Nothing elicits that sense of comforting festivity (other than maybe Home Alone) like food. There are so many flavours, scents and textures that are intimately intertwined with the season: warming spices and root vegetables, starchy stuffings and honey glazes, chocolate, peppermint, orange and cinnamon.
These food memories can be personal too. I have a very specific sense memory linked to orange Matchmakers which always reminds me of childhood. I only need to see the box or catch a whiff of that synthetic citrus to be thrown back to a particular Christmas at home, aged 7, when I ate too much chocolate before mass and fainted on the altar (true story).
Mountains of work can go into Christmas food – the brining, the peeling, the baking, the steaming – and that's often part of the fun. But when our family units are fractured or compartmentalised thanks to a pesky pandemic, it's harder to work up the energy for all the faff. Not impossible, but way harder.
And so, as a sort of middle ground between huge amounts of food-related labour and nothing at all, we offer you festive recipes which capture the spirit of the season without taking a million years to prepare. These are meals suitable for weeknights or snacking or having a socially distant cocktail, so you can still eat, drink and be merry without pushing the boat out too far.