Two days left until Christmas, the clock is ticking down!
Besides the presents, Christmas cards and the closing of business over the festive week, I need to plan for food.
It is very difficult to gauge, during previous Christmas’s we cooked far too much and struggled to finish it all.
I now prefer to spend 2 days before Christmas preparing and organizing the appropriate quantities of food, so over Christmas I have less to do and can enjoy more time with the family.
With Christmas leftovers and plenty of pre-prepared food, we can enjoy long walks, Monopoly and movies with the boys while still indulging on exquisite home-made meals.
So I go back to my golden The Time Saving Vegetable Rule chart and make sure my kitchen is well organized and ready to cope with the busy holiday.
Tip #1 The Cupboard
First I fill up my cupboards with all the basic ingredients I will need for cooking and baking:
5kg of flour, 30 eggs, 2 kg of sugar, 1 kg icing sugar, 500 gr brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, yeast, baking powder, nuts, Barry chocolate, coco, long lasting milk and powdered milk.
In the fridge 1 kg of butter and at least 250gr of cream.
This supply will cover almost any baking
Tip #2 Controlling the “hunger”
When I am right in the middle of a long preparation and the oven fragrance starts permeate throughout the house, there is always someone coming into the kitchen announcing: “I am hungry!”
So I ensure I have plenty of pasta and ‘quick’ food supply to buffer “The Hunger”.
Carrefour is offering 2 for 1 Garofalo pasta and I highly recommend it.
But if you have time, take a trip to Catering in Ventimiglia, next to Metro.
Tip #3 Italian Wholesale in Ventimiglia: Catering
It is a wholesaler, however private individuals can also make purchases by signing up a € 2.5 card.
They have fantastic prices and supplies.
Tip #4 The Freezer
Last weekend I empted and cleaned the freezer.
Following my What food do you freeze post, I replenish with all my usual standard supplies.
I throw away anything older than 6 months and use all the rest.
I am always surprised on my discoveries!
Tip #5 The Eggs white
All the egg white’s I have been freezing over the past few months will finally have a good use for the icing.
For 85 gr. of egg white add 4 cups of confectionary sugar.
For best results you should add 1 tsp of glycerine and 1 tsp of lemon juice.
Tip #6 Dessert’s ready to pop out of the freezer
Instead of making 13 desserts and letting them sit there on the buffet table over Christmas, I prepare some “ready to cook” desserts and freeze them.
When the “I’m hungry!” declaration comes along, I take them out of the freezer and Voila!
I can take the struffoli directly out of the freezer and caramelize them with honey.
When the biscuit dough is slightly defrosted, cut it into slices and bake in the oven.
Tip #7 Bread and biscuits ready to pop out of the freezer
I will do the same with some slices of baguette to make croutons and prepare the dough for parmesan biscuits.
With the frozen bone marrow stock and the sliced baguette a classic French Onion soup is just few minutes away.
The parmesan biscuits can miraculously make any “Hunger” disappear,
Tip #8 Flexible stuffing
We usually plan our Christmas menus way in advance and often prepare more than we can eat.
Keeping with Italian and French traditions, we celebrate Christmas Eve with fish.
It is also our family tradition to wake up at Christmas with the scent of freshly baked cinnamon buns, which we eat while opening the presents.
As a result, our Christmas day appetite is not as big as we thought.
So I prepare in advance small rolls of stuffing with chestnuts and cranberry wrapped in bacon, freeze them in pack of 4 and defrost only 1 pack for Christmas day.
If needed, I have more in the freezer, otherwise I use them over the following days once the leftovers are finished.
Tip #9 Meat ready to pop out of the freezer
I prepare several other meats which can be easily defrosted and cooked.
As the mix for the Christmas rolls is very similar to the filling for the Meat Pie, I also prepare a batch of the meat roll filling to freeze.
We usually plan a family day walk to burn all the calories gained between Christmas and New Year, and a picnic with Meat Pie is quickly made with the filling ready in the freezer: Picnic on the coastal walks.
Tip #10 Use all the vegetables in the fridge, and buy fresh so they will last over the holiday period.
The easiest way to use all the vegetables is to make a soup, which is also a healthier option to let our liver’s rest before the Christmas indulgence.
That is before someone comes in the kitchen with “I’m hungry!”.
Then the vegetable soup becomes: