Years ago, I was introduced to the Italian tradition of the Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve. Feast is right! Those meals can go on forever and leave everyone too stuffed to move. I'm personally a fan of a lighter meal (my family always had soup on Christmas Eve). Here's a way to have the best of both worlds -- seven fishes in a festive but simpler menu for two.
(click on the photos for larger images.)
These crisp wonton skins filled with crab and cream cheese are a Chinese-American restaurant staple, but making your own is fun -- and they'll taste much better. They're a perfect beginning for a special menu for the two of you. If crab is unavailable, you can use chopped cooked shrimp in the Rangoon triangles, or try these Panko-Fried Shrimp
Janet A. Zimmerman
To start off the evening on a festive note, try pairing the crab Rangoon with a classic, not-too-dry martini. It's a match made in heaven! But if you're not a fan of martinis, a glass of champagne
is another great start for this dinner.
Janet A. Zimmerman
There are a lot of bad Caesar salads out there, which is why I prefer to make my own, with homemade croutons and dressing, and real Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. The anchovies in the dressing provide the second of your seven fishes for the evening.
Although you can use any combination of firm white fish, crustaceans and mollusks in this classic San Francisco soup, using all of the suggestions in the recipe -- fish, shrimp, clams, mussels and scallops -- will give you the full complement of your seven fishes. You can make the soup base a couple of days in advance and just cook the fish before serving.
Don't worry! No fish in this dessert. Rich, nutty, spicy cake gets topped with delectable caramel apple compote and whipped cream. It's a great way to finish your Christmas Eve meal for two, and even better with coffee and your favorite liqueur.