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Monday, December 27, 2010

Our Christmas Eve Menu & An Injury Update!

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Crème Fraîche & Caviar
Every Christmas Eve, my husband and I host dinner for the family at Chez Miskew prior to a fabulous Christmas Day feast at my sister's house. Since being on crutches since late October, getting around the kitchen has been a challenge to say the least. I've had to rely on my husband, friends and family for help with the grocery shopping - a big change after being there just about every other day! In any event, after having to defer doing Thanksgiving dinner this year due to my injury, I was looking forward to hosting Christmas Eve dinner for my family.

Florida Seafood Gratin
Our menu was inspired by "The Feast of the Seven Fishes," a meal that is thought to have originated in Southern Italy and is traditionally held on Christmas Eve. The meal typically consists of seven seafood dishes and is a commemoration of the wait, Vigilia di Natale, for the midnight birth of the baby Jesus. Ok, so the Miskews are not even 1% Italian but we are Catholic and let's face it, the Italians know their way around great food! Our Christmas Eve menu consisted of:

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with
Crème Fraîche & Caviar
Shrimp Cocktail
Rosemary Roasted Cashews
Florida Seafood Gratin
Miskew Family Secret Recipe Crab Cakes
Fennel and Basil Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette
The Bubble Room's Red Velvet Cake

Miskew Family Crab Cakes
We served the Champagne Gosset "Brut Excellence" NV with hors d'oeuvres and the Shafer Red Shoulder Ranch Napa Valley Chardonnay 2007 with the more decadent main course. If you are looking for a special recipe to make for guests in the coming weeks, I strongly suggest the Seafood Gratin. I adapted it from Ina Garten's (aka The Barefoot Contessa) recipe and it is seriously amazing! You will look like a superstar when you serve this - I promise! I have included the recipe below - we used Florida lobster, grouper and Gulf shrimp to "keep it local." I also doubled the recipe and it is a good thing if you can purchase the lobster meat already cooked since that saves you from having to boil those suckers yourself!

The Bubble Room Red Velvet Cake
The meal turned out extremely well and The Bubble Room Red Velvet Cake is simply the best I've ever tasted. The Bubble Room is a restaurant in Captiva Island, Florida we went to every Summer during family vacations and their Red Velvet Cake takes me right back to my childhood. The recipe was actually originally published in the Junior League of Ft. Myers Cookbook - so I'm not that far off topic! In fact, we were returning from my first trip to Captiva in over a decade when I tripped up a step and broke the bone in my hip. Unfortunately, it hasn't healed as we hoped it would and I have to have surgery next month to correct it. I do look forward to a "Hip Hip Hooray!" party once I'm all healed and will do my best to keep cooking and blogging in the meantime. Wish me luck!

Bon Appétit,

Florida Seafood Gratin
adapted from Ina Garten's "Barefoot Contessa at Home"

For the sauce:
2 cups clam juice
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup plus 6 tablespoons good dry, white wine, such as Chablis, divided
6 tablespoons tomato puree
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 pound raw Gulf pink shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cut in half crosswise
1 pound raw grouper, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 pound cooked Florida lobster meat, cut into 1-inch chunks
14 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
5 cups julienned leeks, white and light green parts (4 large)
3 cups julienned carrots (5 carrots)
2 cups panko (Japanese dried bread crumbs)
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
4 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves
2 tablespoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the sauce:
Combine the stock, cream, 1 cup of the wine, the tomato puree, and saffron in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and add the shrimp. After 5 minutes, use a slotted spoon to remove the shrimp to a bowl. Add the grouper to the stock for 5 minutes, until just cooked through, and remove to the same bowl. Add the cooked Florida lobster to the bowl.
Continue to cook the sauce until reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Mash 2 tablespoons of the butter together with the flour. Whisk the butter mixture into the sauce along with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
Melt 6 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saute pan. Add the leeks and carrots and cook over medium heat for 7-10 minutes, until softened. Add the remaining 6 tablespoons of wine, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook for 7-10 minutes, until tender. Set aside.
Combine the panko, Parmesan, parsley, tarragon, and garlic. Melt the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter and mix it into the crumbs until they're moistened.
Spoon the seafood evenly over the bottom of a 14 by 9 1/4-inch oval gratin dish or glass baking dish. Strew the vegetables on top of the seafood and pour the sauce evenly over the seafood and vegetables. Spoon the crumbs evenly on top. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbly. Serve hot.
Serves eight


  1. Happy Holidays!
    It looks like you had a great fest.
    Wishing you a speedy recovery and the very best for the New Year.
    Greetings from Colorado.
    I am sure the gratin was delicious. Ina's recipes never disappoint. It looks spectacular.

  2. You managed to pull that off while hobbling on crutches? That is quite something!
    Happy Blue Monday :-)

  3. I hope you feeling better now.
    Happy holidays to you and family!
    Looking at the wide range of food you shared, it must be a great celebration with family and friends

  4. I hope you have a rapid and smooth recovery when you have the surgery. I'll send you well wishes when the procedure takes place.

  5. Wow, thats quite a spread, I cant believe you did all of that while you were injured. If it was me, nothing would get done LOL. Here's hoping your surgery is a great success.
    HOpe you had an amazing Christmas.
    *kisses* HH

  6. Stephanie-I feel bad for you that you are on crutches, hope you will recover soon!
    Sounds like you had a nice Christmas feast, your seafood gratin is a labor of love...time consuming, but the recipe, and the dish itself, looks so delicious, so perfect for the holidays!

  7. I love that you did a feast of the seven fishes! My family does no such thing and really should one of these years. Maybe once I take over... Everything looks delicious and I'm glad to hear you're up to hosting again!

  8. Delicious! And accomplished while incapacitated--kudos!

    I hope things go well with your surgery and recuperation!


  9. So sorry about your injury...
    The food looks really amazing though :)


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