Seafood on Christmas Eve – Muscles & Clams

xmas eve 1

We are a small family so our holiday traditions are a bit limited. Some years my menu is little more traditional and other years we tend to mix it up with a theme of some sort.

Even though I am part Italian I was never raised with the traditional Seven Fishes tradition for Christmas Eve but we would often have some sort of seafood. My mother would usually make a shrimp dish of some sort, maybe fried scallops or a breaded and fried flounder along with the other array of assorted dishes and desserts. Mom wasn’t a seafood lover so the selection was pretty limited.

My husband and I on the other hand have been enjoying seafood dishes we learned to make for over 40 years. One year we might do shrimp another year steak and lobster.

Here are several easy to prepare seafood dishes we enjoy with our family not just on a holiday but anytime throughout the year.

Homemade tagliatelle with muscles in garlic butter sauce

Muscles Over Linguine with a White Wine Garlic Sauce

Prep Time: 15 mins, Cook Time: 20 mins, Total Time: 35 mins Yield: 4-6

2-3 pounds mussels, rinsed

1 pound linguine

¾ to 1 cup white wine (I usually use something like a Pinot Grigio , Riesling or Chardonnay whatever white wine we happen to have in the house)

4 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

3/4 cup whipping cream

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Rinse the mussels and remove beards if necessary, discard any that do not fully close when rinsing (these are dead).

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt to the boiling water, and cook linguine until al dente.

Meanwhile, with linguine still boiling, combine all remaining ingredients (except for the cream and Parmesan cheese) in a large covered sauce pan on medium-high heat.

Cover and simmer mussels in the white wine sauce until fully cooked and shells open up, about 5-10 minutes. Stir sauce and mussels to coat in the sauce.

When linguine is finished, strain and stir into the mussels and white wine sauce. Now add cream and Parmesan cheese. Simmer for 5-7 minutes while covered, stirring occasionally until the sauce slightly thickens.

Serve topped with a pinch of fresh basil or chopped fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese. (Yes, it’s perfectly safe to have cheese with seafood if you enjoy it, LOL!)

For those who would prefer a red sauce with Muscles here is a red sauce version.

Mussels Marinara

2 lbs Mussels

1 cup white wine (use what you like to drink)

1 small onion

3-4 garlic cloves

1 quart your favorite marinara sauce

4 tbsp olive oil

Preparation:

Scrape mussels clean – Toss any that are not closed

Mince onion and garlic

Cooking:

In a tall pot, sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil until they are translucent (don’t burn the garlic).

Add the wine and bring to a boil.

Add the mussels, cover pot and cook until the  mussels are fully opened (toss unopened mussels).

In a separate pot bring the marinara sauce to a boil, then pour it over the mussels.

Turn heat off and serve over linguine or you favorite pasta.

Serve with garlic bread and some more of that white wine. Heaven!.

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Linguine with Clams

1 pound dried linguine

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 shallots, thinly sliced

5 to 7 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 pounds little neck clams, scrubbed clean and sand purged

1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1/2-1 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced into small cubes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 lemon, zested, for garnish

In a large pot, bring to a boil 6 quarts of salted water.

Add linguine, stirring constantly to prevent it from sticking together.

Cook until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan. When almost smoking, add shallots and garlic and saute until soft and translucent,

about 3 to 4 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic.

Add the clams and wine. Cover and simmer for 6 to 8 minutes or until the clams have opened.

Add 2 tablespoons chopped parsley. Whisk in butter to thicken sauce slightly.

Drain pasta in a colander. Do not rinse pasta with water – this will remove the pasta’s natural starches.

Pour linguine into large serving bowl- arrange clams over linguine and pour sauce over all

Garnish with remaining parsley and lemon zest. Serve immediately.

christmas-cooking-chef-holidays-greetings

 

 

Holiday Fruit Cake or Fruit Bread

Fruitcake (or fruit cake or fruit bread) is a cake made with candied or dried fruit, nuts, and spices, and optionally soaked in brandy or rum. In the United Kingdom, certain rich versions may be iced and decorated. Fruitcakes are typically served in celebration of weddings and Christmas. Given their rich nature, fruitcakes are most often consumed on their own,  or sometimes served with butter or cream.

festive fruit cake

We enjoy simple fruit cake at our house. Some fruit cakes are loaded with so much fruit and nuts there is very little cake. Years ago I came across a super simple fruit cake on the back of a cake box that I have tweaked a bit and I have been making it every since. It is just the way we enjoy fruit cake. You may want to give it a try.

