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Okay, Now On To Christmas Dinner...

Why is it when one is almost in a food coma, thoughts of the next main event starts dancing in front of you? I'm thinking seafood for Christmas dinner this year; maybe lobster or a nice seafood bouillabaisse..we usually have beef for Christmas but I'm trying to shake it up a bit.

Many people have their big meal on Christmas Eve...we normally have a dinner of assorted apps on the eve then have a regular dinner on the day of. What about you? Do you stick with traditional on Christmas like Thanksgiving? And if so, what does your Christmas table contain? If not, what out of the ordinary additions does your family look forward to?

Also, I really don't like traditional fruitcake because of the thick, heavy density. But a couple of years ago, a co-worker brought some fruitcake to work and I tried a piece. It was actually good! It was light in texture and color and contained mostly nuts. It was his mother's recipe which was closely guarded but I would like to try to replicate something like this if anyone has a recipe to share...Anyone?

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  1. Beef standing rib roast, mashed potatoes, tossed green salad. That's pretty much our standard. (We're not big dessert people after a big meal.)

    4 Replies
      1. re: pikawicca

        rib roast, gorgonzola mashed potatoes, creamed spinach and yeast rolls.
        best meal that ever was, ever will be.

        I could compromise on the sides, but IMHO, anyone serving anything but rib roast on Christmas....that's just sacrilege :)

        1. re: pikawicca

          Us, too, but wilted spinach most years instead of salad.

          1. re: pikawicca

            In the retirement community where we live, Christmas is celebrated at our house beginning early Christmas Eve. We invite close friends to our house for snacks, and ??? beginning at 3:30, ending around 6:00 for those thqt choose to go to Christmas services.

            Chrismas Eve Menu is from Costco: veggie tray, quiche's, shrimp w/ cocktail sauce, Christmas cookies, and something else.
            Christmas Day, we invite close family friends for Prime Rib (real Prime Rib)

            Apps included shrimp cocktail, veggies,

          2. we will probably do another turkey for our immediate family on Christmas day. Turkey is a big hit in our house, and we all are ok with it. For the larger family get-together, it is a standing rib roast. Previous years, though, for the family get together we have done pizza.

            2 Replies
            1. re: elfcook

              oops, got interrupted earlier. As I was saying, the family get-together is usually pretty casual, with a lot of non-food-centric people. It may be lasagna or stuffed shells. It has been pizza for the kids. This year I have been told it will be the rib roast. I am still deciding what to make - probably a dessert. I usually do fudge (both chocolate & peanut butter), but my apple pie was very successful yesterday, so I may also do one of those. The meal is certainly NOT the highlight of that family gathering.

              My MIL used to do Christmas Eve - all appetizers & desserts, an open house all night long. Now THAT was wonderful food!

              1. re: elfcook

                my mother (Irish/german) always served vegetable beef soup for christmas eve; usually roast beef for day of

              1. I generally do only one of the big holiday meals myself, and we go out for the other. We just got back from a lovely Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant, but I've been planning the Christmas menu for weeks. I'll be doing a crown rib pork roast, chestnut and apple stuffing, apple chutney, roasted root veggies, green beans and walnuts with lemon vinaigrette, and a cherry pie.

                And of course, that will come after my Annual Holiday Baking Frenzy™, which I'm also gearing up for. Tonight I'm shelling five pounds of pecans in front of the TV while watching "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles."

                1 Reply
                1. re: MsMaryMc

                  Try some wild mushrooms too in that stuffing.

                2. We usually spend Christmas Eve with one of my girlfriend's and her immediate family. She makes her world-famous ;-) French Onion Soup, so yes, that part is traditional and standard, but she also does a buffet of different appetizers and finger foods, and that menu changes every year.

                  I usually cook Christmas dinner, and while I include traditional dishes, I change the menu every year, so that I don't get bored. I change the "featured" entree, but also always do a chicken entree, because it's all one DSD can eat, due to health problems. But I change the way I prepare it, from Christmas to Christmas. This year I want to do a beautiful Christmas ham, as the meal centerpiece.

                  I'm very excited about this holiday, because I have a brand new step-son-in-law and one of my stepsons just became engaged and his fiancee will have Christmas dinner with us for the first time. I know it means a lot to hubby to have them all here for Christmas, and I want to make Christmas even more special in order to welcome our new family members. I plan to make one each of *their* favorite holiday dishes, but aside from that, I want to come up with some kind of theme this year I can use to decorate the house, decorate the table and craft the Christmas menu. Nobody else even needs to know a deliberate theme is there, unless it lends itself to that...but, really, it's just something I use as a device in order to coordinate and organize the holiday. I'm at a loss right now as to what that might be, but I've just begun to think about it and will come up with something in the next week. It might be "subject" based, or color or food based, or it might revolve around a particular set a Christmas decorations. I just don't know yet.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Normandie

                    Let us know what you decide for the theme Normandie, these posts are fun to read. How do you feel about gingerbread men? A few years ago I sewed a chain of cloth gingerbread men and women all attached like cut out dolls. I really like it, and I have no idea why, but somehow reading your post made me think of them.

                  2. Traditional for husband's family is the "Feast of the Seven Fishes" all night Christmas Eve and then Antipasta and Lasagna with a giant platter of aasorted meats on Christmas Day. I took this over many years ago when MIL passed on, no one else can handle it. Lots of work, especially following my cookie baking frenzy the week before, but it's all worth it. We save our roast for New Years Day ( andI already have a rib roast in the freezer waiting for us, bought on really good sale a couple of weeks ago).

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: coll

                      this is what i wanna try this year! what are the normal courses in the feast at your house?

                      1. re: mattstolz

                        There's a little wiggle room, and they didn't count the fishes, but:

                        first is an antipasta platter with the usual roasted peppers, artichoke hearts, anchovies, olives and so on: this make a reappearance the next day after being refreshed and with salami and provolone added. Always served with Italian bakery twisted bread.

                        This was accompanied by stuffed mushrooms, and maybe some fried zuccini or cardoon. I now occasionally add a few different apps like shrimp cocktail, baked calamari stuffed with scallops, maybe some caponata or frutti di mari, if I want to get it up to seven fishes...and at this point you really should stop eating!

                        Then pasta. I like to sometimes do seafood fra diablo, but the family tradition was mushrooms in red sauce with a ridiculous amount of very thinly sliced mushrooms, as much mushroom as pasta.

                        Then you had the fried course. Fried flounder, and maybe fried scallops.

                        Then the baked course. This would be whatever the Brooklyn market had that was best, bass or even catfish, it didn't matter. Plus probably some broiled scallops or shrimp.

                        Then the piece d' resistance. Everyone at the table got their own 2 lb lobster with a set of claw crackers. Aunt Sophie would get all the legs from everyone and sit there sucking the meat out of every single one, I have a picture of her with the empty pile in front of her with a big grin on her face, priceless.

                        After, pastries imported from Brooklyn, and of course a bowl of nuts in their shells and some comice pears, to be doled out by grandma. Espresso made in the tin pot, and lots of liqueurs to assist with digestion. The whole ritual starts around 7 PM and doesn't end until after midnight, when (unlike my family who fasted and went to Midnight mass) the opening of the mountain range of presents would begin, lasting until 2AM or so. Then next morning everyone slept late, except the cooks who had to start the lasagna and meatballs for Christmas Day dinner!

