Kicking off the holiday cooking mania with KitchenAid

It’s that time of the year again! As early as now, I’m pretty sure a lot of people are already planning out their Christmas spread for this party or that. What dish do I bring to the potluck? Do I go with a savoury dish or a sweet dessert? Seems like the typical problem for anybody who likes to actually cook their own holiday feasts. So how about some ideas?

Today I’m going to share some KitchenAid Holiday Cooking Recipes that I learned when I was invited to their hands-on workshop last week. This workshop was held in Living Well Podium, where I was surprised to find a fairly spacious demo kitchen in their mezzanine. It had everything from stainless steel worktables, drawers teeming with all sorts of bakeware and cookware, a regular plus a large industrial oven, and of course there was a sink and a stovetop too. Pretty impressive!

Can you count how many KitchenAid mixers there are in this space? I realize the mixers on our worktables are the same as the model I have at home, but I can’t help lusting after the KitchenAid Artisan models tucked away by the fridge. So many pretty colours! Actually, every shiny KitchenAid appliance and bakeware here made me drool! I was really excited to get to use the ones I’ve never tried before. This was my first time attending a KitchenAid cooking workshop too so I was quite excited!

Once majority of the participants arrived, we started prepping for what was going to be an afternoon filled with delicious food, created with our own labours of love!

Chef Marian Gonzales of KitchenAid briefed us about what we were going to make today. I do believe she was the one who developed the recipes on our little Holiday Cooking booklet, starting from appetizers to the main dishes and up to the desserts.

Everything in there looked so mouth-watering I wanted to just dive in and cook them all! And looking over at our work stations where all the ingredients were waiting for us under the tables didn’t help matters. 😛

However due to time constraints, each of us didn’t actually get to make all the recipes. We were partnered up and assigned a specific recipe from the booklet. However, all of us were getting to make the Rosemary Parmesan Focaccia Bread, which if you’ve been following my blog for some time you would know is right up my alley. I do love making bread!

We start by dissolving 2-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast and 1 Tablespoon sugar in 1-3/4 cups warm water, as usual. While that’s foaming up, we mix together 3 cups all-purpose flour with 2 cups bread flour and 1 Tablespoon salt. Add into this bowl 3/4 cup olive oil plus the foamy yeast. I usually like to stir my mixture around at this point until the dough turns shaggy before letting the mixer take over.

Knead the dough on medium-high for about 7 to 10 minutes until smooth and soft. You can do the “windowpane test” to see if the dough is ready. I usually just do this on my tangzhong breads, but basically it’s when you take a chunk of dough and can manage to stretch it out until it turns into a thin membrane without breaking it up. (Sorry I wasn’t able to take a snapshot, but here’s a photo from an old recipe for reference.) Now the dough can be left to rise in a warm place for an hour or so until doubled.

While that was happening, everyone got busy with their own assigned recipes for the day.

Even Chef Marian had her own task, which was the Slow Cooker Holiday Ham. I’ve always wanted to try making my own ham but I don’t own a slow cooker. This KitchenAid one is very nice and it even has a timer you can set so you don’t have to worry so much, but I’ll have to think about whether or not to invest in something like this.

Anyway, to start, take your 7 to 10-pound bone-in and spiral-cut ham then rub with 1/2 packed cup of brown sugar all over. Stick cloves into the ham to make it pretty and to give it a nice scent.

Then mix together 1-1/2 cups pineapple juice, 1/4 cup maple syrup, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Pour this over the ham and just leave it in the slow cooker for 4 to 5 hours, making sure to baste it every hour.

The recipe assigned to me was the Roasted Lemon-Rosemary Chicken, and I knew right away I was going to love this dish. Lemon, rosemary, and chicken? A bunch of things I love!

For this you’ll need to sear 8 skin-on chicken thighs on the stovetop until nicely browned. The sizzling is like music to my ears! While searing, don’t forget to preheat your oven to 400°F (205°C).

Once your chicken is ready, place it over 2 cups of baby potatoes that’s been spread out in your non-stick roasting pan. (We used the ceramic KitchenAid casserole dish.) The potatoes will act as a bed for your chicken and will get coated with all the flavours of the chicken once it’s been baked. Now just top that with half (or more) of a white onion that’s been cut into chunks, as well as one whole (or add one half more!) sliced lemon.

In a separate bowl, mix together 1/3 cup olive oil, 2 cloves garlic, 1 Tablespoon dried rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon crushed pepper flakes (or more to taste), juice of 1 lemon, 1-1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Pour this all over the chicken, making sure everything gets drenched.

For the final touch, sprinkle with salt and pepper! Now just pop in the oven for 40 minutes with the cover on, then bake another 10 minutes cover off until potatoes and chicken are all cooked through.

