Holidays in the Kitchen

Holidays in the Kitchen

As you prepare for holiday meals and parties – here are some great words of advice from Chef Andre, a kathy ireland® design ambassador.

When it comes to entertaining, especially during the holidays, one thing that my good friend Kathy Ireland and I agree on is – the best parties should awaken all your senses. Sight, Touch, Hearing, Taste and Smell. And there is nothing more inviting than the sweet aroma of the holidays coming from the kitchen. A gentle simmering pot of Hot Apple Spice Cider or Mulled Wine will invite guests into the heart-warming comfort of your festive home.

As they are greeted with the sight of a beautifully set table, and the sounds of laughter, festive music softy adds a melodic reembrace of holidays past while enhancing the savory moments of the present.

With food being so central to entertaining, especially during the holidays, and while you want to have an array of delicious dishes for your guests, remember too many choices can be overwhelming and time consuming, let alone the pressure of having it all turn-out just right.

Chef Andre and kathy ireland

So here are a few solutions I hope will ease some tension and free-up a little more time for family and friends.

• I can’t stress this enough, START EARLY. There are many things that can be done days, even weeks in advance.

2 -3 weeks in advance
Invites and Menu
Have a good idea how many people are coming and what you’re serving. A last-minute change of one or two people won’t cause chaos if you’re well prepared.
Special Orders
Extra seating, tables, special food, kosher meal, desserts. The earlier the better and give yourself a reminder to call the week before to confirm your order.

1 week in advance
Call to confirm your earlier orders
Select music; have several playlists, an up-tempo, jazzy standards and a softer wind-down for the end of the evening.
Confirm guest; we all know those people that wait ‘til the last minute to RSVP.

2 days before
If you are planning on using a frozen turkey, please read the thawing directions. Most directions say to allow approximately 24 hours per 5 pounds of turkey. Which means; when thawing your turkey in the refrigerator a
8 to 12 lbs / 1-2 days
12 to 16 lbs / 2-3 days
16 to 20 lbs / 3-4 days
Chop veggies for crudite and recipes. Celery, carrots, onions…have them all pre-chopped and in baggies ready to go.

Day and night before
Double check, double check

Make sure you have all the ingredients you need to prepare your holiday dishes. Check to make sure you have all the utensils, containers, and equipment you will need, including a roasting pan large enough to hold your turkey and / or ham, and a meat thermometer.
Make sure your oven is in proper working condition.
Chill drinks; if you are expecting a large number of guests, it helps to have a back-up cooling system. Second refrigerator and / or coolers filled with ice.
Also, with a large number of guests, consider having a Bartender or a dedicated drink person.

• When it comes to your menu, it should always include healthy choices.

Cured olives, pickled asparagus, roasted cauliflower florets, raw carrots and jicama for crudité. We all know what packs the most calories, desserts and alcohol! With the desserts; Have One Bite. Eat all the desserts you want — but just a bite of each.

For the alcohol, make sure you have non-alcoholic choices and here’s a trick I stand-by. Start the evening with water and make it your in-between drink. A glass of wine, a glass of water…..and so on. I especially heed to this, because like most, desserts and alcohol are my weakness.
Speaking of desserts, I could NOT attempt or survive the holidays without my KitchenAid Mixer. It saves time and makes dessert making so much easier.

• For table-setting and kitchen – brighten with home décor

Brighten your kitchen and table with texture and color. Flowers, seasonal fruits and herbs; such as cranberries, persimmons, pomegranates, pears, rosemary, holly, as well as fresh garland to decorate your table, mantle and kitchen. You can never have too many candles, be creative but always remember candle safety.

For the Height of Entertaining; break up a humdrum table or side buffet by arranging your serving platters at different levels. Stack boxes, books, upside-down bowls or pots hidden under your table cloth. Place food platters and baskets at desired heights. Try using cake plates with pedestals for added flare. Laying out china, flatware and glassware the night before and covering with a cloth or sheet will also save you time.

A little pre-planning will help you enjoy more time with your family and friends, remember they came to see you, not your back as disappear back into the kitchen.

• Last but not least; Party checklist:

Do you have?
– Napkins
– Glasses
– Plates
– Utensils
– Platters
– Serving utensils
– Flowers
– Candles
– Drinks
– Ice
– Coffee maker/filters and -cups

Don’t forget
– Trash
– Recycling bins

Wishing you a delicious Holiday Season!

Chef Andre
a kathy ireland® design ambassador