CLAY COUNTY – As the resident chef in my family, it’s often my responsibility to cook for holidays. Beyond that, I often cater for small-scale events for family, friends and members of our …
CLAY COUNTY – As the resident chef in my family, it’s often my responsibility to cook for holidays. Beyond that, I often cater for small-scale events for family, friends and members of our church.
With a bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts, “What do you do for the holidays? is one of the first questions I get from new acquaintances. As the holidays draw closer, here are four tips and tricks that I have for surviving the dinner party season with as little stress as possible.
No. 1, keep it simple. This isn’t the time to try brand new recipes or a six-course meal if you haven’t done it before. Thanksgiving especially can be a lot of stress on smaller families who are trying to accomplish a Hallmark level feast.
Sticking with tried-and-true recipes you know your family enjoys will make the day easier in the long run. Mashed potatoes, your family’s preferred vegetables, pre-made rolls, and a home-roasted turkey breast can be much easier to accomplish than a whole turkey and the rest of the usual sides. Bonus: if you’re trying to avoid the dreaded leftover rut, a pot pie is fantastic for your Thanksgiving turkey and vegetables.
No. 2, keep in mind the timing of your foods. Usually, roasted proteins take longer than sides. Turkey is the kind of entrée you can set and forget the morning of and, depending on what you’re making as sides, you only need about two hours. The longer you keep vegetables in the heat, the more nutrients they lose, and to keep everything hot, it’s best to cook green vegetables just before serving to avoid having to keep hot pots on the stove the whole morning.
Third, don’t stress too much about perfection. As a recipe developer, perfect is unachievable without Photoshop. It’s easy to lose yourself trying to match the picture on your recipe. It’s unlikely you’re going to get that glistening skin on your turkey and perfectly green vegetables after cooking and keeping your foods in a hot kitchen. Instead, focus on the flavors and the technique you’re using. A baked turkey and roasted potatoes are going to look beautifully golden no matter what, but seasoning will always be more important than presentation in the end.
Finally, food is made with love, so don’t stress too much. You want to have fun with it as best as you can before you sit down to enjoy the meal with loved ones and friends.
Put on your favorite music in the kitchen. It’s a favorite trick of mine to keep up my energy during long hours in the kitchen. Bring in a friend to act as your sous chef. Take a sip of the wine you’re using to make your sauces. Taste everything as you go!
There’s no better way to get excited about a meal than to enjoy making every part.
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