The Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crècheat the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Typically, Italians have a big celebration on the Eve rather than Christmas day. It used to be a fast day, so no meat but lots of seafood and we still keep that tradition. We’d generally have dinner at our place (we have a big dining table) for 15 people. But this year because of COVID 19 and social distancing it will just be a few of us and Skype. We won’t cook as much food, but we’ll still have a variety of seafood and deserts to share with our neighbors.
It’s the pepper that really makes a Black Pepper and Beef Stir Fry. If your pepper mill can’t grind it coarse enough, put the pepper corns on a dish towel and whack them a few times with the bottom of a frying pan.
3 minced garlic cloves
2 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. corn starch
1 tbsp. black pepper (very coarsely ground)
1 lb. sirloin steak, cut into ¼ in crosswise slices
3 tbsp. soy sauce
3 tbsp. peanut or canola oil
½ head green cabbage thinly sliced
2 tbsp. white vinegar
1 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds (optional)
1 cup sliced scallion (optional)
Combine the garlic, brown sugar, corn starch, and coarsely ground black pepper in a bowl. Add the sliced steak, mix, and let sit 30 minutes.
Heat the oil in a large pan or wok and cook the steak until it starts to brown (4 or 5 minutes). Add the soy sauce, toss with the steak, and remove it leaving the juices in the pan.
Add the cabbage to the pan and cook until it wills and begins to brown. Add the vinegar and return the steak to the pan. Add 3 tbsp. water, toss for a few minutes and remove to a serving dish and serve with rice.
Pasta with Broccolini, Sausage and Beans can also be made with broccoli or broccoli rape. There’s an informative article about their differences here.
1 ½ lb. broccolini, washed & stems removed
¼ cup olive oil
1 lb. Italian sausage, hot or sweet, skins removed
2 gloves, minced garlic
½ cup dry white wine
1 – 15 oz. can white beans strained and rinsed
2 tbsp. butter
½ cup grated Parmigiana cheese
½ lemon – zest & juice
Start a pot of salted water for the broccolini and later the pasta.
Remove the rough stem tips and roughly chop the broccolini and boil on high for 5 minutes or until tender. Remove the broccolini and add the pasta.
While the pasta is cooking, in another pot add the olive oil and break up and cook the sausage meat. When it’s lightly browned, add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes then add the wine and deglaze the pot and stir for a few minutes.
Add the cooked broccolini and the beans. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the pasta and a cup of the pasta cooking water and toss.
Remove the pot from the heat. Add the butter, cheese, juice of ½ the lemon and zest. Mix until the butter is melted and serve with additional cheese.
Too late for Thanksgiving but in time for Christmas and Hanukkah. Cranberry Lemon Bars have a sweet-tart topping on a butter cookie base. I got this in the New York Times.
Cranberry and Lemon Topping –
12 oz. fresh or frozen cranberries
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
2 large lemons
¼ cup all-purpose flour
3 large room temperature eggs
The Crust –
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. fine salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled
9 by 13 inch pan, lined with foil and coated with cooking spray
Combine the cranberries, ¾ cup of sugar, and 3 tablespoons of water, and the zest of 2 lemons in a small pot. Bring it to a boil, stir and cook for about 10 minutes until the berries burst.
The Crust (heat oven to 350o)
Mix the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Stir in the vanilla and butter. Mix until dough forms. Press the dough into the pan in an even layer. Bake 18 – 20 minutes or until brown around the edges.
While the crust is baking squeeze the zested lemons for ½ cup of juice. Squeeze another lemon if needed. Mix the ¼ cup of flour, 1 cup of sugar, and the beaten eggs until incorporated. Add the lemon juice and mix until smooth.
After the crust has cooled for a few minutes spread the cranberry topping over it. Then slowly pour the lemon topping on the cranberry.
Return the pan to the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the topping is set. Let it cool and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Use the foil to lift it out of the pan. Cut into bars and sprinkle top with confectioners’ sugar.