Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sicilian Christmas Eve with Susan Miura

I asked my dear friend writer Susan Miura to guest blog today. Many of you enjoyed her muffins in October, but she is the only one I know who has enjoyed the Feast of Seven Fishes some Italians do for Christmas Eve. She talks about how the tradition has changed with her family, but she still makes a seafood dish for her 25 family members (in her house today) that is famous. It looks nothing like the Shrimp Mold photo I found from a Southern Living book, but could resist putting that up. I am thinking of sneaking over to her house for a taste - who would notice me in that crowd? In the meantime, I'm whipping up the Salmon Mold for my family for tomorrow, so it can chill. Susan thinks I will love it. We'll see. -Amy

Christmas Eve is a gastronomical delight when you come from a large Sicilian family, even more so now that our family has blossomed and grown into a beautiful mix of cultures. As a little girl, I remember the house filled with people and the aromas of aglio olio (angel hair pasta with garlic, olive oil and Parmesan cheese), and the traditional seven types of seafood. My father would go to a fish market in Chicago to buy calamari (squid), snails, smoked fish, clams, king crab legs, shrimp and a few lobster tails (which we shared, due to the expense). The calamari was made into a salad, the snails cooked in a tomato sauce, smoked fish eaten as is and clams were served raw (eww – slimy!) with Tabasco sauce and lemon wedges. Crab legs were steamed and lobster tails were boiled. We divided the shrimp into two batches. Some were served plain with cocktail sauce, while the rest were cooked with garlic, butter, breadcrumbs and white wine for a delicious pan of Shrimp de Jonghe (which is actually French, but we didn’t care). About five years ago, the Christmas Eve baton was passed to me. In keeping with Sicilian tradition, we still have some seafood, but the menu has diversified in keeping with our melting pot family. In addition to the aglia olio and Shrimp de Johghe (must haves), this year’s fare will include Costa Rican salad, Mexican pico de gallo, Peruvian aji (hot pepper sauce) and spinach quiche (for the vegetarian contingent), among other dishes. And a mere 24 hours later, we’ll be feasting on wonderful Japanese cuisine from my husband’s side of the family!
Hope you enjoy this family-favorite recipe:

Shrimp DeJonghe

1 stick butter
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
½ cup dry breadcrumbs
1 dash cayenne pepper
½ cup white wine
½ tsp. paprika
4 cups shelled, cooked shrimp
Additional parsley to sprinkle on top after baking

To cook raw shrimp, place in boiling water for no more than 3 minutes ( usually 2 ½ minutes is enough). Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in saucepan. Add crushed garlic, parsley, paprika and wine. Mix well. Stir in breadcrumbs. Place cooked shrimp evenly in baking pan. Spread mixture evenly over shrimp. Bake for 30 minutes or until crumbs are brown. Sprinkle with fresh, chopped parsley. Serve hot.

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