A Fantasy Feast for Christmas Eve

Today is Christmas Eve. Christmas, the season of Believing in all Things. For God so loved the world, He became Man for our salvation.

Did you have traditions growing up that revolved around the celebration of Christmas Eve? Ours was simple. Bedtime came early because we would be awakened, dressed and carted off to Midnight Mass. We have photos galore of sleepy children in their Christmas best.

I did not grow up celebrating The Feast of the Seven Fishes. It is rooted in Italian-American traditions. In this sense, “Feast” is not like other Feast Days, indicating a Holy Day, but rather feast refers to the grand meal served on Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve itself is a Virgil, and typically should be observed as a day of fasting, in anticipation of what is to come. The Easter Vigil is a perfect example. Yet the Feast of the Seven Fishes does observe the absence of meat on the table until the feast of Christmas itself.

The tradition of the Feast of the Seven Fishes comes from Southern Italy, where it is known as La Vigilia – the Vigil. It began as a custom of eating seven seafood dishes on Christmas Eve. In the beginning, these were simple dishes served throughout the day. Italian-American families began to expand the dinner until it grew into a true family celebration. Some have even expanded their celebration from Seven to Twelve, as a refection of the twelve apostles. The Feast is not on the Catholic Calendar. There is no set menu as to which fish should be served. The earliest mention of the Feast of the Seven Fishes in print appeared in an article in the New York Times some 35 years ago. It’s unclear how such a Feast ever came to be, let alone to trace its roots. We were first exposed to the Feast of the Seven Fishes while living in Las Vegas. It was an Italian-American family from New York that hosted an amazing Feast for all their Catholic friends. What a celebration it was!

What I have created is a Fantasy Feast. Like all fantasies, it’s not very practical unless you have a staff of cooks and servers and an amazing commercial kitchen at your disposal. Over seven courses, twelve different seafood dishes are served. This would be an all-day affair, no doubt. Oh but to dream!

Wishing everyone a joyfully blessed Christmas.

Fantasy Feast of Seven Fishes
Two Seafood Appetizers

Warm Crab Tartlets
Christmas New Potatoes with Caviar

Two Seafood Soups
Classic Lobster Bisque
Authentic Italian Cioppino

First Seafood Salad
Marinated Baby Octopus and New Potatoes with Roasted Fennel and Citrus

Two Seafood Pastas
Angel Hair Shrimp Scampi
Bay Scallop Linguine with White Wine Sauce

Four-Fish Main Course
Dover Sole Piccata with Pearl Onions and Young Peas
Tilapia Crab Oscar with Rosemary-Garlic Roasted Red Potatoes
Seared Scallops with Chimichurri Butter and Steamed Asparagus
Puff Pastry Stuffed Flounder with Simple Thyme-Dill Carrots

Second Seafood Salad
Lobster Caesar Salad

Triple Dessert Sensation
Orange Chocolate Mousse
Peppermint Candy Cake with White Chocolate Frosting
Fresh Pear Almond Crostata

*** Appetizers ***

Warm Crab Tartlets
1 (6 oz) can Crab Meat
1 tablespoon Red Onion
1 tablespoon Green Onion
1 tablespoon snipped Fresh Dill
1 Lemon
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1/2 cup Sour Cream
Several dashes Hot Pepper Sauce
Pinch Cayenne Pepper (optional)
Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste
2 packages Phyllo Shells
Fresh Dill for garnish

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Drain crab meat, flake and pick over to remove cartilage. Set aside. Finely mince red onion, finely chop green onion and snip dill. Set aside. Zest lemon, cut in half and juice. Set zest and fresh juice aside.

In a small bowl stir together crab, mayonnaise, sour cream, red and green onions, the dill, lemon zest, lemon juice, hot pepper sauce, and, if desired, cayenne pepper. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Place Phyllo shells onto a baking sheet. Spoon crab mixture into Phyllo shells. Bake in the oven for about 6 minutes or until heated through.

Arrange tartlets on a serving platter. If desired, garnish with fresh dill sprigs.

Christmas New Potatoes with Red Caviar
15 small new potatoes (1 1/2 pounds)
2/3 cup sour cream
Dill weed springs for garnish
Red caviar for garnish

Heat water to boiling in 3-quart saucepan. Add potatoes. Cover and heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer 20 to 25 minutes or until tender; drain and cool.

