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Video: Celebrate ‘Feast of 7 Fishes’ with Italian recipes

  1. Closed captioning of: Celebrate ‘Feast of 7 Fishes’ with Italian recipes

    >>> on christmas eves italians all over the world will celebrate the labor of mary. here we call it the feast of the seven fishes .

    >> how long did you practice that? here to help you get a jump on the feast, scott conan. great to see you.

    >> happy holidays .

    >> how do you approach the feast of seven fishes? does it matter the seafood we use?

    >> it doesn't matter the seafood. there's a still staples that we always had to have. always had to have some kind of seafood pasta which we're going to do today and it doesn't matter the number. they say seven but it could be nine or ten.

    >> could be more but not less.

    >> seven is the baseline.

    >> it depends. it depends the mood your aunt or grandmother are in when cooking.

    >> so we have spaghetti. garlic, olive oil . we'll add shrimp to this. that's the most important part and then just -- it's the most simple pasta in the world. it really is all about getting it correct. a little bit of a toasted garlic. crushed red pepper , extra virgin olive oil and we cook it just like this. this is the final product.

    >> fantastic.

    >> add a little bit of parsely that's chopped.

    >> that's an easy one. that you can do in a minute. it's basically cooking the pasta is the hardest part.

    >> that's the toughest part. this is mixed, fried, different things. so in this case we have calamari and shrimp, a bunch of vegetables, artichoke, eggplant, we take it and put in milk first. it adds sweetness but most importantly a great coating once we dredge it in flour afterwards.

    >> the oil is really hot right now.

    >> the oil is smoking hot.

    >> right.

    >> this is the fun part.

    >> step away.

    >> so my aunt used to make a great fried octopus as well which was wonderful. so here. add that inside there and we'll throw herbs in.

    >> oh, i love the fried herbs.

    >> a little bit of fried lemon, garlic slices inside there as well. beautiful.

    >> and you do the same thing with the vegetables too afterwards?

    >> exactly. we'll put it all together and let it go like this. look at how great this is.

    >> that happened pretty quickly there too.

    >> look at that. gorgeous. of course the importance of a towel on the bottom of your tray to capture all the residual oil being leaked off.

    >> is that something you can do as an appetizer.

    >> can you find it readily at the grocery store?

    >> it may have to be special order. here we have seven different types. we have that with the vegetables and all of that stuff. this is tomatoes and capers and white wine . this is a seafood salad which is obligatory as well. this is lobster. we have anchovies inside and of course cod with a sauce and mushrooms and things like that.

    >> will you do this over the christmas holiday or are you just doing it for us?

    >> my work is done.

    >> fantastic.

    >> this is great stuff. good to see you. happy holidays .

TODAY recipes
updated 12/22/2013 3:16:23 PM ET 2013-12-22T20:16:23

Recipe: Spaghetti agli'olio with prawns

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Prawns
  • Kosher Salt
  • 1/4 pound dried spaghetti
  • 3 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
  • Pinch of Crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.  Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Start boiling the spaghetti. While it cooks, saute' the garlic over just enough heat that it sizzles gently. Add the red pepper flakes. When the edges of the garlic just start to brown, add 1 cup of pasta water and a pinch of salt. Keep cooking, shaking the pan to create an emulsion, until the oil and water mixture no longer has that harsh raw-garlic flavor.

When the pasta is al dente, drain it and add it to the pan, add prawns & chopped parsley. Saute until prawns are cooked. Serve immediately.

Recipe: Light and crispy fritto misto with fried lemons and herbs

  • 2 to 3 quarts peanut, grapeseed, or other vegetable oil
  • 4 cleaned whole squid, about 1 pound
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 6 baby artichokes
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, sliced very thinly (remove seeds, if easy to do so)
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced very thinly
  • 1 large handful whole fresh parsley leaves washed and dried well
  • 1 small handful fresh rosemary leaves

Heat the oil: Fill a large, heavy-based saucepan about halfway with oil. Begin to heat the oil over medium heat, but don't let it get ripping until you have everything else ready to go.

Prepare the squid and vegetables: Separate the bodies and the tentacles of the squid. If the squid are big, cut the tentacles in half, otherwise leave them whole. Cut the squid body open so you can lay it flat. With a sharp knife cut the squid body into strips about 1/4-inch thick and about 1 1/2 inches long. Soak the squid strips in the milk while you prepare the rest of the fritto misto.

