Q&A

Each month we ask our food­ies for their ex­pert tips and ideas for our kitchen queries. What do you do to get ahead for Christ­mas?

taste.com.au - - THIS MONTH - If you have a ques­tion for one of our food­ies, send it to tastemag@news.com.au

Won­der­ing how to get ahead this Christ­mas? Our ex­pert tips will help.

Michelle

Plum pud­ding is a Christ­mas high­light for me. I start as early as I can and fill a large air­tight con­tainer with dried fruit (I like a mix of raisins, cur­rants and sul­tanas) and rum. Ev­ery week, I give it a stir and more rum. I try to do this for a few weeks – if I’m su­per or­gan­ised, I’ll do it for about 3 months. The fruit be­comes plump and boozy, per­fect for a knock-your-socks-off pud­ding. I al­ways make the pud­ding a good 3-4 weeks ahead. The re­sult is amaz­ing!

Ka­t­rina

I find it’s the lit­tle things that help the most at Christ­mas time. Mince pies are a must for us, so I make the sweet short­crust pas­try up to 1 month in ad­vance and store it, wrapped in plas­tic wrap, in the freezer. Baked mince pies will keep in an air­tight con­tainer for 4 days... ours are al­ways gob­bled up be­fore then! I come from Queens­land, so we of­ten have a frozen ice-cream Christ­mas pud­ding or one with a trop­i­cal Aussie twist. It can be made 1 month in ad­vance and frozen. Just top with cream or ganache on the day of serv­ing.

Ali­son

I start clear­ing out my freezer in Novem­ber, just so I can fill it up again! Vast amounts of rum balls, choco­late truf­fles and fudge are a must in my fam­ily. They get made in late Novem­ber, stored in con­tain­ers and frozen. We start eat­ing them al­most im­me­di­ately – straight from the freezer (don’t judge us!). Mak­ing bread­crumbs is a mun­dane Christ­mas chore that I like to do ahead of time. I make a big batch for stuff­ing and store in the freezer. Home­made Christ­mas gifts are an­other good thing to start early. If apri­cots are al­ready in sea­son and look­ing plump, I make chut­ney (re­serv­ing a jar for the Christ­mas ham). This year, I think I’ll also make pan­forte. Wrap well and store in the fridge for up to a month.

Colin

As soon as lo­cal fresh cher­ries come into sea­son (late Oct/early Nov), I make a cherry pickle. Just a stan­dard one us­ing white wine vine­gar and sugar, but adding lots of Christ­mas flavours like ground gin­ger, all­spice and cin­na­mon. If it’s made well in ad­vance, the flavours will be de­vel­oped in time for Christ­mas day. Be­cause it is a re­ally busy time at the res­tau­rant, I like to have sauces like salsa verde, chimichurri or salsa roja in the fridge and herbed but­ter in the freezer for en­ter­tain­ing, as bar­be­cues are all I have time for. It’s also not a bad idea to make a rich chicken stock and freeze it ahead of time to use as the base for your Christ­mas gravy.

Ge­or­gia

I start col­lect­ing re­cy­cled glass jars, rib­bons and cards to wrap and la­bel my home­made gifts. I also stock up on baking sup­plies at this time of year, so I can bake when­ever I have some free time. Bis­cuits make lovely presents. I usu­ally make up batches of bis­cuit dough, roll into balls and freeze on a tray, then trans­fer to snap-lock bags once frozen. When it’s time to start gift­ing, I can bake the bis­cuits straight from the freezer, then pop them in a jar, add some rib­bon and a card. They’re won­der­fully fresh and ready to go!

moist and boozy

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