                        1. re: coll

                          thanks! that sounds like a great challenge!

                          couple more quetions for ya: how many people do you normally have eating this type of meal? and how much food is there in each course?? and how many people would you consider to be the low end of that much cooking being worth it?

                          1. re: mattstolz

                            That's a good question. Back when I joined the family, there was always enough people that several table leaves were required....when I got married and bought a house, my MIL was very happy that the dining room set I also bought from the house owners had TWO leaves...they were Italian too of course. I'd say fifteen or twenty people? Then as time went on, we are down to the just four of us (no kids at all) but we still cook like there's twenty coming. This year it's just me and my husband (I think) and I'll still do most of this menu just for us. Tradition is tradition!

                            Doesn't it seem that we could eat a lot more in the old days, and not just because we were young? I think people burned a lot more calories back in the 60s and 70s. Because these menus seemed fine back then, but gluttonous now.

                            There's always leftovers, but figure 4 to 8 oz per course, per person, and it shouldn't be too crazy. Just a little of everything, unless you have lots of teenagers and 20 somethings.

                          2. re: coll

                            can your family please adopt me?

                            1. re: mariacarmen

                              It's just the two of us this year, it would be nice to have a little company!

                              1. re: coll

                                haha id join! i'd def lend a hand in the kitchen too!! im so excited to try this!

                                1. re: mattstolz

                                  It's a really nice tradition, and you can adjust the menu to your liking. Since I took over, I like to try a couple of new things every year, although the traditonalists aren't always happy. It's fun to make so many different seafood dishes at once, although by the time we get to the lobster, I usually put mine aside for the day after Christmas to make lobster salad for myself. When everyone's done eating, they are supposed to be amazed at how much they ate, yet how good every bite was! A big glass of anisette is a good antidote, BTW.

                            2. re: coll

                              This sounds so much like what my family does! A couple of fish-based appetizers to start, along with some vegetarian options, such as artichoke pie and stuffed mushrooms, followed by pasta (two kinds, one with a tomato based sauce and one with garlic/oil/broccoli di rape), followed by a few types of fried/baked fish and light salads. Our absolute must-haves are baked clams appetizer, a swedish-style lox on toast appetizer, and a baked eel in red wine vinegar and bay leaf main course. The other fish (to reach 7 different types) are taken from a revolving list of traditional favorites, always including at least one type of shellfish (this year it's lobster tails) and one type of breaded fried white flesh fish. Never any cheese or meat on Christmas Eve. Plenty of prosecco. And definitely lots of homemade Christmas cookies (from several homes), panettone and pandoro, espresso, roasted chestnuts and figs, and opening presents after midnight :)
                              Christmas Day has ceased to be an "Italian American" affair for our immediate family. We used to do the whole -giant antipasto followed by lasagne or homemade ravioli or manicotti followed by a roast and sides- but now we've eliminated the baked pasta course, and go with a more traditional Italian tortellini or cappellini in broth as a middle course followed by a sweet American-style ham with just a couple of sides. Appetizer might consist of a nice cheese plate and some homemade spicy candied nuts, just to have something to nibble with whatever cocktail I am serving that day. Last year, I made a traditional English trifle for Christmas Day dessert. I am not sure yet what I'll be doing for dessert this year... aside from baking cookies.
                              I guess you could say that our Christmas Day has grown up a little bit- also, the many older relatives I grew up with -both Italian immigrants and traditional Italian-Americans- are no longer with us, so while some traditions never die, others just don't quite jibe with our lifestyles today. The Christmas Eves of my childhood were large affairs with 25+ people of 4 generations playing cards, drinking grappa and fussing with babies. Today we are more like 15 people, the youngest of whom are in their late-twenties.

                              1. re: vvvindaloo

                                Prosecco! My BIL has taken to bringing a bottle to all our winter festivities. This Thanksgiving, he finally mentioned it was because one of his favorite uncles always brought prosecco or cold duck to all the holidays, back in the day. Glad I finally got that story.

                        2. Standing rib roast with horseradish cream, turned potatoes roasted in clarified butter, roasted beet salad with pecans, blue cheese and arugula or mesclun or pear, stilton, pecans or hazelnuts and butter lettuce salad, both salads dressed with a mild vinaigrette made with walnut oil, and baby peas with mushrooms. Dessert is my favorite from Gourmet magazine, apple-walnut upside down cake with calvados caramel sauce.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: janniecooks

                            You had me a horseradish cream. Yum.

                            We eat with in-laws Christmas and it's always a pork roast. It's fine, but I fantasize about doing it one year ourselves and having the rib roast and yorkshire puddings.

                          2. Tradition: Standing Rib, Yorkshire Pudding or popovers, Haricot Vert with toasted sliced almonds, parsnip puree, horse radish cream and Mocha Parfait for dessert.

                            My SO and I have mixed it up the last few years. Osso Buco, Paella, Rack of Lamb and Beef Wellington not in that order but..... This year will be Baked Lobster Tails for Christmas Eve and then Lobster Bisque to start followed by a Cowboy Chop(ribeye with extended bone attached) with a Wild Mushroom Duxelle in puff pastry a piece of seared Foie Gras, sauce of wine reduction, roasted parsnip and potato puree whipped with roasted garlic infused olive oil and sauteed mustard greens on the side. Dessert will be assorted cheeses and nuts with sauterne and port.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Lenox637

                              Do you have a recipe/technique for your Wild Mushroom Duxelle in puff pastry? cheers :)

                              1. re: tomsaaristo

                                yes, I would love that recipe as well!

                            2. So far the only thing I have planned for my Christmas Eve dinner is a roast leg of lamb stuffed with a wild mushroom and wild rice stuffing. I'll probably do a soup starter, 2 additional vegetables plus a potato dish of some sort. Freshly-baked rolls, most likely my maple-wheat dinner rolls, will round out the dinner.

                              We always have quite an assortment of appetizers too, from cheese plates and fresh bread to finger food type hot apps like tiny gougeres (cheese puffs) to bite-sized Korean mandu.

                              Desserts, too. No clue just yet, but a couple of pies for sure, and no doubt a half-ton of Christmas cookies and cranberry bread.

                              Half the fun of hosting dinner, for me anyway, is hunting down new recipes. :)

                              1. It's a small pile of foodie-grown-ups now, rather than a table-with-all-the-leaves-added-plus-kids-table. So we've migrated from traditional turkey to "oh boy! It's November! Let's talk about what we could make this year! How about guinea fowl?". It has been a LOT of fun doing that, these past few years. Even if the dinner doesn't turn out perfectly, the business of shopping and planning and cooking and tasting is a family affair, and SO engaging! (PS: Delia Smith's guinea fowl is really good, and makes a FANTASTIC pot pie if you've made 2 and have leftovers!)

                                1. My kids are still young enough that they have us up at the asscrack of dawn on Christmas. The day before, I'll make up cinnamon rolls and let them do their final rise overnight in the fridge. Those get thrown into the oven not long after we get up to have along with coffee.