Cut potatoes in half; place cut sides up on serving tray. (Cut thin slice from bottom of each potato half, if necessary, to help stand upright.)

With a small spoons, create a small well in the center of each potato half. Place pulp in a bowl. Mash well with sour cream until smooth. Taste and season with a little salt and pepper if desired.

Top each potato half with about 1 teaspoon of the sour cream mixture. Garnish with fresh dill and a little red caviar. Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours or until well chilled.


*** Soups ***

Classic Lobster Bisque
1 Shallot
1/4 cup White Onions
2 Garlic Cloves
1/4 cup Cremini Mushrooms
1/4 cup Celery, chopped
1/4 cup Carrot, chopped
1 tablespoon Avocado Oil
1/4 cup White Wine
Hot Sauce to taste
1 teaspoon dried Thyme
Cayenne Pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
Fine Sea Salt to taste
Fine Black Pepper to taste
2 cups Chicken Stock
1 tablespoon Tomato Paste
1 – 1/2 cups Heavy Cream
3 tablespoons Butter
1/2 pound cooked lump Lobster Meat
2 tablespoons Italian Parsley for garnish
Small Lobster Tails or Claws, cooked for garnish if desired

Peel and finely mince the shallot. Set aside. Peel and finely chop onion. Set aside. Peel and mince garlic. Set aside. Rinse mushrooms, remove and discard the stems. Slice the caps and set aside. Chop celery. Peel and dice the carrots.

In large Dutch oven, heat oil over med-high heat and sauté shallots, onion and garlic for one minute. Add the celery, carrots, and mushrooms. Cook for about 6 minutes or until mushrooms have browned and the carrots have softened.

Deglaze the pan with the white wine. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the hot sauce, thyme, paprika and salt and pepper. Sauté for another minute. Add the broth and mix well. Stir in tomato paste.

Pour the bisque into a high speed blender, or use an immersion blender, and blend until smooth and creamy. Return blended mixture to pot and simmer over low heat for about 12 minutes.

Whisk in heavy cream and butter and bring to a low simmer. Add the lobster meat. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer, just until lobster is heated through. Serve hot topped with parsley.

Note: For an extra special presentation, top with visible pieces of tail or claw meat if desired.

Authentic Italian Cioppino
1 White Onion
4 Garlic Cloves, minced
1/2 tablespoon fresh Thyme
1/2 tablespoon fresh Oregano
1-1/2 lbs Cod Fillets
1-1/2 lbs large Shrimp
10 small Clams in shell
10 Mussels
3 tablespoons Butter
4 cups Chicken Stock
2 (14.5 oz) cans Diced Italian Tomatoes
1 cup White Wine
1/4 cup Water
1 tablespoon Dried Basil
Pinch Red Pepper Flakes
2 Bay Leaves
1 lb Bay Scallops

Peel and dice onion, set aside. Peel and finely mince garlic, set aside. Strip Thyme leaves from sprigs, set aside. Strip Oregano from sprigs, snip leaves and set aside.

Cut cod fillets into chunks, set aside. Peel and devein shrimp. Scrub clam shells. Rinse mussels, remove residue from the shells and debeard (remove fibrous hairs that sprout outward).Keep seafood chilled until ready to use.

Over medium heat, melt butter in a large braising pan. Cook onions and garlic in melted butter, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until onions are soft and translucent, about 6 minutes.

Stir chicken stock, diced tomatoes, wine, water, herbs, red pepper flakes, and bay leaves,. Cover braising pan with lid, lower heat and let mixture simmer to create a flavorful broth, about 30 minutes.

Fold cod, shrimp, scallops, clams, and mussels into the broth; bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, return cover to pan, and continue to simmer until the clams open, about 6 minutes or so.

Serve directly from the pan into warm bowls tableside and enjoy.


*** First Salad Course ***

Marinated Baby Octopus and New Potatoes with Roasted Fennel and Citrus
1 lb Baby Octopus
6 Garlic Cloves
1 head fennel
1/2 teaspoon ground Fennel Seeds
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/2 cup Olive Oil
2 Oranges, divided
1/2 lb Small Potatoes.
10 Kalamata Olives
2 tablespoons Pistachios
Fresh Dill, optional garnish

Clean octopus, slice down one side to open them up. Set aside. Peel and mince garlic cloves. Set aside. Remove the leafy tops from the fennel bulb. Set the bulb aside. Chop the tops, and set aside.

