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    motherkitty
    Christmas Dinner (preparing in advance)
    • #1
    • 14th Dec 08, 6:11 PM
    Christmas Dinner (preparing in advance) 14th Dec 08 at 6:11 PM
    I am trying to plan the cooking for Christmas Day and was thinking, apart from preparing the veg on christmas Eve, whether I could do anything else in advance.
    Could I do things like mash swede, make gravy and make up stuffing balls on Christmas Eve, and maybe even freeze yorkshires to use on the day rater than buy frozen ones in.
    Also, my family like to eat a steamed suet pudding with a roast dinner. Would i be able to make that in advance too and freeze it to use on the day without spoiling the flavour or texture? Or can you do these in the microwave?
    Just wondered whether any of you do this successfully as it would save being tied to the kitchen all morning!
Page 5
    • ragz
    • By ragz 10th Dec 09, 1:50 PM
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    • 27,335 Thanks
    ragz
    I have to precook as I'm cooking for 8 but have a tiny oven! Also, want to spend the day with the family not stuck in the kitchen peeling veg...

    I've got my parsnips in the oven at the moment (though alterior motive there, boiler broken so heat is welcome!) ready to cool and freeze just as they start to brown.

    Plan to freeze -
    Stuffing balls, probably mostly cooked then crisp up on the day.
    Yorkshire puds - make and freeze loads of little ones.
    Roast potatoes, mostly cooked then just crisp up on the day as I need LOTS of these so will make several batches and freeze open then bag up.
    Cheesy leeks will make up the cheese sauce and cook and freeze the whole dish ready to be defrosted overnight and reheated in the M/W xmas day.
    Mince pies - mainly to stop me eating them all...

    Christmas eve I will make
    Red cabbage, this tastes better if made the day before, then can be reheated in its pan.
    Beef cooked overnight in the slow cooker, then can use juice to make gravy.
    Duck, roasted then jointed when cold and reheated in the oven on xmas day. Will use juices to make the sauce.
    Gammon this will be served cold anyway
    Carrot and onion this can be left on the hob and reheated when ready to serve.

    Baileys Tiramasu (Nigella recipe)
    Ragz is busy studying
    Progress is easier to acheive than perfection.
  • louise3965
    The meringe will keep in an airtight container (done that with them myself) but I wouldn't put the cream on until the day you want to use it as the cream and fruit sort of dissolve the meringe a bit and will make it soggy.

    Was going to do a trifle and a chocolate log, but now you lot have got me wanting pavlova as well lol.

    ali x
    Originally posted by ALIBOBSY
    Yeah I will do a trifle too but fancy a meringue as well! Think I will put mango and passionfruit on it though. Will give it a go but blooming proper airtight boxes are as rare as rocking house sh$t in our house
    Cogito ergo sum. Google it you lazy sod !!
    • waddy80
    • By waddy80 10th Dec 09, 8:31 PM
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    waddy80
    On christmas day I will be cooking for 10. I used to work in catering and my record was cooking christmas dinner for 232 (not on christmas day, but still christmas dinner), so really I should be ok! It hasn't stopped me panicing though,

    Well so far in the freezer I have:

    Pigs in blanket (yellow sticker from tesco 25p a pack!)
    Parsnips these were yellow stickered aswell. I blanched these and then stired in a mix of honey, mustard and goosefat. I then froze them on a tray and they are now sitting happily in a couple of chinese containers.
    Carrots. Blanched and then frozen.

    I'm off next week so I am planning to get everything else done:
    Gravy, I'm going to try Jamie olivers recipie which uses chicken wings etc,
    Sprouts. Again I will blanche and freeze.
    Roasts spuds
    Stuffing balls - I will make up packet stuffing (my HM stuffing was not good last time I tried it!)
    Mince pies. I have made my own mince meat, and I'm going to make some pies and freeze.
    Starter / buffet stuff - Some little tart things from delia's new book which freeze well. Cheese straws etc etc.

    However before I do anything else I MUST defrost both of my freezers. I have left them for far too long and I'm sure I could fit so much more in them if I did!
    Money, money, money, must be funny....in a rich mans world.


  • bbsparkles
    I am in the same boat as a lot others and have an 8 to cook for/small oven scenario. I was contemplating what could be prepped in advance and was very pleased to find this thread.