                                  Later in the day we have: homemade tamales, beans, and huevos rancheros.

                                  I did the big meal for thanksgiving; on Christmas I'd rather relax and enjoy family, so I ditched the big meal a few years ago. It was the best decision I ever made.

                                  7 Replies
                                    1. re: rabaja

                                      My family actually looks forward to this meal a whole lot, I think if I changed it now they'd riot or something.

                                    2. re: jencounter

                                      Yes that does sound great; I love tamales...do you have a recipe to share? Thanks!

                                      1. re: Cherylptw

                                        I get this question every year. If I were smart, I'd pay more attn to measurements and write one up so that I can share. Perhaps this year I will be more diligent and actually make some notes so that I can get a recipe written up.

                                        I've been doing them for so long...I just make them. I never pay attn to measurements, I just know what goes in them. A good resource, though, (with actual measurements!) is Rick Bayless. His red chile ingredients are almost identical to mine. (we do pork w red chile and chicken w green chile).

                                        Sorry I couldn't be of more help.

                                      2. re: jencounter

                                        The Christmas after my husband died I decided that no small children (2 and 4) were going to eat a big meal on Xmas day. My stepdaughter was already committed to at least 2 Xmas day dinners, so I moved the whole thing to Boxing Day. Best thing I ever did -- the kids call it the Xmas Feast and it is its own distinct part of Xmas (still celebrated for 12 days here in Newfoundland).
                                        On Xmas Eve I do a beef soup and a fish chowder. Xmas Day is for grazing -- leftover soup, fruit salad, cold cuts, home-made bread, fruitcake, chocolates... The Boxing Day meal is turkey, mashed potatoes, the Newfoundland trad of boiled root veggies and cabbage with salt beef, pease pudding -- and I also like to have some baked squash (not trad Newfoundland, but I'm from Nova Scotia!). Mustard pickles, beet pickles, and fruit salad for dessert.
                                        I love Xmas food!

                                        1. re: mwright

                                          I hadnt appreciated Boxing Day still formed part of the festivities outside the UK. Is it common throughout Canada? What about other former dominion countries - Australia, New Zealand, South Africa?

                                          1. re: Harters

                                            Yes, in South Africa the day after Christmas was called Boxing Day (it was when I was growing up). However, post Apartheid it was changed to the Day of Goodwill but so many people still refer to it as boxing day. Trying to explain it to your children however, is another thing entirely.

                                      3. We're going to the sister-in-laws for Christmas lunch but as turkey is pretty much the universal meat for the day here in the UK, I'd be gob-smacked if anything else was on offer. Tradition is tradition however boring it gets (I'm not a big fan of turkey).

                                        So, if I'm to guess at the meal:

                                        Starter - seafood of some sort

                                        Main - turkey, roast spuds, carrots, sprouts, gravy, bacon rolls, sausages, bread sauce, sage & onion stuffing, chestnut stuffing. (I'll be asked to make and bring the two stuffings and the bread sauce)

                                        Cheese - assorted - almost certainly local

                                        Dessert - Christmas pudding, brandy sauce

                                        8 Replies
                                        1. re: Harters

                                          Same here in Bermuda, Harters. I have occasionally floated the idea of prime rib roast and am met with stony stares and accusations of trying to upset the order of the universe.

                                          Christmas here is like Thanksgiving in the US, you can maybe tinker here and there, but there will be tears and wailing if the core traditions are not upheld, so, it's:

                                          Homemade gravlax with Irish brown bread, and champagne that is put out on the coffee table around noon.

                                          Free range fresh turkey that is stuffed to bursting (we don't do dressing here)

                                          Potatoes roasted in goose fat (goose fat recent tinkering - son used to have to haul it back from Canada when he was in university there, happily now available here though at vast expense. It is worth it.)

                                          Sprouts with pancetta and chestnuts (sprouts a results of English ex-husband, grew to love them)

                                          Local carrots and whatever other vegetables look good at the farmers market - how they're prepared varies from year to year.

                                          Heavenly, heavenly, cassava pie.

                                          Gallons of gravy.

                                          Homemade cranberry sauce.

                                          Then later, around the fire, the Christmas pudding is brought in flaming - served with most recent tinkering experiment - Haagen Dazs vanilla ice cream that's been softened a few days before and mixed with Gosling's amber rum and some golden syrup and re-frozen.

                                          Port and stilton to follow. Lots of Port.

                                          And leftover Christmas pudding for breakfast on Boxing Day mmmmmm....

                                          1. re: Athena

                                            Tell us more about that cassava pie! I'm intrigued.

                                            1. re: ChristinaMason

                                              yes, please - i've had cassava (yucca, right?) in many forms, but never as a pie!

                                              1. re: mariacarmen

                                                I don't think it's yucca, it's a long brown root that has to be peeled, grated and squeezed - looks like coconut when all that's done.

                                                We've been making cassava pie here since the 1600s, which I think is why it has that mix of old English sweet and savoury. The cassava is mixed up with creamed butter, sugar, eggs, nutmeg, vanilla. You then line a pan with this mixture - bottom and sides - in the middle goes a mix of chicken and pork that's been cooked with thyme, more cassava on top to cover. Make a hole in the top for adding stock while it bakes, cover with tinfoil and bake in 325 oven, check after a couple of hours, if it's looks firm, take the tinfoil off, baste and let get all golden.

                                                The directions are vague - so much depends on depth of the pan - and one's personal recipe - and years of watching my father make it on Christmas Eve (my Scots mother had a lengthy apprenticeship before she was allowed to make it :-)

                                                There are as many variations as there are families - some like a mix of farine and cassava/all/farine/more spices/shallower baking dish.

                                                We all agree though that Christmas dinner without the pie is just not Christmas.

                                                There is a Facebook group page with photos - Bermuda Cassava Pie

                                                And here's my photo from last Christmas Eve - we like 'em deep in my house.

                                                 
                                                1. re: Athena

                                                  no, it's definitely another word for yucca, and also manioc. that recipe sounds amazing! and it looks beautiful. thanks for the pic/recipe, enjoy!

                                                  1. re: Athena

                                                    I had a friend a few years ago from Bermuda; he raved over this pie...at the time, I couldn't figure out how it was made even with his descriptions but this looks great!

                                                    1. re: Athena

                                                      That's amazing, and I'd love to try this. Sounds like good old comfort food. I was also wondering about the homemade gravlax. Would you mind giving me some simple paraphrased or exact instructions. I have been wanting to do this since my Dad passed away. I never learned how he made gravlax or smoked salmon and I miss it all dearly.
                                                      For the pie is the pork and chicken ground or shredded?? This is a meal on its own!

                                                      1. re: chef chicklet

                                                        Gravlax is so easy! Use half a cup each of coarse kosher salt and coarse-ground black pepper mixed up with a third-cup of sugar - get a nice centre cut of salmon - up to 3 lb - slice in half lengthwise - cover each half with the mix - lay a big bunch of dill on top of one half and carefully put the other half on top to make a sandwich. Wrap in clingfilm, and lay in a glass or ceraminc dish, put a weight on top (I use a foil wrapped brick) put in the fridge and turn every 12 hours for 48 hours.

