Take the Pressure off Holiday Cooking
Chef Mary Ann Kiernan teaches students about creating delicious dishes in a hectic environment in her “Restaurant and Food Services Operation” course. Holiday cooking may not be quite as chaotic as a restaurant kitchen, but for those feeling harried by the thought of making the perfect holiday feast, the pressure is on.
An instructor in the Department of Public Health, Food Studies and Nutrition in Falk College, Kiernan shares some tips for cooking over the holidays to help make them a bit less stressful and keep you less tied to the kitchen.
Q: When you have unexpected guests over the holidays, what might be some good ingredients to have on hand for quick hors d’oeuvres?
A: Good ingredients to have on hand would be: puff pastry, cheese, pickles (I pickle lots of things), cured meats, nuts, good chocolates. I find Trader Joe’s to be a great go-to stop for all of the above. They have great snacky things—sweet, salty and fatty!
Q: Can an overcooked, dry turkey, ham, rib roast (or any meat) be saved?
A: Not always as the main item.
Q: How do you salvage it?
A: I actually thought about this one for a bit; stew keeps coming to mind. Chicken (turkey) and biscuit, scalloped ham and potatoes or add it to mac and cheese. You could also make ham and pickle (probably dating myself)—it is good in deviled eggs or stuffed in salt potatoes with cheddar. Casserole cooking comes into play in this category of salvage.
Q: What are some good ideas for a hearty vegetarian entrée for a holiday meal?
A: Lasagna—it is great because it can be made ahead and frozen; also any kind of chili made with textured vegetable protein. It behaves like ground beef and is very versatile. Also for vegetarian entrees, think winter squashes and go from there—they all pack great flavor and pair well with many other flavors and are hearty.
Q: Do you have any general time-saving tips for spending less time in the kitchen and more time with family and friends?
A: Understand what the holiday is for—getting together with family and friends. There is no shame in buying ready-made products—the market is full of good quality.
Q: What’s your favorite holiday dish to make?
A: I make cod cakes for Christmas Eve dinner but really enjoy them the next morning as a leftover. We celebrated La Vigilia [Feast of the Seven Fishes, a traditional meal on Christmas Eve served with a variety of fish courses] growing up and they remind me of the traditions of my father.