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Christmas Eve Dinner


Daniel
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So my girl and I were given the extreme honor of making Christmas Eve Dinner for her family.. There will be about 32-45 people coming to our apartment..

We only have one oven and four burners. We live in Manhattan so we have no BBQ or Outside cooking options.. We have one fridge.. Because of equipment and us wanting to have a fun night too, we will try to prepare most of the food before hand..

On the Main Table, we want to have all of these dishes waiting for guests when they arrive:

I. The Table:

A: Cold Salads

1) Octopus- Would like suggestions for a recipe!

2)Marinated Anchovies- Would like suggestions for a recipe!

3)Marinated Olives- Would like suggestions for a recipe!

B: Crostini

1)Chicken Liver - got one

2)Tomato salad - got one

3)Beans and Mint - got one

4)Ham and Cheese - your favorite

5)Please insert here!

C: Stuffed Bread:

1)Family Recipe- Sausage, cheese, greens

2)Insert

D:Cheese - From Arthur Ave

1)Fresh Ricotta

2)Mozzarella

3)Buratta Mozzarella

4)Ricotta Salata

5)Provolone

6)Sharp Provolone

E: Mikes Deli Meats whats your favorite?

1)Proscuitto Parm/Dan

2)Salami

3)Sopressatta

4)What shouldnt I miss..

F: Vegetables:

1)Marinated Mushrooms- Family Recipe

2)Escarole- Recipe

3)Pickled Garlic- Got one

4)Peppers- Got one

H: Hot Apps:

1)Baked Clams

2)Need one

3)Mozzarella En Carozza

II. Sit Down

A)Pasta:

1)Spaghetti w/ Spicey Mussle sauce

2)Spaghetti with clam sauce

3)Big Night Rigatoni

B)Meat:

1)Since we only have one oven and we are cooking for 40 people we were thinking of stuffing a baby lamb and a baby pig.. We would love your suggestions..

C)Vegetables: Not there yet: Help?

1)????

2)??????

3)?????

III.Desserts back to the table:

1)Cakes- Suggestions

2)Cookies- Suggestions

3)Pies- Suggestions

Hey, I know its early but thats a good thing.. We are going to make every dish before hand.. So we have a lot of time to prepare.. By the time Christmas comes, I will be wanting to make Chinese Food..

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Good, God, Daniel. Between you and Shal, it's like the Iron Man here at egullet :raz:! I have no ideas - I am hobby cook extraordinaire - impressing the folks who can't/don't cook at all, but I love watching you guys go at it - so I hope you will keep us apprised and give us some of your wonderful photos, too!

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As for actual ideas, given that you love the pig so much and you seem to be going a fairly traditional route, what about a giant christmas ham of kurobata pork for the meat?

A braised dish like Osso Bucco can be made the day before and just gently reheated on the stovetop before serving.

Maybe get a nice beef tenderloin and do some carpaccio as well, make ahead, stack in a giant tower of plastic wrap and it takes 3 minutes to plate and serve them all.

Doesn't seem like enough seafood on the menu. You could probably just about do scallops for 40 people. Shrimp, boiled would be much easier. Do you have a salmon poacher? An entire salmon would be pretty impressive.

You should consider renting or buying some induction hobs or mini gas burners to give yourself a bit more room.

I don't know how seasons will work with regards to produce but I have a hankering for some fresh, hot fava beans on the crostinis topped with just a bit of maldon sea salt.

Vegtables, I'm thinking lots of zucchini and eggplant. Can you do roast potatos under the ham or would there not be enough oven room?

PS: I am a guy.

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I. The Table:

A: Cold Salads

1) Octopus

In my hometown is cooked very simple: Water, salt and a glass of red wine vinegar. I cook in the pressure cooker for 20 minutes. It should be fork tener but not overcooked. Let it cool in its own water. I do not take out the suckers, only the thickest skin parts, dress with evo, parsley and lemon.

Or if you wish to turn it into a warm appetizer you could go for polpo alla pignatta, octopus cooked in a claypot in a spicy sause.

2)Marinated Anchovies

Do you find fresh anchovies? I always had an hard time to get them when I lived in Manhattan.

These are great

Clean the anchovies removing the head and innards, scales, wash and open, take out the spine but do not divide the two fillets. Dry the fishes. Take a liter of white wine vinegar and add kosher salt to saturation almost. Add the sardines in layers and let marinate for half an hour to 45 minutes dipending on the size of the anchovies (if kept to long they become hard and it should be avoided).

I put the anchovies on inverted plates to drain and then dry well. Make layers of anchovies, evo, chopped parsley (or mint and parsley), garlic and if you wish some dry hot peppers.