In a non-reactive bowl, place octopus, salt, ground fennel seeds, black pepper, red pepper flakes, olive oil, and chopped up fennel tops. Squeeze the juice of an orange over the octopus mixture. Stir well and leave covered for up to 1 hour.

While the octopus marinates, supreme and juice the remaining orange. With a very sharp knife, trim the ends of the fruit. Set flat side on a cutting board. Slice off the peel and pitch in sections, following the shape of the sphere.

Set the fruit on its side. Cut toward the center, along a membrane, then slice along the adjacent membrane until the cuts meet and the segment of fruit is released. Transfer the segment to a bowl and repeat until all the segments have been released.

Hold the remaining membranes over the bowl tightly and squeeze to release all the juice. Chill until ready to assemble the salad.

Place whole potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then cook until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, slice potatoes in half and chill until ready to use.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Slice fennel bulb into 1/4 inch slices lengthwise and arrange on a baking sheet. Season generously with salt, black pepper and olive oil. Place in oven for 15 minutes, turn slices over and repeat until they start to get crispy.

Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat.

Shake marinade off octopus, and place in hot pan. Cook octopus for 3 to 4 minutes on one side. Remove from skillet. Remove skillet from heat. Scrape out and discard the reddish-brown gunk from the pan. Return octopus to the skillet and cook the other side about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove cooked octopus to a plate until all are cooked.

Arrange potatoes, roasted fennel and supreme of orange on a platter. Cut olives in half, scatter over the salad. Place the octopus on top. Roughly chop the pistachios and sprinkle over the entire salad. If desired, garnish with fresh dill. Serve and enjoy.


*** Pastas ***

Angel Hair Shrimp Scampi
1 lb Shrimp, peeled and deveined
6 Garlic Cloves, minced
4 Lemons
4 tablespoon Minced Parsley
Kosher Salt to taste
Fresh Black Pepper to taste
4 tablespoons Butter
3 tablespoons Olive Oil
Pinch Red Pepper Flakes to taste
3/4 cup White Wine
1 lb Angel Hair Pasta

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Lower heat to medium-high to maintain a steady rolling boil until ready to cook the pasta.

Peel, devein and remove shrimp tails. Keep chilled until ready to cook. Peel and mince garlic, set aside. Zest and juice 2 lemons, set aside. Slice remaining 2 lemons into wedges for serving, set aside. Mince parsley, set aside.

Melt the butter with the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Pat the shrimp dry and season both sides with some salt and black pepper. Add the shrimp to the skillet and cook until a golden pink, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the shrimp to a plate, keep warm. .

Add the garlic and red pepper flakes to the butter remaining in skillet. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the wine and lemon juice, incorporating browned bits from the bottom of the pan into the sauce. Simmer until thickened, and reduced by half, about 4 minutes.

While the sauce thickens, cook the pasta in the boiling water just until tender, about 3 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, drain pasta of remaining water.

Add the drained pasta, lemon zest, and parsley to the skillet, toss to combine. If the pasta appears dry, add f the reserved pasta water, about 1/4 cup at a time until desired consistency is achieved. Return shrimp to the skillet, simmer until warmed through. Serve with lemon wedges and enjoy.

Bay Scallop Linguine with White Wine Sauce
1 Red Onion, chopped
6 Garlic Cloves, sliced
1 lb Linguine
2 tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
1 1/2 lbs Bay Scallops
Fine Sea Salt to taste
White Pepper to taste
1 cup dry White Wine
1 1/2 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1/2 cup Italian Parsley

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  While the water comes to a boil, peel and chop the onion. Set aside. Peel and slice the garlic into slivers. Set aside.

Once the water comes to a boil, add linguine and cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain and toss with 1 tablespoon of the oil; set aside and keep warm.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Rinse and dry the scallops on paper towels. If necessary, remove side muscle.

Add scallops, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more. Stir in wine and mustard; simmer until scallops are cooked through and some liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes. While the scallops simmer, finely chop the parsley and set aside.

