Books make super Christmas presents so I thought I’d gather together a selection of gorgeous Christmas books that would make perfect stocking fillers. And for day seven we’ve got a touch of mystery with Daisy James’s heartwarming Mistletoe and Mystery
Welcome to the Cotswolds Festive Feast cookery course…
Fresh off the successful opening of the Paradise Cookery School in St Lucia, Millie Harper is headed to the Cotswolds for Christmas!
Co-presenting Claudia Croft’s famous Festive Feast cookery course at Stonelea Manor is a dream come true for Millie…as is reuniting with gorgeous estate manager Zach Barker.
But arriving in a winter wonderland Millie learns the manor is under a mysterious threat. It’ll take a holiday miracle, but Millie is determined to save the school and get Zach under the mistletoe to finally finish what they started in the Caribbean!
You can buy the book here
I asked Daisy to tell us about her own Christmas Culinary Delights
I really enjoyed writing Mistletoe & Mystery – the third book in the Paradise Cookery School series – because the story married together two of my absolute favourite things; Christmas and baking. Millie, the main character, is a pastry chef who’s hired to help celebrity cook, Claudia Croft, run a Festive Feast cookery course at a country manor house in the Cotswolds, which is something I would absolutely love to do!
Every year, around the end of November, I make my own Christmas cake; each member of my family takes a turn to give it a stir and make a wish, then it’s baked and quickly stored away otherwise there’ll be none left for the big day! I also bake several batches of St Clements mince pies, using shortcrust pastry with grated orange and lemon zest. They’re a household favourite.
When I was writing Christmas at the Dancing Duck, I wanted a few quirky recipes to feature in the story. Kirstie, whose story we follow, is a daytime TV presenter hosting a daily cookery show. She loathes mince pies – particularly those bits of candied peel in the sweet mince – and unfortunately, she tells everyone live on air. I decided to research an alternative take on the good old Christmas staple and spent some time experimenting with crispy mince pie wantons and mince pie samosas. An acquired taste my family said!
However, everyone really liked the sticky toffee gingerbread I made, decorated with zesty lemon icing and a sprinkle of those cute little silver balls. It disappeared so quickly that the next week, I made a huge gingerbread tray bake to take to a friend’s party. I took my time decorating it with tiny edible holly leaves and berries, and then ten minutes before I was due to leave, I went into the kitchen to find a massive slice cut from the middle of it! My son thought it was for the family’s teatime treat! Fortunately, my friends have sons too and we had a great laugh about it!
Last Christmas I thought I would attempt to bake a chocolate yule log – what a disaster! It looked like a cake and chocolate buttercream version of Eton Mess, but actually it tasted great with a dollop of mascarpone. One of my all-time favourite Christmas recipes – one my mum used to make – is Christmas Tiffin. I make it every year in bulk and whenever anyone drops by, out comes the tin of spicy, chocolatey tiffin with cranberries, cherries and chopped pistachios, and, of course oodles of dark chocolate.
What are your family’s favourite Christmas bakes?
I’m a bit of a reluctant cook, Daisy, but I used to love making coconut ice and peppermint creams for tasty Christmas treats with my children.
I asked Daisy to tell us a bit about how she celebrates Christmas
What is your favourite Christmas memory?
My favourite Christmas memory has to be a family trip to Disneyworld in Florida. It was the most amazing holiday and we got to have our photo taken with Mickey & Minnie all dressed up in their Christmas outfits. The decorations were fabulous, the food was wonderful, and the experience was something that I’ll treasure for ever. I brought a Christmas bauble back with me and it takes pride of place on our Christmas tree every year.
How lovely! When do put up your Christmas tree? Do you prefer a real or artificial one?
We can never agree on when to put the tree up in our house. I like it to decorate it two weeks before Christmas, and the rest of the family like it to go up just the week before. However, we all agree to take it down the day after New Year’s day because we have a birthday to celebrate in early January. We’ve had a mixture of real and artificial trees over the years, but for the last few years we’ve gone with an artificial tree that we can use time after time. You know, this year I would really love to get one of those silver tinsel trees my parents used to have when I was young!
We had one of those silver trees too! How do you spend Christmas Day?
We always get up early, open our gifts, and feast on croissants and Buck’s fizz. Christmas dinner is a mixture of traditional turkey and all the trimmings for everyone except me – I’ll have a wonderful nut roast that I have every year. My extended family live in Wales, and as they have young children they want to stay in their own homes so they can play with their presents. In the evening, we have friends round for a celebration drink and a slice of my home-made Christmas cake – maybe this year I’ll make the Yule Log Mess
It sounds wonderful. What present are you hoping to receive this year?
I’ve been dropping hints for a while – this year I’d love a bottle of Tiffany’s signature perfume… and a stack of books of course, that goes without saying!
I hope you get the Tiffany perfume, Daisy! Wishing you and your family a fabulous Christmas. Thank you for dropping in to talk to us.
Daisy James is a Yorkshire girl transplanted to the north east of England. She loves writing stories with strong heroines and swift-flowing plotlines. When not scribbling away in her peppermint-and-green summerhouse (garden shed), she spends her time sifting flour and sprinkling sugar and edible glitter. She loves gossiping with friends over a glass of something pink and fizzy or indulging in a spot of afternoon tea – china plates and teacups are a must.
You can find out more about Daisy here:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/daisyjamesbooks/ Daisy James
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Instagram too. @booksdaisyjames
When Saffy’s sister called to say she was stuck abroad with no hope of getting home to run her usual ‘singles Christmas lunch’, Saffy knew she would have to abandon her plans for wild festive parties in the city and head down to remote Cornwall to save the day. But family parties are so not her thing and both her sister Hannah and sexy single dad Logan seems certain she’ll never manage. Can she prove them wrong? Now available in print and as an ebook: