So Christmas is here – can you believe it!
It is a time for family, friends, and food! Some of us though have no idea what we are doing in the kitchen and land up cooking up a disaster instead of a Christmas feast.
Christmas cooking can be stressful – there is so much to think about, there are presents to wrap and the shops are an absolute nightmare. Christmas needs to be enjoyed, not spent stressing about everything, so follow these easy tips and fool-proof meals to make your Christmas cooking a breeze!
Tips for Christmas Cooking
Make a list
Just like Santa, you need to make a list and you need to check it twice. When you go shopping close to Christmas, you can expect the shops to be full of last minute shoppers. You need to get in and out, and the best way to do that quickly is to have a list. Whether you separate your list by aisle or meal, get everything you need written down so you don’t forget an ingredient and you don’t get distracted.
Take the bird out
Whichever meat you have been assigned for Christmas day – the turkey, the duck, the gammon or lamb, make sure you take the meat out the night before and leave it in the fridge. It will defrost slowly and you can take it out the next morning to defrost fully. You will be a bit stuck with a fully frozen chunk of meat. Last minute defrosting in the microwave might pre-cook the meat too much and cause it to be tough.
Buy a tin tray
Most retail stores sell those disposable tin trays you can use to roast meat and veg in. They are really handy to have, especially if you are transporting your cooked Christmas food. You don’t have to worry about cleaning the tray afterward or forgetting it when going home.
Have a little calendar where you set your Christmas to-do lists and goals. Choose a date you want to buy your groceries by, the date you want all your presents bought and wrapped, and when you can start relaxing. Without doing this you are setting yourself up for a last minute rush and tons of stress.
Don’t put pressure on yourself
Social media can be your worst enemy leading up to Christmas. There are pictures of perfect families under perfect trees with perfect tables of food. Firstly, this isn’t ever actually real, and secondly, that isn’t what makes a happy Christmas. Do what you can and rather have a happy, relaxed holiday with the ones you love.
Christmas Dishes for Anyone to Try
Here are a few Christmas dishes that are easy to make, and can be made by nearly anyone. Just do your prep properly and find a recipe that you are comfortable with, get your ingredients together and get cooking!
Beetroot and Orange Salad
This is a simple and easy to make salad that looks really great on the table. Some sliced beetroot and cut-up orange mixed up with rocket and a vinaigrette, it is a fresh and summery salad.
Brussel Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar and Cranberries
You will be able to win over any brussel sprout hater with this recipe. The delicious balsamic glaze and the sweet tartness of the cranberries take this dish to the next level and it will fit in perfectly as a side for a turkey or gammon.
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes are the ultimate comfort food, throw in some garlic, cream and black pepper and you have a fabulous side for Christmas.
Mac ‘n Cheese
A good old-fashioned, super cheesey mac ‘n cheese works out as a cost-effective, easy to make and easy to store side dish for Christmas. The kids will love it and it keeps well for leftovers the next day. Throw some breadcrumbs and parmesan on top, but it in to bake and it will have a crispy topping.
It isn’t Christmas without gammon. Most grocery stores sell pre-cooked gammon that you just need to heat up and dish on Christmas. It is a cured or smoked ham that is glazed in a sweet sauce. Glam up your gammon and stud it with maraschino cherries and pineapple, the sweet and tart flavours really add to the glaze and smokey flavour of the ham.
Turkey might not be a popular protein in South Africa during the year, it is definitely a must-have on Christmas. There are so many different flavours to glaze the turkey in, so many different stuffings to use (that you can serve up on its own as a side dish), and you can even do your turkey on the Weber. It is a big bird that is succulent and rich in flavour, enough to go around for even the biggest of families.
Very Berry Pavlova Ring
Pavlova might seem scary to some, but you can actually buy the meringue wreath from the grocery store. Making the berry topping is also easy, you cook down some berries with some sugar and lemon juice, chuck the concoction on top and top with some fresh mint leaves and fresh berries. It looks super festive and is great served with ice cream on a hot South African Christmas day.
Hot Cocoa Drinks
Once Christmas day is done and you need to sit back and relax, a hot cup of cocoa will be the perfect relaxer. You can make your own by melting down chocolate and milk, or you can use instant hot chocolate and add in some extra chocolate and marshmallows.
Christmas is Here
If you haven’t sorted out your Christmas to-dos and planning, hopefully, this prompts you to do so. Planning ahead may seem like more work, but it does make the lead up to Christmas much less stressful and more enjoyable. Avoid the stress and last minute panic, sit back with a cocktail and enjoy the most wonderful time of the year.
Impress your guests this Christmas with some classic and tasty meals and desserts!