Once scallops have cooked, remove from heat and stir in parsley. To serve, transfer the cooked linguine to a platter and top with scallops and sauce.


*** First Fish Course ***

Dover 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.

Pearl Onions with Baby Peas
2 can Young Peas
2/3 cup frozen Pearl Onions
2 tablespoons Butter

Rinse and drain peas, place in a sauce pan.

Trim ends from the frozen pearl onions, remove outer skin. Cut each bulb in half. Add onions to the peas in the sauce pan. Top with butter; simmer over medium-low heat until warmed through.

Transfer to a bowl, serve and enjoy.


*** Second Fish Course ***

Tilapia Crab Oscar
Hollandaise Sauce Blender Style
6 Egg Yolks
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoon Lemon Juice
Tabasco Sauce or to taste
3/4 cup Butter

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In the container of a blender, combine the egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice and Tabasco sauce. Cover, and blend for about 5 seconds.

Place the butter in a glass measuring cup. Heat butter in the microwave for about 30 seconds, stir, the continue to microwave for another 30 seconds, or until completely melted and hot. Set the blender on high speed, and pour the butter into the egg yolk mixture in a thin stream. It should thicken almost immediately.

Pour into a large glass measuring cup, scraping the blender to get all the sauce. Set aside until ready to use.

Tilapia Crab Oscar
6 Tilapia Fillets, frozen
6 oz Lump Crab Meat
1/2 cup Italian Breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
3 tablespoons Butter
1 teaspoon Italian Parsley
12 Asparagus Spears
Paprika to taste

Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Place fish fillets on prepared baking sheet. Set aside.

Break apart the crab meat into small pieces. Place in a mixing bowl. Add breadcrumbs and garlic powder. In a microwave safe small bowl, melt the butter in 15 second intervals until fully melted. Let the butter cool slightly.

While the butter cools, finely chop the parsley. Add the parsley and butter to the shrimp. Stir to combine.

Top each fish fillet with an equal amount of crab mixture. Trim any woody ends from asparagus, drape over the fish. Drizzle half the Hollandaise sauce evenly over the asparagus and sprinkle with paprika. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

When ready to serve, gently warm remaining Hollandaise sauce on low until hot. Plate the Seafood Oscar. Pour reserved Hollandaise Sauce over the fish and serve.

Optional Platter Garnish
Handful Arugula Leaves, if desired
1 Large Tomato, if desired
1/8 cup chopped Chives, if desired

While the Oscar bakes, garnish a serving platter with some Arugula leaves. Slice a tomato and fan out over the leaves. Chop some chives, sprinkle over the tomatoes. Cover and set aside until ready to serve.

Rosemary-Garlic Roasted Red Potatoes
Cooking Spray as needed
24 small Red Potatoes
16 small White Onions
3 Garlic Cloves
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
2 tablespoon dried Rosemary
Kosher Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste
1/2 tablespoon Hungarian Sweet Paprika
1/4 cup Olive Oil

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking pan with foil. Spray foil with cooking spray and set aside.

Scrub the potatoes and place in a large mixing bowl. Peel the onions and place whole in the bowl with the potatoes. Set aside.

Finely mince the garlic and place in a small bowl. Whisk in the mustard, rosemary, salt, pepper, sweet paprika and olive oil. Pour mixture over the onions and red potatoes. Toss everything is well-coated.

Transfer to the prepared pan and cook for 60 minutes or until the potatoes are tender; slightly browned and the onions have caramelized. After 30 minutes of roasting, give the pan a good shake for even cooking. Continue to roast until cooked through.

Transfer to a serving platter or large bowl and serve hot.


*** Third Fish Course ***

Seared Scallops with Chimichurri Butter
Chimichurri Compound Butter
1 cup Butter, softened
3 tablespoons Oregano, minced
1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
5 Garlic Cloves
1/4 cup Lemon Juice
Splash Red Wine Vinegar
1 tablespoon Honey
1 bunch Italian Parsley
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1 sheet wax paper, 16 inches long

Take the butter out early to give it time to soften. Once the butter is soft enough to blend with the Chimichurri Sauce, begin by mincing the oregano. Place the oregano in a blender along with the red pepper flakes. Peeled garlic cloves, add to the blender along with the lemon juice, vinegar and honey.

