Christmas Eve Tradition

Two years in a row is the start of a tasty tradition – swordfish for Christmas Eve dinner!  If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I’m a big fan of Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, and the dinner we enjoyed last night came straight from Ina!  (I wonder if I’m her biggest fan??)

Sicilian Swordfish and Baked Polenta with Mushrooms and Blue Cheese

Sicilian Swordfish_Baked Polenta

Sicilian Swordfish_Baked Polenta

Sicilian Swordfish:  Pat dry, light olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper.  Sear a couple of minutes each side on a hot grill.  Remove to a platter, poke all over each piece with the tines of a fork, then drizzle lemon vinaigrette over each piece, cover with aluminum foil to rest for 5 minutes.

(Lemon Vinaigrette:  Olive Oil/Fresh squeezed lemon juice [2/1], pinch each of salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and a teaspoon of dried oregano [or two teaspoons of fresh chopped.)

To serve – place one piece of swordfish on each plate, top with arugula, and drizzle with a couple of spoonfuls of the lemon vinaigrette fish sauce.  Top with some grated lemon zest.

Baked Polenta with Mushrooms and Blue Cheese: Start by cleaning (soft wet cloth) medium or large size Portobello mushrooms (6-8).  Place on sheet pan (top side down,) drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, kosher salt, and pepper.  Bake for 20 minutes at 400F until tender, then set aside.

Bring 2 cups half-half and 2-1/2 cups chicken stock to a boil.  While whisking constantly, sprinkle 3/4 cup fine cornmeal into boiling liquid.  Continue stirring (almost constantly) with a wooden spoon until creamy consistency (6-8 minutes.)  Off the heat, stir in 1/4 cup Mascarpone cheese.  Pour polenta into a baking dish (medium size) and top with mushrooms (top side down.)  Finish with 1/2 cup Gorgonzola cheese, sprinkled all over the top.  Bake at 375F for 25-30 minutes until a bit bubbly and starts to turn golden brown.  Let rest for a few minutes – and enjoy!

This was my first attempt at making polenta at home – and aside from the constant attention to stirring (similar to making risotto,) it’s so easy.  Once you achieve a creamy consistency, you could add in grated Parmesan cheese or any other element of flavor as you wish.

I hope you’ll try one of these delicious recipes yourself.  My point in sharing some recipes that aren’t my original creation is to provide pairing ideas, to let you in on easy delicious meals you can replicate in your own kitchen, and to open the door to your own creativity by starting with a published recipe – then making it your own!  Buon Appetito!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sunday Prep Kitchen (and an Easter menu idea!)

Sunday was one of my typical days of prepping all that I brought home from shopping on Saturday, in less than 2 hours!   I didn’t set out for anything in particular as I went shopping, but found many great buys that will make their way to our dinner plates throughout the week ahead.

Sunday Prep

Sunday Prep

I couldn’t walk past 98 cent eggplant or asparagus at 98 cents per pound.  Whenever I find eggplant on sale, I typically make Eggplant Parmesan, but having a tray already in the freezer, I thought about a grilled vegetable pizza and knew I’d be stopping off at the Italian import store for some peppery panceetta and pizza dough.  As I continued my way around the store, the fennel flashed me back to a delicious Italian sausage and fennel sandwich I had a couple of weeks ago on crusty Italian bread.  My mouth literally started watering, so in the cart went the fennel as I headed for the sausage aisle.  Some of the best meals happen when you have no set plan in place!

As I was in the midst of prepping, cooking, and storing, I came across the leftover mashed potatoes from a few nights ago – and they quickly became my go-to potato pancakes.  That was Sunday – and we’ll be sinking our teeth into delicious meals all week long!

What are you having for Easter dinner?  I’ve made a ham for every Easter I can remember, and I just don’t feel like a ham this year.  I started thinking about what to have, and although I’m still thinking, I might use that grilled eggplant in a vegetable lasagna (grilled eggplant, roasted red peppers, and spinach, topped with goat cheese, ricotta cheese, and mozzarella.)  I’m thinking of grilling some chicken basil sausage on the side (for a little Easter je ne sais quoi,) make some garlic bread, a salad – and we’ve got Easter dinner.

Whatever you’re having, you’ll want to make the most delicious Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake for dessert!

Lemon Blueberry CakeI made this for our friend Christine’s birthday on Friday night – and it’s the perfect spring/Easter dessert.  You won’t be disappointed.  Mike came across this recipe a week or so ago (Sally’s Baking Addiction website,) and I’ll be making it again real soon.

Here’s wishing you a week filled with good food and happiness!  Buon appetito!