                                                        Cassava pie is the ultimate comfort food - all lush and golden! The meat is cut in chunks.

                                            2. Christmas Eve....Oysters.. Raw and Fried
                                              Christmas Day....Double Smoked Ham...Smoked Duck and Andouille Gumbo...
                                              Remainder of menu is pending....

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: Uncle Bob

                                                Could you share the basics of the gumbo recipe, please....?

                                                1. re: Cherylptw

                                                  Cheryl ~ Well, here I am 4 years late. I don't have a clue why I never saw this until now. ~~ Obviously you will need duck. Wild or domestic. ~ Domestics have more fat ~ This can be a good thing. BBQ (smoke) the duck(s) until you reach a breast temp of around 135 degrees ~ I use oak and hickory ~ As soon as you can handle the duck remove the breast and save for slicing/serving later.... along with whatever other meat you plan to serve. ~~ Place the rest of the duck in a stock pot with about 1 gallon of water to slowly simmer. ~ When very tender remove all of the meat and reserve. ~~ you may want to refrigerate the stock over night and remove some/most of the fat the next day....but not all of it. ~ The removed fat can be used to make your roux. ~ I use about 1 1/2 to 2 times the flour to fat. It doesn't take a lot of roux....I am after the nutty flavor rather than a thickening agent. ~~ Build your gumbo with copious amounts (2-3 cups at least) of onion....about 1/2 that amount of celery and bell pepper sauteed a bit in the roux. ~ Add bay leaves, garlic, a little thyme, and oregano. Add the andouille. I usually use about 1 lb. If you are using the sausage from down here, remove the casing, slice into rounds and halve or quarter. Salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste. ~ Just Make it taste good!!! ~~ Add the duck meat and gently stir to heat through...just before you are ready to eat, add as many oysters as you like just until they curl. I like a lot of them. ~ Maybe some green onion and parsley ~ It's cold weather, the ducks are flying, the oysters are ready, the andouille is smoky and spicy. My favorite gumbo of all.

                                                  Have fun!

                                                   
                                                  1. re: Uncle Bob

                                                    Thank you so much Uncle Bob! I can't get good Andouille here but I'll be in Phoenix so I should be able to find it. This sounds good for Christmas Eve or New Years Eve dinner.

                                              2. I, too, have had a light fruitcake, but it was made with canned fruit cocktail. So, I've gone on a recipe hunt. Searched PC, old file folders and my library of cookbooks. Finally found this one. You could play with the recipe, (grins and giggles, what fun) adding fresh fruit with fruit juice, nuts to the batter or cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. I have had it with just whipped cream instead of the topping. What is really cool is that it is almost fat free!

                                                Fruit Cocktail Cake
                                                2 C self rising flour or 2 C flour, 1 t salt & 1 t baking powder
                                                1 can fruit cocktail
                                                2 unbeaten eggs
                                                1 tsp vanilla
                                                1 ½ C sugar
                                                Mix all ingredients at low speed. Pour into greased and floured 9×13 in pan. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
                                                Sauce
                                                1 stick butter
                                                1 C coconut
                                                1 C sugar
                                                1 tsp vanilla
                                                1 C evaporated milk
                                                1 C pecans, chopped
                                                Boil in pan for one to two minutes. Pour over hot cake.

                                                Hope this is what you are looking for...

                                                1. Christmas Eve is the big event - about 25-30 people, my Aunt has been hosting for as long as I can remember. Menu is very loosly based on the 7 fishes (as over the years, the family went from two meals to one, so it got combined). And it consists of antipasto platter, shrimp cocktail, baccala and olives, seafood salad, penne vodka, cavatelli & broccoli, roasted chicken-sausage-potatoes, green salad, and then variations on dessert but usually chocolate pudding pie, pignoli cookies and cream puffs.

                                                  Christmas day I usually make orange french toast for breakfast and then everyone scatters to other family. Since my husband's family is in MA, and my parents and sister go to her inlaws, we usually just hunker at home in our pj's.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: mickeygee

                                                    Do you have a recipe for the pignoli cookies?

                                                    Hunkering at home w/ family in pj's sounds awesome! Especially with good food and a bottle of bubbly and A Christmas Story playing non-stop over the tv. :)

                                                    1. re: lynnlato

                                                      http://allrecipes.com/recipe/pignoli-...

                                                      Hey LL - I've been on a cookie making tear this year! This is my favorite recipe for pignoli cookies. It's flourless and a little different but really good.

                                                  2. Christmas Eve we usually graze - shrimp cocktail, crab dip, cheese and crackers, Italian meats etc. Christmas day we have our big feast of lasagna, sauce, meatballs, pork chops, sausages, pepper salad and strawberry pie for dessert.

                                                    1. I've got a rather large extended family, and on December 23 every sub-family within the extended family brings a soup to the rendezvous point and we all chow down. There's usually a borscht, a hot and sour soup, a stew or two, maybe a potato soup, and last year I brought my West Texas Blowtorch chili. It was devoured within the half hour so I shall have to double the recipe this time round.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                        Christmas eve is pasta with anchovies, raisins and croutons. Christmas day is Beef Wellington, green beans with mushroom Madeira sauce, Caesar salad and some kind of potato pie. We usually have cookies for dessert but this year I think I'll make a chocolate pie with marshmallow meringue topping.

                                                        1. re: _nemo_

                                                          I'm a chocoholic so your pie sounds great...I don't normally like meringue but I've never had a marshmallow meringue. Could you give details on how you make it? Thanks!

                                                          1. re: Cherylptw

                                                            I just found this recipe today, so I can't vouch for it:

                                                            MARSHMALLOW MERINGUE:
                                                            1 7-ounce jar Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme
                                                            3 large egg whites
                                                            1/8 teaspoon salt
                                                            1/4 cup sugar

                                                            Position rack in top third of oven and preheat to 400°F. Using rubber spatula, scrape marshmallow creme into large bowl. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt in another large bowl until foamy. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, and beat until stiff and glossy peaks form. Add 1/2 cup beaten egg whites to marshmallow creme and stir with rubber spatula or spoon just until incorporated to lighten (marshmallow creme is very sticky and will be difficult to blend at first, but blending will become easier as remaining whites are folded in). Fold in remaining whites in 2 additions just until incorporated. Spread meringue over top of cold pie, mounding slightly in center and swirling with knife to create peaks.

                                                            Bake pie just until peaks and ridges of marshmallow meringue are lightly browned, about 4 minutes.

                                                      2. Shrimp coctail appetizer, Standing rib roast, popovers, latkes, homeade creamed corn, pierogies (we like out carbs), haricot vert. for dessert--PIES!! And there are only 4 of us & 1 kid. yes, we're pigs.

                                                        1. For the first time in my life, I will be having my immediate family over to my house for any holiday. (My partner and I bought our house in June) Here's what's on the menu:

                                                          starter
                                                          blini with homemade gravlax

                                                          main
                                                          turkey breast roulade with a fig and sausage stuffing
                                                          mashed cauliflower with crispy shallots
                                                          roast potatoes
                                                          green beans with sliced almonds
                                                          frisee salad with goat cheese and walnuts

                                                          dessert
                                                          chocolate pots
                                                          apple tart with creme anglaise

                                                          1. >>>Many people have their big meal on Christmas Eve...we normally have a dinner of assorted apps on the eve then have a regular dinner on the day of. What about you?

