Real Food for Real Life

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It's almost Christmas...

Three more days until Christmas and I actually have all the gifts wrapped- it will be a nice change not wrapping any on Christmas eve. The kids will do some more cookie decorating tonight, but really, all the Christmas sweets are done as well, Ben even got his kolachi done early. (Kolachi is a Slovak poppy seed roll that I'm supposedly not allowed to make because I'm not Slovak; actually, I think my dear husband fears that these hillbilly hands will make a better roll!) We are headed for my in-laws tomorrow to spend Christmas, and while I will be helping Pat in the kitchen, it's not my show this year and there will be many hands to help.
I was watching Emeril again this morn while getting ready, and he was making all kinds of seafood dishes that he had grown up eating at the holidays. Although I did not grow up eating seafood (alas, I was an adult before I had the pleasure of trying it), I certainly love eating it now. I wanted to make a nice meal for Ben, the kids and I to have together tonight any way, so seafood it would be. I had a nice salad last evening with spinach and dried cranberries, and since I had some spinach that needed to be used before we left, I decided that we would have that as well, dressed with some of the Sweet and Sour Salad Dressing leftover from Thanksgiving. A crisp baguette and a bottle of Fiano (an Italian off-dry white) finished off the meal beautifully (no wine for the kiddies, of course).

Spinach and Cranberry Salad

baby spinach, washed and stemmed
red onion slivers
dried cranberries
walnut pieces
feta or cotija crumbles*
Sweet and Sour Dressing or a Balsamic Vinaigrette
fresh ground black pepper

Quantities are up to you, depending on how many you are serving, and how much you like a particular ingredient. Just before serving, toss the spinach with dressing and put into a serving dish or dishes. Sprinkle on the cheese, cranberries, onion, and walnut pieces. Give the salad a grinding of fresh black pepper and serve.
*Cotija is a Mexican cheese that is similar to feta, but drier and not quite as salty. I actually prefer it to feta and am much more likely to have it around.

Sweet and Sour Salad Dressing

2 tbs. soy sauce
scant 3/4 cup canola oil
scant 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup + 2 tbs. cider vinegar

Blend all the ingredients in a blender until sugar is completely dissolved. Shake well before serving. Store in the refrigerator, but bring to room temperature before using.

Seafood Scampi

12 to 16 oz, salmon fillet, skinned & cubed
12 to 16 oz. bay scallops, drained
12 to 16 oz. med. shrimp, peeled & deveined
1 lb. box of some variety of long pasta
olive oil
minced garlic
kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper
unsalted butter
dry white wine
lemon juice
lemon wedges, shredded Parmesan, & minced parsley, to serve

In separate bowls, toss the salmon, shrimp, and scallops with a little olive oil, minced garlic, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper and set aside. Cook your pasta of choice al dente in liberally salted water (I had fettucine). Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat; saute the seafood individually until just cooked and put together in a bowl at the back of the stove to keep warm. (Now this becomes very un-recipelike because I can't tell you how much to use, or even how much I used.) Into the pan put some butter, dry white wine, and a small amount of lemon juice, quantity depending on how "saucy" you want the end product. Bring to s simmer and taste- add whatever you feel is lacking- I added some more garlic, dried parsley, and lemon juice. Toss the pasta with the sauce and seafood. Serve with shredded Parmesan (no can please) and lemon wedges; minced fresh parsley is great if you have it (I did not).

These are the leftovers, I forgot to take a picture as I was serving dinner.

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