Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Feast of the Seven Fishes!

The title of this post may be slightly off...should really be Feast of the Four Fishes (how's that for alliteration??).  Feast of the Seven Fishes is a southern Italian tradition.  It is mainly celebrated here in the United States by Italian Americans. In theory, seven fish dishes (often heavy in the shellfish department) are served on Christmas eve.  It takes hours and hours to do all the cooking and eating.  Typically, food comes in shifts.  Cook a little, eat a little, cook some more, eat some more.  Since it was just me and my father this year, we did an abridged version of four fishes instead.  (Seven seemed a bit ambitious to eat by ourselves.)  We still ate in shifts.  We cooked two of the fishes and ate them...then while we were making the next dishes, we were making room in our bellies for more.  Good system!  Here are the recipes from the night!  Oh, a pleasant surprise was the calamari.  I had always been intimidated to make it, but wow!  So light and delicious...and easy to make.  *There isn't a picture for the stuffed jumbo shrimp only because we went a little overboard with the stuffing...you couldn't even see the shrimp.
Baked Scallops

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
6-8 bay scallops
Salt and pepper to taste
4 tablespoons breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a small baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the scallops and toss to coat. Allow to sit for 5-7 minutes to marinate.

Then place the scallops into the baking dish in one layer. Top with the bread crumbs and cut butter. 

Bake for about 15 minutes, until bubbly and the topping is golden.  *Check the scallops at the 10 minute mark.  If they are drying out, add a couple of tablespoons olive oil to the top and return to the oven to continue cooking.

Fried Calamari

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons dried parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound cleaned squid (tentacles too!) bodies cut into 1/3- to 1/2-inch-thick rings

Canola oil (several cups)
Lemon wedges for serving
Marinara sauce for serving

In small bowl, combine the flour, parsley, and salt and pepper.  Toss well.  Set aside.

Cut the squid into 1/2 inch rings. Leave the tentacles intact.

Meanwhile, place enough oil in a large saucepan to reach about 2-3 inches.  Heat over medium-high heat.  Make sure the oil is hot before you start (I had a "sacrificial tentacle" to test when it was hot enough.)  Place the squid in the flour mixture to coat.  Be sure to coat the entire ring (inside part too).  Then in small batches, add the squid to the oil.  Cook for about 1-2 minutes until golden brown (any longer and they get chewy).  Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel.  Hint: cook the rings together and cook the tentacles together.  They cook at a slightly different speed so it's easier to keep track if you keep them separated.
Serve with lemon wedges and marinara.

Cod with Orange Juice, Chives, and Spinach

1 cod fillet (or other white fish like tilapia)
1 orange, juiced, seeds removed
1/4 cup chives, chopped
1/2 cup balsamic marinade (I used ones you can find at Whole Foods, a substitute can just be olive oil and balsamic vinegar)
1 cup fresh spinach, loosely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil, juice, and chives over medium heat.  Cook for five minutes.  Add the cod (whole fillet is fine).  The cod breaks apart as you cook it.  Cook for 3-5 minutes and then add the marinade.  Stir well.  Add the spinach and salt and pepper. Continue to cook for another 3-5 minutes.  Serve while hot. (Actually does well reheated for lunch the next day!)

Baked Stuffed Shrimp
Adopted from Whole Foods

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, divided

8 jumbo raw shrimp, deveined, shelled, tail left on (if you have a dad standing right there...make him do this part)  :-)
2  large cloves garlic, finely minced
1 cup fresh mushrooms, finely minced (used a food processor...easy smeasy!)
1 cup bread crumbs (I used whole wheat)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped chives
1/2 cup butter, melted
Salt and pepper
1/8 teaspoon chili pepper
Serve with lemon wedges

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray.

Butterfly the shrimp so they lay flat. Place in the baking dish.

In a small saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and mushrooms mushrooms and cook for 5-7 minutes until the liquid is released.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine the bread crumbs, parsley, chives, butter, salt and pepper to taste, and chili powder.

When the mushrooms are done cooking, remove from heat and add the bread crumb mixture.  Combine well.  Then top the shrimp with the mixture (again we got a little zealous with how much we added...but it was so yummy!!).

Bake for 15 minutes until the shrimp are pink and the topping is lightly browned.  Serve with lemon wedges.

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