Monday, December 24, 2007

Something for Everyone on Christmas Eve...

Questions
- by Me
Isn't it queer
How every year
The very fate of Christmas cheer
Is not with friends and family near
But on a sleigh with flying deer?
But I can't shed a single tear,
For Christmas Eve is finally here!

Well, the big hoo-hah Italian feast I've been writing about is here... tonight the whole Italian side of the family will join my grandparents, sister, Andrew and I in consuming possibly the entire stock of fish and seafood at our local Superstore in the Feast of the Seven Fishes. My mom and I have spend literally months preparing for this, I've personally written three recipes for the night (two of which are in this post, one that I had submitted to the Festive Food Fair a while back), and in the span of 5-6 hours it will all be over! It is always the same with holidays, birthdays, or anything you look forward to: you spend months waiting for those few hours of insanity before everything returns to normal. It's so hectic around here that I'm on the verge of "bah humbug" Scrooge-ism, but I'm hoping that the festivities tonight will perk me up just that touch to get me through the next week or so!!

Let's start with the slightly more virtuous recipe, shall we? This is my latest idea for my Christmas Eve dinner while the family is feasting on some festive dishes I can’t eat. If you like, add cheese, nuts and olive oil to your pesto, they’re on my stomach's no-no list, so I use pasta water and nutritional yeast for flavour instead. If you don't care for (or can't find) shirataki noodles, substitute regular spaghetti instead, it works just fine!

Sarah's Scallops Arugula
Serves one me!
7 oz shirataki noodles, drained
1/2 cup arugula leaves, washed and patted dry
1/4 cup chopped roasted red pepper
pinch red pepper flakes
pinch salt
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
8 sea scallops
fresh coarsely-ground black pepper
1 plum tomato, chopped
  1. In a large pot of salted water, blanch the shirataki noodles (about 2 -3 minutes). Drain, reserving about ¼ cup of the cooking water.
  2. In a food processor, combine arugula, roasted red pepper, red pepper flakes, salt, garlic, lemon zest and nutritional yeast.
  3. Puree, adding pasta water as necessary, until a thin pesto-like sauce is achieved. Set aside.
  4. Heat a little cooking spray in a medium pot over high heat.
  5. Place pepper in a shallow dish, crust both flat sides of the scallops.
  6. Add the scallops in one layer to the hot pot, leave 30 seconds without moving before flipping.
  7. Cook the other side 30 seconds, remove scallops to a plate.
  8. Turn heat to very low.
  9. Add pasta to the pot, followed by the chopped tomato, pesto and finally the scallops, and toss until everything is heated through and well combined. Serve immediately.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 187.6
Total Fat: 1.7 g
Cholesterol: 39.6 mg
Sodium: 205.8 mg
Total Carbs: 17.6 g
Dietary Fiber: 7.2 g
Protein: 25.8 g

This next recipe is a slight tweak on one I came across in the Presiden't Choice Insider's Report. Ricotta is a delicious and unusual topping for crisp bites of baguette, topped with roasted tomatoes and drizzled with rich balsamic vinegar. It's one of our many pre-dinner nibbles.

Ricotta and Roasted Tomato Crostini
Serves 24
7-8 plum tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp salt
1-2 fresh, crusty baguettes
2 cups ricotta
3 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Line baking sheets with parchment paper, or lightly grease.
  3. Slice tomatoes crosswise into ¼” rounds.
  4. In bowl, toss together tomatoes, oil, pepper and salt.
  5. Place in single layer on prepared baking sheets.
  6. Bake in centre of oven for 15 minutes. Set aside. Turn oven to BROIL.
  7. Cut baguettes into ½” slices, cutting at an angle.
  8. Place on a wire rack set over a baking sheet.
  9. Broil 6-7 minutes, flipping slices ½ way through.
  10. Spread each toast with some ricotta.
  11. Top with a tomato slice, a drizzle of vinegar, and a pinch of basil.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 130.6
Total Fat: 4.7 g
Cholesterol: 10.5 mg
Sodium: 197.3 mg
Total Carbs: 16.9 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.1 g
Protein: 5.1 g

Okay, so we've had our healthy meal, our delicious appetizers, and we're looking for the main feature here. Well, my favourite thing on the table this year without doubt would be my mom's paella, but since I don't know her recipe (she does everything by eye, including the addition of authentic saffron!) I'll pass along the alfredo sauce recipe I've created for the party. This is no shy, weak, thin alfredo sauce... this is a belt-loosener at it's finest! It serves 8 as a main dish, but we're 16 tonight so hopefully the artery clogging will be slightly less startling!! (And I know, why bother putting the nutrition info for this one? In short, because I have it, and it's scary!)

Screw-the-Diet Alfredo Sauce
Serves 8
1 1/2 cups heavy cream (starting to feel a little like Paula Deen here...)
1 cup evaporated skim milk
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (fresh fresh fresh!!! No bottles!)
10 tablespoons unsalted butter (yup, definitely bustin out of the little black dress!)
2 cups fresh-grated Parmesan (use the good stuff.... come on, it's not like goin' cheap will save your butt here!)
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
Salt and pepper
  1. Stir 1 cup of the cream, evaporated milk and the lemon juice in a heavy large skillet
    to blend.
  2. Add the butter and cook over medium heat just until the butter melts, stirring
    occasionally, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  3. **If adding pasta or vegetables to sauce, add at this point and toss**
  4. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of cream and Parmesan to the cream sauce in the skillet.
  5. Add the lemon zest, salt, and pepper.
  6. Stir and cook over low heat until sauce thickens slightly.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 424.0
Total Fat: 38.5 g
Cholesterol: 121.0 mg
Sodium: 521.4 mg
Total Carbs: 7.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.1 g
Protein: 13.9 g

Have a great Christmas tomorrow for everyone celebrating, and don't forget to leave some cookies out for Santa! If you're lacking inspiration, check out Foodblogga's round-up of her Eat Christmas Cookies event, which ended today.

Happy Holidays and a Wonderful New Year to all!! I will be posting as much as I can over the next week but since we're all busy I'm not going to worry about it! Coming up soon: brunch breads, Christmas Gifts, "snow-cakes" and dealing with your not-so-usual leftovers!