Geof Manthorne is Executive Chef at Charm City Cakes in Baltimore, Maryland. He appears in the Food Network reality show Ace of Cakes where Geof, founder and chef Duff Goldman and their team create some of the world’s biggest, boldest and most beautiful cakes.
Outside of the kitchen Geof is a talented folk and country musician.
Working at Charm City Cakes
Geof has spent over a decade crafting some of the most extravagant and ambitious cakes ever made, and there’s not much about the world of baking he hasn’t seen. But he still loves taking on new challenges in the Charm City Cakes kitchen.
Freelance food writer Karen Burns Booth has always loved Easter cooking. As a little girl she would help her grandmother with spring baking at their Northumberland cottage, and she carries that memory with her today.
The 55-year-old mother of one splits her time between France, where she runs a cookery school, and North Yorkshire, where she writes about her recipes.
Here she shares some of her mouth-watering tips to help everyone make the most of spring and Easter cooking.
Naturally Passionate about Fresh Seasonal Produce
Karen’s love for cooking stems from her strong interest in nature.
“I’ve always been interested in gardening, nature and fresh ingredients. I’m very creative and love how colour and texture are all linked with cooking. Quite often I’ll photograph the ingredients before the recipes. I just find it’s a really lovely way to bring the process to life.”
Karen’s blog, Lavender and Lovage, features recipes using fresh garden herbs. One of her favourite recipes is the Victorian Spring Posy Cake.
“My favourite sweet recipe has to be my Victoria sponge with rose cream, lavender and lemon curd. It’s a great celebratory family cake for spring or summer, or something that you’d have for a girly night in.”
Indulgent Ingredients for your Family Celebration
For Karen, spending time with family and friends and indulging in sweet and savoury treats is what Easter is all about.
“To me it means a seasonal gathering with family and lots of treats. Lent is over so you can embrace chocolate, cream, butter, eggs, meat and anything you weren’t allowed during the 40-day period.”
Over the years Karen has tried lots of spring recipes, particularly the traditional ones.
“I’ve had lots of experience with Easter recipes, especially the historical ones such as pace eggs, the old-fashioned Easter eggs which you wrap in onions and boil in spinach and beetroot water. You get this lovely marble effect.”
She says it’s the traditional recipes we should really make the most of during spring festivities.
“I always cook traditional food at Easter. On Good Friday I’ll do a fish recipe and bake hot cross buns, which are really easy to make. I’m very keen on traditional British feasts and festivals.
“One of my top tips for foodies is to go seasonal. There are lots of lovely lamb dishes out there, or if you’re vegetarian go for eggs, cheese, wild garlic and spinach so you’re making the most of spring greens.”
Marvellous Mother’s Day Treats
Spring dishes are also perfect for celebrations like Mother’s Day, says Karen.
“One of my favourite spring recipes is a Simnel cake. It’s basically a fruit cake with marzipan, decorated with fresh spring flowers. It’s a Mother’s Day cake which was adopted by the Christian Church for Easter.”
Hot cross buns are equally as good for Mother’s Day and batch cooking.
“Hot cross buns are another great seasonal recipe. If you can make bread, they’re really easy. It’s just a white bread recipe enriched with egg, butter, fruit and sugar.
“People often start worrying when they start adding things, but they’re a really simple thing to bake and of course you can freeze them as well. If you have a traditional baking day, then make a couple of dozen and pop them in the freezer. You can defrost them in just under an hour,” says Karen.
Simple Spring Recipes
Even if you’re not a whizz in the kitchen, springtime cooking can be incredibly easy.
“You can’t go wrong with a one-tray roast. You just put your lamb, potatoes and vegetables in one tray. Pour on half a bottle of red wine, add a bit of garlic, sling it in the oven and you’ve got an Easter roast dinner in one tray.
