Happy all-of-the holidays everyone!! I love these years when different celebrations align.
Kirk and I were sitting on the couch Friday night when I mentioned the Christmas Eve tradition of the Feast of Seven Fishes. Not one that my family particularly celebrated growing up – although I remember my mom’s amazing cioppino – because, let’s face it, that’s too much cooking for the busy holiday season. It’s unreasonable. Obviously.
So roughly twenty-four hours before Christmas Eve dinner, I decided I wanted to cook our own Feast of Seven Fishes. I make great life choices.
La Vigilia is, in the perfect expression from Batali, “what Italians do when they say they’re fasting.” It’s rooted in religious symbolism, abstaining from red meat on one of the holiest nights of the year, which is an excellent excuse to gorge on seafood and fish and of course wine.
Loosely based on Bon Appetit’s excellent guidelines rather than a strictly traditional order. Our own cobbled-together menu:
aperitivo. Popped open a bottle of cava brut and added a good splash of Campari! Finished before I remembered the camera, naturally.
antipasto. Baccala mantecato, whipped cod spread over toasted baguette – a surprise favorite for both of us.
insalata. Pan-seared scallops over escarole with tangy lemon aioli, inspired by Bon Appetit’s squid salad.
primo. Angel hair pasta tossed with shrimp and homemade pesto.
secondo. Seared cod rubbed with grigliata di pesce spices.
terzo. Classic cioppino, heavenly seafood stew! Lightened-up, less-expensive, based on BA’s cioppino.
intermezzo. Light palate cleanser of limoncello granita.
dolce. Mini cannoli cups! A favorite original from this spring that I’ve been dying to make again.
digestivo. Limoncello, the last of a bottle we made for our wedding in May.
Most assuredly followed by a long, peaceful nap.
Kirk is, hands-down, the most infuriatingly perfect gift giver. I spend weeks and weeks agonizing over what to get him but he’s just too good. We’ve accepted it. This year he broke every single one of our gift rules – simpled, inexpensive, nothing fancy – as well as my personal current memoriam – no more cooking appliances in our overflowing tiny apartment kitchen. I am now the obsessively proud owner of an Anova sous vide precision cooker!
Sous vide steak, slathered in butter and rubbed with salt and pepper, is hands-down the very best steak you will ever eat. All that butter and good juices stay inside for medium-rare perfection edge to edge… a quick sear in cast iron and you’ve reached meat heaven.
So after too much breakfast pie Christmas morning, we were treated to the juiciest, most buttery steak for dinner. I’m spoiled with love and butter.
Despite seven years of friendship – two years dating, two years engaged – our first married Christmas is the very first one that Kirk and I have spent together. Thanks to families spread across the country and being thousands of miles apart for work, holidays together just weren’t in the cards. I’m unbelievably, indescribably giddy with happiness that our lives have settled down just a little and I get to spend this full week celebrating with the person I love most in our own home!
Whether it’s Campari and bubbly or hot cocoa, raising a glass to you and yours!