Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Feast of The Seven Fishes 2015 - Our Christmas Eve Tradition

As if I haven't thought about food enough this holiday season, here I am, as promised, recapping for you the results of our annual Feast Of The Seven Fishes traditional Italian Christmas Eve meal - our fifth year running. You'll recognize this menu from prior years as many of the best loved dishes on it have become regulars in the rotation (particularly the must-have Baccala Salad you'll see below).  

Thanks for letting me relive what was a really great meal. And even though food is important, good company is what really makes the holidays warm and wonderful. We are incredibly grateful that we could gather our loved ones together to share some Christmas cheer. Happy Holidays to you and yours. Next stop, New Years! 

Fifth Annual Feast of the Seven Fishes 

Smoked Salmon Canapes - Recipe HERE

Salmon Canapes, Photo: NK 

Lump Crab Cocktails - Recipe HERE

Individual Crab Cocktails (served in footed glass bowls), Photo: NK 
Baccala Salad - Recipe HERE 

Baccala Salad, Photo: NK 

Chilled Seafood Salad (Insalata Frutti di Mare) - Recipe HERE

Mixed Seafood Salad, Photo: NK 

Zuppa di Vongole (Clams in Broth) - Recipe HERE 

Zuppa di Vongole (Clams), Photo: NK
Broiled Lemon Sole - Recipe HERE

A platter of Broiled Lemon Sole, Photo: NK
Cocktail - Martinez 
Martinez Cockail, Photo: NK 
Last but not least, our signature cocktail was the classic Martinez. Never heard of it? I hadn't either up until recently, yet it turns out that it is a very vintage cocktail that predates the Gin Martini. Who knew? It consists of Luxardo Maraschino Cherry Liqueur, London Dry Gin and Sweet Vermouth. 

If you're a classic cocktail lover (think Negroni, Old Fashioned or Manhattan), this drink should appeal to you. We thought it made a great festive accompaniment to dessert. 

Link to the recipe HERE

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Most Wonderful Time of The Year - Feast of The Seven Fishes

Images courtesy of Paperless Post 
Merry Christmas to you and yours! The holidays are in full swing and my favorite meal to cook all year is nearly upon us - the traditional Italian Christmas Eve seafood extravaganza known as The Feast of the Seven Fishes. Through the years I've shared our various menus with you on Neurotic Kitchen.

It's no secret that I've also spent many hours neurotically thinking through all the planning and timing so that you too can turn out a multi-course, surprisingly simple and always delicious fish feast. For a look back at all of our menus, click through the links here:

Feast of the Seven Fishes for 6 - Year 1

Feast of the Seven Fishes for 6 - Year 2 
Feast of the Seven Fishes for 6 - Year 3

You'll notice that some dishes are repeated several times because they are true favorites. Still, I like to try and add something new each year. This time, it will be this amazing yet simple Scallop Lollipop Hors D'oeuvre that I found in a recent issue of Food & Wine

Scallop Lollipops with Spicy Mayonnaise, recipe HERE, Photo: NK 

Though the recipe calls for Gochujang, a Korean Hot Pepper Paste, but you could sub in Sambal Oelek or even Sriracha. So good, especially thanks to tiny bits of dill pickle in the spicy mayo dipping sauce. Serving the Scallops on my favorite bamboo skewers makes them that much more festive. 

Sure, there's nothing inherently Italian about this spicy-sweet little Scallop Bite, but I like the idea of just a little something different amid our menu of tried and true favorites. As soon as it passed our test, we agreed that we'd be adding it to this year's rotation. Want to see how our meal goes? I hope you'll join us for the post Christmas Eve Round up and that you and your families enjoy a peaceful and delicious holiday season!

