Here at TODAY, we food stylists have the tough job of making all the food look fresh and beautiful for cooking segments. In order to work at such a fast pace, we often have to prep dishes ahead of time, and we have a few tips and tricks that help us get it all done. These can come in handy for your own entertaining!
Freeze and store cookies and meat in baggies to save space. Having cookie dough on-hand in the freezer can be a lifesaver, for your sweet tooth and for last-minute guests, so it’s great to make multiple batches when you’re baking. But where do you store it all? Using an ice cream scoop, scoop the dough into single-cookie portions onto a tray and place it in the freezer. Once, frozen, move them to a ziptop bag so that they take up less space. The same can be done for meatballs and hamburger patties.
Skip the bulky Tupperware and freeze liquids like stocks, soups and sauces in ziptop bags that are laid flat in the freezer. Not only does this save space, but these liquids will thaw faster when you’re ready to use them.
Here’s a smart way to keep your salads cold: Put ice cubes in a ziptop bag and add the bag to your serving bowl. Add cabbage or lettuce leaves to the bowl in a decorative manner, to cover the bag. Add your salad on top and it’ll stay cool for your guests.
Keep your fruit looking fresh! Apples, pears, avocadoes and bananas will all oxidize and start browning after being chopped – leaving them visually unappealing. A squeeze of lemon will help prevent that. If you want to keep the fruit from browning but don’t want that tart lemon flavor, dip the fruit in lemon/lime soda for the same effect!
Keep your crudité dewy. Cover your party platter with wet paper towels as you’re getting set up and remove them just before your guests arrive. This will keep everything looking fresh. Also, keep a spray bottle filled with water and spritz the veggies before serving so they don’t dry out.
Slice soft cheese without the mushy mess. Freeze soft cheese so you can cut it with a knife and dole out perfect servings. When you don’t have time to freeze the cheese, cut portions with a piece of floss. Go with unflavored — that minty fresh taste won’t do the cheese any favors.