has varied over the years but one stalwart that has remained is the braised red cabbage with apple, sultanas and cinnamon.  One cabbage goes a long way and makes a great accompaniment to cold turkey the next day, and the one after that, and the one after that…you get the picture.

Rosanna Ley, author of The Little Theatre By The Sea

My favourite, home-made by me, last-minute Christmas cake with honey and nut topping and absolutely no marzipan or Santa’s in sight. Yum.

For more festive treats take a look at…

How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?


My Favourite Christmas Movie