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The Unexpected Appliance That Makes My Holiday Cooking So Much Easier

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Credit: Jess D'Amelio

In a year full of unexpected twists and turns, it comes as no surprise that even the holidays will look different this year. Instead of big, festive dinners and parties, I’m embracing the fact that we’ll be celebrating just with my small family pod, which consists of my parents and my sister and her family. There will still be plenty of food and cooking, but I’ll be leaning on different tools and appliances for our small gatherings instead. This year, our toaster oven, which has mainly been used for toast and reheating leftovers, will be put into commission for a more starring role in the holiday cooking.

While we have a regular oven, it’s slow to heat and doesn’t broil very well. The , on the other hand, heats up quickly, has a large capacity, and useful functions like air frying and rotisserie. We plan on using it for everything we usually use our regular oven for, from breakfast to dessert. For instance, I’m not making labor-intensive cinnamon rolls for breakfast, but I’m taking it easy and picking up some fancy pastries at the local bakery instead. We have some slow risers in our family, so breakfast can be served at a more leisurely pace because we can just reheat the pastries quickly in the toaster oven as people trickle into the kitchen.

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Another big boon of a toaster oven is that it helps me be more efficient in the kitchen. Holiday meals usually have oven-intensive recipes, which can translate to spending hours in the kitchen baking off one thing at a time. With the aid of a toaster oven, though, I can bake a turkey in the regular oven but still bake off a pie at the same time in the toaster oven, leaving me more time to relax and hang out with the family. I also plan on using it for appetizers, including French gougères (little cheese puffs), which I can bake off in small batches so that they’re served warm and fresh.

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Since there’s less pressure to produce a meal for a lot of people, I’ve felt some freedom to stray from the standard holiday roasts to dishes that I think my family will love just as much. My daughter adores this miso-marinated black cod recipe from Nobu, and it broils up beautifully in the since the upper rack lets the fish get really close to the broiling element to get that signature char on the fish, something we’ve never been able to accomplish in our regular oven. I can’t wait to introduce the rest of the family to other restaurant-quality dishes like these.

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The one holiday tradition my daughter will never let me stray from is cookie making. We used to make big batches of cookies, do swaps with friends, and pack them up as gifts for teachers and friends. Rest assured, cookies will happen again this year, but I plan on choosing cookies that have doughs that can be frozen. That way, when the craving for sweets strikes, we can bake off small batches in our toaster oven and enjoy fresh cookies whenever we want.

We still plan to make cut-out sugar cookies for decorating with frosting and sprinkles of all kinds, just on a smaller scale. To be honest, I’m a bit relieved that cookie making won’t be a days-long affair anymore, but glad that those treats will still be making an appearance. I’m grateful for a that can tackle small tasks like these quickly, leaving me with more time to enjoy the holidays with my little pod this year.

C868彩票:Christine Gallary

C868彩票:Food Editor-at-Large

Christine graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, France, and she has worked at Cook's Illustrated and CHOW.com. She lives in San Francisco and loves teaching cooking classes. Follow her latest culinary escapades on .

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