No longer will you spend December 25 running around your house trying to stop the turkey from burning and shooing your kids away from the candy cane jar. Julie Goodwin, Australia’s favourite home cook and first MasterChef, owner of Julie’s Place cooking school, shares how you can host a stress-free Christmas with delicious, effortless food.
It’s time to relax at Christmas and enjoy quality time with your nearest and dearest, not slaving over a stove all day long. Organise what you can in advance; sauces, desserts, chutneys and biscuits can be prepared in the days ahead, whilst salads and vegetables can be prepped the day before, leaving you with your hands free to relax and enjoy the day.
You don’t need a full hot roast dinner to get into the festive spirit; a cold Christmas lunch is more appropriate for our climate. Try a glazed ham, some seafood and a selection of colourful festive salads for an equally special and delicious lunch.
Serve your lunch in the middle of the table to share with friends and family, or go for a buffet-style feast (along a bench so that people walk along and serve themselves). This will be much easier than individually plating meals and means you won’t need to worry about what each person will and won’t eat.
If you’re having a crowd over, do some delegating and spread the tasks around so you’re not lumped with everything – sometimes it’s much better to ask for help. You could put someone in charge of nibbles, make another person responsible for dessert, or get someone else to bring a salad.
It’s really tempting to by more than you need over Christmas. Avoid extra work, extra expense and food waste, by making sure you only supply the food you’ll need.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, try and use up as much as your fresh produce in the fridge as possible to make room for the festive goodies – ham, turkey and pavlovas usually need a lot of space. I recommend fridges that allow you to slide or lift the door bins to suit your ever-changing needs especially at Christmas!
When it’s time to pack the Christmas lunch away, many hands make light work, so don’t be shy about delegating some of the cleaning up. Most people will be pleased to be able to help – or at least pretend! Don’t forget to store the leftovers properly either – cling wrap and plastic containers will become your new best friend.
Get some recipes and clever ideas ready to use up any leftover ham, turkey and vegetables so they don’t sit sadly in the fridge until they have to be thrown out. They can be put to great use in a quiche, terrines, pasta, or in fried rice.
It’s good to know that according to food safety standards your food can be safely out of the fridge or oven for 2 hours. That gives you plenty of time for a leisurely lunch before you need to pack up and put your food away in the fridge.
Finally, if you want to have a wonderful Christmas day, forget the idea that everything needs to be perfect. Instead, relax, take the pressure off yourself and enjoy the company of your loved ones over some great food, a drink and some silly bon-bon jokes. Happy Christmas!
Text: The Australian Women’s Weekly / Additional Reporting: Sean Tan