Trim the stem and peel away the outer leaves of the artichokes. Slice them very thinly through the stem end. (If you have true baby artichokes, you don't have to worry about the choke; if you can only find older artichokes, remove the spiny choke before slicing.)

Trim the ends off the zucchini and slice lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices. From those slices, cut out sticks that measure about 1 1/2 inches long.

Get your fry station set up: On a sided sheet pan or large platter, combine the flour, salt, and pepper.  Have the lemon, garlic, parsley, and rosemary prepared and nearby. Also have ready plates or a platter lined with paper towel or parchment paper.

Increase the heat of the oil until it reaches 375° F on a candy/fry thermometer. Meanwhile, drain the calamari from the milk and toss the calamari, the artichokes and the zucchini in the flour. Shake the flour pan back and forth quickly to help coat everything evenly.

To serve: Once the oil is up to temperature, you want to fry the vegetables and squid in batches in order to keep the oil's temperature constant and to prevent the oil from overflowing. Add about one-third of the floured goods, a few of the lemon and garlic slices and let cook for about 1 minute. Add about a third of the rosemary and the parsley and continue to cook until the vegetables and squid are a light golden brown, another 1 to 2 minutes. Using a spider or a Chinese strainer (or as a last resort a traditional slotted spoon), transfer the fried foods to the lined plate or platter to drain.  Season with more salt, a sprinkle of lemon juice, and additional chopped fresh parsley. This is best served hot, so have your friends gathered nearby to enjoy while you immediately begin cooking the next batch.

Recipe: Fennel- and citrus-spiced roasted black cod with baccalà mantecato

  • For the spices
  • 1 tablespoon Dried Lemon Zest (page 351) or high-quality purchased dried lemon zest
  • 11/2 teaspoons fennel seeds 1 teaspoon anise seeds (not
  • star anise)
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel pollen (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons flaked sea salt
  • For serving
  • 3/4 cup Baccalà mantecato (page 195)
  • 4 black cod fillets, about 5 ounces each
  • Kosher salt
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 small sprigs fresh thyme 12 very thin garlic slices
  • 4 ounces chanterelle mushrooms, trimmed
  • 16 asparagus spears, preferably thin ones, trimmed to 3 inches and blanched (see page 194)
  • 12 to 16 pieces roasted Cherry tomatoes (page 323)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Freshly ground black pepper 2 tablespoons Black olive oil
  • (page 344)

With its fragrant spice rub featuring lemon and anise, the cod is quite delicious on its own. But it becomes spectacular when paired with baccalà mantecato, a Venetian specialty that's similar to brandade but more like a thick, creamy sauce. Roasted cherry tomatoes cut through all that richness and adds a pop of color to the plate.

For the spices: In a small sauté pan, toast the dried lemon zest, fennel seeds, anise seeds, and crushed red pepper over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the spices to a spice grinder, add the fennel pollen, and grind finely. If not using right away, let cool to room temperature, and store air- tight. Mix 1 tablespoon of the spices with the flaked sea salt to be used as finishing salt and reserve it separately from the rest of the spices. (Both spice mixes will keep for months, tightly covered, but their aroma and intensity will lessen over time.)

To serve: heat a convection oven to 375°F or a conventional oven to 400°F.

Warm the baccalà mantecato over low heat, if necessary.

Pat the cod dry, lightly dust both sides with just a little of the unsalted spice mix, and season lightly with kosher salt. heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large sauté pan over high heat, add the cod skin side down, and top each fillet with 1 sprig thyme and 3 slices garlic. Immediately transfer to the oven to cook until just cooked through, 8 to 12 minutes depending on thickness.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium sauté pan over high heat. Add the mushrooms, season lightly with kosher salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until nicely browned on all sides, about 4 minutes. Add the asparagus, roasted cherry tomatoes, and parsley and cook, stirring occasionally, to heat through. Season with kosher salt and black pepper to taste.

Divide the vegetables among serving plates. Using about 3 tablespoons of the mantecato per plate, dollop it over and around the vegetables. Place the fish, skin side up, on the vegetables. Drizzle a little Black olive oil over everything and finish with a pinch of the spices mixed with sea salt.

