Nigella Offers Simple Recipes For Holiday Cheer (2024)

Nigella Offers Simple Recipes For Holiday Cheer

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

  • Transcript

Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson's new book for the holidays is Nigella Christmas. Rosie Greenway/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption

Rosie Greenway/Getty Images

Nigella Offers Simple Recipes For Holiday Cheer (2)

Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson's new book for the holidays is Nigella Christmas.

Rosie Greenway/Getty Images

Embarking on the holiday season can feel like joining a festive army: Decorations must be just so. Gifts must be perfect. Everything gets a little bow on top. But food writer Nigella Lawson says that keeping things warm and welcoming doesn't require endless preparation or complicated dishes.

Keep things simple, she says, and serve food that will make you feel good.

"I construct my holiday season in a very informal way," Lawson tells Renee Montagne. It's an intentional effort to combat the tendency Lawson sees around this time of year to turn each gathering into a production.

"Somehow we've got in our heads the idea that Christmas should be bejeweled and enormously formal, and we should go to great lengths to create spectacular dinners," she says. "Well, that may be very nice, but it's not reality. And that makes people dread having any sort of entertaining plans because it asks too much."

Lawson says her ideal holiday meal is "friends over [for] food that maybe you've cooked in advance. " Or else, she says, you can serve "comforting food rather than impressive, status-symbol food."

Achieving both of those criteria is Lawson's recipe for a dish that might raise eyebrows at the holidays, but which, by her count, holds up well to the demands of the season: Chocolate chip chili.

Lawson says her secret ingredient takes some by surprise.

"It sounds odd to say 'put chocolate chips in your chili,' " she says. "But actually, cocoa is used routinely. It just adds a kind of thickness and a velvetiness. ... It's warming food, but it's family food."

And Lawson says the dish packs a bonus: "I do think that at this time of year, people are probably going to drink more than they might at other times of the year, so it somehow soaks up some of the seasonal excess."

More Nigella on NPR


Nigella's Winter Advice: Indulge Yourself, Darling


In Praise Of A 'Fetastic' Summer


Inspired By A co*ke, And Pasta In A Pinch


Forget The Monkey Bars; Go For Cheesy Feet


Valentine's Cupcakes From Nigella Lawson


Beat The Winter Chills With Nigella Lawson


Dishes For Fall, Quick And Tasty


Nigella Lawson Shares New Year's Food Traditions

Recipes for the Holidays

Nigella Lawson Offers Time-Saving Holiday Tips


Eat-And-Run Breakfast Ideas

While you're indulging, Lawson suggests pairing her playful take on chili with fully loaded potato skins. Perhaps not a holiday classic, but irresistible nonetheless. Which makes it perfect, Lawson says, for a season that can carry more than its share of stress alongside festivities.

"Sometimes if you cook in a complicated way, your tension translates to your guests," explains Lawson. "They'll have a much better time having chili and baked potatoes than they would if you did roast duck with a wild cherry sauce and then had to lie down and cry for a while."

Desserts To Share

Of course, with some dishes, a new outfit is just what the holidays call for.

For dessert, Lawson dresses up Rocky Road, the endlessly malleable kitchen-sink classic — not the ice cream — with candied cherries and amaretti cookies, plus a generous dusting of powdered sugar.

Her holiday take on the recipe looks the part — a cross between brownies and fruitcake — and just as important for Lawson, it hits the same pleasure centers as her other comforting holiday food.

"It is an indulgent dessert," she says. "You can make it and wrap it and tie it with a little bow, and it makes a great gift. I'm a great believer in edible presents at Christmas. I think it's, in a way, an old-fashioned tradition, but one that probably should be resurrected."

Anything to bring friends and family in from the cold, Lawson says, especially when the season is so bright and the food is so friendly.

"Somehow people are so predisposed to having a good time, it makes one want to invite them," she says. "It sounds like I'm saying, 'Have a dinner party every night.' But really, I'm just saying, 'Have people round.' "

Nigella Christmas

By Nigella Lawson, Lis Parsons

Buy Featured Book

Nigella Christmas
Nigella Lawson, Lis Parsons

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?