    But I was wondering if there would be much difference between veg pre-prepared by me and frozen, and veg (frozen sprouts for example) bought ready frozen from the supermarket? I find that ready frozen veg doesn't have the right texture to me, so I'm wondering if my own home-frozen version will be any better. Does anyone know if home prepped and frozen comes out any better than shop-frozen?
    • ALIBOBSY
    • By ALIBOBSY 10th Dec 09, 11:54 PM
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    ALIBOBSY
    Yeah I will do a trifle too but fancy a meringue as well! Think I will put mango and passionfruit on it though. Will give it a go but blooming proper airtight boxes are as rare as rocking house sh$t in our house
    Originally posted by louise3965
    You might get away with just wrapping it in clingfilm or in a "normal" container perhaps.
    I think the important bit is to not add the cream and fruit till the last minute.
    Have made lemon merange pie and the merange was fine just covered in the fridge for a couple of days.
    Maybe the merange just goes a bit chewer?

    In fact thinking about it those packs of merange nests in the shops aren't in airtight wrapping so unless they add something extra to make it keep longer may be ok.

    Smoother it in whipped cream and fruit and no one will notice anyway lol.

    ali x
    "Overthinking every little thing
    Acknowledge the bell you cant unring"

    Make up to 10 a day-November 610.22/750

    Make up to 10 a day-December 73.84/620
    • ALIBOBSY
    • By ALIBOBSY 10th Dec 09, 11:57 PM
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    ALIBOBSY
    I am in the same boat as a lot others and have an 8 to cook for/small oven scenario. I was contemplating what could be prepped in advance and was very pleased to find this thread.

    But I was wondering if there would be much difference between veg pre-prepared by me and frozen, and veg (frozen sprouts for example) bought ready frozen from the supermarket? I find that ready frozen veg doesn't have the right texture to me, so I'm wondering if my own home-frozen version will be any better. Does anyone know if home prepped and frozen comes out any better than shop-frozen?
    Originally posted by bbsparkles
    I found my blanched home frozen brocolli and sprouts came out much nicer than the shop bought ones. Perhaps because I only blanched them for a short while and they were only frozen for up to about 6 weeks max?
    I them steamed them from frozen.

    Rather than freeze everything most of the veg could be done the day before and chilled in the fridge if you prefer. I may end up with so much in the freezer than I end up doing this. Going to have a shuffle of the freezers this weekend to see how much space I really have.

    ali x
    Last edited by ALIBOBSY; 10-12-2009 at 11:59 PM.
    "Overthinking every little thing
    Acknowledge the bell you cant unring"

    Make up to 10 a day-November 610.22/750

    Make up to 10 a day-December 73.84/620
  • bbsparkles
    Thanks. I just didn't want to go to all the effort of prepping and freezing only to find that the end result is no better than shop bought. Thanks again, I feel a mammoth cooking session coming on!
    • Shortie
    • By Shortie 11th Dec 09, 10:09 AM
    • 2,218 Posts
    • 12,069 Thanks
    Shortie
    Thank you everyone

    Inspired by reading this thread last night I have this morning cooked my stuffing . in 4 foil pie trays ready for Christmas day (and boxing day... I didn't realise just HOW much stuff was in two Paxo sachets ). I know stuffing doesn't take long but it's one less job to worry about and one less bowl to clean up on Christmas day too

    I'll also be having a go at the part cooked roasties... I might make and freeze some today to test out recooking over the weekend...

    And, for the first time ever, I've decided to use disposable roasting dishes... okay I hate waste but it means there will be no soaking roasting tins to stare at. Plus out kitchen/dining room (they're in the same room) will look less cluttered, much more quickly in prep to sit down and eat without having to stare at the dirty old tins!

    Apologies if there are random typos - I am usually replying via my phone
    • kippers
    • By kippers 16th Dec 09, 7:12 PM
    • 1,971 Posts
    • 6,041 Thanks
    kippers
    Ways to get ahead for xmas dinner...
    Hope this hasn't been posted before (i'm not very good at using ths search facility).

    I was just wondering what 'old style' ways you use to get ahead for christmas dinner. I saw on Jamie Olivers christmas program last night that he makes the gravy a few days before and then just adds the stock to the turkey juices after the Turkey is cooked.

    These are some of my ways to get ahead:

    1)I always prepare all my veg the day before. I leave the prepared carrots and parsnips in water in the fridge and the peeled potatoes in water in the fridge if they fit. I prepare any brussells, cabbage, swede etc and leave in food bags in the fridge too.

    2)If i have a frozen Turkey I always make sure it is defrosted and washed and prepared by christmas eve morning. My sister once had a frozen turkey that she discovered that it had 'gone off' on christmas day and stunk when she went to wash it....at least this way you can always still buy a fresh one on christmas eve.

    3)I wash and prepare my Turkey and cover with loose foil and pop in the fridge until morning when it will be ready to take out, leave for half and hour at room temperature before putting in the oven as it is.

    4)I always set the christmas day dining table the evening before so it's one less thing to do.

