blog » December 14, 2018 by Renee

No-Food-Waste Holiday Meal Tips & Tricks With Chef Alison Mountford! by Renee

5 years ago
No-Food-Waste Holiday Meal Tips & Tricks With Chef Alison Mountford!

 Are you hosting the holiday dinner and need some last-minute ideas? Don’t worry! We were thrilled to welcome chef and 30Seconds contributor, Alison Mountford, as our #30Seconds Twitter chat guest! Alison, reducing food waste expert and founder of Ends and Stems, shared tips for a #nofoodwaste holiday season, ideas on what to do with all of the leftovers and inspiration for food-based New Year goals!

Q: I’m hosting the holiday party. How do I stay out of the kitchen and enjoy the fun?

  • Make a list of your full menu in advance. Don’t choose anything that has to be done to order or that won’t still taste great at room temperature. Prep dishes up to three days before the party. Heat and platter, then only refresh once, halfway through the night.
  • Relax and don't worry! One of my favorite people to host parties with always says with a big smile, “I bought the food, provided the venue and invited you over. If you don’t like it, throw your own party.”
  • Little hiccups give character and no one’s grading you anyway. Parties are for fun and friendship.
  • Host a mid-afternoon cookies and cocktails party! My friend just threw a party like this from 2 to 5 p.m. Guests bring a plate of cookies and no one expects a meal. You get all the fun without a ton of expense, work or cleanup. Genius!
  • Or, host a potluck dinner! For best menu spread, be specific about what people should bring, make a list and have them sign up. Turn the oven on and have one to two volunteers heat everything. Set up a buffet with plates and grab a glass of wine because you’re off duty.

Q: How much food do we need? How can make sure everyone gets enough but not have too much leftover?

  • The time of your party is the first clue. A party that spans a mealtime usually indicates that meal will be served. You need more food per person from a 5 to 8 p.m. party than from an 8 to 11 p.m. A midday time frame could be light sweet and savory tea from 1 to 4 p.m.
  • If you’re serving alcohol, more food is needed. It's great to have a mix of large items, like sliders, and snacks like a cheese plate or bowl of fancy party mix. Also, be sure to have water near the bar set up. Try infusing it with cucumbers or lemon slices.
  • In general, people will have between four to five hors d'oeuvres per hour during a meal time party. Two to three pieces each for the mid-meal events. If it’s a buffet, five to six items is idea: a leafy salad, a grain/starch, mixed vegetables, two different main dishes.
  • Keep potential leftovers safe: For the duration of the event, be sure that nothing is left out for more than four hours.
  • If the party is longer, divide portions in two so you’re sure to run out of the first batch before plating the second. Four hours is the safe amount of time for both hot and cold foods to be at room temperature.
  • Be sure to provide plenty of serving spoons and tongs – one per dish – so you don’t have any cross contamination. Make sure food is served where nothing will all into it and no animals will be tempted to take a bite.

Q: If we still have leftover food what can we do with it?

  • With food safety covered above, let’s talk #NoFoodWaste! Store leftovers in separate dishes in your fridge. It’s easier to reinvent each item when its separate and stored properly. Write down what you have and map out a meal plan to use it this week or store it all.
  • Leftover cheeses can be frozen! Most cheese will be more crumbly after defrosting so they’re best to use in baked items (frittatas) later on. If using right away, consider shredded mixed cheeses for a vegetable gratin, scalloped potatoes or cheesy bread pudding.
  • Main courses can be reinvented for dinner in the week ahead. Nachos for dinner are an awesome way to use up pulled pork, braised beef or roasted turkey legs. Just add chips, beans and plenty of cheese. Ham or chicken works great in chunky soups.
  • Have leftover bread? Tear it or pulse in the food processor and then dry it out for bread crumbs. Or just toss the bread in a ziplock in the freezer. You can add to it for weeks. Then one day when you have time, pull it all out and process the breadcrumbs.

Q: We always have leftover desserts. What can we do?

