A Chef’s Advice for Stress-Free Holiday Cooking

(Family Features)–How many times have you heard someone say they’ve slaved away in the kitchen all day? Stress in the kitchen can easily arise for a variety of reasons, especially when you’re strapped for time and have a never-ending to-do list. 

As a survivor of Gordon Ramsay’s MasterChef competition, Caitlin Meade—a top 4 finalist on season 8—understands the pressure all too well. To decrease the stress and make your hosting experience more enjoyable, consider putting these tips from Chef Meade into practice. 

Prep before you begin
Practice the “mise en place” method—a French term alluding to having everything in place before cooking. Measure ingredients, chop vegetables and prepare utensils to create a steady workflow. 

Plan in advance…like a chef
Prep the main dish the night before, have easy appetizers assembled ahead of guests’ arrival and outsource sides to family and friends.

Save money by getting spicy
Before it’s time to cook, pre-make spices. Since many store-bought blends can be overpriced, this is a way to save both time and money while personalizing your own flavors.

Save table wine for drinking and use cooking wine
A secret ingredient and important pantry staple for Chef Meade, cooking wine is perfect for when she needs to make a pan sauce or add flavor. It’s even saved her from having to open a nice bottle of table wine, as most recipes call for less than a cup. An option like Holland House Cooking Wines delivers consistent, bold flavor while standing up to high temperatures. Available in sherry, marsala, red and white, there are plenty of flavor-boosting options that will have your friends and family wondering what your secret ingredient is. 

Create your own stock
Many recipes call for chicken stock. One way to save money and time at the store is to create your own. Save any leftover poultry carcasses, wing tips, neck and bones. Add onion peels, celery tips, carrot tops and other vegetable scraps. When you’re ready to make a batch, fill a large pot with the leftovers, cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer 1 – 2 hours for stock that can last up to one year. 

Source: Holland House