    5)I make sure wine is in the fridge the night before and my saucepans are out on the oven to pop my veg into.


    I would love to hear if any of you 'oldstylers' have any ways to get ahead for christmas dinner.
    • purpleivy
    • By purpleivy 16th Dec 09, 7:20 PM
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    purpleivy
    I pray for cold weather over Christmas, as this means that I have extra 'fridge space' i.e. the cellar!!!

    If you are trying to get ahead, then veg will sit in any cool space, e.g cellar, garage, porch. Save the fridge for dodgy stuff like meat and don't over pack it, as it means that it can't keep at a good working temperature.
    "Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad"
    Trying not to waste food!
    • Penelope Penguin
    • By Penelope Penguin 16th Dec 09, 7:21 PM
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    • 132,754 Thanks
    Penelope Penguin
    Hope this hasn't been posted before (i'm not very good at using ths search facility).
    Originally posted by kippers
    It has Christmas dinner (preparing in advance). I'll add this thread to that one later to keep ideas together

    Penny. x
    Sheep, pigs, hens and bees on our Teesdale smallholding
    • waddy80
    • By waddy80 16th Dec 09, 9:39 PM
    • 1,137 Posts
    • 3,554 Thanks
    waddy80
    Right little update from me I have made:

    Bread sauce ( good old delia)
    Gravy - Cannot reccomend jamie's gravy enough. It was some work but it has produced a fantastic gravy.
    Mince pies (I have 60 in the freezer, some for work some for home)
    Mini tarts for starter, which were really easy and really scrummy. Tomato and mustard, pancetta and parmesan and cheese and red onion. Delia again!
    2 x Christmas pudding (one is in the slow cooker now)

    I had a trial run of roast spuds at the weekend, and they weren't fantastic. I've told hubby we will have a cook off between my homemade and tesco finest (my favourite) over the weekend!
    Money, money, money, must be funny....in a rich mans world.


    • ALIBOBSY
    • By ALIBOBSY 16th Dec 09, 11:32 PM
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    ALIBOBSY
    Waddy was that jamies gravy with the chicken wings that he did the other night on his family Christmas?
    Fancied it myself, but wasn't sure if it was worth the effort. If it is that good will do it early this week and then freeze it for the big day.
    I know alot do freeze the roast spuds, but I have always found them just as easy to bang in the oven on the day and can't seem to get the pre frozen ones nearly as crispy. Same with yorkie puds, but then my Yorkshire Gran taught me about yorkshire puds and she hated the frozen ones. She maintained it should be crispy at the top but a bit chewy on the bottom, then should line your stomach as they as supposed to fill you up. The frozen ones come out too light and crispy and never as tasty or a big and fluffy as the fresh ones.

    My gran used to have hers as a starter sometimes with gravy as she said thats what they did when there wasn't a big joint of meat to line the stomach before the main meal. She would also eat leftover pudding with sugar or ice cream as a pud mmmmmmmm, like crsipy pancakes yummy.

    ali x
    "Overthinking every little thing
    Acknowledge the bell you cant unring"

    Make up to 10 a day-November 610.22/750

    Make up to 10 a day-December 73.84/620
    • ALIBOBSY
    • By ALIBOBSY 16th Dec 09, 11:36 PM
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    ALIBOBSY
    I pray for cold weather over Christmas, as this means that I have extra 'fridge space' i.e. the cellar!!!

    If you are trying to get ahead, then veg will sit in any cool space, e.g cellar, garage, porch. Save the fridge for dodgy stuff like meat and don't over pack it, as it means that it can't keep at a good working temperature.
    Originally posted by purpleivy
    I agree with this one year when it was V.cold outside I left the veggies and trifle out in the garage because had no fridge space left-all covered of course.

    ali x
    "Overthinking every little thing
    Acknowledge the bell you cant unring"

    Make up to 10 a day-November 610.22/750

    Make up to 10 a day-December 73.84/620
    • Pink.
    • By Pink. 17th Dec 09, 12:16 AM
    • 17,431 Posts
    • 40,365 Thanks
    Pink.
    I pray for cold weather over Christmas, as this means that I have extra 'fridge space' i.e. the cellar!!!

    If you are trying to get ahead, then veg will sit in any cool space, e.g cellar, garage, porch. Save the fridge for dodgy stuff like meat and don't over pack it, as it means that it can't keep at a good working temperature.
    Originally posted by purpleivy
    Despite having a fridge in the kitchen and another in the garage I still seem to need more space at Christmas time. My garage is my cellar. I Keep all fruit and veg there from November until early March. The cool dark atmostphere is as good as any fridge. Excess drinks that need to be chilled are often parked outside the back door (which we don't use much in winter) and even cooked meats and deserts (providing they're sealed/well covered) will keep well outside for a few hours at this time of year. My logic is that years ago they didn't have fridges and with a bit of common sense, at this time of year we can manage without them too.

