We all know that the best part of the festive season is the festive food, right? It’s hard to beat weeks of feasting on spreads of meats, salads, side dishes and the most beautiful desserts, along with a seemingly never-ending supply of chocolate. Mmmm! Of course, that also means that if you opt to throw a festive season party for friends and family, there’s an expectation that there’ll be amazing food. Even if you’re not a seasoned cook though, there are some quick recipes and handy tips which can help almost anyone make delicious, party-worthy festive food that everyone will love. Don’t believe us? Let us convince you.
Low and slow
With big joints of meat, it’s almost impossible to go wrong if you cook low and slow. A lot of easy dinner recipes work on this basis, because the meat always ends up soft, tender and flavourful. So if you’re stressing out about how to get the beef as good as your moms, relax!
A good general rule to follow is to put it in the oven at a high heat (around 200 degrees) for half an hour or so, and then to turn the oven down to around 150 and let it cook like that. When the smell wafts through the house, take it out and check whether its cooked. Your cooking length will depend entirely on the weight of the meat, but you can always slice it or insert a skewer to see if it’s hot in the centre. Remember that beef and lamb should be pink in the centre for perfectly juicy meat, but pork, fish and chicken need to be cooked right through until they’re piping hot in the centre.
Jazz up your sides
Side dishes are almost the heroes of party food even more than the meat. That’s where you get the different flavours and textures and get to try something new. So don’t get rid of your simple green salad and garlic bread, but try adding some food that’s a bit more special and unusual. Ideas? Potato salad with corn, spring onions and crispy bacon bits is a great twist on an old classic. A caprese salad consisting of sliced mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, fresh basil and some olive oil, salt and pepper can go alongside your normal salad for something fresh and sophisticated. Or how about trying a salad with a new grain – cous cous, lentils, bulgur wheat? All are very simple to cook, taste great and are super nutritious.
Think in terms of festive flavours
Although most of these flavours come from European tradition, there’s just something irresistible about cranberry, apple, cinnamon and almond over the festive period. So as you’re throwing a festive party, try to incorporate them into your festive dinner recipes.
Dried cranberries for instance make a wonderful contrast with savoury flavours in lots of salads, and they also work incredibly well with most cheeses. So why not try a blue cheese salad with cranberries? Or a broccoli, bacon and cranberry salad with mayo dressing?
Your dessert could be a simple apple pie with hints of cinnamon – or use fruits to make delicious sauces to serve alongside your meat. Pork with apple and lamb with cranberry are two combinations that hit the right spot every time.