Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve Extravaganza 2012

We have about 16  people this year so in order to try to save some sanity,and not to force that many people to sit I am going to go with more of a cocktail party feel than a sit down dinner this year. I'm also shifting the order in a major fashion this year. Everyone always fills up on soup and salami cheese bread so I'm moving that to the end of the evening. Think of it like the turkey sandwich on thanksgiving day.

Fried Squid
Fried Smelt

Beet cured gravlax
I can't believe the incredible color this took on in just two days
It was like a sunrise when I cut into it and the flavor was outstanding  the beet was subtle but present and the overall taste was just wonderful, like really good salmon sushi

I used to make my own breading, then I got lazy so I use Tempo Breading Supreme as my base and doctor it up with some smoked paprika, seafood seasoning blend and some dried herbs.
We have some toast, creme fraiche, capers etc to to go with the salmon.

Baked Whole Fish
Back to striped bass this year, stuffed with parsley  fennel frond, oranges and lemons. Baked in a salt dome. I don't vary from Alton Browns method at all. I have used Grouper and Red Snapper in lieu of striped bass with great success.

I got smart this year and stuffed it and covered it way ahead of time, thankfully it is cold enough that I can store it outside in the back of the station wagon.

Smoked Salmon Ravioli
Kerrie makes a pasta every year, it is fresh pasta dough stuffed with smoked salmon  ricotta and cream cheese. This year we are going to fry it instead of boiling it, that way I can get away from having to stand in the kitchen and toss raviolis in sauce a pan at a time.

Anchovy Spaghetti
This is my mothers contribution. It is a simple dish but so delicious. Saute 4 or so cloves of chopped garlic in olive oil. Once the garlic has begin to soften add two cans of anchovies and stir until they break apart and almost disintegrate, add some cracked black pepper and  toss with fresh pasta lots of grated cheese

Stuffed Calamari
I'm going back to the style that my mom always did, I got crazy with the stuffing over the years and did things with 5 spice and some other stuff, it was good but didn't quite fit int. This year it will be celery, onions, crab, shrimp, parsley and lemon. Some salt and pepper and that's about it.

Lobster Cheesecake
This has become a new tradition as well. It is incredibly rich as you might imagine. I follow Emerills recipe to the letter, almost. I add a big pan of water to the oven during cooking to create some moisture. My spring form pans are not secure enough to immerse them in the pan so I keep it separate.

Meatball Soup
This is a simple soup, traditionally made with the turkey stock from thanksgiving dinner. Just broth and meatballs, and a lot of cheese.

Clam Chowder
This one is coming along with my mom, I don't know what she puts in it, it is however delcious

Salami Cheese Bread
Last but not least, the killer of appetites, the Christmas day breakfast of champions, the salami cheese bread. It doesn't get much more simple.
I made the simple pizza dough form the Americas Test Kitchen Family Baking Book
It makes two loaves, divide the dough in half, roll the dough out, put dow a layer of provaline cheese, all the slices should overlap like the olympic rings. Cover that in a layer of salami, add more cheese, more salami and some grated parmesan. Fold the ends in and then roll it up tightly. Brush with some melted butter and bake at 375 until the crust is brown and the cheese has almost certainly exploded from the ends. Let it cool enough that the cheese sets up, slice and serve.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Chocolate Meatball Cookies- For my Mother

As a kid I loved sweets, particularly chocolate. Today I don't like sweets at all and a strong chocolate smell makes me a bit ill. These cookies were a bit part of my childhood chocolate addiction  To be completely honest I think I like the raw dough more than the finished product but they were a favorite for sure. This recipe makes a huge amount of cookies, scale as needed.

16 cups flour
10 heaping Tbps unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
8 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp allspice
1 Tbsp nutmeg
1 Tbsp ground cloves
1 Tbsp powdered ginger
4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

1 quart buttermilk
3 cups sugar
2 cups shortening
1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
6 eggs

2 1/2 cups chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts were most common)
2 bags chocolate chips

Mix all the wet ingredients together to form a loose batter. Sift together all the dry ingredients and mix well with the wet. Stir in the chopped nuts and chocolate chips and mix well with your hands. No spoon is man enough for the job. Let it rest in the fridge for about hour so it comes together. Preheat oven to 350

Roll the dough into balls, smaller than commercial or restaurant meatballs, think about a two bite cookie that you could eat in one bite if you wanted to 

Place about 1 inch apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake 10-12 minutes.
My mother always coated them with powdered sugar or made a quick powdered sugar glaze and dipped the tops in the glaze before serving.