The count down to Christmas hosting is about to start! Time to prepare, make menus, think of new ideas. Doesn’t have to be a grand affair but it’s always nice to enjoy something different each year.
It’s going to be a smaller number around my table & I have two fabulous cooks along side to assist me so I’m hoping it should be all smooth sailing but for some cooking Christmas lunch can be the most stressful meal of the year, cooking much larger portions than you or your oven are used to. Not to worry, I’m here to give you some tips on making it easier for you all….well I hope!
We’ve all been through that feeling on Christmas Day, rather then sipping on fizz….
The dilemmas of ‘Will the meat be undercooked or dry’ etc.. deciding on the veg and what can be pan cooked to avoid loading up the oven to the brim.. Trying to come up with different recipes you haven’t served up year after year to make sure dinner will taste delicious. And by the time you sit down to eat, you’re so exhausted you barely have the strength to pull a cracker. So I thought I’d share a few food ideas, tips & a recipe to get you through the day with a smile on your face and make the day feel more festive.
So for me it always starts with this list
. Shopping – Pre-order foods / go shopping yourself but set aside the time
. Prepping – Prepare what you can in advance
. Cooking – Make sure you have a glass of something festive
Always reserve a longer cooking time than usual when planning because the gas pressure is lower and the electricity is overloaded.
Keep things simple and divide the tasks between competent cooks.
Make sure you have lots of snacks for the guests for grazing
Canapés – although I’m a foodie and create canapés regularly for my supper clubs on this day I head straight to Waitrose or M&S to simplify matters. The choices are endless.
Make them simple, something you can pre prep and cook on the hob or a cold starter. Something that won’t fill you all up before the mains….
Soups / Cold Meats & Fish plated nicely with a herby salad / Pate with crusty bread
This year I am going for a Ravioli dish, just one in a aromatic broth, enough to give your stomach a craving for the mains to come. My pasta machine is serving me well these days. I’ve been testing out recipes already and come up with something that can be prepped a day or two before and the bonus is it uses no precious oven space. Check our the recipe.
Getting the turkey ready or in my case the extra large Chicken ( my family prefer a chicken) can be a difficult task to master first thing on Christmas morning especially if you’ve been out the night before.
I am a true believer in marinating meats and preparing birds the night before. Saves time and tastes better when cooked.
- Prepare herbs in advance. Taking thyme of the stalks is a long dubious task even with a gadget. Store in an airtight container ready for use. The same goes for garlic, oils and seasoning.
- Marinate your bird whether it be the Turkey, Chicken, Lamb, etc…. and keep in the fridge ready to put in the oven the next day.
- The vegetables can be chopped in advance as long as they are not prone to browning
As mentioned ensure you judge your space just right….I always find a full oven means longer cooking times for some items.
Pan fried, grilled, boiled side dishes are best. I’m not a food snob, preparing in advance and heating up in the oven or a microwave is hassle free. There are endless recipes out there to help you along the way.
To me a KEY part of the meal. Full of the meaty or veggie cooking juices…..If you are vegetarian there are great ready made stocks and gravies you can use to bring a meal to life. Herbs are the key to compliment your dishes.
There is nothing wrong with using a little bit of Bisto as your base of your gravy and add herbs and fats if you are short on time or unsure on how to create a good gravy. You can get vegetarian options too which taste amazing.
The next course is up to you. Are you dessert people, cheese people or straight to the after dinner drink with a mince pie and a bit of fun and laughter.