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Want more in­sider tips? Our food­ies of­fer their best fes­tive hacks for easy en­ter­tain­ing.

taste.com.au - - TASTE LIFE -

Michelle

For turkey and stuff­ing with­out hours in the kitchen, make stuff­ing muffins. Pre­pare your stuff­ing mix and bake it in muf­fin pans. Use quicker-cook­ing turkey cuts, such as boned breast pieces, to cut cook­ing time down by hours. You can even cut down on oven time by cook­ing turkey breasts on the bar­be­cue. And haven’t made a pud­ding in ad­vance? Don’t panic. Grab a jar of fruit mince and stir through some soft­ened vanilla ice-cream. Add a few candied nuts for crunch, and re­freeze. Serve scoops of ice-cream in tall glasses or set in a loaf pan, like the recipe on p92. Dec­o­rate with ex­tra top­pings, if you like.

Mi­randa

Crispy roast pota­toes are a must for Christ­mas lunch – but how do you get the ul­ti­mate crunchy coat­ing? In­stant po­lenta is the an­swer. Par-boil your pota­toes first, then drain and re­turn to the saucepan with a lit­tle dried po­lenta, some crushed gar­lic and sea salt. Shake the pan to coat the pota­toes. Place on a bak­ing tray, driz­zle with olive oil or duck fat and sprin­kle with rose­mary sprigs. Bake in a hot oven un­til golden and crisp. Also, if you don’t have a rack to cook your turkey on, make your own from chopped veg­eta­bles, such as onion and car­rot, and chopped turkey off-cuts (such as the wings and neck). Not only does this help the whole turkey skin crisp up, it also makes for a very flavour­some gravy.

Mar­ion

Sur­viv­ing party sea­son is all about prepa­ra­tion. I love to stock my freezer full of all man­ner of Asian good­ies that can be baked, grilled or fried at a mo­ment’s no­tice. The usual sus­pects for me are vege­tar­ian spring rolls, pork money bags, crumbed prawn cut­lets and Thai fish cakes. They don’t even have to be home­made if you don’t have the time (no-one needs to know!). For some­thing a lit­tle more sub­stan­tial, I’ll freeze a batch of chicken satay skew­ers that can be de­frosted the day be­fore. And I al­ways have a batch of home­made seafood sauce in the fridge be­cause there’s noth­ing eas­ier than lay­ing out a cold seafood plat­ter for ev­ery­one to dig into (see ours on p99).

Chrissy

With a few tweaks, your menu can be de­li­cious and good for you! Opt for 2-3 vegie sal­ads, rather than en­ergy-dense pasta or rice sal­ads. Driz­zle with cit­rus, vine­gar or yo­ghurt dress­ings rather than heavy mayo ver­sions. When it comes to the main event, grilled seafood, roasted turkey breast or lean leg ham are all great choices (flavour with fresh herbs, dried spices, gar­lic and le­mon). And in-sea­son sum­mer fruits are a must, served with nat­u­ral yo­ghurt and nuts.

Ali­son

This sim­ple pump­kin hum­mus is so easy to make and skips a few cor­ners to make a starter in no time at all. Roast wedges of pump­kin with the skin on then peel and mash or blend un­til smooth. Trans­fer to a bowl. Stir in a tub of store-bought hum­mus. Serve with your favourite crack­ers. And to make your punch feel a lit­tle more spe­cial, place berries, herbs, ed­i­ble flow­ers or even wedges of cit­rus in ice-cube trays and fill with wa­ter then freeze. Pureed fruit can also be frozen, to match with cock­tails.

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