  • Leftover desserts are always a problem. To start, make less dessert. Are friends bringing cakes or cookies? You don’t need to provide anything then! As hosts we tend to overdo it and over think it. Ask who’s bringing a sweet treat so you don’t double up.
  • For dessert, try one perishable item only, like cupcakes. Make enough for just 60 percent of your expected guest list! To round out a dessert spread, make the second item be something savable – homemade peanut butter cups, ice cream sandwiches, a bowl of fancy chocolates.
  • You still have leftover cookies, don’t you? Coarsely chop slightly cookies, brownies and cake (even the icing!) onto a baking sheet in one layer. Freeze uncovered for two hours. Transfer the crumbles to a Tupperware. This can be stored for six months.
  • When the holidays have passed, get big tub of softened chocolate or vanilla ice cream, and fold in the cookie chunks. Freeze until the ice cream is solid again. Remove and slice with a hot knife. Serve on plates with hot fudge, whipped cream and a cherry on top. Birthday cake ice cream!

Q: Oh hey, you’re a chef! Got any easy appetizer ideas?

  • Flatbread Wedges: Get a ball of pizza dough, divide in three. Press or roll into a long oblong shape – it should be the length of a baking sheet and all threee strips fit side by side. Top with olive oil, garlic powder, grated fontina, chopped frozen spinach (thawed and squeezed), black olives and a pinch of pepper flakes. Bake at 450 degrees F for 18 minutes. Cut in triangles!
  • Smoked Salmon Cups: Cut puff pastry into 2-inch squares and press into mini muffin tins. Bake 10 minutes. Remove and fill with 1/4-inch cube of cream cheese, three capers, slice of red onion and a rolled piece of smoked salmon. Bake 10 more until pastry is done. Top with lemon zest and sprig of dill or parsley.
  • Whisk fresh goat cheese with a pinch of salt, pepper and lemon zest to taste. Slice an opening in the side of whole dates, and using a pastry bag, pipe the cheese in. Roll each date with a half slice of bacon. Roast at 400 degrees F until bacon is crispy. Make new friends.
  • Easy Spanish Tortilla: Super thinly slice three large peeled russet potatoes into rounds, then cut in fourths. Saute with olive oil and salt until mostly tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a square baking dish rubbed with oil and even out. Pour in six whisked eggs with 1/4 cup milk and a pinch of paprika. Bake until set. Cool. Slice into even squares garnish with parsley and serve on toothpick.

Q: I want a better food based New Year’s Resolution for 2019. Any ideas?

Join The Great Food Waste Challenge! Forty percent of food produced in the U.S. is wasted and it’s a top driver of climate change. It's easy to blame farms, trucking and grocery stores but the truth is that the largest chunk of that is wasted from our homes. This is like throwing money away. I’ll say it again because I really want you to join me: The Great Food Waste Challenge! The average family of four puts $2000 dollars of EDIBLE FOOD in the trash can because of food waste. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather buy four plane tickets and go somewhere fun.

Here’s how it works: Sign up then share the personal link you see. The more people who follow your link, the more you can win. We’ll have raffles with fun products and sponsors all year long. Each month there’s a different theme and one email filled with recipes, tips, tricks, hacks and best practices that you can follow in that theme.

Did you follow this link yet? The Great Food Waste Challenge January kicks off with a Food Audit. It’s more fun than an IRS audit, I promise! We can’t measure improvement if we don’t know what we waste, so I’ll provide a form to get the whole family involved to figure out just how much is going to waste.

February is Meal Planning Month, followed by Better Grocery Shopping. The planet is in peril, it’s been proven and reported on quite a bit recently. In our lifetime everything could change if we don’t act. One simple way to get the ball rolling is to reduce your food waste. I’m here to help, you just have to raise your hand (proverbially of course, what I mean is, ENTER YOUR EMAIL, lol) That link again: The Great Food Waste Challenge 

Elisa Schmitz
I love talking about holiday food and getting new ideas. Can't wait to see what you share with us, Alison Mountford ! Renee Herren Ann Marie Gardinier Halstead Donna John Chef Gigi Gaggero Meredith Schneider Holly Budde
Meredith Schneider
Leftover ideas are the best! Can't wait to hear what Alison Mountford has to share with us! :-)
Chef Gigi
This is going to be a GREAT chat. Chef Alision is so inspiring and very knowledgable. I cant wait to save money from food waste so I can spend it on gifts for myself. ----LOL ( only me)
Sounds interesting.... ;)

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