Food

Easy Christmas Cooking Tips to Impress

This isn't the time to be Wolfgang Puck. Go and make a dessert with a blender.
IMAGE Buena Vista Pictures
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Being men, our standard operating procedures are quite unsurprising: we complain about the holidays months before they take place, we tell everyone that we have no plans, we make what we consider to be witty comments like “You look like you’ve been naughty this year *wink*,” and we always end up rushing a week before, knee-deep in wrapping paper, with a hand full of fast-evaporating cash and a mind bursting with despair.

December and January are not months to mess around with; it seems that the build-up to the holidays and their month-long hangover take quite the toll. Here are some suggestions to see you through the season.

Appetizers

Tartlets

These little bite-sized tarts are great to toss around and bring a slight touch of care and elegance to any “soiree” (see what i did there? Classy). If you are doing savory tartlets, start with a cream base (like cheese, ricotta, or mascarpone) then top it off with some smoked or fried meats or fish and some light garnish herbs and vegetables.

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Recommended Filling

For sweet tarts, take some mascarpone, whip it with some natural honey and some lemon rind, and place it on top of the tart. Fry off some sliced strawberries with a little pinch of salt and barely enough balsamic vinegar to coat them. Cool and spoon on top of the tarts filled with mascarpone.

Crostinis

The way to make open faced mini sandwiches sound better. Take a nice crusty piece of day old bread, toast it, wet it with some extra virgin olive oil, top it off with fresh tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, or some nice smoked cold cuts, shave on some Parmesan and a bunch of fresh herbs.

Dips

Dips are so easy and bring great variety to a spread since they can be eaten with the more common chips or just about any kind of vegetable.

Easy Roasting

When this time of year comes around, you shouldn’t be thinking of trying anything too complicated. You will probably have to cook for more than three people, from different walks of life, some kids and some adults therefore simple is the way to go. The only words that should be coming out of your mouth are: Rib Roast, Roast Chicken, Roast Lamb Rack, and/or Roast Pork. All slathered in fresh thyme/rosemary, salt, pepper, olive oil, garlic and left to cook in a well-tempered oven for a specific amount of time, until the internal temperature of your meat is where you want it to be, after resting.

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An Old-School, Idiot-Proof Guide To Cooking A Prime Rib Roast

Bring the roast to room temperature and season generously with salt, pepper, and fresh rosemary or thyme. Puncture some holes and fit in your thyme and some garlic cloves. Depending on the weight of your roast, start off with 260º Celsius for five minutes per pound. If you have a six-pound roast, that will be 30 minutes. Then turn off the oven, but do not open the door, and just let your roast sit for about two hours.

Go-To Gravy

Take all the residual cooking oils, fats, and trimming from your roast pan, and deglaze them on high heat with a cup of red wine. Transfer to a saucepan and reduce on medium high, add in three crushed cloves of garlic, until the sauce thickens a little. Saute one chopped white onion and a pack of mushrooms until soft and caramelized, and add in the red wine gravy, mix well until incorporated.

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The Side Dish

Like the meat, keep it simple. Stick to go-to recipes such as cheddar mashed potatoes, twice-baked French fries, roasted cauliflower and broccoli, sautéed mushrooms, grilled corn on the cob, and creamed spinach.

The Only Dessert You Need to Learn

Blender Mousse au Chocolat

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup hot cream (160º Fahrenheit)
  • 1/4 cup hot black coffee (thick)
  • 1/4 cup cointreau
  • Whipped cream
  • Chopped walnuts and hazelnuts

Instructions

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  • Heat the cream and the coffee until boiling in separate pots.
  • Blend the chocolate and sugar together quickly.
  • Add in the hot cream, coffee, and cointreau, really quickly, just until mixed.
  • One by one, add the eggs.
  • Your mix still needs to be hot, at least 150º Fahrenheit. Pour into whatever container you want to serve it in. Keep in the fridge for at least eight hours.
  • When serving, add whipped cream and chopped nuts on top.

This article originally appeared in the December 2012 issue of Esquire Philippines. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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Erwan Heussaff
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