You can’t believe it either, can you? Christmas isn’t just around the corner–it is mere days away! To help save you some trouble in the kitchen, element’s Chef Beau MacMillan (he’s also starring in the new Food Network show “Worst Cooks in America“) provided some sound seasonal advice.
- Don’t try to be a holiday hero: Pick your battles–no one expects a meal crafted completely from scratch. For appetizers, have an assortment of cheeses, sliced meats and fresh fruit on display for a no-fuss welcome that is visually impressive.
- Think fresh and rely on local experts: Your local grocer can be a big help when designing a menu or looking for that one, special element. Ask them to show you the freshest, in-season ingredients, which are always the base for the best dishes.
- Be a host, not a slave to the stove: Nothing is worse than trying to prepare a meal with hungry guests waiting impatiently nearby. Instead, pick dishes that can be prepped ahead of time so that you have a chance to mingle. Consider an Eggnog Crème Brulée for dessert (recipe below), which can be made hours in advance and popped from fridge to table when you’re ready for a sweet treat.
- For overnight guests, let one ingredient impress them twice: When the holidays turn into a weekend of entertaining, don’t be intimidated by the idea of multiple meals. Take one main dish, such as roasted ham, and get creative with the leftovers. Think white bean soup with pecorino cheese and cubed ham. Your guests will think you’re a kitchen star (over and over again).
- Remember that food is a celebration of life: If you embody good cheer (and can poke fun at your own kitchen mishaps), your guests will share in the humor. The memories will be as sweet as your cooking efforts.
Eggnog Crème Brûlée by Sanctuary’s Executive Chef Beau MacMillan
16 Egg Yolks
1 ½ cups Sugar
½ gallon Whipping Cream
3 Vanilla Beans, scraped
6 oz. Rum, Captain Morgan’s Spiced
1 ½ teaspoon Nutmeg, ground
1 pinch Cinnamon, ground
Cream together the yolks and sugar until lightened. In a large sauce pan combine the whipping cream, scraped vanilla beans, rum, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Heat the cream to scalding. Remove from the heat. Gradually temper the egg yolk mixture with the cream mixture. Pour the mixture through a strainer. Skim off any foam. Pour into ramekins that have been placed on very flat sheet pans. Place the sheet pans in the oven. Pour in enough water to come halfway up the side of the ramekins. Bake at 325 degrees for 40 – 50 minutes. They will appear slightly loose when done. Cool under refrigeration for at least 2 hours before serving.