Don’t you just love the holidays in Washington DC? There is nothing that warms the heart more than those special times of the year, when you get to relax with a good meal and enjoy the company of family and friends. These are the moments where memories are made, gifts are exchanged, and those all-important bonds are strengthened through togetherness and celebration. However, when it comes your time to play host, you may find that your kitchen is ill-equipped to deal with the festive menu you have planned. Worse still, holidays, by their very nature, are not the best time to go shopping for last minute kitchen essentials. Whether you are an old hand at throwing dinner parties or newlyweds in a new home, you will be fully prepared if you follow this guide to kitchen essentials for holiday cooking.
All Things Baking
There are two types of people who can measure by eye and improvise when baking – professional chefs and grandma. For the rest of us, the following items are definitely kitchen essentials. Mixing bowls (at least 2), measuring bowls and spoons, cookie cutters and platters, presses, rosette Makers, cooling rack, rolling pin, a variety of cake pans, electric mixer, a hand whisk and spatulas. It may seem like overkill, however, you will thank us when your festive baked goods receive rave reviews from your family and friends.
Meats and Mains
Your main course is often the trickiest to get just right, for a number of reasons. You will want to ensure you have at least four roasting pans of various sizes. Make sure they are good quality, with excellent heat conduction; large enough to accommodate your main meat, but not so large that they don’t fit in your oven, and preferably, have handles so you can easily take them out of the oven without burning yourself or causing spillages. As well as roasting pans, you might want to invest in a casserole set. Depending on your menu, you can use the casserole dishes to cook the main meal, or as a handy way of serving your vegetables. A basting kit is also a great addition to your kitchen, as you can use it for your entree, main course and dessert.
Prepping, Cutting and Carving
While you may be able to scrape through with an old, dulled knife and worn out chopping board, why give yourself the extra stress? A good basic set of knives includes a paring, boning, utility, cleaver, bread, carving and cook’s knife, as well as a carving fork. These knives will allow you to easily tackle any task, and help you prepare a meal that looks professional and well presented. When it comes to chopping boards, again, it is best to go for a set. That way you can use a different board for each stage of prepping, and won’t have to wash a single board after each job. Don’t forget those little extras either. We recommend that you arm yourself with a multi-purpose grater, peeler, can opener, cork screw, strainer or sieve, ice-cream scoop, and throw in a few mixing spoons for good measure.
Holiday Serving Suggestions
Your menu will largely dictate how you choose to serve your food, so it is best that you are prepared for any eventuality. You can never go wrong with serving platters; you can use them for any aspect of the meal. It is a good idea to always have enough plates to cater to a small army. Invest in a large dinner set, and reserve it for special occasions. You may not use it most of the year, but you certainly don’t want to get caught short during the holidays, and end up serving your guests food on mismatched plates. The same applies to cutlery; make sure you have enough spoons, forks and knives, including steak knives, to go around. Essential serving utensils include serving spoons, tongs, pie server, a carving knife and fork. For your sauces you will need a number of gravy boats, and for drinks you will need wine and water decanters. It goes without saying that you should have enough glasses for serving drinks at the dinner table, but don’t forget coffee mugs, in case you have guests visiting throughout the day or staying overnight.
Holiday Cooking for Newlyweds and Novices
Some of you are likely new to hosting holiday dinner parties, so here are a few extra kitchen essentials that will help you with your holiday cooking. Keep a variety of cookbooks close at hand, in case you get stuck or just need a little guidance to keep you on the right track. Don’t take risks when cooking large joints of meat; invest in a timer and meat thermometer. Most importantly of all, however, don’t panic. When it is all over, sit down, put your feet up and enjoy the holiday.