“For dessert you could try a chocolate mousse, which is really easy, or a fresh, seasonal rhubarb crumble. Although fancy dishes are great, families often love the old-fashioned dishes like pies, crumbles and roast dinners at Easter.”
Tools to Make Cooking Easier
If there’s one kitchen tool Karen just couldn’t live without, it’s her combined blender and food processor.
“I absolutely love my blender and food processor. It has lots of attachments so it can whisk, beat, chop, and even peel potatoes. I can grind meat, whisk up some meringue, or knead dough. Appliances like that are great for families.
“I keep mine on my worktop as well, so it’s on show. I find if you put your appliances in a cupboard you’ll never use them.”
The combined appliance makes lengthy prepping tasks much quicker.
“At Christmas time I make grated spiced red cabbage which takes around 45 minutes to chop by hand, but in a food processor it takes just 10 minutes.”
Get Healthy with Home Cooking
Being healthy doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy good food.
“If you cook meals from scratch at home, you’re already on the healthy path. With some fresh meat and vegetables, you’ve cut out an awful lot of additives that ready meals have.
“A lot of people are talking about sugar intake these days. It’s just about keeping cakes and sweet things for treats – don’t expect to have them every day. Try and bake your own cakes to avoid that horrible palm oil and other sugars that shop-bought cakes have.”
Karen also finds the way you cook food can make meals much healthier.
“Try and oven bake or grill your food rather than frying it. I often oven bake my bacon and keep it in the fridge for sandwiches or to add to certain dishes.”
Quick and Easy Cooking
Even if you have a busy lifestyle, with so many easy recipes available, there’s really no excuse for not giving home cooking a go.
“If you’re well prepared, studies have shown that you can make dinner for a family of four when you get home from work quicker than having a takeaway meal. If everything is ready to cook you can have a meal on the table in under an hour. It’s really easy and so much quicker, tastier and healthier than takeaway food,” says Karen.
Food writer James Ramsden knows how to throw a dinner party. He runs The Secret Larder – a critically acclaimed London supper club.
He’s written a book called Do-Ahead Dinners, designed to help home cooks prepare food in advance, and regularly discusses culinary trends on Radio 1.
Read how James became the host with the most and find out how planning ahead can save you time and money, plus how to host the perfect dinner party.
Julian Carter, 51, has been Head Baker at Britain’s Best Bakery 2013 winner, Hambleton Bakery, since it opened in 2008. Baking runs in his family and has always been a huge part of Julian’s life, so it seemed logical to carry on the tradition.
“Baking has been in my family for 10 generations. My granddad was a baker, my dad was a baker, my uncles were bakers and my brother is a baker. I think getting into the profession was just a natural progression for me.”
Before committing to baking full-time, Julian had a successful career as a chef. It was his time as a chef that made him take a fresh look at baking.
“I bake bread very differently now to the way it was done when I worked for my dad. It was very old-fashioned and your classic sort of English bakery. I still wanted to be a British baker and make British products, but I wanted to modernise the way we do it.”
Go Back to Basics
Julian is a firm believer in the nutritional value of bread produced from scratch and made with natural ingredients.
“The best bread takes 24 hours to make, which involves long fermentation. This creates texture and flavour. Just use flour, water, yeast and salt – don’t add anything else to the bread.”
Factory produced bread is a world away from bread made using only these four simple ingredients.
“Factories make their bread within an hour from flour to being in a packet. You get up to 15 different additives in a modern loaf of bread. You don’t need all those additives in your diet. It’s all there for the benefit of the producer to make it cheaply, quickly and make the most amount of profit from it.”
How to Bake the Perfect Loaf
When he’s not baking for hungry customers, Julian likes to experiment with fresh bread ideas at home.
“I quite like to bake sundried tomato and olive bread, or I might make some rolls to go with soup. A lot of my experimenting I do at home. If I come up with a new idea I’ll always test it at home first,” he says.
1)Firstly, get your oven really hot, as hot as you can.
