Christmas - Cooking Tips and Hints

Christmas - Cooking Tips and Hints

There are lots of things you can do to minimize the amount of time you spend in the kitchen on the Christmas day. Try some of these tips and hints :

  • Make a list of everything you will need at least a week ahead and buy all the non-perishable items well ahead of time. Try to get all your last-minute shopping out of the way the day before to save last minute trips to the shop.
  • Order special items like seafood ahead, then pick them up, with any other perishable foods, the day before. Store them carefully to make sure that they retain their full flavor and freshness.
  • Set the table the day before, then cover it with a light-weight cloth to protect it from dust and greasy fingerprints.
  • Prepare ahead as much as you can so that only finishing touches are needed on some dishes.
  • Delegate!
  • Use a sturdy aluminum foil baking tray for roasting. You will save a lot of elbow grease by just throwing it out at the end of the day.
  • If you have a small oven, don't forget to check that you will be able to fit in any dishes that need to be cooked at the same time.
  • Chill the drinks and don't forget to enjoy yourself.

Countdown to Christmas

This at-a-glance timetable will help you plan and organize your Christmas cooking for a traditional dinner with turkey.

Late autumn:

Make preserves and relishes to serve with cold meats over the festive season.


Second week: Make moist & rich Christmas cake.

Fourth week: Make Christmas pudding. Decide on Christmas dinner menu. Order turkey, goose, beef or ham.


First week: Make mincemeat. Compile complete shopping list for main Christmas meals under headings for different stores, or for the various counters at the supermarket. Continue to add to list throughout the week.

Second week: Shop for dry goods such as rice, dried fruits and flour. Order special bread requirements. Order milk, cream and other dairy produce. Make brandy butter.

Third week: Cover moist and rich Christmas cake with fondant icing and decorate, leave 1 day, then cover and stone.

Fourth week: Shop for chilled ingredients. Buy wines and other drinks.

21 December:

Check thawing time for frozen turkey, duck, beef or other meat. Large turkeys (11.5kg/25lb) need 86 hours (3.5 days) to thaw in the fridge, or 40 hours at room temperature. Make a note to take the meat from the freezer at the appropriate time.

23 December:

Shop for fresh vegetables, if not possible to do so on 24 December.

24 December:

Shop for fresh vegetables, if possible. Assemble Christmas Salad and refrigerate dressing separately. Make stuffing for poultry.

Christmas Day:

This timetable is planned for Christmas dinner to be served at 2pm. If you wish to serve it at a different time, please adjust the times quoted accordingly.

Stuff poultry. Form leftover stuffing into balls or spoon into a greased ovenproof dish. Set table, if not already done. Put steamer or large saucepan on cooker and bring water to the boil at 10:40am. Put Christmas pudding on to steam.

To cook a 5.5kg / 12lb turkey (Turkey Roasting and Carving Techniques)

9:05am  Preheat oven to 200C/400F/ Gas 6

9:25am  Put turkey in oven, covered

9:45am  Reduce heat to 180C/350F/ Gas 4. Baste turkey now and at frequent intervals

12:15pm Put potatoes around meat. Remove foil from turkey and baste again. Turn the potatoes

12:45pm Increase heat to 200C/400F/ Gas 6. Put any dishes of stuffing in oven.

1:45pm  Remove turkey and potatoes from oven, put on heated dish, cover with foil and keep warm. Make  


2:00pm  Serve

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