Do Ahead Christmas is a primarily British cookbook for the holidays (but with an American and Scandinavian influence thrown in). The recipes are ordered into stages based upon how far ahead you will do them, with an emphasis on creating over time, an hour here and there, so that you will have little work left on dinner night with friends/family. The author’s goal is to ensure a robust Christmas dinner that allows the cook to enjoy time with guests rather than in the kitchen.
The book breaks down as follows: A Drinks Party (with recipes from mulled wine to roasted pepper and almond dip); Festive Dinner For the Run-Up To Christmas (with recipes from hot brown buttered rum to apple snow with fennel biscuits), Christmas Day recipes (Turkey to sides), Boxing Day Lunch (from roast garlic, Parmesan, and anchovy pastries to chocolate, orange and hazelnut tart), and then New Year’s Eve (with recipes from Tangerine granita to fish soup).
The book is beautifully presented, with pictures nicely laid out against the recipes. Although the recipes don’t use color to distinguish sections, they do have different font weights for titles and tips, and italics for ingredients. A nice touch is that the pictures have titles that look like recipe cards.
Each recipe has a title, ingredients and serving size, tips/notes/introduction, how far ahead to start making it and how long each of those steps (typically 1-2 before serving) will take you. As an example, Herb Stuffed Leg of Lamb with Watercress and Anchovy sauce has directions for what to do 3 days ahead (takes 2 hours), 1 day ahead (1 hour), 2 hours ahead, 90 minutes ahead, 15 minutes ahead, then serving. That includes marinating the meat, making the sauce, cooking, finishing the sauce, and then carving.
This is definitely a British book and the recipes are quite interesting. Christmas day meal could include Salad of chicory, orange, and walnuts with goat curd, skagen prawns, nut roast, Christmas trifle, Roast goose with potato, apple, and chestnut stuffing, or sous vide turkey. Since turkey is the focus, brining, classic turkey, roast turkey, and three different ways to cook that turkey are covered.
In all, this is a beautifully presented cookbook great for those who host larger Christmas dinners and want to spend time with guests rather than cooking. The meals are quite upscale and sure to impress. All are fairly easy to make as well.
Reviewed from an e-copy provided by the publisher.