2)Place a tray in the bottom of the oven and a baking stone on the oven shelf.
3)When your dough is ready, put it on a piece of wood and score it.
4)Put the dough straight on to the stone in the oven and the heat within the stone will make your bread lift. It forces the gas up.
5)Throw two ice cubes into the tray at the bottom of the oven, shut the door and turn the heat down.
6)The steam from the ice cubes will create moisture in the oven. The steam works to stop the bread from setting solid before it’s had a chance to expand.
7)The stored heat and the steam trapped in the oven is the secret to a good-quality crust and a nice, light loaf.
Baking with Technology
With so much technology at our fingertips, Julian says there’s no excuse for not baking at home.
“You can have your iPad in front of you with the recipe on it, you haven’t got to write it down or print it off. You haven’t got to buy a recipe book and turn the pages every five minutes, because you can watch a demonstration on the internet of someone making it. It’s never easy to read a recipe book and get it right first time.”
A Healthy Rise in Home Baking
Julian thinks the rise in people trying their hand at home baking is due to the healthy eating trend and being able to use hand-picked, fresh ingredients.
“I find people are a lot more health-conscious about what they are actually eating. I think people want to bake at home because they know exactly what they’re making and what’s in it.”
Baking is Easier than You Think
Anyone can give baking at home a go. After all, nothing beats that feeling of personal satisfaction you get from eating something baked from scratch.
“Baking isn’t as complicated as you think. It’s not rocket science, it really is very straightforward. Once you’ve made something once or twice, you’ll suss it. It’s so much nicer to eat something fresh out of the oven than something that’s already been in a packet for five days before you have it,” says Julian.
Kate Morgan from London is one of Britain’s top cooking bloggers. Her recipes are regularly featured in What Kate Baked Logotop food magazines and cookbooks, and her site has been voted one of the best food blogs around.
Kate began baking at a young age and loves coming up with inventive ways to satisfy her sweet tooth. She started her blog, What Kate Baked, three years ago to document her trials and tribulations as she developed her own recipes. For more from Kate follow her on Twitter.
Here, Kate shares her guide to the perfect Pancake Day, including her recipe for delicious batter, some topping ideas you might not have thought of, and fun serving suggestions.
Kate’s Scrumptious Pancake Batter Recipe
Here’s Kate’s step-by-step recipe for mouth-watering pancakes that are perfect for sweet or savoury toppings. This super-simple method makes six to seven eight-inch pancakes and all you need is:
- 100g plain flour
- 2 beaten eggs
- 25g melted butter, plus extra for greasing
- 260ml milk
- And a selection of sweet and savoury toppings
1) Place the flour and a pinch of salt in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the eggs and melted butter and whisk together.
2) Gradually add the milk, whisking until you have a nice smooth batter the consistency of double cream.
3) Melt a little of the extra butter in a frying pan on a medium heat to ensure the pan is nicely greased.
4) Place a ladleful of the batter in the centre of the pan, and tip from side to side to cover the bottom of the pan. After 30-60 seconds use a spatula to check the underside is nicely golden before the fun part – flipping.
5) Cook the other side until the pancake is golden in colour and cooked through. Transfer to a warm plate and repeat. Separate each pancake with a piece of baking parchment as you stack them.
And the Secret Ingredient…
Kate likes to mix things up a little, adding different ingredients to make her pancakes extra special.
“If you’re feeling adventurous, mix a teaspoon of ground spices into the flour before making the batter. Ginger, chai or cinnamon will give your pancakes an extra kick.”
Pancake Topping Ideas
Kate also likes to get creative with her pancake toppings. Here are few delicious ideas you can try yourself.
“My husband and I usually have a real feast on Pancake Day. You can’t go wrong with traditional toppings like lemon and sugar, but we like to experiment with all sorts of delicious flavours, both sweet and savoury.”
1) Slice up an orange or use a few tangerine segments and wrap them up in your pancake. Finish by lightly drizzling with warm melted chocolate.
