Sat | Feb 29, 2020

Christmas cooking do's and don'ts

Published:Thursday | December 20, 2018 | 12:00 AMRocheda Bartley/ Gleaner Writer

Christmas dinner should be spectacular and unforgettable. With all the excitement that surrounds the joyous occasion, it's highly likely that you could get overwhelmed in the kitchen, especially if you're not properly prepared. And since we know how special this moment is, Food and executive chef Noel Cunningham will help you to make the moment as smooth sailing as possible. Here are your personal holiday cooking tips.





1. Create a grocery list


This will allow you to shop ahead of time and also give you an idea of how much you are spending. So, you'll know beforehand the exact items you will need and what you won't have, which prevents last-minute panicking.


2. Budget


Please make a budget. After the meal is over and your family has licked all its remnants off their fingers you don't want to be confronted by high after bills the meal after you over spent and running up those cards. Once you plan ahead, you will be able to stay within your budget.


3. Ask for help


Don't feel bad to ask your guests to bring a dish. This will save on money and time. You can also get everyone involved in the kitchen to help peel potatoes, mix drinks and make the salads.


4. Make a schedule


Think like a boss. This might seem like a waste of time to create, but in the end it will make your day lighter by helping you to be more organised. This will help you to know the dishes you'll cook when and at what time. Assigning a cleaning crew is also a great idea..


5. Do a headcount


If you are hosting, be sure to know how many people you are catering for. Even though it's a family affair, you can be creative and have them RSVP. Also, ask them to let you know ahead of time if they are bringing additional guests. You don't want to run out of space or food.


6. Know your audience


Get to know who you are cooking for. This will allow you to include their likes on the menu and avoid their dislikes and possible allergies - after all, you don't want to be unprepared for that aunt who is allergic to gluten, and the uncle who is a vegan.





1. Don't try a new recipe on the big day


It's best to prepare a dish that you've mastered and are comfortable with, especially if you are taking it to a family member's or friend's house. You don't want to surprise yourself or anyone with a bad-tasting or spoilt dish.


2. Don't wait until the last minute to cook everything


Use your oven and stove top wisely. Bake your cakes in advance, and make sure you use precooked ham, or whip up the ham ahead of time. Get the vegetables and sauce ready a day or two before Christmas, that way you'll be able to also enjoy yourself with your family.


3. Don't overcomplicate things


Keep your menu simple and festive. There is no need for you to incorporate a plethora of flavours in one dish. And consider creating a theme for the dinner, this can be fun.


4. Don't cram yourself


This doesn't mean you should prepare less food. It simply implies that less is more. The fewer things you have to do, the better it will be for you. So, minimise your menu and save some of the energy and meal preparation for New Year's Day.