For the Scallop Lollipop Recipe, click HERE

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Ladies Who Brunch - Annual Holiday Celebration

This weekend I was lucky enough to spend time with my very best friends as we convened for a well-loved tradition that's coming up on a whole decade in existence (eek!) - our annual holiday get-together. We've had so many great times together, and as we get older, I think we relish them even more. While in past years we'd all head to the bar to exchange Secret Santa gifts while getting merry, we've more recently shifted our holiday party to take place one of our houses. I have to say, this format makes the event a bit more relaxed and very conducive to laughs and plenty of girl talk. And because all of my friends have a passion for food (would you expect anything less?) we eat really well too. 
Annual Holiday Brunch with Lox on a Bagel,
 a delicious Frittata and, of course, Tater Tots!
Photo: NK

This year's brunch menu was, as usual, memorable and delicious, and there was no shortage of cheese, (including a sinful fondue!) wine, and our favorite breakfast fare. 

Here are the highlights:

Bagels, Lox, and all the accoutrements (the best New York Brunch can get, in my opinion), plus a Berry Salad,Tater Tots, and Monkey Bread (so good!). 

One gorgeous Brunch Spread + Mimosas! Photo: NK
Add to all that that a fabulous Frittata that my friend Natalie adapted from Ina Garten. She added Leeks and Mushrooms and it was fluffy and positively delicious. 

The original Frittata recipe is HERE.

As for me, I contributed my favorite, foolproof, Dark Chocolate Brownies. For the recipe, click HERE.

Finally, I ask you, what classy get-together wouldn't be complete without JELLO SHOTS? 

Jello Shots, not just for keg parties. Photo: NK 

That's right. Jello shots get the gourmet treatment when they are made with Champagne and Peach Schnapps. A bit too delicious! Click HERE for the recipe. 

Thanks to my BFFs for yet another amazing party in the books. And this holiday as much as ever, I'm reminded how lucky I am to have you all in my life. 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Southern Hospitality - Fried Green Tomatoes With A Twist

Fried Green Tomatoes, a beloved movie (the Kathy Bates parking lot scene gets more hilarious as I age) and a dish I have always, always wanted to try in my own kitchen. Like so many things on my to-do list, I'd just never gotten around to it, and I not the hugest fan of heavily fried preparations. But all that would change thanks to a fairly recent trip to South Carolina which bought us to a restaurant called Lucky Rooster. There we had some great food plus a really fabulous and creative version of Fried Green Tomatoes (set atop Pimiento Cheese!). The moment they crossed my lips, in all their crispy, fried goodness, I knew that the time for procrastination was through. Upon returning home, my first order of business was to develop my own version of the classic. We served ours with a luxurious topping of Crab Salad (a dish that looms as large here at Neurotic Kitchen as it does in my heart).

Classic Fried Green Tomatoes with our twist of Lump Crab on top, Photo: NK

For the basics of the Fried Green Tomato recipe, I went to Southern Living. I don't pretend to be a Southern cooking expert by any means. It did not disappoint.

Fried Green Tomatoes With Crab
Photo: NK 
Adapted from Southern Living
Serves 6


1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
1/2 Cup Buttermilk
1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour, divided
1/2 Cup Cornmeal
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Pepper
3 medium Green Tomatoes, sliced 1/3 inch thick
Vegetable Oil

8 Ounces Lump Crab
2 Tablespoon Mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon Sour Cream
1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
3 Chives, sliced (optional)
1 Tablespoon minced Italian Parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste

Frying in our Lodge Skillet. Photo: NK
1. In a medium bowl, mix the Mayonnaise, Sour Cream and Lemon Juice. Add the Chives and minced Parsley. Mix. Gently fold in the Lump Crab, and add Salt and Pepper to taste.

2. Combine the Egg and Buttermilk and set aside.

3. Combine a 1/4 Cup Flour, Cornmeal, 1 teaspoon Salt and 1/2 teaspoon Pepper in a shallow bowl or plate.

4. Place the remaining 1/4 Cup Flour in another plate or shallow bowl.

5. Dredge the Tomatoes in the Flour, and then dip into the Egg mixture, and then into the Cornmeal Mixture.

6. Pour Oil a 1/4 to a 1/2 inch deep in a cast iron skillet. Heat for two minutes over medium heat (perfect temp is 375 but we took our chances). Cook Tomatoes in the oil in batches, about two minutes per side until golden brown and crispy. Remove to drain on paper towels. Sprinkle Tomatoes with Salt while they are still hot. 

7.  To serve, top with a dollop of the Lump Crab Salad and Garnish with extra Parsley or Chives.