Thursday, December 25, 2008

Feast of the Seven Fishes

last evening was a feast of fishes. the menu consisted the following:

stuffed calamari
3 lbs calamari
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups homemade bread crumbs
3/4 cup pine nuts
2 eggs
olive oil
salt & pepper

1 garlic clove, minced
2 cans crushed tomatoes (i use san marzano tomatoes)
1 bay leaf
2 tbls dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

place in heavy sauce pan and simmer for 1 hour, or more.

stuff each calamari body and place in baking dish. cover with sauce and some parmesan cheese. bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

this dish was my favorite.
this past summer we had a spanish man named pablo stay with us for a couple of days. the last evening of his stay him and his crew made a typical Spanish meal. he cooked the octopus in my kitchen as i wanted to learn how this galacian dish is prepared. he boiled water and placed the octopus in the water. i tried to repeat this dish and what ended up happening was that we were having contests to see how long we could chew and swallow. many of us gave up and had to spit it out. i guess i need to go back to octopus cooking school.

salted cod fish
black and green olives,chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced

overnight, soak the fish in cold water. place fish in boiling water until fish turns white in color. break pieces up and ad the olives, garlic, olive oil, and pepper. this dish is served cold.

cleaned eel
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbls dried oregano
1 tbls dried basil
3 bay leaves, crumbled

cut eel in 3 inch pieces. marinate for 2 hours. cook on grill.

this dish was better than i thought it would be. i have to tell you that i have prepared many dishes and cutting these snake like pieces gave me the chills. i thought to myself, this better be tasty and worth it, and i was pleasantly surprised. dylan was the grill master for this dish.

shrimp cocktail
this one is the easiest to prepare, as i choose to buy the cooked, frozen shrimp.

cocktail sauce
worcestershire sauce
lemon juice

depending on how hot you like your sauce you can adjust all of the quantities above. give it a taste and add more of what you like.

cleaned smelt
salt & pepper
olive oil

in a skillet, heat up olive oil. dip smelt in egg and then in to the flour (add the salt and pepper to the flour). fry until golden and crispy. my friend jess helped to fry these tasty treats.

pasta with tuna fish sauce
olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 large can of tomato paste
1 large can tomato puree
1 bay leaf
2 tbls dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
2 cups, or more of water
2 cans tuna fish, in water
2 lbs angel hair pasta

saute the garlic in the olive oil. add the other ingredients and simmer for at least an hour or more. before serving, add the two cans of tuna. put on top of cooked pasta and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
additional dishes
in addition to the above i made a few antipasto plates that included: roasted red peppers, marinated artichoke hearts, black and green olives, lupine beans, pepperincini, marinated anchovies
broccoli rabi sauteed with garlic and olive oil
tossed salad

grandma theresa's cookies
wines served
la crema chardonnay
mark west pinot noir

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pre Christmas Eve

Tomorrow is the big day. I am preparing a Feast of the Seven Fishes. I haven't created this meal ever and am recreating the recipes based on my childhood memory. I have asked family for recollections of any of these recipes and have been given some food advice, but we will see what I can whip up. I visited the fish market to day and have purchased eel, smelt, octopus, calamari, shrimp, baccala, and tuna. My son is home from Chicago and will help me prepare all the dishes. Today we have done the shopping and have purchased the flowers for the table. I am excited mostly to share this meal with the friends that have invited. There will be 14 of us and it has been many years since I have celebrated Christmas Eve in this way. I am looking forward to the buzz and excitement of the day.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Holiday Gifts

For the holiday season this year I decided to make a homemade food gift.

Basil Pesto: Fresh basil, garlic, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and salt.
For a quick and easy spread I used some extra pesto that I made and mixed it with some of the homemade ricotta cheese and served with crackers.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Chicken Pot Pie

One of the ways I use my leftover chicken from baking a whole chicken is to make a pot can be creative in what is inside this tasty treat. This pie has a basic white sauce with chicken and mixed vegetables.

The real treat is the crust....with the best crust recipe:

2-2/3 cups flour (I used spelt flour for this pie)

2/3 cup vegetable oil

6 tbls cold milk

In a large bowl put the flour and salt. Measure the oil and put the cold milk into the oil...the important part here is not to mix. Wet ingredients into dry and mix with a wooden spoon until you have dough (I sometimes use my hands to get the dough into two balls).

Roll bottom and top of crust in between two sheets of wax paper.

The results are flaky delicious crust every time.

Ricotta Cheese
I recently, successfully, made homemade ricotta cheese. It was a very simple process...all you need is some fresh whole milk, salt, lemon juice, and cheese cloth to drain the curds.
It is true that you get a little over one cup from 1/2 gallon of milk....but you can't beat the fresh creamy taste.
Viola...I'll next tell you what I did with some of the cheese.