                                                            Christmas Eve is comfort food, usually light fare, apps, pasta, salad, etc. People are coming and going at our house so it’s more of a party type atmosphere.

                                                            >>>Do you stick with traditional on Christmas like Thanksgiving?

                                                            LOL – The only tradition we have is no tradition, this year we did a Thai Thanksgiving, I have done just about everything you can imagine, even one year we did something completely novel and unusual for us and roasted a turkey for Thanksgiving. Christmas is no different, except I have never roasted a turkey for Christmas.

                                                            We do have a Christmas lunch tradition: Chili and Cornbread, my wife started that and it has kind of stuck.

                                                            >>>If not, what out of the ordinary additions does your family look forward to?

                                                            Everything is different each year. This year our main protein items will be rabbit (actually that is kind of common for Christmas), Goose, and Goat (wife okayed it).

                                                            1. For many years I have gone to my sister's house, where her Italian in-laws did all the fish dishes. Since that generation has died off and our kids have grown, we get still get together, but we order a huge amount of Chinese food. Works for us and no one has to do a thing but hand together and have fun.

                                                              Christmas dinner is a shared event, since my son got married. His wife's family is large and their house can accomodate everyone. So, I usually do the apps, someone does the sides, others do desserts. The hostess always does the meat(s).

                                                              This year, youngest son is traveling with his g/f, so I will do a brunch before they have to head to the airport in the afternoon.

                                                              Mimosas
                                                              Bagels and cream cheese
                                                              Fruit and cheese platter
                                                              Ham and Cheese Strata (in a spring form pan, it's decadentt)
                                                              Tenderloin of Beef, with Horseradish Crust (Ina Garten)
                                                              Chocolate Croissants (Trader Joe's frozen)

                                                              For me, any time spent with family is really special. Thanks for this thread, liked reading everyone's traditions.
                                                              Merry Christmas everyone!

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: mcel215

                                                                Do you have a recipe for the Ham and Cheese Strata that you would be willing to share? Would love to make it.

                                                                1. re: Bethcooks

                                                                  I made Smitten Kitchen's Spinach and Gruyere Strata instead, but I'll dig up the Ham and Cheese Strata, from my other computer in a couple of days for you. It's sensational too.

                                                                  1. re: Bethcooks

                                                                    Here you go Beth. I truely don't know where I got the recipe from so I can't source it. I've had it for many years and it's very easy and a real crowd pleaser too.

                                                                    And it's been adapted by me also, from the original recipe.

                                                                    Ham and Cheese Strata

                                                                    1 loaf French bread, cubed (crusty long type)
                                                                    1 lb. deli sliced ham, and cut into squares
                                                                    1 lb. brick cheddar cheese, shredded
                                                                    ½ c. grated parmesean cheese
                                                                    3 green onions, chopped
                                                                    15 medium eggs
                                                                    2 egg yolks
                                                                    4 cups half & half
                                                                    2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

                                                                    Combine the bread, ham, cheddar and parmasean cheese, and green onion in a large bowl. Beat the eggs, egg yolks, half & half, and mustard in a medium bowl. Pour over bread mixture and stir until moistened. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hrs. or overnight.

                                                                    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10-inch springform pan, and place on a large cookie sheet. Pour strata mixture into center of springform, making sure it spreads pretty evenly. Bake for approximately 1-1&1/2 hrs. After it has been baking for 30-40 minutes, cover with foil, so top does not become overbrowned. Bake for approx. 1hr to 1&1/2 hrs. Check with a knife in the center, and it should not be loose. Let cool for twenty minutes, and cut around edges with knife to ensure it has separated from sides. Take off “spring”, and place on platter. Serves 10-12 easily.

                                                                    My notess:

                                                                    I bought a pound of sliced deli ham, and still cubed it. It has thin slices of ham thoughout, without the big chuncks. I found it to be much more delicate like this.

                                                                    I let the strata sit out for a good 1/2 hr. before slicing.

                                                                    Also, one year, I cooked it half way the day before I was serving it, and let it cook the second half way with foil covered on the day I was serving. It's very forgiving.

                                                                    I have made it with gruyere and it's was fantastic also.

                                                                    1. re: mcel215

                                                                      i always leave the prepared strata in the fridge overnite so the egg/milk mixture can get thouroughly soaked up by the bread; great make ahead dish... stick in the oven first thing in the am while making coffee; serve as guests amble into the kitchen looking for breakfast...

                                                                2. It's way too early for me to be thinking of Christmas dinner, but ...

                                                                  I am not a big fan of turkey, and last year I made filet mignon stuffed with garlic, butter, scallions sweated in white wine, etc., and everyone loved it, including one guest who nevertheless said that she missed turkey.

                                                                  Recently on FN, on "Chuck's Day Off", Chuck made turducken, which looked intriguing enough that I am considering making it this year. Has anyone here made it before? I would want to make it before Christmas just to see how it turns out.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: souschef

                                                                    I saw that episode; I can tell you the procedure is involved, with the boning out of the birds....the restaurant I worked for makes them every year for the holidays. They make three different stuffings, one for each bird. Once cooked (which is a little iffy) , though, it was really good.

                                                                    1. re: souschef

                                                                      Paul Prudhomme and helpers make turducken today on the PBS Create channel's Saturday marathon. It repeats every 6 hours.

                                                                    2. Christmas Eve is at my MIL's house we we observe the Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes. We start with shrimp cocktail, assorted tray of fennel, celery,olives, fresh mozzarella cheese. Then she brings out baskets of fried dough, some plain and some stuffed with baccala. They are lightly salted. Then we go to the dining rm table for some Spaghetti Aglio e Olio. After that she brings out the fish- cold baccala salad, scungilli salad, fried smelt, fried shrimp and scallops, eel, stuffed calamari in tomato sauce, a green salad and fresh steamed broccoli with lemons.
                                                                      We exchange gifts and then go back to the table for dessert- Italian pastries and espresso coffee.
                                                                      It is a joyous time of year and a time to enjoy family!!

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: allsmiles2day

                                                                        There was a time when I would look forward to a feast like that, and could tackle it all; not any more.

                                                                        Speaking of shrimp cocktail, every time my SIL has a party she has the ubiquitous frozen shrimp ring where the shrimp without the sauce tastes like water, and with the sauce there is no improvement. I hope your MIL's is better. Those supermarket monstrosities ought to be banned.

                                                                        1. re: souschef

                                                                          <the ubiquitous frozen shrimp ring where the shrimp without the sauce tastes like water, and with the sauce there is no improvement.>

                                                                          oh, god. you've captured it perfectly. i'll never forgive the time my dad defrosted some frozen cooked shrimp and proudly served them with cocktail sauce. they were awful, watery mush!

                                                                      2. Ham, smashed potatoes, rolls, cranberry sauce, pies, green beans. Sometimes we'd have a turkey and dressing in addition to the ham. Waldorf salad. We had our Christmas dinner on Christmas day.

