It’s not called the ‘Silly Season’ for nothing. Festive cooking and entertaining can take its toll on even the best of cooks, so we ventured into the kitchen at Signal Restaurant to ask Executive Chef, Malika van Reenen for her handy hints and tips – and then took a left turn into the Sales and Marketing office to see how they best cope with ‘Festive Stress’.
MALIKA’S PRE-PARTY TIPS AND HINTS
Plan, plan and plan again! For all your party menus make a shopping list and try and get whatever you can as early as possible, leaving the fresh produce until last. It helps take a load off and you can then gaily saunter past the frantic shoppers rushing from aisle to aisle.
Write a ‘To Do’ list according to dates and times to ensure a perfectly co-ordinated affair. Choose desserts and dishes that can be made the day before and prepare, cut and chop vegetables ahead of time.
For added flavour, soak your turkey overnight in an aromatic flavoured brine. Before roasting, thoroughly dry the bird with a kitchen paper towel before placing it onto the roasting rack or in the pan.
To prepare gammon – if already vacuum-sealed, just place the gammon as it is, in a pot of boiling water. Reduce to a mild simmer and continue cooking for about 8 hours to ensure perfectly tender meat. Remove from the bag once it has cooled slightly and score the fat in a criss-cross pattern. Glaze with honey or maple syrup and mustard, stud with cherries and pineapple rings and leave to caramelise in the oven. This can be done a day or two before the time and can either be served hot or cold.
Add a splash of acidity – lemon juice or vinegar - to your vegetables prior to roasting to enhance its natural flavour.
A great way to use up left-over Christmas cake is to make cake pops. Combine the left-overs with chocolate ganache and shape them into little lollipop-sized balls. Place them onto sticks and dip them into dark chocolate and decorate with cake accessories like silver balls, vermicelli or colourful sprinkles.
MANDY RUTHERFORD, Food and Beverage Marketing Executive:
To ensure additional fridge space, invest in vacuum-sealed ziplock bags. Finding sufficient (often bulky) containers and then having them compete for valuable cooling space can be equally stressful!
Making a flop-proof Pavlova starts with your utensils. Always use a metal bowl and ensure that it and your whisk attachments are squeaky clean by washing just prior to use and drying off with paper towel. Also ensure that no egg yolk or shells make their way into the separated egg whites.
P.S: older eggs make the best Pavlova’s.
NICKI LINDE, PR & Marketing Manager:
Go shopping! Where possible, take acceptable shortcuts on items like custard, basting sauces, pre-prepared roasts etc.
BELINDA AMOEDO, Digital Sales and Marketing Executive:
Always ensure that a cool drink is close at hand! One never knows who is going to offer unsolicited cooking advice and this will ensure that everyone makes it through to the New Year!
JEANNE NAGY, Revenue and Yield Manager:
Christmas only comes once a year so make it a meaningful occasion. Try not to get caught up in superficial gifting. Instead, if you’re good at baking, whip up a batch of easy-to-make goodies, place them into a festive container or glass jar and tie with a bright ribbon. Home-made gifts show that you’ve made it with thought and care – and who doesn’t like receiving something sweet?