C: Stuffed Bread:

Although it's not a stuffed bread it is traditional for Christmas in Puglia to make pettole, it's a very slack dough deep fried. There is a savory version with anchovies and a sweet version were the pettole are dipped in vincotto or honey (they look similar to what americans-italian americans-called zeppole but they taste different, zeppole for me are something else)

Or

Danubio stuffed with cheese/ham or besciamella/vegetables

D-E-F

I'll do single plates with taste of cheese-salumi-under oils

As for salumi, in NY I did really like to go and buy pancetta pepata, guanciale, capocollo and speck at Buonitalia at chelsea mkt. Salame forget, in the States always taste terrible, I cannot manage to eat. A nice bresaola also could be an idea, I dress with a little oil, lemon (or sumac).

For the under oils at Grace's mkt in ues they carry this brand that is called Puma Conserve, their grilled artichokes under oil are the best store bought.

H: Hot Apps:

1)Baked Clams (you are already cooking it in pasta, why repeating yourserlf)

I would do a mix of fried vegetables: califlowers (blanched), baby artichokes, mushrooms and baccala' (it's Christmas Eve!)

II. Sit Down

A)Pasta:

1)Spaghetti w/ Spicey Mussle sauce

2)Spaghetti with clam sauce

3)Big Night Rigatoni

I'll do or mussles or clams and I will go for a soup of Tubettini and mussels

B)Meat:

I'll go with fish (just because of the primo piatto and because it's Christmas Eve). But for meat I'll do a Bollito misto with mostarda, salsa verde and rossa and boiled vegetables (and at this point tortellini in capon stock as first dish). Or lamb and potatoes in the oven.

III.Desserts back to the table:

1)Cakes- panettone, pandoro with crema al mascarpone. You could do also a zuppa inglese using pandoro

2)Cookies- mostaccioli, amaretti morbidi, paste ricce, cartellate, purcidd, panforte, certosino

3)Pies- Pastiera (now it's always made also for Christmas

Edited by Franci (log)
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A: Cold Salads

1) Octopus

In my hometown is cooked very simple: Water, salt and a glass of red wine vinegar. I cook in the pressure cooker for 20 minutes. It should be fork tener but not overcooked. Let it cool in its own water. I do not take out the suckers, only the thickest skin parts, dress with evo, parsley and lemon.

Or if you wish to turn it into a warm appetizer you could go for polpo alla pignatta, octopus cooked in a claypot in a spicy sause.

Thanks for that Octopus Recipe.. I will have to decide between cold or in spicey sauce.. But that sounds good.. I would not remove suckers either..

Marinated Anchovies

Do you find fresh anchovies? I always had an hard time to get them when I lived in Manhattan. These are great..Clean the anchovies removing the head and innards, scales, wash and open, take out the spine but do not divide the two fillets. Dry the fishes. Take a liter of white wine vinegar and add kosher salt to saturation almost. Add the sardines in layers and let marinate for half an hour to 45 minutes dipending on the size of the anchovies (if kept to long they become hard and it should be avoided).

I put the anchovies on inverted plates to drain and then dry well. Make layers of anchovies, evo, chopped parsley (or mint and parsley), garlic and if you wish some dry hot peppers.

Stuffed Bread:

Although it's not a stuffed bread it is traditional for Christmas in Puglia to make pettole, it's a very slack dough deep fried. There is a savory version with anchovies and a sweet version were the pettole are dipped in vincotto or honey (they look similar to what americans-italian americans-called zeppole but they taste different, zeppole for me are something else)

Or

Danubio stuffed with cheese/ham or besciamella/vegetables

D-E-F

I'll do single plates with taste of cheese-salumi-under oils

As for salumi, in NY I did really like to go and buy pancetta pepata, guanciale, capocollo and speck at Buonitalia at chelsea mkt. Salame forget, in the States always taste terrible, I cannot manage to eat. A nice bresaola also could be an idea, I dress with a little oil, lemon (or sumac).

For the under oils at Grace's mkt in ues they carry this brand that is called Puma Conserve, their grilled artichokes under oil are the best store bought.

Edited by Daniel (log)
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As for actual ideas, given that you love the pig so much and you seem to be going a fairly traditional route, what about a giant christmas ham of kurobata pork for the meat?

A braised dish like Osso Bucco can be made the day before and just gently reheated on the stovetop before serving.

Maybe get a nice beef tenderloin and do some carpaccio as well, make ahead, stack in a giant tower of plastic wrap and it takes 3 minutes to plate and serve them all.

Doesn't seem like enough seafood on the menu. You could probably just about do scallops for 40 people. Shrimp, boiled would be much easier. Do you have a salmon poacher? An entire salmon would be pretty impressive.

You should consider renting or buying some induction hobs or mini gas burners to give yourself a bit more room.

