Recently I posted several blogs focusing on holiday décor, food, and planning. As we journey deeper into the season, I thought I would present one more festive post.
I am a member of a very large extended family. On top of that I am bi-cultural (.5 Irish .5 Italian). What this means is there is a happy mix of holiday traditions when it comes to festivities and food.
In the past, our holiday table usually accommodated 18 to 25 guests. Over the years, due to relocations and such it decreased to 12 to 14 guests. Most recently, for the somber reasons that life sometime delivers, we border 8 to 10 guests.
Approaching my first smaller venue the number of guests saddened me. My concerns centered around ensuring fun and sufficient social interaction for all. I believed in “the more the merrier.” But as I prepared the feast, partying, and assemble the smaller table setting I began to trust that even in this setting my hosting could be grand.
Now I’m on to my second “petite” holiday setting and I delight in the preparation. I relish in the realization that I no longer need to create an eclectic mix of dinner, glass and flatware. My china, silver flatware and Chrystal glassware for 12 efficiently produces a beautiful, matched setting for the bounty to come. All guests, and especially to the delight of the wee folk, are seated at the main table. Conversation among the mix of generations flows deliciously and laughter fills the room. In this setting I have the distinct pleasure of being a part of the merriment, rather than a frazzled attendant. I am able to sit back, look around and drink in the true meaning of the season. It doesn’t have to be big and loud and crowded to be a holiday; it just has to bring folks together and project love.
As for the menu, this is where I have the opportunity to mix and match ethnic dishes. In years past, Christmas Eve hosted a full fish menu. However, as my guest list varied, I have adjusted the dishes to meet the traditions and tastes of all who join us. But no matter the group Italian Fish Salad is the star of the show. Why? Because it is relatively easy to prepare, light, delish and makes its debut as an appetizer and then proceeds to the dinner table as a spectacular sideshow.
Shrimp, Calamari tubes and tentacles. Chopped celery, parsley and lots of fresh chopped garlic. Sliced and chunked fresh lemons and oranges. EVOO! Boil the fish until just tender. I cut the shrimp into halves to make bite size pieces. Slice the Calamari tubes into rings, tentacles remain whole. Place these ingredients into a large bowl. Add the celery, parsley, garlic and lemon and oranges chunks. Have 1 extra lemon and 1 extra orange on hand to cut and squeeze the fresh juice onto the mixture. Drizzle generously with EVVO. Mix well. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with fresh lemon rings. (this dish tastes best if made the day before serving).
This year the rest of my main dish menu includes:
Filet Mignon, broccoli rabe, oven roasted potatoes and poached salmon. Sauces, red wine infused brown sauce with mushroom caps and onions and a rich hollandaise sauce, which can enhance the beef or the fish. Guests’ choice.
Truly, less is more.
No matter where it takes you, enjoy the journey….