WANT to make preparing Christmas dinner easier? Then follow Mark Greenway’s top tips for a (relatively) hassle-free festive banquet
1. The best way to thicken gravy is to mash one of your roast potatoes and stir it through the gravy. Yes, this means sacrificing one of the roasties but it is really worth it and saves messing around with flour.
2. For delicious roast potatoes, place the potatoes in around the turkey for the last 40 minutes of the cooking. The potatoes will cook in all of the lovely turkey juices and it saves on oven space and washing up.
3. Jazz up your Christmas dinner table with some interesting side dishes. Roast your brussel sprouts with chestnuts and pancetta. Bring carrots to life by cooking them in orange juice with some orange zest, butter and star anise.
4. Prepare as much as you can in advance. On Christmas Eve, have as much prep done as possible. Side dishes can be cooked earlier on Christmas day and warmed through while the turkey is resting out of the oven. This saves on oven space and stress!
5. Make a large dessert that can be shared by everyone and make sure that there is plenty of it so that you can enjoy the leftovers in the following days. Choose something that can be prepared in advance like a trifle or a cinnamon and brioche bread and butter pudding. This gives more time for a stress-free Christmas and allows for time to actually enjoy the day. If you are choosing to do a baked dessert, then it is essential to make it the day before as oven space is prime real estate on Christmas morning.
• Mark writes a weekly column for the Edinburgh Evening News and is guest chef columnist for Scotland Now in September 2014.
Mark Greenaway is taking part in the Big Dinner (www.bigdinner.co.uk) event which encourages people to host a dinner party in their own home.
Anyone anywhere in the world can take part in as long as a £25 registration fee is paid and they have access to broadband.
Celebrities such as comics Fred MacAulay, Elaine C Smith and Hardeep Singh Kohli, will join participants in being linked up by social media, while two short films about the work of 500 Miles will be broadcast to show how the charity is changing lives.
Big Dinner founder and Edinburgh-based lawyer Olivia Giles became a quadruple amputee 12 years ago when she caught meningococcal septicaemia which forced surgeons to amputate her hands and lower legs in order to save her life.
She has since become a high -profile advocate for amputees, in particular those living in some of the poorest parts of Africa who are forced to crawl on the ground or limp around on home-made wooden legs.
The 48-year-old’s charity 500 Miles now runs two clinics in Malawi with plans to open a third in Zambia, and she now wants to raise £500,000 to help African amputees walk again by getting Scots to sit down for a global dinner party on 7 March.
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