Five top tips for stress free cooking this Christmas
The best thing to do throughout November is to try and use up all those little pieces of meat, fish and vegetables that have accumulated over the busier summer months in the freezer. The more space that you can make, the easier it is going to be to get a few little jobs out of the way in advance of the Christmas holiday. It makes an amazing difference to have a few of the more time consuming jobs done early in the month. Wrapping chipolatas in bacon, peeling fresh chestnuts, making a couple of soups or even making a chicken stock out of the remains of a Sunday lunch, ready to turn into the turkey gravy will all pay huge dividends when the family descend.
Writing a plan
Every booking made in the hotel generates what we call a function sheet. Timings, numbers, dietary requirements, menu choices, allergies, the list can go on and on. I am not suggesting that it is necessary to go into quite as much detail at home but it can make a huge difference to jot down a couple of reminders. Any vegetarians coming? Is everyone staying for Boxing Day? How many for Christmas Eve?
Shopping list – pre-ordering
Writing a shopping list in one sitting is impossible. I firmly believe this and have spent the last 20 years confirming it. There are just too many components and variables to consider all at one time.
The only way I have found is to slowly build a list over a period of days or even weeks. Trying to plan all the meals over a holiday period is one of the biggest logistical campaigns that we undertake at this time. Factor in the supermarket holiday closing times, fluctuating numbers, little Timmy’s love of Sugar Puffs, I’m never going to get it all. It is never the big things that we forget, but more the all-important accompaniments that are still essential, but much easier to forget. Enough milk, eggs, butter, cereal for breakfast, bread, cranberries for sauce or simple table salt.
A military precision to the preparation of Christmas day is the way to ensure everything comes together at the right time. I employ 14 staff in the kitchen. It takes us days of planning and a full week to put Christmas day together. The lunch itself is probably the easiest bit. Breakfast, cakes, mince pies, canapés, kids menus, afternoon snacks, petit fours, tea, coffee, biscuits, bar nuts, light dinner snacks, mulled wine, Satsumas in the rooms, the ubiquitous turkey sandwich at 10pm, little Timmy’s Sugar Puffs – these are the things that can be overlooked and must be properly organised. The more that can be done ahead of time, the easier (and more relaxed) it will be. Vegetables can all be peeled, chopped and put into the right saucepan and covered in water. Turkeys or geese can be buttered, seasoned and put into trays. Chipolatas defrosted? Cranberry sauce is better made in advance.
Plan for the leftovers
The one thing that is guaranteed after the family leaves, aside from the cleaning, is that there will be a phenomenal amount of leftovers. A little time spent making plans for all these potential little treats can make a massive difference to all those quiet winter evenings in January. There is more to leftovers than turkey curry!
Rupert and his team look forward to welcoming you to the restaurant very soon. For reservations please call 01342 810567 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
12 Treats of Christmas
Welcome to Gravetye Manor’s 12 Treats of Christmas. A magical selection of Christmas Treats available throughout December. Discover a variety of offers and wonderful extra’s that will make your visit to Gravetye extra special during the festive season – you will be spoilt for choice!
Here are a few of the treats available to our restaurant guests:
Treat 4: Book a table for dinner in December (minimum four guests) and receive complimentary glass of Champagne on arrival.
Treat 5: Reserve a three course mid-week lunch during December (except 25/26/31) and receive a Christmas candle pot, a delightful church candle arrangement in a terracotta pot surrounded with a selection of aromatic winter foliage and decorated with Christmas ribbon, spiced cinnamon and oranges.
Treat 6: Book a tasting menu at lunch or dinner during December (Monday – Thursday) and enjoy two wine flights to accompany the meal for the price of one.
Treat 7: Book a Gravetye Afternoon Tea during December and receive a complimentary glass of mulled wine on arrival
Availability is limited and pre-booking is essential, our reception team will be delighted to help on 01342 810567. In order to redeem your chosen treat it must be mentioned at time of booking. All the Christmas treats are subject to availability and only one treat can be redeemed per booking.
For a full list of all the treats available this year, visit our Christmas Offers Page.
In the Garden News
Surprised to hear we grow kiwi fruit in our kitchen garden? Find out more about how Tom has been getting on with this year’s crop, plus we launch our very exciting new Garden Blog…
At the Manor News
Peter Herbert: pioneering hotelier, passionate hotel keeper and Gravetye’s inspiration. As custodians of his legacy, we pay tribute...