2) Finely slice some chorizo ham and fried mushrooms, cover with melted mozzarella.
3) Why not try a fruit salad pancake? Chop up some strawberries, blackberries, bananas and kiwis, and top each pancake with a sprinkling of icing sugar.
4) Cover your pancakes in salted caramel sauce. Delicious.
5) If you’re after something a bit different, try Speculoo Spread. This Belgian cookie paste gives your pancakes a smooth and sugary taste with a kick like gingerbread.
6) The All-American option. Blueberries and maple syrup.
7) Roasted rhubarb and vanilla ice cream –a twist on a classic pudding.
Get Creative This Pancake Day
Making pancakes is only half the fun. Here are Kate’s three top tips getting creative this Pancake Day.
1) Throw a Pancake Party
“Invite your friends and family round and ask every guest to bring a couple of ingredients with them. Lay the toppings out conveyor belt style for everyone to enjoy and award prizes for the most innovative ones.”
2) Have a Flipping Great Time
“For me the best part of Pancake Day is the flipping. If you’re having people round this year, why not turn this into a competition by scoring each flip out of ten, Strictly Come Dancing style?”
3) Make a Pancake Cake
“If you’re expecting a lot of guests you could make a Pancake Cake by stacking mini pancakes one on top of another and layering with fruit.”
“You make pancakes one at a time, which means there’s a bit of waiting around in between each one.
“One way around this is to prepare your pancakes in advance. To reheat, cover the pancake stack loosely with foil and place in a preheated oven at Gas Mark 1/ 275°F /140°C for 10-15 minutes.
With these great tips you’ll have everything you need to plan your perfect Pancake Day.
Neil Matthews has cooked in Michelin starred kitchens with the crème de la crème, such as Michel and Alain Roux, Richard Guest and Michael Caines. He also taught foraging and butchery at the River Cottage Organic Farm. Now, aged just 29, he’s Head Chef at London cooking school, L’atelier des Chefs.
Neil is exuberant, down to earth and passionate about food – just what you’d expect from an ambitious young chef. He’s worked in some of the UK’s finest restaurants, but over the years he’s drifted away from his fine-dining roots and adopted a style that’s much more rustic. Nowadays, he loves simple dishes made with great-tasting ingredients.
Find out why Neil prefers electric hobs to gas, why his favourite tool is a pot lid and what he keeps in his cupboards.
I Couldn’t Do Anything Else
Like most chefs, Neil admits he can’t imagine doing anything else.
“I love the cheffing lifestyle. I went to college and really liked it. When I put on chefs’ whites for the first time I felt like I was dressing up, but now I really like it. I feel comfortable. I just love the banter in the kitchen and working in a big team.
“It’s so versatile what you can do in cooking. You can work in a Michelin restaurant, you can teach, you can be a private chef for someone – I’ve done quite a lot of things with my cooking already,” he says.
To say that Neil’s packed in a lot of things is an understatement. When he was 18, Neil decided he wanted a Michelin star. So that’s exactly what he set out to do, going on to work in the kitchens of the UK’s best restaurants.
“I wanted to work in Michael Caines’ restaurant, which I did for a year. I wanted to work with Michel Roux, to learn the best classical French food. I wanted to work with Richard Guest at The Castle Hotel, simply because his food is the best I’ve ever tasted in my life. And he’s got a little restaurant now called Augustus, which is amazing.”
Neil’s CV is impressive. As well as the Castle Hotel in Taunton and Michael Caines’ ABode Hotel in Exeter, he’s worked at the three Michelin starred Waterside Inn, which was created by Albert and Michel Roux. The Rouxs are arguably the most famous family of chefs in the world, and the restaurant is now run by Michel’s son Alain.
Getting Back to Basics at River Cottage
Neil soon discovered that fine dining wasn’t to his taste and decided that Michelin style food was no longer for him. Instead, he went to work at the River Cottage Organic Farm to rediscover his roots.
