Monday, December 9, 2013

The Novel Bakers Present Nigella Christmas

The Novel Bakers return this week with a week-long holiday celebration.

You can catch up with the girls
I was excited when our organizer, Jain, suggested Nigella Lawson's Christmas cookbook.

I was a fan of Nigell's books and cooking show. Her style was beguiling and conversational, and her food looked ambrosial--gourmet comfort food with a decidedly British twist. All my life I'd battled my weight, and I was charmed by Nigella's unapologetic attitude in the kitchen. I loved how she embraced her curves and how she'd sneak out of bed, open the fridge, and plow through leftovers.
I was entranced by her Christmas book.
When an author picks up a pen, she cannot help but reveal her true self. Nigella has a cozy, chatty way of explaining her recipes, sharing tips, opinions, and personal stories. 

Many of us decorate our homes for the holidays and plan vast menus...
... but at the heart of the merrymaking, we may feel uneasy.
Nigella addresses the complexities of the season:
"I feel the Christmas rituals of the home are, even if not based around faith, essentially as an act of good faith. I see the arguments against: the world is starving and we overeat and celebrate overeating; the world is poor and we spend money to give presents to people who truly don't need anything. I know how it seems--crassly commercials, tawdry, tacky and insincere. But I defend the exuberance and the lurch of excess as a kind act in a cruel world. Its about shining a light in the darkness, providing warmth in the coldness. I make no distinction between the glow from the fairy lights, the warmth of the oven, and the welcome in the home."
When it comes to the stress of holiday entertaining, she writes:
"'The more the merrier' might not be something you believe, but the only way to enjoy Christmas fully is to act as if you do. And then you will."

This past year, our family has had unprecedented illnesses and stress. Time and energy has been in short supply, but we still enjoy home cooked food. I'm always looking for shortcuts that don't sacrifice flavor. When I found Nigella's Panettone Pudding, my heart sped up. The recipe called for a store-bought panettone, a sugary, fruity Italian bread. Just the other day, I'd spotted a dozen panettone boxes at Publix.

Nigella makes a basic pudding: eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, and dessert wine.  After cooking the pudding, she pours it over the cut-up bread and bakes it for an hour or so. She says that it poofs up marvelously, then deflates to a normal size. The photos look out of this world.
My no-bake version won't be nearly as delicious, but it's perfect for hungry souls who can't wait 60 minutes for dessert. It takes five minutes, and that includes dilly-dallying.
I didn't have a drop of wine in the house, but I had a large jar of raspberry-pomegranate jam. First, I heated the jam for 2 or 3 minutes, just until it developed a good spreading consistency.
Then I cut the bread into layers. On each one I spread a light layer of jam. I smeared a bit of jam directly on the plate and added the layers of bread, rather like a sandwich. Next, I added fresh raspberries and dusted them with powdered sugar. Last, I added a huge dollop of whipped cream and a mint garnish.

Supper was still cooking (more Nigella goodness), but I couldn't wait. I grabbed two forks, then carried the plate to Will. We ate in complete silence. The dessert was sweet, but not too sweet. Somehow the cake stood up to the jam. The homemade whipped cream added the perfect consistency, a slightly thinner cousin to the British version of clotted cream. I will definitely make Nigella's version one day, but for now, we breathed contented sighs.

Once in a blue moon, everyone should eat dessert first. It's not just a metaphor, it's fun.


So there you have it, a nearly Nigella, instant grat dessert.

For more Christmas cheer and a great time, please visit my dear, fellow Novel Bakers
Thanks for stopping by today!

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  1. What a lovely & quick way to end a meal, ML...very pretty looking & I know it tasted great. We first tasted Panettone when a pharmacy rep brought some into the office for us. It really is good plain, but with the addition of fresh fruit & whipped cream takes it over the top.
    I've been thinking about you guys & hope the doc's surgery is over & done with by now & that he is on the way to full recovery.

    Happy Holiday Hugs,

  2. You had me a Panettone, I look forward to it coming out every Christmas. I've been eyeing that delicious Panettone Pudding in Nigella's cookbook, I had plenty of wine in the house (part of my December survival guide :). Now I don't have to bake it, I can follow your lead and layer it with jam, berries and whipped cream! Your photos are mouth-watering and a cure-all for sickness, holiday stress and provides plenty of Christmas cheer! This is one of my favorite holiday cookbooks with the beautiful photos and Nigella's chatty commentary. Thanks for the delicious NB fun and start to the week, I wish I had a sliver of your no-bake version this morning!

  3. Happy to have The Novel Bakers back!...I've been missing you girls! Your rendition of Nigella's Panettone recipe looks and sounds great. We usually receive one as a gift every year and I never really know what to do with it. Now I can't wait for it to come. :)

  4. love all your dreamscapes over the book, it always make the pages more tantalizing.

    i adore nigellas conversational writing, that is what makes her so endearing, along with all her lip smacking and finger sucking, one knows she truly loves what she eats. its encouraging... like i need any help finding more reasons to relish in food!

    and she is into shortcuts, like your gorgeous dessert here and many more of the recipes i have enjoyed so far. this looks so beautiful with the christmas red and fluffy snow white whip cream, whats not to love! of course gorgeous photos can't help but make this page sing... falalalalalala!

    thanks for a beautiful kick start to my early morn, i still have a few more recipes of hers to make and just seeing this makes me eager for the kitchen! too bad its like 30 degrees IN the house and pitch black still ;-)

    ps i sent you an invite to the novel bakers nigella christmas on pinterest, check your spam and jump in with us!

  5. I love Panttone bread and your embellishments look too tempting to turn down. Presentation and photos are delightful.

    Enjoyed the quotes from Nigella's book about the season. The Novel Bakers as usual intrigue me to read the book you are presenting. Love the reindeer antlers!

  6. What a very pretty post! From the festive colors to the easy berry splurge! Nigella is full of fun ideas, isn't she?

  7. I've always loved Nigella because she comes across as sincere...I hate that she is being drug thru the media, but I'm sure she will carry it out in her classy way. I once read a quote that said "Act great my dear, always act great" and it is what I use on the tough days, the body follows the mind. Thank you for another wonderful episode from the Novel Bakers, I sure wish I had some whipped cream...not to mention Panettone...

  8. I love Panettone, almost as good as Irish Soda Bread! :)
    Don't know much about Nigella except what was on the news. Remember the Frugal Gourmet? That was pretty shocking too.
    Hope you are feeling better. Nov was a baad month here!