Easy Fruit Cake

Ingredients:

2 cups water

1/4 cup oil

2 eggs

2 (16.6-oz.) pkgs. of a Date Nut Quick Bread & Muffin Mix

2 cups Pecans, chopped for the cake but save a few whole one for decorating the cake top

2 cups Raisins

2 cups Candied mixed fruit

1/2 cup Candied Cherries, halved

1/2 cup Candied pineapple, cut-up

Corn syrup, if desired

Preparation Directions:
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour bottom and sides of 12-cup Bundt® pan or 10-inch tube pan. In large bowl, combine water, oil and eggs; beat well. Add all remaining ingredients except corn syrup; stir with spoon until combined. Pour into greased and floured pan. You way wish set aside some candied cherry halves and Pecans to decorate the top of the cake before baking.

2. Bake at 350°F. for 1 hour 25 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 30 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool 1 hour or until completely cooled.

3. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or foil. Refrigerate at least 8 hours. Store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or in freezer for up to 3 months.

4. Just before serving, heat corn syrup until warm. Brush over fruitcake. If desired, decorate with additional candied fruits and nuts or as desired.

pannettone sliced 2017pannettone 2017

Another version of fruit cake we enjoy would be what sometimes is referred to as Fruit Bread but I call it Panettone. I make a very easy version in my bread machine. We enjoy it sliced; spread with some butter and a hot cup of tea.

Bread Machine Panettone

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 6 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 package Instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon Vital Wheat Gluten (optional – I find it helps bread machine breads rise beautifully. You can find it at King Arthur Flour website, store in a glass jar in your freezer it keeps much longer)
  • 1/2 cup candied fruit
  • 1/3 cup chopped almonds (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

 Directions

Add all ingredients in bread machine pan including the yeast.  Select white bread or sweet bread setting.

(I have use the Raisin Bake bread setting for 4 hours in my Panasonic SD-YD250, light crust, large loaf).

Dough will look wet but that is normal for this bread, don’t be tempted to add more flour.

Hit start and let it go!

A Different Twist on Christmas Cookies – Rosettes & Pizzelles

16 days until Christmas, planning goodies for family and friends.

rosettes

Rosette Cookies
So many wonderful Christmas cookie recipes out there this time of year, from sprinkled topped butter cookies to Snickerdoodles and Thumbprints. One of my old favorites at holiday time are not just the baked cookies but those lovely crispy cookies that remind me of winter and snowflakes, Pizzelle’s and Rosettes.
I can remember watching my mom make Rosettes when I was young. We would gather around the kitchen table while she would make a beautiful silky batter then attached the snowflake or star shape iron to the long handle; then stand it up in the hot oil in her electric frying pan. Once the iron was hot she would then dip it into the bowl of batter and it would make a sizzling sound then the batter seemed to magically stick to the outer edges of the iron. Mom would move the iron back to the hot oil and begin to make those beautiful crisp cookies of snowflakes and stars. Once the each cookie started to fry it would release from the iron. When the cookie became a light golden color it was done. Mom would lift the delicate cookie from the hot oil to a tray lined with brown paper bags for the oil to drain. This process went on until the silky batter was all gone. Mom would move the fried Rosette’s to a large platter and dust the beautiful cookies with powdered sugar. Our own plate of a winter wonderland of snowflakes and stars.
Owning my own set of Rosette Irons when I was a young bride was a must and I still enjoy making them to this very day and the reminders of those holidays long ago.

Rosette Cookies

Makes about 40
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted – measure and then, sift
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine eggs, sugar, and salt; beat well.
Add remaining ingredients; beat
until smooth.
Heat rosette iron in deep, hot oil (350 to 375 F) for two
minutes.
Drain excess oil from iron; dip in batter to 1/2 way, then
immediately into hot oil.
Fry rosette while counting to 10.
Jiggle iron so rosette falls off into the oil and continue to fry until golden brown.
Lift out with tongs. Drain on paper towels.
Reheat iron 1 minute; make next
rosette.
Sprinkle cooled rosettes with confectioner’s sugar.

