Get Ahead for Christmas
If the thought of catering during the festive season brings you out in a cold sweat don’t worry; with our ‘get ahead’ tips, cooking at Christmas is easier than ever.
So simple but always popular, jacket potatoes are a great choice for bonfire night. Just leave them in the oven while you watch the display and then dish up when you return. Place a range of fillings such as chilli, beans, cheese and coleslaw on the table and let everyone help themselves. For a twist on the old favourite, why not roast a few sweet potatoes too?
Make a Plan
Whether it’s Christmas Dinner or an evening drinks party; the key to festive entertaining is to create a plan. This means writing everything down – and we mean everything! From guest lists to menu plans, shopping lists to cooking times; once it’s down on paper, the task instantly becomes more manageable.
Before you even think about food, check how many guests you are catering for. Remember to ask about any dietary requirements. Your niece might have happily eaten turkey last Christmas but could be a committed vegetarian this year.
Keep it SimpleWhen choosing what to cook, make things easy by opting for dishes that require little preparation or dishes you can make in advance. Don’t feel you must make everything from scratch; a mixture of home-cooked dishes combined with shop-bought staples is a great way to save time.
Space SaversRemember to check your oven space when planning your menu - especially if you are cooking a turkey. Many a Christmas dinner has been thrown into chaos because the bird wouldn’t fit in the oven!
The Freezer Is Your FriendWhen cooking Christmas Dinner, lots of dishes can be made well in advance of the big day. Gravy, stuffing, bread sauce and Yorkshire puddings can all be made ahead and then frozen, ready to cook at the last minute.
To make things easy on Christmas Day, choose vegetables that can be prepared in advance. Braised red cabbage will keep for a few days in the fridge. Brussels Sprouts can be cooked using the blanche and refresh method, ready to reheat. Meanwhile, roast potatoes can be parboiled and frozen, ready to roast.
Something SweetMany of our favourite seasonal treats such as Christmas pudding and mince pies can be made in advance and frozen. And of course, your Christmas Cake is something that improves with time so perfect for making well in advance.
Stock up on Lifesavers
You never know when unexpected guests might turn up over the festive period, so make sure you have a few extras tucked away just in case. Your guests won’t expect anything extravagant if they’ve arrived unannounced. So, with a few pizzas, garlic bread and sweet treats to hand; you’ll be able to entertain at a moment’s notice.
If you’re still feeling overwhelmed at the thought of catering at Christmas, ask for help. Enlist your guests and ask them to bring one item each to share the workload. Above all, have fun and enjoy the festive season with family and friends!