It seems like every year my family gets bigger and bigger, which is great news for me since I love to cook. Personally I am always trying out-do the previous year’s spread, adding more appetizers, desserts and side dishes. While this goes over great with my family and friends it usually ensures that I miss out on games, stories and conversations with people I only get to see once a year.
This is a common issue amongst us Foodies: always in the kitchen making sure the sauce doesn’t stick and the turkey gets basted. In the second edition of this two part series I am going to go over some more great ideas to help you prepare in advance for the bustling busy holidays so you can have more time to spend with your loved ones.
Last week’s tips for preparing quantities of items ahead in batches for use in many recipes directly coincides with something I call a “recipe pack.” When I am preparing a large variety of dishes in large quantities I like to pre-measure all of my ingredients, then label and store them in containers ahead of time. For instance when making my stuffing I will put all of my dry ingredients in a large zip-lock bag and mark it clearly “Stuffing Mix”. In a separate containers that I have clearly marked “For Stuffing” measure out the butter, white wine, stock and vegetables. This will make cooking process streamlined and organized.
This same method can be applied to any recipe you will be cooking over the course of the day and can be done a day or two in advance. Think of it like a snowball fight. The person with the biggest wall and most snowballs usually ends up the warmest.
Here are a some methods that will help you prepare your ingredients in advance:
You can roast squash, pumpkin, yams or any other root vegetable ahead of time to be used in soups, pies, side dishes, etc. You will need the following:
Cooking oil (any kind you like)
Peeled and or cleaned vegetables cut into 2 inch cubes
In a large baking dish place your vegetable flat on the bottom. Drizzle oil over vegetable to lightly coat. Cover with foil and Roast in a 350 degree oven for about 30-45 minutes or until fork tender. Cool vegetables and store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Much like roasting your vegetables you can also blanch vegetables ahead of time. Blanching is a two part process involving first partially cooking the vegetables in salted hot water and then rapidly cooling them in ice water. This method is used quite a bit for things like green beans, carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower. For instance you partially cook the carrots you might use as a side dish of glazed carrots in advance so you can finish them closer to service time.
Fill a large stock pot 2/3 full with water and 1/8 cup kosher salt and bring to a boil. Cook your cleaned and pre-cut vegetables in the boiling water until slightly softened (this time will vary). Once you have reached the desired texture use a slotted spoon or small mesh colander with a handle to remove the the vegetable and place them into a large container full of ice water. Once cooled you can store the vegetables for 2-3 days in an air tight container in the refrigerator.
Here are some great Foodie events available through Brown Paper Tickets!
Thurday, November 15:
Andersonville Homebrew Contest – Chicago, Illinois
Focus on Farming 9 – Everett, Washington
Sustainable Food Systems, Memphis Style – Memphis, Tennessee
Friday, November 16:
Saturday, November 17:
Ales Faire – Camp Hill, Pennsylvania
Wine Down – Oakland, California
Sunday, November 18:
Headstands at the Farmstand – Bolinas, California