Tear the parsley into small pieces and add to the blender. Pulse a few times to start the blending process. While blending, drizzle in olive oil until fully incorporated.

In a large bowl, fold the Chimichurri Sauce into the softened butter until fully incorporated.

Lay out wax paper, place compound butter in the middle of the wax paper, then shape into a log, roll the paper over the log and twist the ends to secure. Place the log in the freezer until firm.

Pan-Seared Scallops
2 lbs Sea Scallops
3 tablespoons Canola Oil
Kosher Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste

Pat scallops dry with a paper towel. Set aside.

Heat canola oil in a large sauté pan. Season scallops with salt and pepper, then sear until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Remove scallops from the pan and place on a serving plate.

Melt 6 ounces of the Chimichurri Compound Butter in the same pan, swirl around to pick up any browned bits in the pan. Pour the butter sauce over of the scallops and serve.

Steamed Asparagus with Minced Garlic
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 Bunch Asparagus, Trimmed
2 Tablespoons Butter, melted
Minced Parsley for garnish
Lemon for garnish

Mince garlic for asparagus. Set aside until ready to use. Mince parsley, slice lemons and set aside.

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 sauté pan. Cook garlic for asparagus in butter for about 30 seconds. Place steamed asparagus on a serving platter. Drizzle with garlic butter. Garnish with parsley, serve with lemon slices and enjoy.


*** Fourth Fish Course ***

Puff Pastry Stuffed Flounder
1/4 cup butter
1 cup White Onion, finely chopped
1 cup Celery, minced
2 tablespoon Parsley, fresh chopped
8 oz Crabmeat
8 oz raw Shrimp, minced
1/4 cup Vermouth
Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon Hot Pepper Sauce
1/2 cup Breadcrumbs, approximately
1 package Puff Pastry sheets, thawed
2 lbs Flounder Fillets
2 Egg Yolks, beaten

Melt butter in a large saucepan over a medium-low heat. Chop the onion, mince the celery and chop the parsley.

Sauté onion, celery, and parsley until all of the vegetables are just tender.

While the vegetables are cooking, pick over the crabmeat for any shells. Set aside. Rinse, peel and devein the shrimp. Finely mince the shrimp, then set aside. Once the vegetables are tender, mix in crabmeat, shrimp, and vermouth. Season with salt, pepper and hot pepper sauce; cook until shrimp is cooked through and pink in color. Remove from heat.

Mix in breadcrumbs, a little at a time, until the mixture holds together well. Taste and add hot pepper sauce along with any salt and pepper if necessary. Set this mixture aside to let it cool.

Spray a rimmed baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.

Roll 1 sheet of puff pastry onto a flat surface. The puff pastry, once rolled should be about 1/3 to 1/4 inch thick and large enough for you to lay the fish on top of it with puff pastry remaining on the sides. Lay one of the fish fillets on top of the puff pastry. Spread the stuffing mixture evenly over the fish fillet. Place the remaining fillet over the stuffing. Trim the pastry around the filets in roughly the shape of a fish. Save the trimmings.

Roll second sheet of puff pastry out to about 1/3 to 1/4 inch thick. Drape second sheet over stuffed fillets, making sure that there is enough of the top sheet to tuck under the bottom sheet of puff pastry. Trim the top sheet of pastry about 1/2 inch larger than the bottom sheet. Brush underside of top pastry sheet with water and tuck under bottom sheet of puff pastry pressing lightly to totally encase the fish and stuffing package. Place the sealed packet on the prepared baking sheet, and let it cool for 10 to 15 minutes.

While packet is chilling, roll out pastry scraps. From the scraps cut out fins, an eye and ‘lips’. Attach cut-outs to chilled package with a little water. Use an inverted teaspoon to make indentations in puff pastry to resemble fish scales but do not puncture pastry. Chill entire package.

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Remove the fish from the refrigerator and brush the package with the egg yolks. Measure the thickness of the package at its thickest part. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and bake the fish for 10 extra minutes per inch of measured thickness. Test for doneness by inserting a thermometer into the package, when the temperature reaches 140 degrees the fish is finished cooking.

