As cliché as it may sound, the holiday season is my favorite time of year. The sights…the sounds…but what I most look forward to is the smell of treasured family recipes wafting through our home as they are lovingly made by helping hands that span generations. From start to finish, creating the holiday meal is a cherished tradition made even easier when you have the help of family and friends. Today I’m excited to share with you, and my friends at Bosch, some of my favorite holiday traditions, plus a few tips for making the holidays that much merrier (and tastier!)
Create your Holiday Menu
It’s a no-brainer, everyone knows I love to cook – but it’s actually rare that I get to prepare a giant feast for my entire family. But the holidays are different. It’s the one time we’re all together, so I usually have a long list of holiday dishes that I want to make for everyone – sometimes too many! For this reason, I always put a plan in place for the holiday meal. After writing a list of each dish I want to make, sometimes editing it down if I’ve become overzealous, I then account for items that others have offered to make. With a game plan in place, cooking the meal is that much easier.
There’s a few things that are always on the holiday (meal) wish list. My dear Mum, Lozza, is a phenomenal baker and her mini mince tarts are not only a favorite of mine, but also the big guy—Santa—himself. She was certainly the head chef of our holiday preparations throughout my childhood and to this day, cooking with my Mum is one of my favorite things to do. Another holiday favorite is a luxurious potato gratin. Made simply with cream, potatoes, and Gruyère cheese, it is my go-to option and awesome when hosting a holiday meal because it’s decadent yet easy, and can feed many mouths (somehow I always end up with more people over than I planned for!).
And then there’s the star of the table—the turkey and gravy. This is where the Bosch Wall Oven with a SideOpening Door is a game changer. When you have a heavy dish, such as a turkey or a roast, being able to load it into the oven from a comfortable standing position saves any extra struggle. It’s such a small detail, but one that makes a huge difference in the overall preparation.
Invite your Helpful Hands
Once the menu is planned, it’s time to get the whole crew involved in cooking the meal. My family often arrives days before the holidays so we all team up on the preparations ahead of time, which saves a lot of stress on the big day. In addition to the grownups, my sons love being in the kitchen and I always encourage them to help. Hudson is very familiar with the garden now, so he’s my runner to pick the fresh herbs. The Bosch refrigerator is my secret weapon for preserving these herbs until the big meal, as there’s an incredible amount of space so each ingredient and dish has a home.
Save Room for Dessert
What holiday meal is complete without a delicious pie to top it all off? Even when you’re stuffed, there’s always room for pie! There is one pie in particular that I cannot resist making pretty much every year—my Granny’s famous apple pie. For as long as I can remember, that sweet scent of cinnamon and sugar has been synonymous with the holidays. As a boy I loved to sit and watch her make it, mesmerized by the careful details she took to get it just right. To this day – it’s still one of my fondest kitchen memories. Check out the video below to learn why.
Dash Through the Clean Up
You’ve heard me say it before, but kitchen cleanup is just as important as cooking the meal itself.
I tend to clean as I cook so that pots and pans don’t pile up and this also helps ensure I have what I need for serving purposes. I recommend using your Bosch dishwasher on the Speed60 cycle so the prep equipment is clean and ready to be put away by the time the meal is finished. The dishwasher is so quiet, you can run the dishes during dinner and not worry about disrupting the conversation.
But, when it comes to post-meal cleanup – music is mandatory! My wife, Lindsay, has great taste in music and usually serves as our resident DJ. Make it fun and play some music while you’re clearing the table and loading the dishwasher. Just as we do in the preparation of the meal, each person is assigned a task for cleanup. We all (including the kids) bring our own plates, plus one platter, into the kitchen and then a few of us load the dishwasher. Everyone pitches in, there’s talking and laughter and suddenly what you might normally consider a chore is actually more time spent enjoying one another’s company.
Each year I’m asked what is atop my holiday wish list, and each year it’s the same answer – getting to spend quality time with my loved ones. There’s nothing quite like gathering everyone around the table to celebrate with a shared meal, good wine and great company. Wherever you spend your holiday season, I hope you spend it with the ones you love. Sending you all lots of holiday cheer, from my family to yours.
Curtis Stone is a renowned chef, restaurateur, author, media personality, and a partner of Bosch home appliances. To learn more about Chef Curtis Stone, please visit www.CurtisStone.com.