The kitchen appliance that\'s your \'Christmas secret weapon\'
When it comes to cooking and kitchen appliances, there's no greater authority than Fiona Mair. She's been CHOICE's home economist and kitchen test coordinator for 23 years and she is sharing her expert tips on how to plan, prepare and execute your festive feast this year.
Choose the right tools for the job
Her number one advice on appliances? Use a food processor.
"Choosing the right tool or appliance makes your life a lot easier when it comes to preparing lots of food. A food processor is your Christmas secret weapon - they save time and effort better spent elsewhere in the kitchen or spending time with the family" says Ms Mair.
"Also, make sure you have the right knives - the knives should be sharpened before you start preparing everything. Check you have the right amount of baking trays, plates, bowls, and other servingware well in advance."
The size of your appliance can also make a real difference when it comes to cooking for a crowd.
"You’ve got to look at how many people you’re going to be cooking for. If you're a family of five or six then you need to look at using some larger sized appliances, like a larger food processor," says Ms Mair.
"Don't rely on a Christmas miracle - if you haven't started planning, you better start now," says Ms Mair.
"Start writing your lists - your shopping list, your preparation list, your guest list. Look at what you want to cook. If you haven't had the time to start planning, right up to a week before is fine. Just remember you’re going to have to deal with more crowds the closer it gets to Christmas."
She also recommends a practice run of any recipes you haven't cooked before, to avoid a kitchen nightmare on the day.
"Make sure you test your Christmas recipes a couple of weeks beforehand. Practice makes perfect, and no one's going to complain about testing what's to come," says Ms Mair.
No one enjoys the crowds at this time of the year. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to try and avoid them.
"Avoid the Christmas Eve rush and buy your fruit and veg a few days prior. Christmas Eve is the best time to pick up your seafood. If you want to escape the worst of the crowds, get up early and head out to grab your seafood then."
Change it up
"If you've got the time to test and prepare, don't be afraid to try new recipes," says Ms Mair.
"Christmas pudding is a staple for many, but not everyone is a fan of the traditional dessert so consider offering alternatives. Make a chocolate pudding or, as it's summer, you can't go past a pavlova with fresh fruit.
"I like to make a peppermint bark with dark and white chocolate and I always have Lebkuchen on the table, which is a traditional gingerbread cookie with lemon icing. The kids love them!" says Ms Mair.
Check out Fiona Mair's detailed Christmas cooking tips.