‘Tis the season to be jolly, merry and bright, and for holiday cooking.
Holiday meals are always the high point of any holiday season. It gives friends and family a chance to enjoy one another’s company while indulging in savory and sweet dishes saved for this time of year.
However, for those cooking this holiday season, it means clearing their schedules to create a feast fit for a King.
Don’t get overwhelmed this holiday season. Take note of these holiday cooking tips to help keep yourself stress-free.
Reduce the Mess, Reduce Your Stress
After preparing a holiday meal, one of the most dreadful feelings is looking around your kitchen at all the pots, pans, and more you need to clean.
Two ways you can prevent messes and make cleanup easier include:
1. Carving your roast
When carving your roast, ham, turkey, etc., you’ll encounter a lot of drippings and some waste. To avoid getting this mess all over your counter, place your carving board in a sheet pan. As you carve, the sheet pan will catch everything and keep your counters clean.
2. Lining your pans
If you plan on roasting your vegetables and other side dishes, line your pans first with tin foil, then parchment paper. This will keep you from having to scrub off baked-on food remnants. *This tip does not apply if you’re deglazing your roasting pans
Make Baking A Breeze
For some, the holidays are all about desserts. However, not all of us are Michelin-star pastry chefs. Some ways to enhance your baking experience include:
Prep & Freeze Desserts
- Pie Dough
A week before it’s time to bake, roll out all the pie dough you need into circles. Stack each circle, separating them with parchment paper, and pop them into the freezer. Pull your dough out of the freezer when it’s time to bake your pies. It will defrost quickly, ready to place in your pie pan within a few minutes.
- Cake Layers
Bake your cake or cake layers a day or two before completing the treat for your festivities, and freeze them. When it comes time to decorate, the cold and firm cake will be easier to handle.
- Making Clean Lines
You can temporarily harden items in the freezer for a few minutes. This is useful for brownies, pie dough (for lattices), and rolled cookie dough. Once these items have hardened, it will be much easier to cut clean lines.
Ensure you thoroughly wrap any dessert in your freezer to avoid picking up unwanted flavors.
Softening Brown Sugar
Imagine this; you walk into your pantry in need of brown sugar. Only to find that the bag has been left open and your brown sugar is as hard as a rock. Don’t panic! There’s no need to run to the store for a new bag.
Place the hardened brown sugar into a microwave-safe bowl, then drape a damp paper towel over the bowl. Microwave the bowl for 30 seconds at a time. Every 30 seconds, stir the brown sugar. Continue this process until it is nice and soft again.
Getting every dish ready for your holiday meal means that sometimes you need to remember things, like taking the butter out of the refrigerator or freezer to soften it.
If you need softened butter and have no time to wait for it to thaw, fill a short glass with water and microwave it for about one minute. Next, dump the hot water out. Turn the empty glass over and place it over the hardened butter.
The heat still trapped in the glass will quickly soften the butter.
Make It Flavorful
You want everyone to enjoy a meal full of depth and flavor. Bland food is a big downer for the holiday spirit. Something as little as adding balsamic vinegar to your gravy can make a big difference.
Some other things you can do to enhance the flavor of your dishes include:
Many spices contain essential oils. When these spices are exposed to gentle heat, their essential oils and flavors are awakened.
Before using your spices, put them in a sauté pan for about a minute on medium heat or place them in an oven heated anywhere between 325 degrees and 350 degrees Fahrenheit for a few minutes.
Homemade Chicken Stock
If you want to elevate your holiday gravy or soup, use homemade chicken stock instead of water.
As the holiday approaches, purchase your favorite rotisserie chicken. After enjoying the tender and tasty meat, use the remaining bones to make chicken stock.
Place the finished stock in the freezer and pull it out when it’s time to cook. This roasted chicken stock adds extra flavor and depth.
Gingerbread cookies are naturally delicious, but don’t you want yours to stand out from the crowd? When combining your dry ingredients, add fine-ground black pepper. It adds nuance by providing a subtle lift to the dried ginger.
Holiday Cooking with Cleaver & Cocktail
Cleaver & Cocktail wishes everyone a delectable holiday! We hope these tips make your holiday meals legendary among your friends and family.
With all that upcoming cooking, let someone cook for you. Treat yourself to a night out at our Town & Country location. To make a reservation, give us a call at (314) 530-9700.