A Christmas Carol – with Recipes

A Christmas Carol is one of my favorite books, and I make time to re-read it every December.  In fact I’ve read it so many times I have entire sections memorized. No matter how Scrooge-like I’m feeling (especially so this year), it never fails to get me in the mood for Christmas.  I came across this beautiful hardcopy on the bookoutlet site recently, one of the Book to Table classic series, and decided I needed a new edition – because who doesn’t like a new cookbook too!

Publisher’s Blurb:  A deluxe, full-color hardback edition of the perennial Christmas classic featuring a selection of recipes for your holiday table from Giada de Laurentiis, Ina Garten, Martha Stewart, and Trisha Yearwood!

Have your book and eat it, too, with this clever edition of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol featuring delicious recipes from celebrity chefs. Plan your perfect Christmas feast with a carefully curated menu of holiday dishes, from succulent baked ham to smashed root vegetables. And top it all off with fruitcake cookies and pecan pie. Celebrate the holiday with a good meal and a good book!

Book includes full, unabridged text of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, interspersed with recipes, food photography, and special food artwork.

My Review:  It is a lovely book, there’s no doubt about it, but I must admit I was a bit disappointed in the recipes.  I’m not sure what I was expecting, perhaps something from the Dickens era?  What’s in a bowl of Smokin’ Bishop punch? (see Part Two) Or at least a recipe for plum pudding?

My turkey breast is never that perfectly sliced….

Instead, it’s the standard holiday fare, turkey, baked ham, mashed potatoes, with an assortment of the traditional side dishes, cranberry sauce, candied carrots, buttermilk biscuits, pecan pie. The recipes for spinach salad and asparagus with hollandaise sauce look good, but that’s spring-time food in my opinion! There are 13 recipes in all, grouped according to starters, entrees, side dishes, and desserts.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with trying something new, and these recipes by Martha & company look delicious, but this is the time of year we crave tradition, even more so this year, and there’s comfort and joy in having the same menu year after year. Besides, every family has their own version of these old favorites, a time-honored way of preparing the potatoes or the stuffing. In my dad’s big Irish family, the  dressing/stuffing was made outside the bird, in pans so there would be enough to go around and the recipe is pretty basic – sauteed onions in butter poured over stale broken-up bread crumbs and sprinkled liberally with savory, and a pinch of thyme and sage, cooked in the oven until soggy and then re-heated later.   We still make it that way, but in a white Corning-ware casserole dish.   From my maternal grandma, we inherited mushy peas – smashed peas with butter.   No green bean or sweet potato casseroles here in my Canadian family, nor pecan pie – that’s southern fare. Our other vegetable is squash – acorn only. And although the buttermilk biscuits in the book look good, we must have the same soft white dinner rolls bought from the same bakery, but only for the holidays. (I wonder what we’ll do if they ever go out of business.)

Dessert is plum pudding served with rum caramel sauce, and occasionally mince or apple pie.  When I was growing up, dessert was just sliced fruit cake and cookies, served on a gold glass cake platter and a big bowl of fruit jello, red with bananas and grapes and topped with whipped cream – because everyone was just too full and what kid lingered at the dinner table when there were new toys to be played with! Back then the turkey was a twenty pounder, straight out of Norman Rockwell, as there would be turkey pies and stew later.   My mother would get up at 5 am to put it in the oven as we would eat at 1 pm after church. Now with a smaller number, a double turkey breast is better and far less messy, while still leaving plenty of leftovers of white meat, which is all we like anyway.

Since I won’t be making a fruitcake this year, I might try the fruitcake cookies, but I don’t need 5 dozen.

and the apple-cranberry crisp might be nice on a cold January day.   

Overall, it’s a visually appealing book, and if you don’t already own a copy, it’s well worth the discounted price ($9 vs $34 Cdn), plus it would make a nice Christmas present for someone who likes to cook.   

PS. What are some of your traditional Christmas recipes?

PS.   Charles Dickens was a master of description – so if you’re in the mood for some more food, hop on over to part two – Food Glorious Food – for a sample of his fare.

24 thoughts on “A Christmas Carol – with Recipes

  1. Jo Shafer says:

    A hop, skip, and a jump FROM part 2 brought me here to the recipes. I agree with you about the modern menu adaptation. Mashed potatoes? Not since I “learned” to cook from old Bon Appetit mags. Now, it’s pan-roasted potatoes, cut in chunks, with chopped onions. I do my dressings in a baking dish or pan, too, for that crispy top. No smooshed peas for me, thank you.

    But I MUST have a mince pie for dessert, served at afternoon tea by the fire just as the sun is setting, and Hubby his de rigueur apple pie.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Joni says:

      See everyone has their own traditions! Pan roasted potatoes sound good too. Being from the south I might have thought pecan pie for you, but perhaps not at Christmas. I love mince pie but nobody else does, so something I buy the small mince tarts just for me.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Anne says:

    Despite the heat – I would much prefer salads! – we tend to stick to traditional Christmas fare here too. Roasted potatoes are a must. Although I barely eat meat, I usually cook lamb or beef fillet for the rest of the family. We do not have a heavy dessert for the meal itself is enough in the heat. I bake a fruit cake every year – it isn’t Christmas without one – and mince pies. The latter were very foreign to my German son-in-law but now both he and his family love to eat them.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Joni says:

      It seems strange to think of heat at Christmas, but as pretty a snow is, and I don’t mind a dusting of it to make it a White Christmas, I’m happier when it’s melted! I’m hungry for both fruitcase and mince pie….

