Christmas Eve – An Intimate Supper

While we are thinking about all the office parties and pot lucks and baking projects galore; I’m thinking about Christmas Eve – my lovely family, and some quiet time together. Sometimes simple is best. Simple can be elegant. A few years back, I created this simple but elegant Four-Course Christmas Eve Supper for my lovely family. This year, it’s coming out again. It’s one of my favorite menu collections, perfect for the three of us.

Some of recipes that follow are not new – I’ve shared them with you before in various postings. Today I’m feeling a little nostalgic, and in need of familiar surroundings – taking a little stroll down memory lane as I plan ahead for a quiet Christmas Eve.  After all, Christmas isn’t about the presents under the tree – it’s about those we gather around the tree – if only in our hearts.

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On The Menu
Starter:
Warm Crab Tartlets

Main Course:
Dover Sole Piccata
Steamed Asparagus
Angel Hair Pasta with Garlic-Parmesan Butter

Salad:
Cesar Salad

Dessert:
Mousse au chocolat à l’orange

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Warm Crab Tartlets
1 cup cooked crabmeat or one 6-ounce can crabmeat, drained, flaked, and cartilage removed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped green onion
1 tablespoon snipped fresh dill weed or 1 teaspoon dried dill weed
1 teaspoon fine lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Several dashes bottled hot pepper sauce
Dash cayenne pepper (optional)
Salt and black pepper
Fresh Dill Weed (optional garnish)
2 Packages Phylo Shells

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl stir together crab, mayonnaise, sour cream, the 2 tablespoons onion, the 1 tablespoon dill, the 1 teaspoon lemon peel, lemon juice, hot pepper sauce, and, if desired, cayenne pepper. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Place Phylo shells onto a baking sheet. Spoon crab mixture into Phylo shells. Bake in the oven for 5 to 8 minutes or until heated through. If desired, garnish with fresh dill sprigs.

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dover sole piccataDover Sole Piccata
1 lb Dover Sole Fillets (or any light, white fish fillet, skins removed)
2 Tablespoons Flour
Salt & White Pepper to taste
¼ Cup Olive Oil
¼ Cup White Wine
4 Cloves Garlic, chopped
3 Green Onions, white parts only, finely minced
¼ Cup Lemon Juice, fresh
6 Tablespoons Butter
3 Tablespoons Capers
2 Lemon for garnish
4 Cherry Tomatoes for garnish
4 Sprigs Fresh Parsley for garnish

Slice lemons in half, then cut V-slits to create a “blossom”. Cut thin slice from the bottom of the tomato so that it will sit flat. Cut V-slits to create tomato blossoms, taking care not to cut all the way through. Gently open the blossom, then push out a bit of the seeds.   Cover blossoms and set aside until ready to serve.

Chop garlic and onions for Sole Piccata and set aside until ready to use

In a glass pie pan, mix flour, a dash of salt & white pepper to dredge sole. Set aside.

In a heavy skillet large enough for sole, olive oil over medium heat until almost smoking. Blot sole dry with paper towels, dredge in seasoned flour, shaking off any excess flour.

Fry sole in hot oil until golden brown. Do not rush sole, give it time to brown nicely. Flip and fry other side to a golden brown. Remove sole from skillet, plate and tent with foil to keep warm.

Deglaze sole skillet with white wine, scrapping up any brown pieces of sole remaining in pan. Add garlic, onion and lemon juice. Sauté until liquid is reduced by half. Slowly mix in butter, one tablespoon at a time until melted and creamy-smooth. Season with salt & pepper to taste, add capers and heat 1-2 minutes.

Spoon sauce over sole. Garnish dishes with blossoms. Tuck parsley around and under the blossoms and serve.

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asperges-braisees4-300x224Steamed Asparagus
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 Bunch Asparagus, Trimmed
2 Tablespoons Butter, melted

Mince garlic for asparagus. Set aside until ready to use.
Trim Asparagus.

Place in Asparagus steamer with enough water to reach bottom of steam basket. Cook on medium-high heat until tender, about 7 minutes.

Melt butter is a small saute pan. Cook garlic for asparagus in butter for about 30 seconds.
Place steamed asparagus on a serving platter. Drizzle with garlic butter and serve.

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Angel Hair Pasta with Garlic-Parmesan ButterAngel Hair Pasta with Garlic-Parmesan Butter
1/2 lb Angel Hair Pasta
4-5 Garlic Cloves, minced
4 Tablespoons Butter, melted
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
Chopped Parsley, for garnish

Fill large pasta pot with salted water. Heat on high to rapid boil, lower temperature to a rolling boil and maintain until ready to use.

Heat a small saute pan over low heat. Add minced garlic and butter. Saute until butter melts and garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Keep warm over very low heat until ready to use.

Place pasta into boiling water. Cook for about 5 minutes or until al dente. Drain pasta well, return to pan.

Pour garlic butter over hot pasta. Toss to coat well. Transfer to serving bowl. Add Parmesan cheese, toss to blend. Sprinkle with parsley for added color and serve.

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Caesar-Salad 2Caesar Salad
1 Head Romaine Lettuce
Garlic Croutons
Parmesan Cheese
Caesar Salad Dressing – favorite bottled or homemade

Tear lettuce leaves into large pieces. Pour a small amount of Caesar Dressing on lettuce leaves, just enough to lightly coat leaves, toss to blend. Plate on small salad plates, top with a sprinkle of Parmesan Cheese and croutons. Serve immediately.

Now I know what some of you are asking . . . where are the anchovies? A Caesar Salad is supposed to have anchovies! Sorry, folks, but I think anchovies are yucky. I know, those little fish are more than likely swimming about in the dressing, but I’d rather not see them face to face thank you very much. If you would like to add anchovies to your salad, please feel free to do so.

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Mousse au chocolat à l’orange
8 ounces Lindt Intense Orange Chocolate (2 full bars + 5 squares)
6 eggs, at room temperature
whipped cream (optional)

Slowly melt the chocolate in a double boiler. The top of the double boiler should be just above the water and the water should be at a simmer, not boiling.

Separate the egg yolks and whites into two large clean bowls. Using a hand or stand mixer, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form.

Allow the chocolate to cool just slightly then stir the melted chocolate into the egg yolks, beating vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth.

Stir one-third of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and mix until thoroughly blended. Using a sharp-edged spatula, carefully fold the rest of the egg whites into the mixture. Spoon the mousse into individual glasses, chill and serve with whipped cream if you wish.

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