“I just wanted to go back and learn food again. Go back to my roots and learn how to cure meats, learn butchery and learn how to teach. Some people see it as a step back but I see it as step forward – learning to cook again. Getting out of the Michelin game and learning real food.”
As well as a farm, River Cottage is a cooking school and has its own restaurant.
“Originally I went down to teach how to fillet and work with fish. Then I did fish and meat, and then fish, meat and bread. After two years, I was doing foraging courses – working with mushrooms we’d just collected. I was doing edible hedgerows courses. It was so diverse – they do so many different courses there.”
Now Head Chef at the St Paul’s L’atelier des Chefs, Neil still enjoys teaching others.
“I teach to pass on knowledge and that’s what it’s about for me – to teach home cooks how to make nice food. It’s rewarding. I wanted to do something with my skills – not necessarily slogging it out in the kitchen from seven am ‘til midnight every day.
“The hours I do now are probably from nine ‘til nine or ten. A 12 or 13-hour day is different from a 15 or 16-hour day. And teaching’s much more relaxed. Physically it’s a very easy job, but mentally – your brain’s always occupied and thinking.”
Are Chefs Really Cooking on Gas?
As with any craft, having the right equipment for cooking is essential. People often assume that gas hobs are the choice of professional chefs, but Neil prefers induction units – at least at home. These use a magnetic field to create heat within the pan itself.
“To teach or as a chef, I’d rather have gas. But if it was at home I’d rather have a really nice induction hob. If I had a nice induction stove at home I’d keep it for life.”
At L’atelier, they don’t have gas at all – they only have electric cookers. Neil prefers them, but admits that some people find induction hobs confusing.
“If you’ve got a pan on a gas flame you can see it’s getting hot. If it’s on an induction hob, people say ‘Chef, my stove’s not working.’ It is working – it’s just deceptive because you can’t actually see the flame heating it up,” says Neil.
Although their source of heat is invisible, he reckons modern electric hobs could save you time.
“Ceramic and induction hobs heat up a lot quicker than gas. If something’s going to take five minutes to come to the boil on gas, I’d say it’s going to take three or three-and-a-half minutes on ceramic or induction. It is a lot quicker.”
Get Creative with Unconventional Cooking Tools
If you’ve ever watched shows like MasterChef: The Professionals, you’ll have seen sous-vide cooking in action. Water baths and vacuum pack machines are used to cook food at low temperatures for long periods of time. These pieces of kit are fairly common in professional kitchens, but Neil saves them for cooking dishes where it’s essential to keep in the moisture.
“I personally don’t like water baths for steaks and things like that. But if you’ve got a little game bird – say a grouse or a wood pigeon – I think it’s really nice to leave the crown on the bone and put that in a water bath with, say, a sprig of time, a little bit of lemon zest and some garlic. All the flavours marry together and it keeps it really moist.”
As with blenders and food processors, these kitchen tools can be useful if you have a specific goal in mind.
Lifting the Lid on Some Sticky Issues
In keeping with his love of rustic cooking, some of Neil’s favourite items of kitchenware are decidedly low-tech – like non-stick pans and silicone pot lids. Investing in basic kitchen items has proved invaluable to our talented chef.
“I think it’s really important to have a good non-stick pan in your house – whether you’re going to cook fish, meat or scrambled eggs,” he says.
Looking after your equipment is important too, as Neil explains.
“We got some lovely new non-stick pans in December. We paid about £80 each for them. And I’ve asked very nicely that they don’t get put through the dishwasher, but they have been. So I tried to cook eggs this morning and they all stuck in the pan.”
Luckily, Neil’s got a top tip for fixing the problem.
“I just prove them with salt. Put them on the heat for about two hours with table salt and that will restore the non-stick.”
Saving space in the kitchen is something else people often struggle with, but Neil’s got a solution for that too.
