Lessons Learned While Cooking for Christmas

by Jane Wangersky | January 9th, 2015 | Cooking Basics

cookie cutter (400x400)If you read my recipe from yesterday, you’ll know that over Christmas I learned that a medium sized mushroom cap can cook perfectly well in a few minutes under the broiler, if it’s got plenty of butter inside it. This year, I’ve learned a few other handy things I hadn’t known before, so I’ll pass them on now.

The marinated cream cheese I wrote about last week keeps for days in the fridge, without losing any of its flavor, and is also great with raw vegetables. You can use it as a filling for those pinwheels made with leftover pie crust dough. It even freezes well. What more could you ask from something so easy to make?

As for all that leftover fat-free salad dressing, I put a little of it on a small onion I’d cut in half, then threw the onion in with our Christmas roast beef. For awhile, it all smelled very fragrant (if we’d had dinner guests, it probably would’ve impressed them). Then the dressing that had dripped off the onion burned, though the onion itself just browned nicely. I poured in a little boiling water to dissolve the burned dressing. Problem solved.

Somewhere in there, I also accidentally turned off the oven for at least a few minutes — don’t let this happen to you.

If you’re baking something, like a side dish or a hot appetizer, with eggs in it, try separating them first, whipping up the whites, then carefully folding them into the other ingredients when they’ve all been mixed together. This makes everything puff up like a soufflé — even Yorkshire puddings.

You know those cookies with sort of a well in the middle filled with jam? You can put cream cheese in there instead and it works nicely. Chocolate cream cheese — Philadelphia does make it, though the package I got said it was a “limited edition” — is a natural for this.

Cookie cutters can be used to cut pie crust dough, too — you can make your top crust a pattern of diamonds or Christmas trees instead of a plain surface or a crisscross. They’ll work better on any kind of dough if you grease them first.

Having read that women eat less while drinking sparkling wine, I got some for Christmas dinner. I felt a little incoherent when we were done, but not bloated, so maybe there’s something to it. I don’t know what, if anything, would make the guys eat less, though.

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