                                                                        1. This year Christmas will be with my father in law's entire family--meeting all of them for the first time and DH and I are solely in charge of food! Both nervous/excited and relieved, because no one else in the family can cook anything beyond boxed mashed potatoes and macaroni (which also end up with the same texture as mashed potatoes).
                                                                          We are still working on the menu, trying to be inventive while having to absolutely stick to traditional French standards: foie gras, smoked salmon, oysters, lobster, HUGE seafood platters, and a main course (we'll see what good meat we can buy at a good price on that day, hopefully ostrich or other ratite, otherwise duck). The main problem will be time, I've never cooked so much before, hopefully we can work it out so that things can be prepared ahead save the last minute touches.

                                                                          1. I AM HOSTING CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER!!!!!!
                                                                            Sorry, I'm just so excited.
                                                                            We are having a three bone-in prime rib, with yorkshire pudding, creamed onions and some kind of austere veg to cut the richness.
                                                                            We will start with deviled eggs with a touch of curry, pigs in a blanket and cheese and crudite, if I have anything to do with it.. And, I do!!!
                                                                            A salad of escarole or butter lettuce, maybe with persimmon and an herby vinaigrette, will start off the main meal, with some whole wheat rolls and local butter. That should help get the pants unbuttoned.
                                                                            Dessert plans so far are:
                                                                            Ginger cake with passionfruit cream
                                                                            Meyer lemon tarts
                                                                            Hungarian walnut and poppyseed rolls-this is a yeasted pastry, two seperate flavors
                                                                            chocolates, nougat and panforte

                                                                            And, everyone's spending the night, so I get to plan breakfast too!
                                                                            Spinach and gruyere strata from Smitten Kitchen
                                                                            Slab bacon
                                                                            Homemade english muffins
                                                                            chocolate croissants
                                                                            fruit bowl -lots of delicious citrus from the local farmers market
                                                                            Strong coffee, tangerine juice
                                                                            So happy everyone is coming my way this time. I haven't started freaking out yet, but probably will around the 21st.

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: rabaja

                                                                              Rabaja,

                                                                              I can feel your excitement! ;) Good luck to your very first Holiday hosting, may it be fun and rewarding too ~

                                                                              BTW, I make SK's strata all the time and it gets raves from my family and friends.

                                                                              Another thing, if I may add, your ginger cake sounds excellent. Can you share the
                                                                              recipe please?

                                                                              Also, through the years, just from my experience though. Lemon desserts do not go
                                                                              over well and I always wonder why. I am a huge lemon lover and used to serve or bring them to every kind of event/holiday for both family and friends and always had tons of leftover. So, I don't make any lemon bars or tarts any longer, lol!
                                                                              Ina Garten's Raspberry Cheesecake has been a standout winner and so has Nigella's Chocolate Cloud Cake.

                                                                              Your menu sounds superb though.... what time is dinner? ;)

                                                                              1. re: mcel215

                                                                                My excitement is growing, and the nerves have just started to surface. It should be fun, and it's likely to be a small group, so how hard can it be?
                                                                                Thanks for the rec on the strata. I've always wanted to make one, and this seems like the perfect make-ahead brunch item.
                                                                                The ginger cake will be one of two recipes I make often. The ever popular Claudia Fleming recipe with Guinness or Chez Panisse Cafe's ginger cake, which uses hot water, no beer.
                                                                                I like them both very much, and have no idea which it will be at this point. -I imagine David Leovitz has published the CP recipe in one of his books. If you can't find either on-line, I am happy to paraphrase.
                                                                                My sister specifically requests the lemon tart, so it is tried and true at this point. She even went so far as to ask for it as an Xmas present, so she can certainly have all the left-overs.
                                                                                The tree is up, and I have lights galore in the yard. My check list is still in my head, so I'd better work on that. Is Christmas really nine days away???
                                                                                eta: deviled eggs got nixed, not enough fans at this shin-dig, apparently. My sister said her husband would probably like mushrooms stuffed with mac 'n cheese. And he doesn't even smoke weed anymore.
                                                                                I'm tempted to make some rendition of them just as a joke. Oh ok, maybe just stuffed mushrooms. With sausage. And cheese.

                                                                              2. re: rabaja

                                                                                How exciting for you...Your menu sounds great! I'm sure everything will go off without a hitch so try not to stress too much..

                                                                              3. Christmas Eve dinner is usually eaten around 2am when we return from Midnight Mass and is typically small, yet laden with flavor. My aunt's chicken salad steals the show since the meticulously grated cabbage, cheese and apples make this a rare treat. We will usually steal a few slices from the next day's Christmas ham to be eaten with cheese on warm pan de sal with cups of of thick, whipped hot chocolate to lure us to sleep within the hour.

                                                                                The big meal is reserved for Christmas dinner and though nothing is set in stone, we do tend to make the dishes we know we do best: pork spring rolls, chicken and crab gumbo, paella and always the star of the show: chicken relleno (rellenong manok), a whole chicken deboned and stuffed with a minced pork, raisin and chorizo filling that would be as at home in an empanada as it is inside a soy and citrus-marinated chicken.

                                                                                For dessert I always look forward to a slice of my uncle's sticky sweet cassava cake, though flan would be more traditional.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: JungMann

                                                                                  The chicken relleno sounds so interesting; would you mind giving details on the dish? Sounds like something I'd like to try. Thanks!

                                                                                  1. re: Cherylptw

                                                                                    The first key step is properly deboning the chicken without butterflying it. I make an incision at the base of the drumstick to sever the tendons, disarticulate the tibia and pull it out. Another incision from inside the leg removes the fibula and any remaining cartilage. From inside the cavity I separate the ribs from the breast with my boning knife and sever the ligaments to remove the whole rib cage and allow me room inside the cavity to remove the remaining bones. I leave the wings intact. After deboning, marinate the chicken in soy sauce, lemon juice, sugar and black pepper overnight.

                                                                                    The stuffing is a combination of ground chicken, ground pork, ground ham, raisins, sweet relish, garlic and onions bound with eggs and bread crumbs. Place a layer of stuffing on the bottom of the cavity, being sure to also fill the legs and thighs. When the cavity is half full, add hard boiled eggs, Vienna sausage and chorizo picante down the middle and then fully stuff the bird, reshaping it so everything is tight and the breast is plump. Sew the cavity shut and bake at 350 for about 90 minutes, basting with butter throughout.

                                                                                    The gravy is made with a medium roux to which you add chopped garlic, chicken stock and the reserved drippings from the chicken. Season it with soy sauce, lemon juice and black pepper and strain before serving. To present the chicken, you should slice it in cross-section, showing off the filling as here: http://fotos.mundorecetas.net/albums/...

                                                                                    Googling rellenong manok will give you similar variations on the same theme, but I have been making this recipe consistently for over a decade, always garnering oohs and aahs from people who've never seen a chicken relleno before.

                                                                                2. We're hosting Christmas for the first time ever too ... my parents will be staying with us (which is a major coup if you know my father) so I will actually be decorating. Or make that my husband will be decorating?

