Thursday, December 31, 2015

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve 2015 - Feast of the Seven Fishes Menu

Here's my menu for today!  And yes, while it is customary to do 7 fishes, I can never stop at just 7.  This year, I'm incorporating 12 different kinds of fish into the menu. The more, the merrier!

Links to recipes provided, where applicable. I've also put some "notes" at the bottom, and will post pictures in a few days, when all of the festivities are done.

UPDATE: Photos added!

Merry Christmas, Everyone!


Assorted Cheese & Crackers
Veggie Platter

Shrimp Cocktail

Salmon w/chive cream cheese, dill and capers

Mini Crab Cakes (top tray)
Fried Calamari (middle tray)
Fried Whole Smelts (bottom tray)

Stuffed Clams

Stuffed Mushrooms (Anchovies)

Fried Ravioli

Lobster Tails w/garlic herb butter
Angel hair pasta w/garlic & olive oil
Steamed Broccoli w/lemon

Pudding Trifle
Spritz cookies

12 Fishes: Tuna, Scungilli, Salmon, Crab, Clams, Anchovies, Smelts, Calamari, Baccala, Oysters, Lobster

A few notes: 
Shrimp cocktail is just a bunch of peeled, cleaned shrimp, boiled up the night before and chilled overnight in the fridge. Serve with cocktail sauce and lemon wedges on the side. 

The stuffed mushrooms are my own standard recipe (mushrooms stuffed with chopped mushroom stems, fresh bread pieces soaked in milk, egg, parmesan cheese, crushed garlic, salt & pepper to taste, and a drizzle of melted butter on top).  This year, I substituted a couple of mashed anchovies (the kind in the can, drained well) for the salt.

The calamari and smelts are done in a similar way: I season flour with Old Bay Seasoning, dredge the fish in flour, and fry 'em up in the deep fryer until golden brown and crispy

The raviolis are super-easy: I buy the square, four-cheese Buitoni brand, dip them in beaten egg, then Progresso Italian bread crumbs. Tap off the excess, and then into the deep fryer they go. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Rainbow Cookie Cake Pops!

Every year at Christmastime, it's become a tradition for me to make "Rainbow Cookies," also known as Seven Layer Cookies.  They're a lot of work because there are so many steps to the process, and they take two days to make (most of that is time spent setting up in the refrigerator).  It's a challenge every time I make them, and once I start, it's a great reminder of why I only attempt them once a year.

Rainbow Cookies!

To get the recipe at Epicurious, click HERE

This year, I did something a little different: when I got to the step in the recipe that calls for trimming around the edges of the layers to make them even, I saved the scraps and brought them all way to room temperature. I found them to be just sticky enough to form into 6 small cake pops, and coated them in the same dark chocolate as I use for the top and bottom layers of the cookie bars.  Then, I finished them off with--of course--rainbow sprinkles. 

They turned out great, with a minimal amount of extra effort, given all of the other steps in the process. It's a great way to use every bit of that precious cookie batter, too!
Rainbow cookie cake pops!

Feast of the 7 Fishes Prep Starts Today!

Christmas Eve 2015 marks the 25th "Festa dei Sette Pesci" (Feast of the Seven Fishes) that I will have hosted. Over the next few days, I'll be posting pictures and recipes from years past, along with the menu for this year's celebration.

With just 3 days to go, it's time to start soaking that baccala--get to it!
Salt-cured codfish...pre-soak!
If you've never worked with this stuff,
be prepared--it's very pungent!
Baccala Alla Vesuviana
This is baccala in a spicy tomato sauce. I made it in 2014, and it was terrific.
I used Mario Batili's recipe, which you can find HERE.
Baccala Salad
I made this in 2010. I don't recall which recipe I used,
but THIS ONE from the Food Network is pretty close.
I enjoyed it, but it didn't go over as well as
the Vesuviana did a few years later. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Christmas Eve BINGO

One week from today will be Christmas Eve, my favorite day of the entire year, when I celebrate "The Feast of the Seven Fishes" with my in-laws.  This will be my 25th time hosting, so in honor of this momentous occasion, I created a little Bingo game.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

I own a cookie press? Apparently, yes.

So, look what I just found, hidden away in my basement storage area: a Salton Cookie Press, brand new in the package. The manual is dated 2002, and I have absolutely no recollection of ever buying this, or receiving it as a gift. And yet, here it is!

It just so happens I was baking Christmas cookies today, so the timing of this discovery was certainly serendipitous.

Following the recipe in the manual, I made a batch of Holiday Butter Cookie dough, and made cookies in two shapes: trees and hearts.

Not gonna lie--this thing is not as easy to use as you'd think.  The dough has to be just the right consistency, not too cold and stiff, not too warm and sticky.  I had a few "fails", but ended up with about two dozen cookie so far that look pretty good.  Looking forward to experimenting with this new contraption and making some more cookies tomorrow!