Italian Christmas Eve Appetizers
(Makes about 1-1/2 cups)
Whipped baccala can be made several days in advance and refrigerated.
8 ounces boneless salt cod/baccala
4 cups water
2 small potatoes, unpeeled
2 garlic cloves, finely minced or grated
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, chopped
About 12 slices Italian bread, cut in 1/2-inch slices and toasted
Vegetables, such as celery or carrots, for dipping
Place the baccala in a dish of cold water. Cover and refrigerate.
Change the water frequently for 2 days. Drain well.
Cook the potatoes until tender; allow to cool and then peel.
Cut the potatoes into pieces; put into the bowl of a food processor.
Cut the baccala into small pieces and add to the food processor.
Add the garlic; pulse until the mixture is coarsely chopped.
Season with pepper. Add the cream, olive oil, and parsley.
Process until the mixture is light and fluffy. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl. Arrange bread slices and vegetables around the baccala mixture.
Baked Stuffed Shrimp
1 cup fresh bread crumbs *
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
About 1/4 cup olive oil
1-1/2 pounds large shrimp, shelled
1 large lemon, cut into wedges
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Grease a large baking sheet.
In a bowl, combine the bread crumbs, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper.
Add just enough of the olive oil to moisten the crumbs.
Place the shrimp in a single layer on the baking sheet. Shape each shrimp into a U or a circle. Spoon a little of the bread crumb mixture onto each shrimp.
Bake 10-12 minutes, or until the crumbs are brown and the shrimp are cooked through. Transfer shrimp to a serving platter and garnish with lemon wedges.
Serve hot or at room temperature.
* For fresh bread crumbs, remove the crust from a piece of Italian bread.
Cut the bread into cubes and place in a food processor. Process until coarse.
Spread the crumbs onto a plate and allow to dry at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours.
(Serves 6 to 8)
3/4 cup olive oil
8-10 cloves garlic, finely chopped
12 anchovy fillets
1/4 cup unsalted butter
About 8 cups of cut-up vegetables for dipping
Slices of Italian bread
In a small saucepan, combine the olive oil, garlic, and anchovies. Cook over low heat. Mash the anchovies with a spoon until smooth, about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in butter. Pour the mixture into a warm chafing dish or fondue pot. Serve warm with vegetables and bread for dipping.
Clams Oregano Dip
1/4 cup butter
1 green pepper, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 onion, chopped
3 (6-1/2 ounce) cans chopped clams, undrained
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup flavored bread crumbs
Paprika and Parmesan cheese for dusting
Italian bread slices or crackers
Sauté pepper, garlic, oregano, parsley and onion in butter over low heat, 8-10 minutes. Heat clams with their juices and lemon juice for 10 minutes. Combine the 2 mixtures. Add the bread crumbs. Mix well. Place in a baking dish. Sprinkle the top with paprika and Parmesan cheese. Bake at 375 degrees F. for 15-20 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Allow to cool 10 minutes. Serve with toasted bread slices or crackers.
Crisp Sardine Twists
(Makes about 48)
1 sheet of frozen puff pastry
1 (3-3/4 ounce) can sardines packed in olive oil, drained
3 tablespoons capers, rinsed and minced
1 tablespoon green onion, minced
1 egg white
Thaw sheet of puff pastry. Place sardines in a small bowl and flake with a fork.
Stir in capers, onion, and egg white.
On a lightly floured surface, roll puff pastry into a 20 x 12-inch rectangle.
Starting at the 12-inch end, spread half of pastry with sardine mixture.
Fold remaining half of pastry over the filling to make a 10 x 12-inch rectangle.
Gently press layers together. Cut pastry lengthwise in half to create two
5 x 12-inch rectangles. Then cut each rectangle crosswise into 1/2-inch strips.
Place strips about 1-inch apart on ungreased baking sheets, twisting each strip twice. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 12-15 minutes, until pastry is puffed and lightly browned. These can be made ahead, covered and refrigerated, and baked right before serving.
Have baccala shipped to your door!
Baccala, as it is known in Italy, is salted cod. It is a traditional Christmas Eve favorite - it's great as an appetizer, salad or main course. It comes mostly from the coast of Labrador and Newfoundland, where it is fished, salted and exported all over the worls. The Campania region of Italy, which incudes the city of Naples, boasts the highest consumption of baccala in Italy. Legend has it that there are 365 different ways to eat bacccala in Naples. Baccala need to be soaked in clean fresh water for 48 to 72 hours, changing the water several times, before it can be eaten.
LOBSTER IS ALWAYS A SPECIAL TREAT
A live lobster can turn any event into a special occasion! It is a natural delicacy with a delicious flavor. Lobster can be grilled, broiled, boiled or baked for a heart-healthy treat. Add it to salads or pasta or simply steamed with some melted butter.
Roasted Oysters with Garlic Butter
(Makes 12 oysters)
12 fresh oysters
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 large garlic clove, grated
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Spread a 1/4-inch coating of coarse salt on a baking sheet (this will keep the oysters from tipping over). Place the oysters in the baking sheet, nestling them into the salt. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the oysters begin to open. Remove from the oven and pry off the top shell of each oyster. Place them on a serving dish. Combine the garlic butter ingredients and spoon some over each of the oysters. Serve.
EVE OF THE
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Roasted chestnuts are a big part of Italian get-togethers throughout the holiday season. They can be an ingredient in both sweet and savory dishes or simply eaten as a snack.
Learning how to cook chestnuts is easy if you follow a few simple tips.
If you're short on space you can still entertain big by setting up mini buffets throughout your house. Find 3 great locations in your house to serve each item on your menu. Serve the turkey on a kitchen island, side dishes on a table in the living room, and the desserts on a rolling cart tucked into a corner. This will keep guests moving from one place to the next and mingling with others along the way.