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'Nigella Christmas' by Nigella Lawson

In my next life, I'd like to come back as Nigella Lawson. In this one, I'm sort of the opposite. While she is curvy and pretty and feminine and likes nothing more than getting elbow-deep in goose fat, I am a flat-chested vegetarian with the cooking skills of your average ironing board.
If Nigella were a dish, she'd be a delightfully layered decadent chocolate cake covered in primroses, festooned with cream and jam and dripping with luscious raspberries whereas I'd be a rather dry slice. I should hate her. Actually, I do. Still, there she is on the front of her new Christmas book, looking all busty and festive and holding of all things, her own body weight in crispy roast potatoes. Well, if there's anything going to turn a bitter vegetarian's heart it's a mountain of crispy roast potatoes. Curse my Irish genes! The strumpet's won me over again.
Upon grabbing Santa Nigella and opening her for further inspection, I was further impressed by the very first recipe, a cocktail with my name written all over it. The Poinsettia is a clever combination of fizzy wine, Cointreau and cranberry juice: three of my favourite things. It will definitely be starting proceedings at the Lynch family Christmas this year. And finishing them as well, I imagine.
While some of the main course components might seem a little wintry for the big day over our way, there are plenty of ideas to be getting on with, plus quite a handy countdown and many tips on how to make ahead and in many cases freeze so you can start getting plonked on Poinsettias on the 20th and still get dinner on the table in good time on the 25th.
Not so Christmassy but closer to home is The Cook School Recipes by Jo Seagar (Random House, $45). I don't have to try at all hard to love Jo, I do already and have done for years. While Nigella conjures up images of a white Christmas in a fancy house across the world, Jo places you firmly in a different bosom: that of a Cantabrian country kitchen.

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