Chocolate Chip Chili


Christmas Rocky Road

Nigella Offers Simple Recipes For Holiday Cheer (2024)


Did Nigella Lawson remarry? ›

Two years after John passed away, Nigella remarried in 2003 to wealthy art collector and advertising agency founder, Charles Saatchi.

Are Nigella Lawson's recipes good? ›

Nigella needs no introduction. She is the queen of simple cooking made good, with cookbooks that are so beautifully written, they're worthy of reading in bed. Her timeless recipes have become staples, not least because they're straight-forward to prepare and they always have that extra special something thrown in.

What does Nigella have for breakfast? ›

For me, the weekend cries out for American Breakfast Pancakes – and if you want to make your life even easier, try my Home Made Instant Pancake Mix – or French toast (either Orange French Toast or Doughnut French Toast, you choose).

What does nigella mean? ›

ni·​gel·​la nī-ˈje-lə : any of a genus (Nigella) of erect annual herbs of the buttercup family having dissected threadlike leaves and usually blue or white flowers. especially : love-in-a-mist.

Do you need to toast nigella seeds? ›

For a subtle, smokey onion flavor, try swapping out sesame seeds for nigella seeds in your favorite recipes. To release the flavor and aroma of nigella seeds, dry toast the seeds in a pan before using.

How do you make nigella mixed spice? ›

If you want to make your own mixture then it may depend on what other spices are available to you but we would suggest starting, if possible, with 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons of ground coriander and 1 teaspoon each of ground nutmeg and ground ginger.

What illness does Nigella Lawson have? ›

Nigella Lawson, a British celebrity chef and author, has been open about her struggles with weight and health issues, including her diagnosis with type 2 diabetes and a heart attack.

How did Nigella lose weight? ›

But what did Nigella do to reach her goal? The chef lost weight through a combination of exercise and diet. She practiced yoga, which can be greatly beneficial for the mind, as well as the body. As for her diet, Nigella focused on reducing her portion sizes, putting her body into a calorie deficit.

How many languages does Nigella Lawson speak? ›

After all, she has a Masters degree in Medieval and Modern Languages from Oxford, speaks four languages, and was a successful journalist and deputy literary editor of The Sunday Times before becoming the Domestic Goddess.

How do you use nigella in food? ›

Nigella seeds can add an herby-oniony flavor to all sorts of dishes. Try sprinkling them over salad, vegetables (potato dishes especially), or fish or adding them to rice pilaf, lentils, and chicken or lamb braises.

Does Nigella Lawson have a cookbook? ›

One of the most beloved British food writers of our time, Nigella Lawson is the author of several bestselling cookbooks and the host of internationally popular TV shows, such as Nigella Bites, Nigellissima and Nigella: At My Table.

How much is Nigella Lawson worth? ›

In 2008 Lawson reported that she held a personal fortune of £15 million. Her husband Charles Saatchi was worth £100 million at that time. She said her two children should not inherit any of her money, saying: "I am determined that my children should have no financial security.

What is a Nigella bread? ›

Introduction. Look, the name is meant to be a bit of a joke, but what I'm talking about is a pitta-like bread, glazed golden with beaten egg and sprinkled with nigella seeds. This is what I make when I'm in mezze-mode.

Does Nigella have kids? ›

29-year-old Cosima Diamond is one of Nigella's two children with the late journalist John Diamond. She has a brother, Bruno Paul Diamond, who is 27. The TV chef appears to have a close relationship with her two children, and was recently spotted walking around Central London arm in arm with her daughter Cosima.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Rev. Leonie Wyman

Last Updated:

Views: 5352

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (79 voted)

Reviews: 86% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Rev. Leonie Wyman

Birthday: 1993-07-01

Address: Suite 763 6272 Lang Bypass, New Xochitlport, VT 72704-3308

Phone: +22014484519944

Job: Banking Officer

Hobby: Sailing, Gaming, Basketball, Calligraphy, Mycology, Astronomy, Juggling

Introduction: My name is Rev. Leonie Wyman, I am a colorful, tasty, splendid, fair, witty, gorgeous, splendid person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.