Start cooking and storing in the freezer!
Entertaining family, friends and colleagues at home during the holidays should be synonymous with happy and warm moments. But it isn’t the case when an anxiety-striken hostess must urgently retire to the kitchen on the eve—or even the day of—the big festivities. Now, away with the undesirable adrenaline rush! Below, for you fairy homemakers, we’ve listed a few tricks and tips for a smooth celebration.
Freezer ready to go
Tackle your holiday planning head-on by starting off with a thorough cleanup of your fridge and freezer. You’ll see: a clean and organized freezer will prove to be your best ally during the holidays. But approach the task with common sense. First, examine the contents of your freezer and sort which items you will keep and which ones you will throw away. Properly-wrapped meat, poultry, and fresh vegetables can be kept in the freezer for up to 12 months. Ground beef and leftovers can, normally, be preserved for up to three months. Move items that will not be consumed right away to the bottom of the freezer. It’s time to make some space!
For an accurate list outlining the shelf life of items kept in the freezer, visit the Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education website at www.canfightbac.org.
Appetizers, entrees, and desserts: to the freezer!
Virtually all meals, both salty and sweet, can be frozen immediately after cooking. Traditional puff pastry bites or choux pastries, not to mention your famous meatballs, lend themselves well to this. As for entrées, all soups without added dairy products can go straight into the freezer, too. All that’s left to do is add a generous amount of cream on the day of!
The same goes for your main course. Meat pies, pig leg stews, and classic pie dishes can thus be simmered starting now! Remember to prepare the sauces you will pour over your turkey well in advance, as most of them (excluding those made with dairy products) can be stored in the freezer. Be sure to store sauces and meats separately. You will combine them once they are heated up. Where side dishes are concerned, most vegetable-based recipes can be frozen. However, be aware that mashed potatoes fair poorly in the cold. It’s better to prepare them the night before and slip them in the refrigerator instead.
Cook the treats that will spoil your guests as of now. Almost all cookie doughs, whether homemade or store bought, can be stored in the freezer. Tip: divide the dough into portions, so that it will thaw faster and you will only have to stick them in the oven to get hot biscuits! Chocolate truffles, cake rolls, pastries, mousses… let your sweets inspiration guide you!
Thaw slowly but surely
In order for your foods to remain fresh, slip your concoctions directly into the freezer as soon as they have cooled off. On the eve of your celebration, slip them into the refrigerator so that the thawing process can run smoothly. Warm up your dishes in the oven, add the finishing touches (fine oils, cream, fresh herbs) and adjust the seasoning. Do not forget to glaze your puff pastry bites, while always keeping an eye on them. That way, they will be as crispy as can be!