Christmas dinner is often the fussiest, most complicated meal of the year, and plenty of people relish the challenge. If you're not one of them, there's no need to sacrifice a nice meal. Easy holiday meals can be fancy and can still feature traditional holiday staples. Whether you're cooking for a small family or just don't feel up to a massive spread, simplifying the dinner helps keep Christmas stress to a minimum.
Oysters and Caviar
In her book "Christmas From the Heart of Home," Susan Branch suggests a very simple and luxurious meal of fresh raw oysters on the half shell with fine caviar, toast points and a good champagne. This is an especially nice treat for two. Purchase fresh oysters no more than a day ahead. Store and serve on ice, with lemon wedges, hot sauce and soy sauce on the side.
Spiced Slice of Ham
A whole ham is an ordeal, but a fancy spiced slice of ham makes a special meal in much less time. In a large zip-top bag and add 1/2 cup cranberry juice, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon each ground cinnamon and nutmeg. When well combined, add ham to coat and let sit in the refrigerator for an hour or two. Pan fry in a large skillet over medium-low heat, taking care not to burn the sugar. Serve with mashed sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts.
Broiled Herbed Salmon
Few elegant meals are as easy to prepare as broiled salmon. Simply place salmon in the broiler and baste with basil-infused melted butter until cooked to your desired doneness. To make the herbed butter, melt 1/4 to 1/2 cup butter and cool slightly. Combine with fresh basil in a blender. Serve with wild rice cooked with dried cranberries and asparagus spears.
Make a simple schnitzel out of turkey by substituting tenderloins for the veal in Joy of Cooking's basic technique for breading wiener schnitzel: pound tenderloins flat and dip each in flour, beaten egg and fine breadcrumbs. Pan fry in 1 inch of vegetable oil until puffed, golden and cooked through. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Serve with mashed potatoes, creamed corn and cranberry sauce.