While the chicken and everyone else’s assigned dishes were in the oven, it was time to get back to our focaccia. It had risen nicely enough that we moved on to placing the dough into the KitchenAid 9 x 13-inch Cake pan. This cake pan comes with a handy lid that you can basically just attach on the pan itself, for those moments you need to run out the door right away once whatever you just made is cool enough.

Brush the pan with a bit of oil just to make sure the bread doesn’t stick at all. If you want a thinner, crispy bread then halve the dough into two pans and spread it out thin. For a fluffier bread, place the whole batch of dough into the pan. Create dimples on the dough by poking it all over with your fingers, then brush a bit of olive oil before topping with rosemary and parmesan.

The second rise typically comes after this stage so your focaccia will be fluffier and less dense, but we skipped straight to the baking part. Bake it at 400°F (205°C) for about 30 minutes until golden and lovely.

This whole-batch focaccia was so much softer and filled with more airy bubbles than the version where the dough was halved. That one has its own charms as it was deliciously crisp on the outside with a lovely chewy interior. I imagine if we let the dough have the second rise, the whole-batch version would be much taller and much airier, and the halved version would be something like this one below:

As we all gathered around the cooked focaccia, mouths watering, it was also time for the rest of our dishes to come out of the oven. I hope you’re ready for the parade of yumminess that’s about to come up on your screen.

First up, the Cheesy Baked Onion Dip that was the perfect accompaniment to the focaccia! This dip has cream cheese, mayo, and cheddar cheese in it that makes it such a rich, creamy, and savoury delight. My favourite thing about this dip were the large pieces of shredded sweet onions and the surprise bits of broccoli. I could go for a bit more cayenne and pepper (a spicy kick actually– hot sauce?) in the dip though.

The Zucchini Parmesan Bake was more like an entrée rather than an appetizer, made up of layers of potatoes, zucchini, squash, and roma tomatoes. Then for some flavour we have yellow onion, garlic, Parmesan cheese, pepper, salt, and even thyme. Personally, since I love vegetables, this was just my thing!

And the good news is, you can even eat it alongside the focaccia if you’re looking for something to kind of mellow down the richness of the Cheesy Baked Onion Dip.

The main dish is this giant casserole of Pizza Pasta Bake. Basically it is pasta with tomato sauce, cheese, pepperoni, and ground beef covered with even more cheese and pepperoni. And because this is made in the tradition of pizza, you have to top it with bell peppers and onions too. Do I even need to tell you how good this was??

Everybody got so busy with eating I forgot to take a picture of what this pasta bake looks like on the inside, but I did manage to snap a quick shot of the ham before it permanently went off the table. Everybody just wanted a piece of that! It definitely inspired me to try making my own holiday ham as well.

Aaaaand here’s the finished Roasted Lemon-Rosemary Chicken dish. The olive oil made the chicken super tender and juicy, and since the skin of the chicken was seared beforehand it does crisp up after baking. The lemon gave the chicken a tangy flavour and the rosemary was earthy with a lovely fragrance. Yummy!

For dessert we had some delicious Apple Walnut Cobbler. Frankly speaking, you cannot go wrong with the combo of apples and cinnamon, especially if you turn them into a spoon dessert. (Ultimate comfort food right?)

This version of cobbler is covered with a thin layer of batter that’s neither scone nor biscuit in texture, but it’s more similar to a thin layer of cake I guess. Traditionally you make cobbler with crisp biscuits on top, but this works well too! The batter consisted of flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, an egg, evaporated milk, plus butter. That’s why it was so moist!

This dessert was not just a winner, but it evoked all those cozy Christmas-slash-wintertime feels as well. I credit that to the apples and the cinnamon.

As our creations were lined-up on our holiday-themed table, I couldn’t help but begin to feel the Christmas spirit creeping over me. Normally I start getting into the mood after Halloween, but I like that this year it came early. And when I think of Christmas, my mind always drifts to these memories of parties and gatherings the previous years. This is what the holidays are all about really– getting together to enjoy delicious food and have a good time!

Considering the people I met this day were complete strangers to me before this, the fact that I enjoyed the company was definitely a testament to how food manages to bring people closer together. It’s why we all work so hard to make sure our Christmas feast goes smoothly right?

Today wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of Team KitchenAid, as well as Chef Marian Gonzales, who guided us through the recipes. Thank you for inviting me! :)

Oh and right before we dug in, we took an obligatory group photo! It was really nice meeting and cooking with all these lovely people. I’m so glad they appreciated the chicken a lot haha!

After the photo op, we went right into everyone’s favourite part after any cooking class or demo: EATING EVERYTHING. I think the best part for anybody who worked even a little to contribute to the holiday spread is seeing everyone crowd around the table in anticipation of good food. And since the roasted chicken was the first dish to sell out, I was pretty happy! :)

I hope this post managed to give you some recipe ideas for the holidays. Personally I am still in the process of finalizing the recipes I’ll be writing about on the blog this year, but I’m tons more excited now!

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