 

pizzelles

Pizzelle’s
Mom on occasion would also make Pizzelle’s another crisp cookie that she would either sometimes dust with powdered sugar or dip the edges in chocolate.
The batter she made would go onto the hot cookie press that resembled a waffle iron. The press would make beautiful discs with a snowflake pattern. Sometimes my mom would remove the hot cookie that was still soft and pliable before it cooled and quickly wrap it around a cannoli form. The Pizzelle’s would crisp up when cooled and be ready for a filling of cannoli cream with chocolate chips, jam or pudding.
So if you are looking for a different twist on a holiday cookie why not give one of these a try.
Have a jolly holiday!

Pineapple Glazed Easter Ham

This was suppose to get posted last weekend however I was a bit under the weather for the holiday weekend so I couldn’t get to posting it. Hope everyone enjoyed the holiday weekend however you may celebrate.
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Pineapple Glazed Baked Ham

1 whole or half ham with bone in

Select ham with the bone in according to the number of guests allowing 1/3 pound of ham per guest. Wash the ham and place in a shallow roasting pan with the fat side up 10 to 15 pound ham insert a meat thermometer so that the tip is in the center of the thickest part of the ham but does not touch the bone or the drippings.

Do not cover bake in oven at 325° F. until the thermometer reaches 140° F. The last 30 minutes take the ham out of oven and remove any skin from top. Score top of ham lightly, cutting uniform diamond shapes. Place a whole cloves in each diamond. Then cover with the pineapple glaze below. Return to the oven for another 30 minutes

Pineapple Glaze

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 can (8 1/2 ounces) crushed pineapple, with syrup
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon prepared mustard

In a small sauce pan, place the brown sugar, cornstarch, salt. Then stir in the pineapple, lemon juice, and mustard. Cook over medium heat. stirring constantly. until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir for 1 minute. Pour over undrained on to the ham. Baste 2 times while finishing the baking process. Remove and place on a platter to server.

Spring has arrived, well almost…

The calendar may say its’ Spring but the weather has been less than kind. We have had four Nor’easters in the past month, essentially one a week. It’s been snow one day and sunshine the next. I am so ready for Spring and birds and flowers.

But today it’s time to plan some baking for next weekend, it’s Easter. My husband’s favorite guilty pleasure this time of year is Hot Cross Buns. So today I will busy in the kitchen baking them. The last batch I made I had a bit of an icing fail but they tasted delicious.
The original recipes is from the King Arthur Flour website. Here is the link:

Easy Hot Cross Buns

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My other Easter or Spring time favorite is Pineapple Ricotta Pie.

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PINEAPPLE RICOTTA PIE

Ingredients

1 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter (soft)
1/4 cup fine graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
One 15 oz container ricotta
2 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract

TOPPING
One 20 oz can crushed pineapple in syrup
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 Tsp fresh lemon juice

Instructions

16. Preheat the oven to 350
17. Spread the butter over the bottom and sides of a 9 inch pie pan or spring form pan. Slightly more on the sides and less on the bottom.
18. Add the crumbs – turn the pan to coat the bottom and sides evenly.
19. In a large bowl stir together the cornstarch and sugar.
20. Add the ricotta, eggs, cream, lemon zest and vanilla.
21. Beat until smooth.
22. Pour into the graham cracker prepared pan.
23. Bake for 50 minutes or until the pie is set around the edges but the center is still  slightly soft.
24. Cool to room temp on a wire rack.
25. TOPPING
26. Drain the pineapple well and reserve 1/2 cup of the syrup.
27. In a medium saucepan stir together the sugar and cornstarch.
28. Stir in the 1/2 cup pineapple syrup and the lemon juice.
29. Cook stirring until thickened – about 1 minute.
30. Add the pineapple and stir in.
31. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly
32. Spread the pineapple mixture on top of the pie.
33. Allow to chill in the fridge for at least one hour or more

 

St. Patrick’s Day in the Kitchen – Honey Glazed Corned Beef & Colcannon

shamrock knot

With St. Patrick’s Day falling on a Saturday I get the opportunity to make my favorite Irish dishes on the day.
I know there are lots of way of preparing corned beef, plain boiled or simmered in Guinness. I’ve tried many recipes over the years and I’ve had discussions and even disagreements about how to cook it. About 15 years ago I discovered a recipe that has remained a favorite at our house. There are similar versions of this recipe if you search the web but this version is our family favorite.

