This year, for the first time, Chris and I were able to spend Christmas in our own home hosting his Dad and brother for the weekend. While I wasn’t able to spend the holiday with my family, they were missed terribly. They managed to make me feel right at home, though, by flooding my mailbox with gifts the week leading up to the holiday which I wrapped for myself and waited for the big day to open! Thanks everyone!
We had a great time eating and drinking and enjoying each other’s company. For Christmas dinner, Chris and I decided to do a play on Feast of the Seven Fishes, the traditional Italian Christmas Eve feast. We wanted less of a sit-down dinner and more of a snack the day away kind of feel which worked out well for how hungover we all were on Christmas!
On Christmas Eve we made dinner out of cheese and charcuterie, crackers, homemade bread, mustards, pickles and jam. Yum!
We enjoyed pork rilletes and pate from The Piggery, sopressata, genoa, and peppered salami, chorizo, lomo (cured pork loin) and proscuitto. We had Keeley’s Across the Pond cheese, Valdeon blue from Spain, an intensely earthy brie and Bucheron, one of my favorite goat cheeses along with Dusseldorf and whole grain mustards, fig preserves and the last of my summer pickles: ramps and garlic scapes.
For the beginning of our Christmas day feast we enjoyed The Meyer family’s signature crab dip, smoked salmon canapes, a smoked bluefish salad and pickled mussels.
Chris’s smoked salmon canapes were delicious! Thinly sliced English cucumbers were topped with smoked salmon that was rolled into a pinwheel with garlicky-herby Boursin cheese and then finished with capers and dill!
Chris made an amazing smoked bluefish salad by smoking a fresh bluefish filet and combining it with lots of lemon, parsley and garlic. This was delicious on a buttery cracker!
I made these delightful pickled mussels from a great Jose Andres recipe. It was incredibly simple and deeply satisfying. Steam the mussels to open them, reserve their briny juices, cook a bit of mirepoix, add juices and reduce, add sherry vinegar, pimenton and allll the herbs. Then all you have to do is pour the juice over the mussels and let all the flavors marry in the fridge overnight. I served these with homemade toasted baguette slices and fresh parsley.
For the main event, Chris slow-braised and then grilled octopus, I made a take on linguine a la vongole and we served Old Bay and Parmigiano gougeres, roasted brussels sprouts, roasted broccoli with garlic, lemon and onion and roasted beets with a dill yogurt for side dishes.
These delightful little cheese puffs laced with Old Bay made a great complement to all the seafood!
Look at those octopi! They were braised in wine and citrus until tender and then dusted with pimenton and charred on the grill. Chris served the octopus with a vibrant vinaigrette made with roasted red peppers, charred leeks and pine nuts.
This was my take on Linguini a la vongole, a traditional Italian dish of linguine and clams. Usually the clams are served in their shell but Wegmans was out of their nice, petite littleneck clams and only had Cherrystones which are about fist size! Chris grilled the clams to open them, I removed them from the shell and sliced them thinly and set them aside. To make the sauce, I sauteed onion and garlic with a little fresh thyme. I then added white wine, lemon juice and the juice from all of the clams and let it reduce by half. I finished the sauce with butter, salt and freshly cracked pepper. I tossed in the clams and bucatini pasta and served it with herbed breadcrumbs and fresh chives.
For dessert, I made Gary his favorite Christmas cookie, pignolis!
Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa celebration! To family! To friends! To a New Year! Cheers!