Filling the house on Christmas Day with the delicious aroma of a succulent turkey or roast beef and all the fixings is one of the great pleasures we look forward to this time of year—but all that preparation and cooking can be stressful. With a little planning, you don’t have to leave it all till the LAST MINUTE: these three easy, delicious recipes can be made ahead of time.
SCRUMTUOUS CRANBERRY SAUCE
Cranberry sauce can be made by simmering a bag of cranberries with the juice of 2 oranges and 2 lemons, with the peels reserved and grated; one peeled, cored, and chopped apple; a generous handful of raisins, a handful of chopped dates, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, and a scant cup of white sugar. Simmer on low heat, stirring frequently until all the fruit has softened and begins to thicken. Spoon into glass jars and seal tightly. When the jars are cooled, refrigerate. Serve cold. Will keep about two weeks.
CREAMY CREAMED ONIONS
In a large saucepan decant 4 jars of pearl onions, reserving the fluid, and fold in 2 cans condensed Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup. Separately, in a small frying pan, melt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter and gradually add a half-cup of the onion fluid and bringing it to a boil. Sprinkle ¼ cup of flour and whisk together until you have a smooth, creamy roux. Put the saucepan over low heat and add the roux, stirring gently with a rubber spatula so you don’t break up the onions. Bring to a low boil, remove from the heat, cover the pot, and set aside until a half-hour before serving.
This recipe can be made a day ahead. Refrigerate in a covered ovenproof dish.
A half-hour before serving, drizzle ¼ cup of heavy cream over the onions. Sprinkle lavishly with buttered bread crumbs and pats of butter and put in the oven at 350-degrees for about 15 minutes. As soon as the butter melts and bubbles, remove from the oven and garnish with freshly chopped parsley and freshly ground black pepper, then serve.
5 pounds potatoes
2 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
¾ cup mayonnaise, sour cream, or Greek yoghurt
4 ounces cream cheese
¾ cup full cream
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoon ground chives
2 teaspoon chopped Italian parsley
Peel and quarter and boil in a large pot of water, making sure the water completely covers the potatoes. Bring to a rolling boil then reduce to medium. Cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes in a colander, return the potatoes to the pot and add the egg. The potatoes will be hot enough to cook the egg. Add the cream cheese and mash until blended. Then add the mayonnaise, cream, black pepper, salt, and chives. You can use a hand-masher, hand mixer, or a Kitchenaid mixer but DO NOT over-mash—the potatoes will get “gluey.”
You can make these a day in advance. Cover and refrigerate.
Twenty minutes before serving, fold potatoes into an oven-proof serving dish and heat in a 350-degree oven, along with the creamed onions, for the same amount of time, about 15 minutes. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley before serving.
Tips: Peel the potatoes, removing the skin and any eyes and blemishes that may appear. Some people like to keep the skin on—that’s called “dirty mashed potatoes” and with red potatoes, new potatoes, or baby potatoes, that’s what you should do. But russet, Yukon Gold, Idaho, and Maine potatoes have a thicker, coarser skin; it’s your call whether to peel or not. Before you boil potatoes, let them soak in cold water for 10 minutes, rinse, and then replace the water so all the potatoes are covered completely. (You do not need to put the potatoes in boiling water.) Soaking the potatoes removes excess starch and makes for lighter mashed potatoes. Potatoes are so easy to boil—and so easy to overcook or undercook. Test by putting a fork through the largest potato. If it goes through completely, it’s done. If not, give it more time—but stand watch! Drain boiled potatoes thoroughly in a colander until all the water is gone. The drier the potatoes, the lighter they will be when mashed. If there still is too much water left, replace the potatoes in the dry pot in which you cooked them, add a couple of tablespoons of unsalted butter and melt over the same burner the pot was on, which should still be warm (if not, put heat on again, very low.) Return the potatoes to the pot and let them dry until the water is gone, moving them gently with a wooden spoon—being sure not to burn!
1 can whole kernel corn
1 can cream-style corn
½ cup milk
1 8-ounce containers sour cream
1 8.5-ounce packages dry corn muffin mix
Preheat oven to 350. Grease 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Cream kernel corn, cream style corn, and sour cream, and mix into dry corn muffin. Pour into baking pan. Down the middle of the pan, pour ½ cup of milk—do not stir! The milk makes a custardy center. Bake 90-minutes or until done. This can be made a day ahead. Warm in the oven before serving.
STRING BEANS ALMONDINE
2-lbs fresh string beans, trimmed and halved
1/2 stick of unsalted butter
½ thick cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
½ cup sliced almonds
Salt and ground pepper
Cook the string beans until al dente in boiling water with a pinch of salt added. Meanwhile, in a large iron skillet, cook the sliced, cut-up bacon until slightly brown, melt the butter, and add the almonds, stirring with a wooden spoon over medium heat until the almonds are golden and the bacon is fully cooked. Drain the string beans and add to the iron skillet, folding the mixture in over low heat. Turn off the heat and cover the pan with aluminum foil until you are ready to serve. You can make this recipe the day before. Store covered in the refrigerator and heat in a 350-degree oven for 15 minutes.