Note: Fennel pollen, long a part of culinary tradition in northern Italy, is exactly what it sounds like: granules of pollen harvested from the buds of flowering fennel plants. Just a little bit not only adds its own sweet, licorice-like notes, but it also boosts the overall flavor of the dish. Look for it in specialty markets.

Serving Size

Makes 4 servings

Recipe: Savory zeppole

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 16 tablespoons (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoon Anchovies
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, more for sprinkling

Line two sided baking sheets with parchment. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine 1 cup water, the milk, butter, anchovies, granulated sugar, and kosher salt. Cook, stirring, until the butter has melted and the mixture has just come to a boil. Immediately add the flour all at once while stirring constantly until a dough forms and pulls cleanly from sides of pot.

Transfer the dough to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the dough is cool enough to add eggs to without cooking them, about 1 minute. Add 1 egg and mix on low speed until it's well blended and the dough is smooth again. Repeat with the rest of the eggs until all are incorporated. Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano and mix until incorporated.

Using a pastry bag with a plain tip, pipe the pastry dough into cherry-tomato size mounds about 1 inch apart. Alternatively, use a mini ice-cream scoop or 2 tablespoons to drop small mounds of dough onto the sheet. Refrigerate until ready.

Fry dough at 375 degrees until golden brown. Drain & Serve.

Recipe: Roasted eel with tomatoes


In a pot with a broad bottom, over medium/low heat, add olive oil & slowly sauté garlic & crushed red pepper. Add eel filet, wine, tomatoes. Add salt & pepper to taste. Cover & stew for 20-30min over low/medium heat. Finish with chopped parsley and serve

Recipe: Slow-cooked lobster with ricotta dumplings

  • 1 pound fresh ricotta cheese, preferably sheep's milk, drained if very wet
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
  • For the Lobster
  • 2 lobsters, 11/2 pounds each
  • For serving extra-virgin olive oil 20 cherry tomatoes 1 cup Lobster Broth
  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice Crushed red pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced 1 cup pea shoots
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon tarragon oil

For the dumplings: Line a rimmed baking sheet with parch- ment paper. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, egg yolks, panko, and flour. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. refrigerate the dough for at least 10 minutes to make it easier to handle.

Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of well-salted water to a gentle boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water.

Using two teaspoons, shape the ricotta mixture into quenelles (see page 79), transferring them to the baking sheet as you go. (You will need 20 quenelles.) In batches, boil the dumplings for 7 minutes, then gently transfer to the ice water and let cool for 20 minutes. (This makes the dumplings easier to handle and less prone to falling apart when mixed with everything else. At this point, the dumplings may be drained, tossed with olive oil, and refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

For the lobster: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water.

Separate the large claws from the bodies. Boil the bodies for 1½ minutes, then transfer them to the ice water. (The lobster will not be fully cooked at this point.) Boil the claws for 6 minutes, then shock in the ice water. remove the lobster meat from the shells (reserve the shells for making stock). Split the tails in half length- wise, then cut each half into thirds. Cut the claws in half and reserve. If not using the lobster meat right away, cover and refrig- erate for up to 1 day.

To serve: heat a convection oven to 325°F or a conventional oven to 350°F.

In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until their skins blister, about 5 minutes. remove from the pan, let cool slightly, and peel them.

Put the lobster meat in a medium ovenproof sauté pan. Add ¼ cup of the Lobster Broth, 2 tablespoons of the butter, 2 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon juice, and a pinch of crushed red pepper. Season lightly with salt, transfer the pan to the oven, and cook, basting the lobster with the butter and oil from the pan every few minutes, until the lobster is no longer translucent and is firm to the touch, 8 to 12 minutes (begin checking early so you don't overcook the lobster).

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and a pinch of crushed red pepper and cook, swirling the garlic in the pan, until the garlic just begins to turn golden. Add ½ cup of the Lobster Broth and cook for 1 min- ute, then add the tomatoes and the dumplings. Lower the heat to medium and gently cook for 2 minutes, adding more Lobster Broth

if the pan is dry, add the remaining 4 tablespoons butter, swirling it in the pan to emulsify the sauce. Add the lobster meat, turning it over in the sauce to coat it well. Add the pea shoots, chives, and lemon juice and stir gently to combine. Divide among serving plates and drizzle each plate with a little of the Tarragon oil.

Serving Size

Makes 4 servings


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