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Country Style

THE MAIN EVENT

I’M SURE YOU’VE HEARD the saying about too many cooks. Well, this truism is never more profound than on Christmas Day when people try to ‘help’. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that well-meaning friends and family offer their assistance when you really need it, like say, when plating up (thank you,

Masterchef for adding this term to the vernacular) or better yet, doing the dishes afterwards.

However, it’s funny how those offers are thin on the ground when everyone’s bellies are full and the post-lunch backyard cricket match beckons. I’m sure many a home cook has surveyed the smoking ruins of their kitchen after Christmas lunch and thought about dousing the lot in kerosene and flicking a match.

Personally, I like my path to the main event to be clear. No obstacles, no delays, no having to decline courteous offers of help through gritted teeth. My protocol is simple: let me get on with it.

ORDER AND DISCIPLINE ARE ESSENTIAL

I like my oven to be clean, my utensils within reach and my fridge stripped of anything that isn’t related to Christmas lunch. My containers for leftovers are set up on a tray under the bench. My coffee machine is on and the beans are ground. The hand blender I use to make smooth, velvety custard sits proudly on the kitchen bench like an Oscar. The good cutlery has been polished and the napery is washed and starched.

START WITH SOME CHRISTMAS CHEER

My golden rule is to get a bevvy into guests on arrival and serve the entree as quickly as possible. It’s amazing how much time and goodwill this can buy you.

PRE-PREPARE AND IMPRESS

I like to make the starters ahead of time so it appears that I’ve just whipped them up. Then I enter the room to “oohs” and “aahs”, tossing my tea towel jauntily over my shoulder to add a breezy nonchalance, belying the actual effort involved. After partaking in a nibble here and there, I saunter back into the kitchen where my jaw sets and eyes harden — it’s time to get that main course on the go.

SERVE UP FAMILY STYLE

I keep do-gooders out of the way by serving everything on platters and chucking it all in the middle of the table so people can help themselves.

DON’T FORGET THE TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS

Even though I’m a self-confessed kitchen pedant, I remind myself that it’s less about the meal and more about spending quality time with my loved ones. I know I can smash the meal out quicker than anyone else and this is the one day when I can bring my cooking skills to the fore — and that’s my gift to everyone at the table on Christmas Day.

HANDY HELPERS

• Your guests will be very happy if the results of the KitchenAid ice-cream bowl attachment, $199, make an appearance on the Christmas menu. Impress them even more by using the KitchenAid mixer, $879, and spiraliser attachment, $169, to create innovative salads.

• Lumpy sauce? The Braun MultiQuick 9 hand blender, $199, will be a powerful tool.

• Secret to a happy Christmas? Make sure the cook has a decent cup of tea to help them feel calm and collected. Have the Morphy Richards cork kettle, $159, at the ready.

• Are ham and eggs a family favourite? You might need the DeLonghi grill, $299, to keep the production line on track.

• The fridge can never be too big on December 25 and the aptly named Samsung Family Hub 634L French-door fridge, $5499, is an entertainer’s dream.

“I keep do-gooders out of the way by serving everything on platters and chucking it all in the middle of the table so people can help themselves.”

• Cocktails are a festive essential, which makes the Vitamix A2500i blender, $1195, one also.

• This is one you’ll love all the time — the special-edition Kenwood Chef XL Sense stand mixer, $799, brings together the iconic K-beater, whisk, dough tool, creaming beater and folding tool, with a 6.7L bowl.

• If you are worried about cooking the turkey properly, fear no longer. The Bosch 600mm 8 Series combination steam oven, $2899, has a PerfectBake meat probe thermometer.

• Chilled soup for a hot summer’s day? Use the Philips vacuum blender, $499.

• Need more hot plates? The portable Philips induction cooker, $199, is the answer.

• Feel like an espresso after lunch? The Jura J6 coffee machine, $2990, has six preset options.

All appliances available from Harvey Norman; for more information, visit hn.com.au

PHOTOGRAPHY BRETT STEVENS STYLING JESSICA HANSONADDITIONAL TEXT (HANDY HELPERS) LOUISE DAVIDSON

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