Christmas Eve (along with every Sunday) is yet another time I treasure the gift of being Italian. Traditionally, on Christmas Eve we enjoy a seven-course meal consisting of all fish dishes. The fish courses range from Calimari to Scungelli to Baccala (salted Cod). This is a tradition that traces back to Southern Italia. There are many reasons cited for the Seven types of fish (number of sacraments in the Catholic church and other religious reasons) but I never cared much about the official reason, to me it just means the best meal of the year.
This year we started with an Antipasto – three different types of cheeses, roasted red peppers, mushrooms and olives. The antipasto was served with a homemade sausage bread.
From there we moved on to three of the fish dishes:
-Baked Clams Casino (fresh oven roasted clams topped with roasted red pepper, two thin strips of crossed center cut non-cured Sunday Bacon, and finally, with parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice).
-Shrimp wrapped in Pancetta with a white wine sauce. This was a really simple recipe that I recommend trying at home as an appetizer. Thirty-Six Fresh Shrimp, de-veined and cleaned, wrapped in thin sliced Pancetta (secured with a toothpick) and cooked in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil and white wine.
-Bite Sized Mini Crab cakes breaded and cooked to a crunchy outside, yet moist on the inside perfection.
For the two main courses we moved on to a filet of sole dipped in a parmesan egg wash, and then into freshly made breadcrumbs with Italian Seasoning. The filet was then pan fried to a golden brown. The filets were crunchy on the outside and tender and flaky on the inside.
The second main course was meant to be a pasta dish that used four lbs of small cockle clams. The clams were purchased live from a local store and we cleaned and shucked them that night. The dish was simple, delicate and incredibly delicious. We steamed the clams open in a pot with garlic, red pepper flakes, olive oil, white wine and about a tablespoon of tomato paste to make a light Fra Diavolo sauce. Coincidentally, we decided not to cook the pasta that went along with the clams as we were less people than usual and were already full. I still ate about 30-40 clams.
You will notice that this year, as much as it pains me to say, we strayed from the seven fish rule. In years past the two additional types of fish would have been a mix of fried calamari and scallops, or mussels in pasta.
We finished the meal with coffee/tea and Christmas cookies. I went to bed that night not only eager for Christmas morning, but also with a great sense of pride in my Italian heritage & traditions, and hungry for two more fish dishes.--DBlock
This past weekend I went home to Long Island for my mom’s birthday. We left it up to Mama B if she wished to dine out or have us at the house for a home cooked meal (which of course she would need to cook). My mom made the right choice and had my family at our house for dinner on Sunday.
Sunday afternoon my brother and I made chicken wings and my mom made Sausage and Potatoes as football snacks. My love for chicken wings will become apparent as time goes on but they are by far my favorite bar food. My biggest problem is that I don’t know where to get some good chicken wings in NYC so I usually opt to make them myself. The chicken wings we made Sunday for the Giants win did not disappoint. We went with a more mild flavor this time by not using any fresh chopped chili peppers but they still had a good kick.
The sausage and potatoes were cooked in the oven with sliced & seasoned potatoes and skinny sweet Italian Sausage.
For dinner we had my mom’s meatballs (if you know me you have probably heard about my mom’s talents in the kitchen, specifically when it comes to Italian food & meatballs). They were perfect as usual.
We decided that my mom’s gift would be a bottle of Avion. Our family loves Patron so this would be the ultimate taste test. After multiple rounds of blind tasting Patron won unanimously 3-0 but we all agreed that more of a buzz could be felt from Avion. The final verdict: don’t dismiss Avion but Patron is still #1.
Have any favorite football snacks? Meals that you just can’t seem to find out in NY the same way your mom makes them? Or a favorite place for chicken wings? Holler in the comments!