Christmas and Easter

Christmas Eve 

Italian tradition for Christmas Eve is to serve seven kinds of fish, but traditions don’t always translate well to next generations.  My father would cook several different kinds of fish and buy the rest from an Italian deli. I can’t find most of the fish he served.  In our house, everyone loves the shrimp and scallops, but my favorite is the linguini with calamari sauce.

Linguini with Calamari
Buy about ½ to 1 pound of calamari and make sure the tentacles are included.  Rinse well before cooking and remove any cartilage from the body cavity.  Slice the body part in 2 inch rings.
  1. In a medium pot, briefly sauté 2 cloves minced garlic in a small amount of oil, stirring often.
  2. Add 1 can crushed tomatoes.
  3. Add a handful of salt, pepper, basil and oregano, stir well to combine.
  4. Cook on low at least 30 minutes.
  5. Add calamari to simmering gravy.
  6. Cook another 5 minutes stirring and serve over cooked linguini.

Sautéed Scallops
Buy 2 pounds of large scallops.  Rinse and drain well.
1.    In a large non-stick skillet, coat pan with oil. Add 1 tablespoon of butter.  Heat until just melted.
2.    Add scallops and sauté over low heat, stirring often. 
3.    Add 2 cloves finely minced fresh garlic. 
4.    Add a squeeze of lemon, sprinkle of parsley, salt, and pepper.
5.    When scallops are cooked, they will turn color to a solid white.  Do not overcook!  Serve hot immediately.
Cooked Shrimp
Shrimp cook quickly and should not be overcooked.  When cooked, they will curl up and look white/pink.  When purchasing, it is easier to buy peeled and de-veined shrimp.  Otherwise, peel and take black vein out of each shrimp back before cooking.
  1. Rinse and drain shrimp well. 
  2. Heat a pot of water to boiling.  When boiling briskly, add the shrimp and stir.
  3. Watch the pot closely and stir until shrimp curl and change color.  It may be less than a minute!  
  4. Remove from pot, rinse under cold water and drain well immediately to prevent continued cooking. 
  5. Serve with cocktail sauce.

Christmas Cookies: The Best Sugar Cookies Ever
When I was growing up, Christmas baking was never on our list of things to do.  We never baked homemade pies or cookies, but when my daughters were small, this was a tradition I wanted to start.  I found the best-ever cookie recipe from our cousin Louise and in the weeks before Christmas, I would bravely try to do something I had never done before: baking home-made Christmas cookies.  Although the cookies looked like toddlers had made them, they tasted great because I started with a great recipe.  We have fond memories of baking cookies together and with girl friends.  My daughters especially loved the decorating part.  Now, I have stopped making cookies myself, but my daughters still remember and love to do it.

What you will need:
2 sticks butter                      1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sugar                           ¼ teaspoon salt
1 egg                                    2 ¾ cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla                mini chocolate chips
1 tablespoon milk                 candies, colored sugars
  1. Allow 2 sticks of butter to soften in a large bowl. You can leave the butter out of the refrigerator for a ½ hour or warm in microwave, no longer than 20-30 seconds.  Remember butter should be soft, NOT melted.
  2. With a heavy metal spoon, cream butter with 1 cup of sugar until smooth and creamy.
  3. Mix in one egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 tablespoon milk until fully blended.
  4. Mix in 1 teaspoon baking soda, ¼ teaspoon salt. 
  5. Add 2 ¾ cups of flour, 1 cup at a time.  Mix until fully blended with each addition of flour.  In the end, the cookie dough will be very stiff.  This is when it is good to have a friend around to help mix because your arm will be hurting J
  6. Separate dough into 2 balls and refrigerate until firm, at least a half hour.
  7. When rolling your dough, start with one ball, leaving the other in the refrigerator.  Roll dough between 2 sheets of wax paper until ¼ inch thickness or less. 
  8. Using Christmas cookie cutters, cut into shapes and decorate with tiny chocolate or red/green candies and colored sugar.
  9. Bake at a preheated 350 degree oven on the top shelf for 8-10 minutes until golden brown.  Do not over-cook!! 
  10. Gently transfer to wire rack to cool.  Store cool tightly covered.
Recipe can be doubled.

Easter Eve Pie
Italians had something with the Eve of a holiday – we never ate meat. Maybe you were saving yourself for the big day.
Micchelli traditional Easter Eve fare was a casserole with no name, here it is.  The pasta we used was perciatelli, which looks like fat spaghetti with a hole in it.  If you cannot find it in store, regular spaghetti is ok too.
  1. Cook 2 lbs of perciatelli pasta to firm, not totally cooked.
  2. Beat 12 eggs in a very large bowl.
  3. Add salt, pepper, parsley and ½ cup of grated cheese and stir until well blended.
  4. When pasta is cooked, drain and rinse in cold water to cool it down and not cook the egg when you mix them together.
  5. Mix pasta and egg until well blended. 
  6. Grease bottom and sides of a large glass baking dish.
  7. Pour egg/pasta mixture into pan.
  8. Place 6-8 slices of raw bacon on top.
  9. Bake for 1 hour or so, until egg is firm and bacon is crisp.
  10. Serve with hard cooked eggs and salami.

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