Get your free recipe book and recipe cards:
'Merry Christmas Cooking'

Christmas is a season we want to share with others, with gifts, good company and delicious food. Cooking is a favourite pastime for many of the people with disabilities we work with. Merry Christmas Cooking is their gift to you – a downloadable recipe book and recipe cards, sharing favourite Christmas recipes from our community.

Welcome to Merry Christmas Cooking

We’re delighted to share some celebrities’ favourite recipes here, with a spicy dish from top chef Tony Singh and a yummy Spiced Parsnip Soup with Bramley Apple from the TV cooks, the Tanner brothers.

Meet James and Matt

Matt and James live at Livability Horizons, our residential service in Poole which prepares young adults with disabilities for adult life. Matt uses a communication tablet and James is verbal. Here’s what they told us about learning to cook …

Why do you like cooking?
Matt: Cooking makes me happy.
What cooking skills have you learned?
Matt: Mixing food [ingredients] together.
James: Rolling pizza dough and kneading it.
What do you enjoy cooking and eating?
James: I like flavours like peperoni and sausage. I like making pizzas and I like learning new recipes.
Matt: I like sweet foods rather than savoury, so I like making cakes and I very much enjoy eating them.

Do you enjoy sharing the end result with friends?
James: I like sharing food with everyone because then everyone gets to try my new recipes.
Matt (laughing): I don’t share the food I make as I like it too much!

Would you like to do more cookery?
James: I’d like to research more recipes and try them.
Matt: Yes

What other interests would you like to pursue?
Matt: I’d like to do more English lessons at school next year.
James: I’d like to improve my photography and to learn how to make pasta.

Northumberland's Boozy Christmas Cake

  • ingredients

  • method

227g unsalted butter
227g Caster Sugar
4 large eggs
200g plain flour
450g Dried fruit
60g glace cherries, 60g flaked almonds, 60g ground almonds
½ teaspoon mixed spice
1 dessert spoon orange marmalade.
2tbsp Dark spirits and 2 tbsp. for soaking.

Livability North East Gammon Brie Cranberry Tart 

  • ingredients

  • method

For the pastry:
1 ready rolled shortcrust pastry.
For the filling:
150g cooked gammon chopped into small pieces.
180g Brie
5 tbsp cranberry sauce
4 large eggs
100ml semi skimmed milk
Pinch pepper
Pinch salt
80 grated mozzarella

What difference does gaining a skill make to the people we support?

We work with people with a wide range of abilities. Learning new skills in the kitchen is popular because it’s very accessible and builds independence. It’s all part of the learning and development of a range of lifeskills which Livability sees as an essential ingredient in excellent disability care.


Livability staff focus on what someone can achieve in the kitchen and enable them to learn new skills wherever they can. For some, this could be as simple as learning to make hot drinks safely for themselves and friends, or stirring up ingredients; for others, it could be choosing and following recipes successfully, with minimum support. We refuse to have low expectations of people with disabilities but instead work together with the people we support to develop their potential. 

This Christmas, our campaign is highlighting the difference that the opportunity to try new things and learn new skills makes to the lives of people with disabilities. As CEO, I’m awed by the dedication and often sheer grit that people we support put in, to overcome profound disability and push their own boundaries in learning. Our staff are a big part of this too, working closely with individuals to make learning happen.

Sally Chivers, CEO, Livability

Support our Sensory Toys Appeal

Children like Ella with complex disabilities need your support to help provide the sensory equipment and toys she depends on.

Many tasks can be done with some adaptation to make the process accessible. I've just been working with 61 year-old Mike, who is now cooking in his wheelchair, at a kitchen table, with al electric wok and a slow cooker and he's having the time of his life!

Barbara Langridge, Clinical Specialist, Occupational Therapist Livability Icanho, rehabilitation centre for acquired brain injury