“Another good tool is a lid – just a really simple lid. We’ve probably got 40 pans in the kitchen, which obviously equals 40 lids. I’ve put them all in storage and now we just have six – three large silicone ones, and three small. Silicone lids fit every size pan and it saves me a couple of meters of space. I think a silicone lid’s actually my favourite tool here.
“Get yourself one – you’ll chuck all your lids away at home.”
Make Sure Food Passes the Taste Test
One of Neil’s top tips is to taste your food.
“Taste, season, taste. The kitchen porters used to get fed up with me here because I used so many spoons. If I had a class of 20 people, I could get through 100 or 120 spoons. So I bought these tiny little plastic spoons in and it’s the most genius thing we’ve done – people have got to taste stuff all the time.”
Cooking is all about instinct too. Neil also encourages people to experiment and make things up as they go along.
“Don’t be too set in what you want to cook. If you want salmon, some sort of vegetable and potato, and you go out with that set in your mind, you’re going to come back with salmon, vegetable and potato.
“If you’re going to a fishmonger, keep your eyes open. The salmon might be old. You don’t need to necessarily follow a recipe. Go with what you want. If you’re reading a recipe with coriander and you don’t like it, leave it out and use parsley or mint.”
Ingredients to Keep in your Cupboard
Ever wondered what a chef keeps in his cupboards? At L’atelier des Chefs, the fridges and storerooms contain pretty much anything you can imagine but at home, Neil likes to keep a few key ingredients to hand.
“I always have a bottle of sherry vinegar, walnut oil and wholegrain mustard – I just put them on everything really. I’ve always got plain flour and strong flour. Good quality salt is quite important as well – I think that can be taken for granted. Table salt’s only good for cleaning pans really. You want to be using a good quality sea salt – Maldon sea salt’s very good.”
Using quality ingredients and fresh produce is something Neil is passionate about.
“In our Italian class today we had buffalo mozzarella – £4.50 each. Cow’s mozzarella is £3.50. If you’re going to use a product, use a good product and pay a pound more for it. I know a lot of chefs say this, but if you start off with good produce and don’t mess with it a lot, you’re going to get a good result at the end. That’s what River Cottage really taught me – how to simplify food and just make things that taste nice.”
It’s undeniable that we take electricity for granted. When a power outage occurs, it’s easy to find yourself automatically pressing a light switch when you enter the room, plugging a phone in to charge or sitting on the sofa and picking up the remote.
A power cut can happen for a number of reasons, but when the worst happens, the key to staying safe, comfortable and reducing food wastage is knowledge and preparation.
After Hurricane Sandy struck last year, Millions of Americans were left without power. An explosion at a Manhattan power plant and severe damage to utility pipelines left New York and surrounding areas in mass blackouts for over a week, with many struggling to source food, water, shelter and warmth.
Although your power cut is more likely to last an hour or two, it’s still important to put safety first. To prepare for a power failure, make sure you have a battery-operated or wind up radio. Keep a few torches, spare batteries, important documents and your radio to hand rather than at the back of a drawer, and be careful if you’re using candles and matches around pets and children. Wear plenty of clothing, stay in one room and use blankets to keep warm.
While you may be happy playing board games by candle light, check on elderly or ill neighbours who may rely on electricity for medical equipment or moving up and down stairs. If you live in a residential tower block above the sixth floor, a power cut can also cause your water pump system to fail. If you’re stocking up on bottled water or snack foods from the supermarket, it may be best to buy some for your neighbours too.
Switch off and unplug all sensitive electrical equipment like TVs and computers to protect them from a potentially damaging surge. You can turn on a few light switches so you’ll know when the power is back.
A power outage doesn’t necessarily mean throwing away a fridge and freezer full of food. If you have prior notice of the supply being cut off due to maintenance work, then you can move your items to a friend or relative’s appliance.
