Monday, December 26, 2011

A Fishy Feast

Most of you by now know that our half-Italian family goes a bit crazy on Christmas eve when it comes to hosting the traditional Feast of the Seven Fishes. Ironically, my (non-Italian) mother is really the only person in the house (besides me) who likes more than two types of fish or seafood! Since I don't "count" in group menus due to my diet (not that it would matter anyways in a cast of 5!), the resulting menu tends to have a lot of vegetarian "filler" sides like broccoli and cauliflower with cheese sauce, salad, cheese lasagne or cannelloni, bread and angel hair marinara.

Over the years, my seafood loving Mom has been able to incorporate a little bit of variety into the "fish" portion of the meal. While still nowhere close to seven types of water-bound creatures, usually about two recipes work their way onto the table for the guests to enjoy. This year, one of my mom's most popular fish recipes once again made it's appearance, no doubt due to the fact that it's both a very special occasion dish (Salmon! Butter! Challah! Cream!) and that it serves a ton of people. Or in the case of our family... 8. We lucked out cost wise by buying the sides of wild Pacific salmon on sale at Costco a month or so ago and freezing them until the day of, but regardless it's not a penny-pinching recipe by any stretch. It is more than worth it, though - if you need to impress anyone, this is definitely one to make. 
Mom’s Spectacular Stuffed Salmon
Serves 16
3 tbsp salted butter
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, halved
2 cups soft Challah (or country-style) bread crumbs
¼ cup minced fresh parsley
2 tsp dried dill
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/3 lb fresh cremini or shiitake mushrooms, chopped
¼ cup buttermilk
2 sides (2 ½ lbs each) skinless wild Pacific salmon, pin bones removed
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350F, grease a roasting dish.
  2. In a large sauté pan, melt 3 tbsp butter.
  3. Add onion and garlic and cook over low heat until onion is beginning to turn golden. Remove garlic and discard, set onion aside.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the Challah crumbs, parsley, dill, lemon juice and mushrooms with the cooked onion. 
  5. Pour buttermilk overtop and mix thoroughly to evenly wet mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Place one piece of salmon in the bottom of the dish and spread evenly with the stuffing. Top with the remaining side of salmon, pressing down lightly.
  7. Scald heavy cream and pour over the fish, then season with salt and pepper and cover.
  8. Bake 35 minutes, until flaky, basting with creamy pan juices every 10 minutes.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 402.4
Total Fat: 23.6 g
Cholesterol: 150.9 mg
Sodium: 150.9 mg
Total Carbs: 4.9 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.4 g
Protein: 40.1 g

Equally decadent and pricey was a newcomer to our kitchen - a recipe I devised for my mom after she returned from a business trip to Moncton raving about a baked haddock and seafood casserole that she had eaten at an establishment called the City Grill. She had been craving to know just how the dish came together, and after a quick peek at the menu and hearing her description of the meal as being "crispy and buttery on top, then tiny scallops and pieces of shrimp and a fillet of haddock underneath" with "not much spicing, maybe lemon" I had the bare structure of the meal. A dash of wine, some butter and - gasp - Ritz crackers ensued and by the time it all came together my mom was raving about how it not only looked identical to her high-end meal but tasted even better!

Baked Haddock and Seafood
Serves 6
1 lb haddock fillets, cut into 6 pieces
4 oz bay (small) scallops
12 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
½ cup white wine
2 tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup butter, melted
1 cup crushed Ritz crackers
2 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp black pepper
Zest of ½ lemon
  1. Preheat the oven to 375F, line a roasting pan with parchment.
  2. Lay fish fillets in a single layer on the bottom of the dish, then top with scallops and shrimp.
  3. Pour the white wine and lemon juice overtop of the seafood.
  4. In a bowl, toss butter, cracker crumbs, garlic powder, black pepper and lemon zest.
  5. Sprinkle over the seafood.
  6. Bake 15 minutes, then turn the broiler to HI and broil 2 minutes, until browned.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 280.7
Total Fat: 12.3 g
Cholesterol: 69.5 mg
Sodium: 276.3 mg
Total Carbs: 9.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.0 g
Protein: 17.4 g

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