December truly is the hottest month of the year for home cooks in South Africa. The summer sun shoulders the blame for that, to be sure, but the real cause of the suffering of the cuisine artist is the kitchen itself: the oven is sweltering, the green beans are being blanched and seasoned by the sweat of the brow, a menagerie of meats is blistering on the counter, and the chilled glass of grenache gris (poured in earnest by Santa's helper) has long since sweated itself into room-temperature grape juice.
You know that Christmas scene fromThe Bear? Need I say more?
Before we begin the big Christmas countdown and publish some seasonal classics, we thought we'd give our home cooks a breather. Christmas doesn't have to be chaotic in the kitchen. Honeyed hams and whole turkeys are best consumed in countries where a "white Christmas" doesn't mean having Woolies chocolate baubles strewn across the harvest table (melting rapidly).
In light of the heat of the season, as well as the steadily rising stress levels of most home cooks, we've rounded up the simplest and most impressive dishes from the blog this year in one easy seasonal guide. Got a last-minute invite to Friendsmas? We have a salad for that. Desperately want to show up cousin Greg at the family table? We have just the entrée for you.
Top five easiest Christmas dishes
Herewith, are our top five Christmas dish ideas from the recipes we have published this year.
1. Tomato crouton salad recipe
How many ingredients? 4
Why you should make it: This tomato salad recipe is remarkably impressive for being very simple, yet deeply impressive. Plus, most of the salad comes together in under half an hour, making it the ideal dish for when load shedding turns white Christmas into blackout Christmas.
Is it Christmassy enough? Definitely! Sprinkle in a handful of roughly chopped basil for a seasonal colour scheme or coat the bocconcini balls in edible glitter for a bauble effect. Camp tomato salad is officially in season, baby.
2. Roast beetroot and crème fraîche appetiser recipe
How many ingredients? 5
Why you should make it: Like the tomato salad, this beetroot appetiser recipe is dead simple — but the flavours are complex enough to impress anyone who thinks they're cool enough to sit at Blondie's on Kloof Street. In any case, it will pair beautifully with the glass of Christmas Shiraz that you'll be drinking at 11 AM.
Is it Christmassy enough? Uh, yes. Beetroot is the embodiment of Christmas, no? Rich, decadent, red as burgundy velvet. All the savoury complexity of a roast lamb dish but none of the heat or the digestion issues. You could always opt to grate the parmesan finely to resemble snow.
3. Ricotta hot honey toast appetiser
Effort: 1/5 (if you can make toast, you can make this appetiser)
How many ingredients? 5 to 7, depending on what you have lying around.
Why you should make it: You scarcely have to brave the Christmas crowds at the grocery store to produce this glorious ricotta and hot honey appetiser recipe, and that's a winner in our books. Of all the recipes on this list, this is probably the simplest one to make with the biggest impact. Bonus points: you can make both the beetroot appetiser and this one from the same loaf of bread. Versatility!
Is it Christmassy enough? With a stretch of the imagination, anything is possible. The dish itself does not possess a Yule spirit, but the sweet and spicy combination is a beautiful metaphor for the passive-aggressive comments that are bound to be exchanged at the dinner table.
4. Sour cream and onion roast potatoes side dish
How many ingredients? 4
Why should you make it? If you've been tasked with bringing a side dish for the Christmas meal, you can't do much better than this simple and delicious sour cream and onion potatoes recipe. Somewhere between a loaded potato and an elevated side dish is where I would put this little showstopper.
Is it Christmassy enough? Undoubtedly. Potatoes in any form receive an immediate seasonal pass. You will 100% be eating the leftovers out of a cold oven pan while the annual Christmas argument reaches its resounding crescendo over dessert.
5. Fancy french toast
How many ingredients? 7 if you're fancy.
Why should you make it? Because it's the morning after Christmas dinner, you're hungover, relationships require mending, and you could sub the bacon for leftover gammon.
Is it Christmassy enough? Waking up to this for breakfast would be like a kid waking up to a ring of wrapped presents under the Christmas tree.
Well, that's our roundup of quick and easy dishes to prepare ahead of the holiday season. If all else fails, you could try the recipe for disaster that we published for Christmas last year. Stay safe out there! See you soon with a real Christmas recipe.
Lots of love,
The Life & Style team