I don't know how seasons will work with regards to produce but I have a hankering for some fresh, hot fava beans on the crostinis topped with just a bit of maldon sea salt.

Vegtables, I'm thinking lots of zucchini and eggplant. Can you do roast potatos under the ham or would there not be enough oven room?

Haha no throw down.. I like your ideas about renting.. I was thinking about getting one of those sheet pan holders.. My life would be so much easier if I had everything ready to throw into the oven.. I might have to get some burners... Or maybe invite my across the hall neighbor just to use her oven.. Ahh the spirit of Christmas..

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Should I have prefaced this thread with the fact that my Christmas Eve experience is very small... I was raised Jewish and after my P-Dutch Grand-Parents died who celebrated Christmas, I have not celebrated it that often.. I also have very little knowledge of what a Classic Italian Christmas Dinner is.. But I have a moderate amount of skill and a lot more energy and a very willing partner who help me.. I would be willing to start all over and hear your suggestions to help create the perfect Christmas Dinner.. :biggrin: You know I have about 4 months to get this down..

Edited by Daniel (log)
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QUESTION OF VEGETABLES & SALADS

Instead of tomato salad (not seasonal, not in keeping with your favorite Mario saying), a salad of roasted beets on a bed of beet greens would provide the same appropriate colors.

So would something made with red-veined chard: a torta, perhaps. Actually, there is one traditional Christmas Eve vegetable torta prepared with leeks and mixed greens, wrapped in simple dough.

Separate, or perhaps on the same platter, but separated:

Thinly shaved fennel dressed in lemon juice & olive oil with large Parmesan curls

Blood orange salad dressed only with olive oil, sprinkled with a few red chili flakes, topped with snipped chives and thin rings of red onion that have been steeped in red wine vinegar until they turn pink. Alternatively, scrap the 2 onions and use fresh mint instead.

Cauliflower is traditional: fried (with Parmesan batter or anchovies and garlic) or boiled. You could do the roasted cauliflower thing instead. Get one head purple, one white and one green.

Elie adores the olives in tomato sauce from *Molto Mario* I like the olives from the first Union Square Cafe cookbook.

Cf. Kevin's year-long blog from 2005 with a traditional Vigilia di Natale spread from Naples for further ideas.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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PS: Again, with the color scheme: roasted red peppers glistening with olive oil. There are Sicilian treatments that are a bit different from the usual anchovy and capers.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Daniel, you have such a lucky girl! damn, raised Jewish and in love with Christmas sounds like my sister and I!

For the meat I'm thinking Wellingtons either indivigi or whole chateaubriand, that would be really nice and comparably easy. You would also have some medium and well done meat for those people you oculd do beef, fish, lamb, venison wellingtons...you namer it! and people really love it.

You could also do a whole veal loin. Top it with pickeled sour cherries (start now) or something of that ilk...

I also like the idea of wagu brisket braised in some sort of fantastic italian red and then served with marrow.

Thinking cap on. :smile::smile:

does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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Does anyone have any good cookbooks that examine Christmas Eve..

Daniel: We all know your kitchen creds (and Alicia's too), so I am sure whatever you do will be fantastic.

Did you read *Heat* or some of the Buford articles in *The New Yorker*? Tortelli di zucca [big stuffed pasta filled nowadays with winter squash] are traditional on Christmas Eve, too, usually served in broth with sprinkling of cheese. (Same region: do not eat apples, bad luck according to one source.)

Traditions differ depending upon the region of Italy. Perhaps the best way to get an overview would be Celebrating Italy by Carol Field.

The big 7-fish tradition: Naples at the Table.

Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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The first time I heard of this 12 fish dishes has been in the States, I think that nowadays almost anybody observes traditions too strickly.

Although I am not religious, I like to keep it to menu' di magro (meaning no meat), the Eve is not the right day if you want to eat, in fact it is seen as a day of fastening awating Christmas (for italians the lunch is more important!)

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Remember that it will be winter. So, winter veggies. Around the Christmas holidays, how about:

-- Roasted red onions w/balsamic glaze

-- Braised fennel w/lemon mixed with roasted beets

-- some kind of baked squash. Butternut, acorn – I don’t know, mash it? Add roasted garlic? Glaze it w/something! Tons of recipes, but you should definitely have baked winter squash.

-- Brussels sprouts? Some people love them. Like … me. Roast them, pan sear them, steam them .. whatever. Add maybe some lemon flavored olive oil, maybe some toasted sesame seeds. Maybe a zippy mustard instead of the lemon oil?

ALL of the above can be made well ahead of time and reheated to perfection.

Slow-roast some roma tomatoes! I do know they’re out of season, but slow roasting them gives even winter-weary tomatoes a rich flavor. Perhaps add some carmelized onions and a sliver of that fresh mozz on a crostini – yep, a perfect appetizer. Definitely don’t do any kind of fresh (sure!) tomato salad.

