Better Homes and Gardens chef “Fast” Ed Halmagyi has a couple of sensible tips on how to get through Christmas Day — don’t cook anything new, make sure you’re fully clothed before the guests rock up and have the table set early.
“My number one saying is I have seen more parties destroyed by overzealousness than sloth,” said Halmagyi in a telephone interview earlier this week.
“It is very easy to overreach yourself into a problem. Christmas Day is not the day you want to be stressing about anything, let alone food, so choose things you know how to do. Don’t cook anything for the first time.
“Go with something you know and is within your ability range. The second rule is always set the table in the morning. If you have people coming for lunch or for dinner they will be totally fine if they have to wait another half-hour for the meal, there is time to have another drink, but they don’t really want to arrive and see you in your underwear. Have your clothes on — that is fairly elementary stuff!
“If people arrive at a house where the table is set it has a feeling something is happening, the feeling of a party, whereas if you arrive at a place where it is blank it doesn’t feel quite the same.”
Although Better Homes and Gardens traditionally finishes its run at the end of the ratings period tomorrow, this year the show will be sticking around through December for a countdown to Christmas, with half-hour episodes Monday to Thursday and the usual 90-minute episode on Friday, featuring a mix of new and best of content.
“It’s a lot of new content. There’s not a lot of time spent cooking, it’s everything else,” said Halmagyi, who is taking January off to holiday in Sri Lanka with his wife and two children.
“Every time you see a recipe on the show I have cooked it at least six times before you see it. Our home economists have cooked it. It is a lot of time spent in the kitchen to make sure things work properly.”
Tonight there’s a 90-minute Christmas special, one of the rare occasions which sees the entire team of presenters together.
“We got together at Jason Hodges’ place, his newly renovated place here in Sydney. It was absolutely brilliant,” Halmagyi said.
“Because we don’t get together often I think we enjoy it more.”
Halmagyi promises some cool yuletide food in the special.
“You are getting the coolest thing, I reckon everyone will do it,” he enthused.
“They are little chocolate brownie cupcakes, mini ones, transformed with a strawberry and some icing into miniature Christmas trees.
“It is basically a cake topped by a strawberry and a star-shape nozzle with green icing to pipe it around and turn it into Christmas trees.
“We also did a marmalade glazed ham.”
During the weekday episodes Halmagyi promises some food inspired by summer movies, including the animated Rise of the Guardians.
“They wanted to do kids cupcakes themed on the characters, so I made Jack Frost cupcakes and Sandman cupcakes.”
Better Homes and Gardens airs Monday to Friday at 7pm on Seven/GWN7, with the 90-minute Christmas special airing tonight.