                                                                                  My family's "tradition" for Christmas (and Thanksgiving) is something different every year, based around whatever recipe caught Mom's attention. So it might be enchiladas, salt-crusted fish, chili, chowder, pot roast, tacos, and one year, when Dad returned from TDY in Greece we had souvlaki.

                                                                                  Our first Christmas together was another Greek-themed menu, since then we've been either at my parents or the in-laws. My mother-in-law's menu is not vegetarian friendly, so my husband normally volunteers me to bring a dish ... I was thinking semi-"traditional" this year:

                                                                                  - apple, onion, gruyere custard pie
                                                                                  - roasted vegetables (sweet potato, greens, mushrooms)
                                                                                  - side dish featuring either green beans or brussels sprouts
                                                                                  - green salad
                                                                                  - rolls

                                                                                  - cheese and tapenade for snacking throughout the day
                                                                                  - sweet potato waffles or cinnamon rolls for a late breakfast

                                                                                  I'm stumped on dessert, but, really, this is a huge meal for my family so it's not really necessary. One-dish meals are the norm, and my husband has completely assimilated. Still, I might make ice cream, which can stay in the freezer if we choose not to have dessert.

                                                                                  1. we're doing a multidenominational/interfaith/no-faith-technically xmas eve dinner. i wanted to get away from the super multi-dish affair of tgiving so 3 dishes:
                                                                                    slow cooked pork shoulder with salsa verde
                                                                                    carmelized fennel and potato gratin
                                                                                    kale salad with celery root and shaved parm.

                                                                                    1. Izakaya style tonight: The Feast of the Four Nippon Fishes.
                                                                                      Tomorrow: Leg of Icelandic lamb
                                                                                      www.shrinkinthekitchen.com

                                                                                      1. I'm reviving my old thread in the hopes of being inspired; I need something different. This year, I'm visiting my daughter in AZ for Christmas. Her BF is a foodie like myself, but her, not so much. BF is making either a prime rib or beef crown roast. I want to make a couple of appetizers, salad and a side. He's making dessert.

                                                                                        Daughter doesn't like seafood but I'm thinking of at least one seafood appetizer and one with something else. I think I'll do a salad of mixed lettuces with roasted grapes, oven dried prosciutto chips, either feta or smoked gouda cheese, toasted walnuts & champagne vinaigrette. I'm leaning toward potato dauphanoise.

                                                                                        Are you going with the same menu as always or pushing the envelope this year? Share!

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: Cherylptw

                                                                                          I've been pondering myself and was thinking about this last night, while rubbing a full belly...doesn't make any sense. It will probably be me or me and SO so I'm thinking of something nice and cozy. I'm torn between rack of lamb, thick cut steak with potatoes gratin, a nice pan of traditional lasagna or mussels with some sort of pasta dish (probably will save this for New Year's). You have it more figured out than I have :) We actually had Chinese food last year, but I'm not into that this yea so hopefully I'll pull together a menu soon enough.

                                                                                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                            Mussels sound good as an appetizer for our dinner; Imma have to put that on my list of possibilities, if I can get them when I get to Arizona...I'll check into it.

                                                                                        2. I like to switch it up each year and never cook turkey as we prefer other proteins. This year will probably be duck or lamb. Last year we did a vast variety of fondue with several funky finger foods such as peppered parmesan cones piped with white bean mousse and rabbit terrine with gooseberry jam.

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: chefathome

                                                                                            Ooh, I have rabbit in the freezer! Wonder if I can get it on the plane?

                                                                                          2. The man's birthday is Tuesday, mine the following Tuesday. Until the 11th we don't acknowledge Christmas. :)

                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                                              Happy early Birthday to you both; Mine is next Thursday...gotta love those December babies :-)

                                                                                              1. re: Cherylptw

                                                                                                Tis the season for sure. MIL and my best friend are the 23rd, and we just learned some new friends of ours (also a couple,) are the 4th and 11th- the day after each of us, guys first then us ladies- strange coincidence!)

                                                                                                Happy BDay early to you, too!

                                                                                                1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                                                  December is a big birthday month in my family...My birthday is a triple header; my mom & my fiancé's uncle share my day. Best cousin is the next day; she's a year older than me and I always joke that we're the same age for one day then the next day she's a year older. Nephew, another cousin & Grandparent's anniversary all in the same week. Various other relatives in the same month. We have a big repeat in January...

                                                                                                  1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                                                    We also have a cluster of birthdays in the winter from early December to late February it seems there's one or two a week.

                                                                                              2. Have you tried panettone? It's an italian bread served around the holiday season. I lived in Milan and we ate it for breakfast a lot right before Christmas. Here's a recipe:
                                                                                                http://hungerhunger.blogspot.com/2012...

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: espressoiloveyou

                                                                                                  Good Panettone is great! There are a lot of bad store versions but the recipe link looks great, my mom loves it

                                                                                                2. My family makes homemade spinach/meat/ricotta ravioli for Christmas dinner. It's been a tradition for over 100 years.

                                                                                                  This year it will be a smaller group so it will be ravioli, standing rib roast, Caesar salad, and probably steamed green beans on the side.

                                                                                                  1. Italian both days. Feast of the Seven Fishes on the Eve, then next day a big antipasta with salami, prosciutto and provolone; then either manicotti or cannelloni on the Day, depending on how rushed I am. Always a big pot of meatballs, sausage and braciole after that.

                                                                                                    For dessert, homemade Christmas cookies and Italian pastries from the bakery, both days. So much easier than Thanksgiving!

                                                                                                    Haha didn't know this was an old post, and I already outlined this below. Just letting you know, things will never change around here.

                                                                                                    13 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: coll

                                                                                                      My family never did much on Christmas Eve, but I was lucky to have some friends from big traditional Italian families. (In New Jersey) The Feast of the Seven Fishes was so amazing! You brought back food memories from 30+ years ago. Thanks!

                                                                                                      Our Christmas dinner was always turkey, with the sides switched up from what was served at Thanksgiving.

                                                                                                      My husband and I moved out of state a few years ago, and it looks like it'll just be the two of us for Christmas. For Christmas eve, I'm doing seafood, probably mussels in a wine/fresh tomato/garlic broth over pasta and an antipasta platter. Christmas day will be beef, prime rib if I can find it. We live in a very rural part of NC, some things are hard to find. Along side, roasted potatoes, a steamed green veggie and a salad.

                                                                                                      1. re: Springhaze2

                                                                                                        I decided I'm making mussels this year, in red or white sauce, even if I'm the only one that eats them. But I doubt I'll be so lucky!

                                                                                                        1. re: coll

                                                                                                          This is what I have in mind too. They are super simple and always delicious but do you have a favorite recipe?

                                                                                                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                            This is how I've been making it recently, it's based on hanging out in Montauk at a couple of the local bars and eating a big bowl, while trying to guess the secret recipe.

                                                                                                            MUSSELS MARINARA (if you want white, just leave out the tomatoes at the end)

                                                                                                            6 doz mussels (if not PEI, soak in cornmeal to clean)

                                                                                                            3 or 4 cloves of garlic, minced
                                                                                                            2 or 3 minced shallots
                                                                                                            Saute both of these in olive oil and butter.