Just a few random thoughts.

Cheers

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Thanks to everyone for teaching me.. My Italian knowledge is really limited.. I have been to Italy a few times and have eaten at Italian Restaurants.. But I have been watching this Italian Board and am so impressed with your traditional home cooking.

Pontormo and Pedal.. Great suggestions with the fennel and the beets.. Love the acorn squash idea.. I think there is there is room for a torta too!

Edited by Daniel (log)
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What fun! 4 months to plan a meal, you'll probably drive yourself crazy! I mean that in a good way.... :blink:

Here's a slightly different version of marinated anchovies:

take a kilo of cleaned anchoves (as Franci described above)

Combine:

1 liter of fresh orange juice

300 g lemon juice

1-2 cloves of garlic, cracked

a pinch each of thyme, marjoram, wild fennel and parsley

pinch of salt, some whole peppercorns.

Marinate for 12-24 hours.

To serve, drain and drizzle with olive oil.

For me, there is something about using orange juice that enhances the flavor of the fish.

But, the real question is:"You have an apartment that can hold 40 people???" That's impressive!

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  • 4 months later...

I should really just start over and tell you where I am.. We are a few days away and stuck on a few things..

Here is how it will break down.. Mind you, it was going to be a sit down, now its buffet style.. We got a little more realistic and decided most likely we are going to be drinking and whatever and want to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible..

Appetizers out for guests-

1.Brushetta

a)Ricotta and Orange Marmalade

b)Roasted Beet and Parmigiano

c)White bean and white truffle puree

2.Cheese plates

a)Two lb Brick of Parm

b)Ricotta Salata

c)Gorgonzola Dolce

D)Tartufello Cheese (truffle cheese)

3. Nuts and Olives

a)Marcona Almonds in Sunflower oil

b)Pistachios

c)Sicilian Olives

4. Cold Cuts

a)(Sorry to the Prosciutto peoples) I purchased a whole 17 lb seranno from Latienda with the stand so people can slice there own. :biggrin:

b)Copa

c)Breasola

d)Sopressatta

5. Vegetables

a)Marinated Mushrooms

b)Artichokes Marinated

6. Fish

a)Alici Marinated in vinegar

b)Shrimp Cocktail (Eh who doesnt like shrimp cocktail)

c)Frutta Di Mare

d)Fried Bait Fish served cold with lemon

Now here is where the problems are coming in.. All of the above food is going to be out and there is nothing I have to do.. I have a person there to help with the party so she will be doing a lot of the throwing out plates and whatever..

The pasta dish is where I will have to do some work.. Which is just throwing pasta into hot water.. We were thinking ravioli's with salt cod but that will be too much work taking care of the delicate ravioli.. So we were thinking of doing a lasagne of some sort.. Most likely a Bolognese and some sort of Spicy Mussel with Spaghetti or something.. Where the sauce has already been made and all we need to do is heat up the sauce with mussels on the stove..

7.Pasta

a)Lasagna?

b)Spaghetti with mussels?

8.Entree

Here is another problem.. I am thinking the easiest thing for 35 people would be a roasted leg of lamb.. I would do two.. Perhaps two completely different styles.. I would take the lamb out and have it rest while I finished the Lasagna perhaps?

a)Two styles of roasted lamb

9.Sides for the Lamb

a)Broccolli Rabe Soffriti

b)Baked Fennel with Parm

c)Squash

I have taken your suggestions before and if there is anything I am missing please tell me..

I am disappointed that there is no salt cod in my menu.. Or a big baked shrimp dish.. Also making octopus is really so easy.. I am serving it in the seafood salad but was also thinking of just serving it in a sauce too.. If anyone can fit them in or make suggestions I am all eyes! :rolleyes:

Edited by Daniel (log)
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Is there such thing as a good seafood lasagna?

don't know about this but you could consider cannelloni - like in Vongerichten's Simple to Spectacular, with scallops and zucchini - same idea, less pain and more presentable...

Thanks I have the book so i will check that out now!

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Hey guys.. Just finishing up the menu over here.. We are trying to do a seafood pasta with not a lot of work.. Is there such thing as a good seafood lasagna?

Yes, and in fact it's traditional in Piemonte at Christmas:

Fresh pasta

Anchovies finely chopped into a paste

Garlic

Parmigiano Reggiano

Lots of freshly ground pepper

Not highly packed. Invest in a can of Sicilian salt-packed anchovies--like the one photographed in Molto Mario. (I think you said you have that book.)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Daniel, what happened to dessert? If you still need ideas... I made this zabaglione cake for a large party (25) earlier this year, to finish an Italian dinner, and it was wonderful. hazelnut zabaglione cake

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