Tips for Making Your Christmas Preparations a Breeze!
Make yourself a working calendar for the festive season and fill in as the invites or events start coming in. Plan for the meals when you are entertaining as well as for general family time. This helps with your shopping lists. Make yourself a preparation list for the lead up to the big day and tick off as the prep is done. Don’t forget to grab the family to help you where possible. Many hands make light work!
There are many finger foods, dips and Pâté’s that can be made beforehand and just whipped out on the day. Always have a selection of frozen snack items to take out and bake at a moments notice, really helps with last minute crowds. See the fantastic ready to cook range available in store, to help ease the stress of trying to do everything yourself. EUROSPAR have a wide variety of ready made items to help you still be the king or queen of your party.
Soups / Starters:
Soups can be made a few days before and refrigerated or frozen until needed. Always keep soups covered to avoid any smells in your fridge. Choose starters that can be made the day before, so that it alleviates stress on the day and a simple garnish is all that’s needed on the day.
Make and freeze your stuffing in advance. If you can, freeze the stuffing into an oven-proof dish, or roll it into balls, that way you need only pop the defrosted dish straight into the oven on Christmas day.
Peel the potatoes the night before and leave them fully submerged in water in a bowl overnight. For really crispy roast potatoes, parboil them for five minutes and then, once they’re drained, return to the saucepan and shake the pan to rough up the edges of the potatoes. Pour the roughed up potatoes into the roasting dish with the smoking hot fat.
Blanch and refresh your vegetables (carrots/parsnips and Brussels sprouts) the day before – it will reduce the cooking time on Christmas day. Submerge the veg in boiling water for two to three minutes before submerging them in ice-cold water for a further two minutes to stop the cooking. Drain off the water and store in freezer bags or airtight container in the fridge over night. The carrots and parsnips will work really well tossed in oil, salt, a little balsamic vinegar and honey, and roasted in the oven.
For the sprouts, bring a pot of salted water to the boil and drop in the sprouts, boil for ten minutes depending on their size until tender. Alternatively, heat 1 tbsp of oil in a frying pan and fry some bacon lardons, halve the sprouts and sauté them with the bacon for 3-5 minutes.
Most of your sauces can be made ahead of time, particularly your bread sauce and cranberry sauce; they will keep happily in the fridge for a couple of days. Bread sauce can easily be reheated by adding a splash of milk and heating gradually on a medium heat.
Gravy can also be made ahead of time as well, and stored in the freezer or fridge – just remember to add in the roasting juices from the turkey roasting tray before you serve it as this will add extra flavour.
Don’t throw away your ham boiling liquid — use it to make gravies or as stock in soups. It is also fantastic when you use it to cook grains like lentils or rice, giving a great flavour. This liquid can be frozen for future use.
Prepare the bird for roasting the day before by rubbing all over with seasoned butter and leave overnight in the fridge. Make sure to take the turkey out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before you intend to put it in the oven, as this will stop the meat from going into shock and the skin from shrinking back.
Cakes, Pies and Sweet Things:
Most Christmas bakes can be made a couple of days before. Gingerbread biscuits, mince pies and shortbread will last happily in an airtight cookie jar or container for three to four days – perfect for whipping out with a cup of tea at a moments notice.
Christmas cake can be made at least 2 months before Christmas, keep doused with whiskey, sherry or brandy and keep covered in an airtight container.
Mince pies can be baked and frozen once cooled. To reheat them, place as many as you need in an oven at 170 degrees Celsius for 10-15 minutes until warmed through. Readymade, shop bought mince pies can also be frozen and warmed up as the above.
Frangipane mix will keep for two or three days in the fridge if it is stored in an airtight zip lock bag with the air squeezed out. When you’re ready to use it, snip off the corner of the bag and pipe on the frangipane lids to your mince pies.
Brandy butter, and whipped cream also freeze remarkably well. Spoon walnut sized amounts of the cream or butter onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper and freeze over night. Once frozen transfer the little balls into freezer bags. When you’re ready to use the cream or brandy butter, remove from the freezer and let them thaw at room temperature for 15 minutes.