                                                                                                            Then add:
                                                                                                            1 cup white wine/vermouth/Pernod
                                                                                                            4 Tbsp lemon juice
                                                                                                            1 cup clam juice (canned or from base)

                                                                                                            Add clams, red pepper flakes, parsley and thyme. Simmer until clams open, about 10 minutes.

                                                                                                            For red sauce, remove clams and keep warm. Add some diced tomato and a spoonful of pesto, then reduce. A splash of Pernod or vermouth to finish is a nice touch.

                                                                                                            Pour over clams and serve with garlic bread.

                                                                                                            1. re: coll

                                                                                                              Great thanks, that's pretty much what I usually do. I've found simple is best with mussels, now I want some mussels. It'd be a nice break from turkey :)

                                                                                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                I'm glad you reminded me, now I can put the recipe in along with the rest I pulled out for Christmas Eve. Only us and my BIL (if he shows up!) so I'm thinking mussels, and clams and oysters on the half shell (which he offered to bring). I have some gigantic shrimp that I will make scampi with, there will be plenty left to add to the antipasta the next day. After a pasta course of cacio e pepe or aglio olio, either one with some anchovies thrown in, I will make the guys fresh fried flounder (or should I say fluke?) and myself some seared tuna and/or baked striped bass. That makes seven, technically. The side dish will be those delicious baked Buffalo Bite Cauliflower I got here, I know the guys will eat that all up. Their Mom always made a fried vegetable with this meal, but nothing so exotic as that.

                                                                                                              2. re: coll

                                                                                                                This sounds delicious; once I find out whether my daughter's BF likes seafood or not, this will be one of my apps (if Im able to source the seafood) this year. Thanks for posting the recipe!

                                                                                                                1. re: coll

                                                                                                                  Thanks for the recipe. I usually just make something up as I go along, but never actually had a recipe. I like to add just one or two peeled chopped fresh tomatoes at the end. So it's not a "red" sauce, but a white sauce with bits of tomato. Do you have a preference for Pernod vs vermouth? I generally just use white wine.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Springhaze2

                                                                                                                    Pernod or vermouth will be a much stronger flavor, of course. I like to add Pernod or fennel to some seafood dishes, but that doesn't mean everyone would or should! If you're feeling adventurous, try that or vermouth, otherwise whatever flavor white wine you prefer. I usually only have one of the above laying around, so I'm not picky myself!!

                                                                                                                    I know most people are used to the white sauce, but we always ask for red at the places we go. They usually take white and just dump some pasta sauce on top, which is fine with me. I prefer red with garlic bread, that's my main reason.

                                                                                                                    1. re: coll

                                                                                                                      I just re-read your post with the recipe and noticed that you said it was your version "based on hanging out in Montauk at a couple of the local bars". The recipe I have been trying to duplicate is the first plate of mussels my husband I shared at a local place in New Jersey. While I have been adding some fresh tomatoes, for a little tomato in a basic white sauce, the trick is to add some red sauce to taste.

                                                                                                                      Thanks again!

                                                                                                                      1. re: Springhaze2

                                                                                                                        That's what I think too. They always have a bushel of mussels in the kitchen somewhere, but they don't get all crazy about it. A few simple ingredients, they'd just as soon leave out the tomatoes, so you have to ask. But Montauk has connections with New England, so it needs to be requested. However, here as in Jersey, there is always a pot of sauce somewhere in the kitchen that can be dipped into.

                                                                                                            2. re: Springhaze2

                                                                                                              You might look online at places like Lobel's if you can't find prime beef in your area.

                                                                                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                Thanks fldhkybnva. I have considered ordering online. My other option is to drive about 1 1/2 hours to a city that does have great stores.

                                                                                                          2. A few years ago my family started a new tradition which has reduced stress all around. We get together the Saturday after Christmas at my elderly aunt's house. My sister and I cook (and clean up after) for everyone, our mom get's to spend the day visiting instead of worrying about feeding 12 to 15 people and my aunt gets to enjoy the family without having to travel for hours. My sister always prepares appetizers a standing rib roast using the closed door method which works well for us. I make twice-baked potatoes, some sort of vegetable side dish (usually green beans with ham & onion; it's quite popular with my folks), a salad and rolls. My husband is in charge of dessert. We eat at noon or thereabouts then retire to the living room for presents and everyone can be on the road home by 3pm.

                                                                                                            I told myself I was going to start a fruitcake tradition this year, but we decided to spend the first week of December in New Orleans this year, so that'll have wait.

                                                                                                            1. This year I have gone on record as planning to make lasagna. There might be only the two of us, so I would make a small pan. If we have guests, I'll make a full batch.

                                                                                                              We will have a fresh green salad, olives, perhaps a little fruit, and a loaf of excellent bread.

                                                                                                              Haven't decided on dessert yet. Any ideas?

                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                I know for sure that daughter's BF is supposed to make a chocolate cake of some kind (he loves to bake). Daughter has asked me to make sweet potato pie and I want to make something with fruit; perhaps a apple crumble tart or something along those lines. I'll have to think about that a bit before a final decision.

                                                                                                                1. re: Cherylptw

                                                                                                                  Update on Christmas dinner menu: Prime rib and bbq pork ribs for sure...I need side dishes. We're having a salad, not sure what yet but daughter invited co-worker & hubby for dinner; she's diabetic so a couple of sides need to be geared toward that fact. I get to Phoenix on the 23rd. Ribs have been bought and are in the freezer, prime rib have been ordered. Final menu probably won't be finalized until Christmas eve...

                                                                                                                  I'm also thinking on a sugar free dessert. Anyone have ideas for sugar free dessert options? I want it to be something nice. My thought was to do a flourless cake roll using egg whites and almond flour, fill with SF vanilla bean pastry cream or pudding mix and add baked apples slices w/ warm spices OR fresh berries before rolling, if I can find them with decent flavor (I know, I know, they're out of season). Thoughts? And thanks!

                                                                                                              2. We haven't done traditional for Christmas in years. My memory as a kid was that we basically did the same thing we did for Thanksgiving (usually because someone would get a free turkey and we'd end up with two - one for Thanksgiving and one for Christmas).

                                                                                                                Last year we held an open house the Saturday before Christmas. I made two pots of chili (white chicken and beef), cupcakes, and meringues, and then we supplemented from the Mexican grocer with chips, a salsa bar w/ 6 different salsas, guacamole, and a tray of tortas). Then it was dinner for two at a restaurant on Christmas Eve (traditional supper club fare) and I made a very small ham, au gratin potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts, and our traditional Nantucket cranberry pie for brunch Christmas day.

                                                                                                                This year, no open house (due to renovations - hope to renew it next year). Desperately trying to find a restaurant for Christmas Eve since our favorite closed (narrowed to two - one is just average fare masquerading as upper scale, but they do have a varied gluten-free menu), the other is cheaper and ridiculously yummy Russian fare but I'll likely have to gluten myself to enjoy it. (Actually, I just made an executive decision and made reservations at the Russian restaurant. YAY vodka!)

                                                                                                                Christmas Day - likely ham steak (not even a ham proper), some potatoes or polenta, and a veggie. After the ridiculously Christmas Eve dinner we don't do much on the day food-wise.