An Irish Kitchen Prayer

Bless us with good food,
The gift of gab and hearty laughter.
May the love and joy we share
Be with us ever after.
Amen

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Honey Glazed Corned Beef

• Prep Time: 10 mins
• Total Time: 3 1/4 hrs
• Servings: 8

Ingredients
4 lbs corned beef brisket
2 quarts water or enough water to cover the corned beef
1 tablespoon pickling spices – they may come in a packet with the corned beef
2 cups Apple Juice
1 large white onions
1 large carrot
1 stalk celery
2 garlic cloves

Glaze
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons stone ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Directions
1. In a large stock pot, combine corned beef, water, apple juice, pickling spices, whole vegetables, and garlic. (The veggies and garlic are optional) Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer 3 hours. (You may use a crockpot for this, cooking 4-6 hours on high.)
2. Place a cooling rack in a shallow baking pan or dish. Transfer brisket from cooking liquid, placing fat side up on the rack.
3. Combine honey, brown sugar, mustard and ginger to make a glaze. Spoon glaze over meat.
4. Bake, uncovered, in a preheated 350*F. oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer to serving plate.
5. Makes 8 servings.

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2017 St Pat veggies

Often I have served traditional boiled cabbage, carrots and potatoes as side dishes. One of my alternate side dishes is Colcannon. I haven’t made it in a while so I’ll be making it this year for change.

colcannon

Colcannon 

Colcannon is a popular version of Irish mashed potatoes.

• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 1 large onion, finely diced
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 3 leek stalks, trimmed, washed, and thinly sliced
• 1 small savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
• 6 large white-flesh potatoes peeled, boiled, and lightly mashed
• 1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half
• 1/4 cup unsalted butter
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon pepper
• 1/4 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped

1. Boil the potatoes until just cooked. Drain and allow to cool.
2. On medium heat, begin by sautéing the chopped onion and garlic in the olive oil until translucent. Add the leeks and continue to sauté for 15 minutes.
3. Add the cabbage and continue to sauté for 15 minutes. You will want the cabbage, leeks, and onions to really cook down and wilt.
4. While the leeks, onions, and cabbage mixture is cooking, prepare the boiled potatoes by giving them a rough mash, these aren’t supposed to be creamy potatoes so do not over mash them. Place the potatoes back into the pot.
5. Add the leek and cabbage mixture to the potatoes and fold in. Turn the heat to medium, add the butter, heavy cream, salt, and pepper. Stir well to combine.
6. When the potatoes are heated through, toss in the freshly chopped parsley. Fold into the mixture and serve. Add a dollop of Irish butter.

Don’t forget to make the Irish Soda bread and serve with some of that yummy Irish butter!

2018 Irish Soda Bread

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Irish Soda Bread

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This is the week I will be baking Irish Soda Bread. I’ll be making several loaves for family and friends. There are many recipes out there and I have tried several different versions, this one is our favorite.

Irish Rosie’s Irish Soda Bread

• Prep Time: 20 mins
• Total Time: 1 1/4 hr @ 350 degrees
• Serves: 16, Yield: 1 9 inch bread
Ingredients
• 3 1/2 cups flour
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 pint sour cream
• 2 eggs
• 2 tablespoons caraway seeds (optional)
• 3/4 cup raisins
Directions
1. Combine dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
2. In a small bowl beat eggs and stir in sour cream.
3. Add the egg and sour cream mixture to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon.
4. Batter will be very thick.
5. Add the raisins and caraway seeds and stir well with wooden spoon or knead in with your hands.
6. Place batter in a greased 9 inch spring form pan.
7. Dust the top with enough flour so that you can pat the batter like a bread dough evenly in the pan without it sticking to your hands.
8. With a knife make a shallow crisscross on the top.
9. Bake for 50 minutes in a preheated 350ºF oven.