Simple Thyme-Dill Carrots
1 lb Baby Carrots
1/4 cup Water
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons Butter
1/4 teaspoon Thyme Leaves or to taste
1/8 teaspoon Dill or to taste

Place carrots in a microwave-safe bowl. Add just a little water to the bowl. Place in the microwave on HIGH for about 5 minutes.

While the carrots are cooking, strip the leaves from sprigs of thyme. Dice and set aside. Finely mince some dill. Set aside.

Drain carrots, place in a sauce pan over low heat. Add butter to the pan. Coat the carrots in the butter as it melt. Add the herbs. Stir to blend. Heat over low heat until the carrots are tender, about 5 minutes.

Transfer to a bowl, garnish with a few snips of thyme and serve.


*** Second Salad Course ***

Lobster Caesar Salad
2 Head Romaine Lettuce
2 lbs Pasteurize Lobster Meat
Garlic Croutons
Parmesan Cheese
Caesar Salad Dressing – favorite bottled or homemade

Tear lettuce leaves into large pieces and place in a well-chilled bowl. Drain lobster meat, scatter over the lettuce.

Pour a small amount of Caesar Dressing on lettuce leaves, just enough to lightly coat leaves, toss to blend.

Plate salad on small chilled plates, top with a sprinkle of Parmesan Cheese and croutons. Serve immediately.


*** Desserts ***

Orange Chocolate Mousse
8 oz Orange Chocolate
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.

Peppermint Cake with White Chocolate Frosting
Peppermint Cake
1 box French Vanilla Cake Mix
3/4 cup Butter, slightly softened
5 Egg Whites
1 cup Milk
1/2 teaspoon Peppermint Extract

Heat oven 325-degrees. Grease bottoms and sides of two 8- or 9-inch round dark; non-stick cake pans with shortening or margarine.

Cream butter. Add egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add cake mix, milk and peppermint extract. Beat for 30 seconds, just until moist. Increase speed to medium-high, beat for 2 minutes. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. Bake on the middle rack in the heated oven for about 23 minutes or until cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let cake cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, cool completely before frosting.

White Chocolate Frosting
9 oz Ghirardelli White Chocolate Chips
2-1/4 cups Powdered Sugar
6 Peppermint Candies
3/4 cup Butter, slightly softened
3/4 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
3 tablespoon Milk, or as needed

Melt baking chips in a double boiler, let cool slightly. Sift powdered sugar, set aside. Place candies in a sandwich bag. Coarsely crush with the flat side of a butter knife or small craft hammer. Set aside.

Beat butter in stand mixer at medium speed until creamy. Reduce speed to low, gradually beat in powdered sugar. Add melted chips, vanilla and milk. Increase speed to medium, beat until smooth and creamy. If necessary, add more milk to create a frosting with a spreadable consistency.

Trim first cake layer, place on cake plate, trimmed side down. Spread with about half a cup of the frosting over the top of the cake.

Trim second cake layer, place on top of the first layer, trimmed side down. Place remaining frosting on top of the cake. Spread the frosting over the top and down the sides.

Press about half of crushed candies along the bottom of the frosted cake. Scatter remaining candies in a circular pattern around the top of the cake.

Fresh Pear Almond Crostata
1 box Refrigerated Pie Dough
1/2 cup Sugar
3 tablespoons Flour
4 cups chopped Pears, peeled (8 to 9 medium)
1 teaspoon Sugar
2 tablespoons sliced Almonds

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Remove pie crust from box and let come to room temperature, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in medium bowl, mix 1/2 cup sugar and the flour. Set aside. Peel pears. Chop into bite size pieces. Gently stir in pears into the flour mixture to coat.

Remove 1 pie crust from pouch; unroll crust into ungreased 15-inch by 0-inch pan with sides.

Spoon pear mixture onto center of crust to within 2 inches of edge. Carefully fold 2-inch edge of crust up over pear mixture, pleating crust slightly as necessary. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon sugar over crust edge.

Bake 14 to 20 minutes or until pears are tender and crust is golden brown, sprinkling almonds over pear mixture during last 5 minutes of bake time.

Cool 15 minutes. Cut into wedges; serve warm.

Author: Rosemarie's Kitchen

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and avid home cook.I believe in eating healthy whenever possible, while still managing to indulge in life's pleasures.

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