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Eilene Lyon says:

    I agree that it might have been nice for them to have included Dickensian era recipes with modern ones in this book. Thanksgiving is when I cook traditional fare. Christmas would normally be eaten at a restaurant, but I might just do a pot roast or something this year.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Joni says:

      We were not for putting sausage or other fancy ingredients in the stuffing, just plain and simple. I love sticky toffee but haven’t had it since last year…..I think I blogged about it sometime in the past. Thanks for reminding me!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Linda Schaub says:

    Well that is a fun idea to pair the complete version of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” plus the recipes. I, like you, am scratching my head why the recipes were not from that era … that would have been a better idea to do so and they could have had lots of fun doing that versus modern recipes. The last few years, my mom switched to turkey breast just as you and your mom do now, or it was a ham steak for each of us. My mom used to stuff the bird back in the day, but with just three of us, it was a roast chicken with dressing (here they call it “stuffing” not “dressing” as you know – my mom never called it “stuffing”) and she also made some on the side. My mom would enjoy a stuffing sandwich the next day because she had lots of onions in her stuffing which she loved. When my father was still around, we had roast duck, which my mom and I didn’t care for as it was dark meat and somewhat greasy. Sometimes we had stuffed Cornish hens with wild rice with mushrooms and raisins stuffing – yum, that was good, even though they were dark meat as well and a huge mess, (both to clean up and in the oven). I guess I’d call that stuffing since it was not moist bread like you/I were accustomed to.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Joni says:

      I’ve had roast duck once at someone’s house and never cared for it, certainly not enough to cook it myself…..although I’ve heard if it’s done right ie crispy it’s better, but I don’t care for dark meat. I cooked Cornish game hens once too and that was way too much work. I think it was a big thing in the 80’s. I’m getting hungry for turkey next week…..

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Jo Shafer says:

    Really, Linda, must you tempt me so just before supper on a dark Monday night? And Joni, see what you started? I’ve been changing our Christmas menu ever since reading your two Dickens posts, and I’m beginning to think a large roast chicken with dressing (with LOTS of onion) on the side. Everything else will go with chicken just as well as any other poultry or even Hubby’s favorite, standing rib roast, as we used to do. Now it’s just the two of us. We make merry in the kitchen, then dine lavishly in the dining room with silver and candles.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      A large roast chicken is good too…..we don’t cook that anymore as we buy them whole from the deli, but they never taste as good. Your table setting are always so nice Jo. I must remember to get out my plaid charger plates! See we’re all getting excited about food!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jo Shafer says:

        It’s an exciting season for special foods, from Thanksgiving through Christmas to Epiphany! I used to make mincemeat pudding for Epiphany — a jar of “seasoned” mincemeat blended with dried bread cubes. I don’t recall what else, but it was a baked Brown Betty with a white sauce of rum or brandy and confectioner’s sugar. (Now I’m making myself hungry and I’ve not had my first cuppa tea this morning! Kettle’s on.)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jo Shafer says:

        I made it up a long time ago, before I married. I’ve been considering making a smaller version this year. Smaller, because I’m the only one left in the household who enjoys that sort of dessert. Hubby prefers his apple pie, unadulterated. No raisins. And no spirits.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. J P says:

    I’m late getting here but now I’m hungry. I too would be disappointed in the lack of recipes with at least some attempt at a connection with nineteenth century England. Oh well.

    Christmas here has often been a repeat of Thanksgiving, which never generated any complaints. When Marianne’s mother was living our contribution was desserts, so it was usually homemade cheesecake, bread pudding with bourbon sauce and lemon meringue pie. The first two have me so spoiled that I never order them out because I’m invariably disappointed.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Your desserts all sound good, esp. the bread pudding with bourbon sauce. The hospital cafeteria always made a decent bread pudding, but alas not with bourbon. A friend has offered me her Dickens cookbook, which I’m sure will have more of the traditional era recipes. Merry Christmas to you too!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      PS. Thanks for reading JP…when you are so busy with work…I remember how crazy it would be to try and get everything done before Christmas and all the last minute crisis etc. Not fond memories for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. throughrosetintedglasses54 says:

    I think i may start your tradition of readin A christmas Carol, it sounds great I gave all my grown up children a book this year on Christmas Eve. Its an icelandic tradition and I thought I would take it on. They all appreciated it. Hope you had a happy if a little different Christmas Joni x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Thanks Alison! That’s a great tradition to start. Christmas was quiet and different this year but we survived it and for that I’m thankful. I hope things are okay in your part of the UK. One of the bloggers I follow from the UK, announced he had tested positive for COVID a few days before Christmas and hasn’t posted since…..it’s worrisome, esp with the new strain…..he said he hadn’t hardly been out anywhere. It’s better to live in a more rural area.

      Liked by 1 person

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