Feast of the Seven Dishes: Christmas Eve Overload

27 Dec

This year, we  would be traveling to foreign lands (my uncle’s house in CT) for Christmas dinner.  For Christmas Eve, however, we would be home, and my mom and I wanted to have some tasty tapas-style dishes to enjoy while awaiting the fat man.  Every year, we’ve thought about doing a feast of the seven fishes, Italian style.  Hence, instead of breaking out cured meats and all, we chose a more seafood based menu.

Looking back, we did not have seven fishes, but we did have seven dishes.  Trying to please everyone in my family of six, we also made some sliders and Kraft mac and cheese.  On the whole, though, our menu was great and we all enjoyed it…

Oysters on the halfshell

Scallop carpaccio with tuna tartare and uni

Moules frites with beer and chorizo

Blanched veggies with anchovy dressing

Sloppy joe sliders

Kraft mac and cheese


Fresh oysters with Champagne is a natural combination.  For us, however, the Champagne did not survive long enough, so we enjoyed oysters with…Pinot Noir…It was fine anyway; the oysters were still great.  I don’t think oysters and Pinot are a match made in heaven, but who’s to judge?  We downed our fresh Blue Point bivalves unadorned and delicious.

Blue Point Oysters!

The scallop carpaccio with tuna tartare and uni was a take on one of the dishes in my recent favorite cookbook, Coco.  I really kind of just riffed on the concept, creating a bright lemon and ras-el-hanout dressing for the sliced scallops, mixing chopped tuna with egg yolk, thyme, grains of paradise, and (gasp) butter.  The uni was a finishing touch.  The dish was balanced: the uni was creamy and briny; the scallops were clean, sweet, and complex with spices; and the tuna tartare added fullness and fragrance.  This was a Christmas treat to remember.


Next up were our moules frites.  This dish was my attempt to bridge safer foods that my brother likes (fries, whatup?) and more sophisticated eats (the mussels).  Since I’m a big fan of accenting seafood with meat, I started my dish with sauteed chorizo and onion.  After browning the sausage and sweating the onions, I added some Raging Bitch amber lager by Flying Dog brewery and reduced until I had a tasty broth.  In went two pounds of mussels!  Although I forgot this dish on the stove, by the time my mom was all, “where are the mussels?”, they were just steamed to perfection.

Even though I love fries, I decided to make a very delicious fried potato dish–patatas bravas–for the frites component.  Basically, patatas bravas are just cubed fried potatoes with a spicy sauce and aioli drizzled all over them.  I served both sauces on the side, but they were great–I made my aioli with lime juice and then divided it in half.  While I left one bowl of sauce plain, I added about a teaspoon of sriracha and some smoked paprika to the other.  That was amazing.

mussels baby!

patatas bravas!

We also made some blanched vegetables with an anchovy dressing from Coco.  They were colorful, delicious, and a little less fattening than certain other dishes (ahem, moules frites…)

radishes, sunchokes, beets, and cauliflower.

I wanted to make something more hearty, but I’ve made so many kinds of sliders that I started to think of other possibilities for cute sandwiches.  What about sloppy joes–those messy childhood friends of mine?  I browned some minced chuck, added onions, garlic, ketchup, and spices, and served the mess up on wee buns.

sloppy joe sliders

For my brother, a self-professed picky eater, who ironically loves eating and enjoys cooking, we made some Kraft Mac and Cheese.  I can’t blame him, because that stuff is like crack for babies, and I’ve loved it since childhood…But you know…

As far as real cheese is concerned, we chowed down on some Manchego, Midnight Moon by Cyprus Groves, and Cabot Clothbound Cheddar.  Tasty, tasty.

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