    Pink
    • cooking-mama
    • By cooking-mama 17th Dec 09, 12:17 AM
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    cooking-mama
    We take it one step further and *eat* it a day in advance ;-)

    Well we did last year, and it worked so well we're going to do it from now on. I spent the 24th in the kitchen cooking and eating mince-pies and playing games with whoever wandered in, got it all on the table for about 6pm - usual main mealtime, so people were actually ready for it - and the kids weren't a) too full chocolate to eat it, and b) itching to get back to their gifts, so it was much more relaxed. Then we heated leftovers on Xmas Day. Nobody had to spend half of Xmas Day in the kitchen, so the adults had time to spend relaxing and being with the family too :-)
    Originally posted by blueberrypie
    we did this last year too---only because i was working 12.30 til 9.30 last christmas day,I wasnt too keen on having christmas day dinner on christmas eve,(tho it was better than the "ping meals from M+S that we had at work:rolleyesbut it worked a treat,amazingly so much less stressfull,and there was enough leftover for the family to have a 2nd christmas day dinner on the day itself,and i felt i didnt miss out due to work,my girls enjoyed it so much that they want to do it again this year...I dunno yet,i might..im not working christmas eve or christmas day this year(thankfully)but i am working boxing day,so it would be nice to have a stess free minimalist kitchen day on christmas day
    • blueberrypie
    • By blueberrypie 17th Dec 09, 8:30 AM
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    blueberrypie
    we did this last year too---only because i was working 12.30 til 9.30 last christmas day,I wasnt too keen on having christmas day dinner on christmas eve,(tho it was better than the "ping meals from M+S that we had at work:rolleyesbut it worked a treat,amazingly so much less stressfull,and there was enough leftover for the family to have a 2nd christmas day dinner on the day itself,and i felt i didnt miss out due to work,my girls enjoyed it so much that they want to do it again this year...I dunno yet,i might..im not working christmas eve or christmas day this year(thankfully)but i am working boxing day,so it would be nice to have a stess free minimalist kitchen day on christmas day
    Originally posted by cooking-mama
    Yep, the lack of stress element was one of the big advantages. OH usually gets home mid-afternoon on xmas eve, so eating on xmas eve meant I had to do more of the work, but because the cooking was separated from all the xmas day stuff, both days were far more relaxed. I actually really enjoyed all the meal preparation, rather than it being something that interrupted spending time with the family on xmas day :-)
    • foxgloves
    • By foxgloves 17th Dec 09, 9:05 AM
    • 5,512 Posts
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    foxgloves
    I've already got homemade bread sauce, cranberry sauce and spiced red cabbage in the freezer for Christmas Day, also mince pies, sausage rolls, cheese & ham Christmas tree biscuits & a belgian cake I made & cut up & froze in individual pieces in case we ran out of things to give people calling in for coffee....tho' I don't think that's likely, so it will probably go in packed lunch boxes in January instead. Christmas cake & pudding made well in advance, so I think traditional Christmas fare is actually quite oldstyle......what mostly makes it expensive is being tempted by all the stuff which appears in supermarkets around this time. We need to pick up the turkey from the butcher on Christmas Eve & buy the veg fresh from the market and that's all we have to do now. We want to avoid the madness of supermarkets as one year when we went just before Christmas, the aisles were actually gridlocked and no-one could move...they had to put an assistent on to direct the traffic before shoppers started hitting each other. It was horrible! We said 'never again' & have stuck to it!
    • waddy80
    • By waddy80 17th Dec 09, 11:13 AM
    • 1,137 Posts
    • 3,554 Thanks
    waddy80
    Waddy was that jamies gravy with the chicken wings that he did the other night on his family Christmas?
    Fancied it myself, but wasn't sure if it was worth the effort. If it is that good will do it early this week and then freeze it for the big day.
    Originally posted by ALIBOBSY
    It was yes. It is really good gravy. I would say it is worth the effort. Make sure you use a very good roasting tin. I used a big solid enamel one that could go on the direct heat after the oven. It is effort, but really nice!
    Money, money, money, must be funny....in a rich mans world.


    • Triker
    • By Triker 17th Dec 09, 11:57 AM
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    • 82,161 Thanks
    Triker
    Thanks for all the tips on here, I'm definitely going to give the roasts a go, and maybe the stuffing.
    DFW Nerd 267. DEBT FREE 11.06.08
    Stick to It by R.B. Stanfield
    It matters not if you try and fail,
    And fail, and try again; But it matters much if you try and fail, And fail to try again.
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