Appetizer for Christmas Eve (yes, Christmas Eve)
- Christina D Sep 21, 2005 08:20 PM
It's our turn to host the big ta-do this year and I've already begun formulating my menu. I've decided on osso buco with risotto milanese and sauteed greens for the main course. A second course fell into place yesterday with the discovery of a beautiful white gazpacho. I'm now trying to decide what to do for a first course. Ideally, the dish would be elegant, not too-too adventurous, and could be made mostly in advance.
Any thoughts come to mind?
Some sort of antipasto type thing springs to mind. Prosciutto and melon. Aged pecorino with a few bitter greens and chestnut honey. A few marinated anchovies with some sliced fennel.
A white gazpacho? For Christmas? With an Italian themed menu? I'm thinking... no. Maybe stratcitella (sp) or wedding soup or something along those lines. But if you're going w/ a theme i don't think gazpacho fits in well. IMHO.
For the appetizer: mussels red or white might be nice. Or baked clams.
oysters on the half shell with a mignonette:
1/2 cup unseasoned rice vinegar, 1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar, juice of 2 limes, 1 minced shallot, 1 chopped serrano chile, 1/4 tsp. grated ginger, 2 Tbl. chopped cilantro, and 1/4 tsp. sea salt
or, steamed asparagus tossed with 1 Tbl. extra virgin olive oil, 1 Tbl. Dijon mustard and freshly ground white pepper
or, baked mushroom caps stuffed with crab-mayo-Swiss-and-Parmesan-cheeses
The Italian thing for Xmas eve is all about fishes, for every course. Stuffed squid, salt cod, clams, whatever you can get your hands on that's good!
I have a great technique from The Inn at Little Washington cookbook for "advance" risotto. You can partially cook the risotto ahead of time, spread it out on a pan to cool, then finish it with hot stock in a fraction of the time when ready to serve.
We've done this several times while entertaining and it works like a charm.
"Ideally, the dish would be elegant, not too-too adventurous, and could be made mostly in advance."
Brie en croute (dried cherries, etc inside).
(I do a caramelized brie wegde that people love.)
Since seafood is traditional for Christmas Eve, I usually do this shrimp dish. Can be made the day before, and taken out a few hours before and served at room temperature.
Buy the smaller shrimp in the shell. Cook them in boiling water with Zatarain Crab Boil, 1/2 lemon and some salt.Cook only until they curl up and turn pink.
Drain,and when they are cool enough to handle peel and devein and place in a bowl. Add olive oil ,lemon juice, lemon zest, a few cloves of garlic whole but smashed, and some salt & pepper.
Let marinate over night or for a day or two.
A few hours before serving allow to cone to room temperature. Serve on platter decorated with 1/2 lemon slices with toothpicks on the side.