If your electricity unexpectedly cuts out, keep the doors closed on your fridge and freezer. Frozen foods may be ok for up to 24 hours, but this depends on your freezer and its temperature settings. The best way to tell is to lightly touch your frozen meat, fish and dairy products after the power cut; you only need to throw them away if they’ve started to get soft. You might also need to bin any foods which are eaten frozen, like ice cream.
Refrigerated foods are more complicated. If the food is exposed to temperatures above 40oF for more than two hours, you’ll need to evaluate it. All meat, dairy and poultry will need to be thrown away, as will any milk, eggs, pre-cut or pre-washed vegetables, cooked rice, pasta and potatoes. Hard cheeses, fruit juices and most condiments will be ok. The full list can be found on the Direct Gov website.
If your power outage is the result of a flood, you’ll need to throw away any foods which have come into contact with potentially contaminated flood water.
Electric cookers and microwaves will be unusable, but a gas cooker may be able to provide you with a hot meal. Many modern gas stoves have electric igniters, but you can carefully light the burners with a match or lighter; use the lowest gas setting and extra long matches or a cooker lighter so you don’t burn yourself. You may find you are unable to safely light the oven – check with your manufacturer’s guide.
Christmas is all about spending time with family and enjoying a few creature comforts, but it can be difficult to relax if you’re worrying about cooking. The key to the perfect Christmas dinner is good planning and lots of help (or you could just cheat).
With Christmas food it’s madness to do everything on the day. Christmas cake needs to be made weeks in advance, and you can make cranberry sauce beforehand, storing it in a jar in the fridge. Wash and prepare your veg the day before and keep it in water overnight (including the potatoes). Even bread sauce will keep for a few days before being reheated come Christmas. If you do as much as you can in advance, the only big jobs on the day will be cooking the turkey and the roast potatoes.
If this still sounds too much, you can always get family members to help. If they’re coming over on the day, they can always cook some vegetables or prepare a dessert to bring with them. Or buy essentials like cranberry and bread sauces, stuffing, Yorkshire puds and gravy, rather than making them yourself.
Get Your Pans in Order
Planning ahead also means you’ll need fewer pans on the hob at once. Even so, you’ll probably want to rehearse where everything will go before Christmas comes. There’s nothing worse than finding you’re short of hob space or can’t fit the potatoes in the oven. Having a double oven is a definite advantage. Your potatoes need a dry atmosphere to crisp up, but you want your turkey moist and succulent, so keeping them separate will help.
You can also plan the menu to give you less work to begin with. If you want to serve potatoes cooked three different ways, a starter and an array of desserts, everything will take longer to prepare and you’ll have trouble fitting it in the oven. So pare things down and simplify. It’s also important you cook a sensible amount so you won’t be eating Turkey sandwiches until February. Having said that, take your guests’ dietary requirements into account. Vegetarians and people with intolerances and allergies all need catering for.
The absolute best training for Christmas is to cook a roast every Sunday for the rest of the year – then the potatoes, Yorkshire puddings and meat won’t worry you at all. It might be too late for this year, but there’s no harm sticking with something familiar for Christmas dinner. Turkey is traditional, but you could always cook a joint or chicken if that’s what you’re used to. It’s better to have another meat cooked well than turkey cooked badly: just make sure there’s enough for everyone.
Once the meal’s over, the last thing you want to do is wash up. So don’t. If you’ve got family round, get them (or the kids) to help, and put as much as you can in the dishwasher. Most dishwashers will take around 12 place settings if loaded correctly, and slimline designs will usually hold 9. Leave large pots and pans to soak – you can do them later.
At the end of the day, all that matters is enjoying a day with your family. Everything else is just gravy.
If you want more hob, oven or dishwasher space this Christmas, check out our online store. We have a range of exclusive Blomberg products, plus cookers and appliances from other top brands like Bosch, Beko and Zanussi. Built in designs can make your kitchen really special, so pop one on your Christmas list.