Scenes from a Christmas Eve

26 Dec
These are my aunts Anna and Rita. They cook an amazing meal for at least ten members of our family every Christmas Eve, and all of us love them very much. A lot of my friends ask me to email them photos of our annual feast, and so I decided to make it easy and upload a bunch here. I hope you all had a great holiday. We did.
I came across some lard bread in the morning and couldn’t pass it up.
Neither could Joanna and Josephine.
Anna’s baked clams. One day I hope to make them as good, but I’m not holding my breath.
Rita’s angel hair with garlic, hazelnuts and almonds. Simple and perfect.
Rita and Joan’s fried shrimp will make you weep. Two platters and not a single shrimp was left.
It’s not Christmas Eve without seafood salad, and Anna’s is excellent.
So much so that these two are always sliding it to their side of the table.
These mussels were a surprise dish. Simple and extremely tasty.
Broiled baccala with cherry peppers. Love, love, love it.
Also a baccala salad. Even the non believers were all over this salad; it was terrific.
Cousins Alec and Joan discuss strategy over the next dish to show up. Will they or won’t they?
Stewed eel with olives and prosciutto. They did eat it. So did everybody else. One of the best eel dishes I’ve ever had, and I eat plenty of eel.
And of course a couple baked lobsters. Just in case we were still hungry.
I’ve said this before: Josephine may be the finest baker that I know. I always look forward to her Christmas cookies and biscotti.
Christmas Eve is also her birthday, and Goombah Joe remembered.
Anna went above and beyond this year and surprised us all with homemade pasticiotti. I damn near cried.
Yeah, we had a little wine. Just ask cousin Frank, he’ll tell you.
We’ll be back next year. I hope.

14 Responses to “Scenes from a Christmas Eve”

  1. Claudia December 26, 2011 at 10:31 pm #

    Just teared up – the tinniest bit out of nostalgia – or hunger? I hope you share the recipe for pasticiotti one day – mine isn't quite right. And those clams… and the salad…. I'm going to stop or I'll just be listing the menu. Christmas Eve at its best.

  2. Mister Meatball December 26, 2011 at 10:39 pm #

    Claudia: I ran the pasticiotti recipe awhile back. Here's the link:

  3. Stacey Snacks December 26, 2011 at 10:50 pm #

    That bacala salad is gorgeous, as is Rita's simple pasta w/ hazelnuts… mouth is watering from that feast!Happy and healthy!Stacey

  4. Ciao Chow Linda December 27, 2011 at 1:36 am #

    OMG – What a fabulous feast. I thought I made a lot of fish dishes but you've got several I don't make but would love to try. Can you adopt me and my two kids for next Christmas eve's dinner? How about the recipe for those breaded shrimp? I love your aunts too.

  5. Anonymous December 27, 2011 at 4:44 pm #

    What a feast with your familia and quite a fish feast etc. at that..Your familia looks like they are so so wondeful, great cooks, the clams, my mouth is watering as it is for all the shrimp, eel, etc.Blessed holidays to you and yours.hope, peace and love,joy in mouth is watering so much I have to make some food, it is so lovely to look at & read your blog daily, ciao ciao!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Mister Meatball December 29, 2011 at 2:33 pm #

    Shame on me. Some of the photos here (the best ones, she might claim) are the work of not me, but one Joanna Boccio.I'm not entirely certain, but I believe she is related to me in some fashion. Anyway, I thank her for so generously contributing to this item. And apologize for not clearing up the matter sooner.(Hey, if I didn't say this she'd never take another picture for me again. Whaddayagonnado!)

  7. Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti December 31, 2011 at 12:34 am #

    Everything looked so incredibly fabulous! I had to make my Christmas Eve dinner simple as it was only three of us at home this year. We had linguine with clam sauce, fried shrimp, baked lobster, baked sock eye salmon, and homemade strufoli for dessert. I made a big bowl of fish salad to bring to my brother's Christmas celebration the next day. Happy New year to you and your family! Do you have a traditional New Year's menu? My husband always requests Rabbit ragu served over pappadelle on the eve and lentils for good luck on New Year's Day.

  8. Mister Meatball December 31, 2011 at 2:39 am #

    No traditions for New Year's, no. Just a weeklong eatfest with friends here at the house. Happy New Year!

  9. Gin January 3, 2012 at 5:40 pm #

    Mario Batali says there are two kinds of people: Italians and those who wish they were Italian. When I see your Xmas Eve feast I wish I was more closely related.

  10. Kate. January 4, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

    Aw, you guys are so cute! And the spread looks amazing. And cousin Frank got a shake weight- yayy!

  11. Ricklie Stone December 24, 2013 at 7:58 pm #

    Beautiful…the family, the feast… and the love, palpable. Surrounded by blessings. A true tribute to what the holidays are at their very best. Wishing you and yours the jolliest of times and sweet moments. Sweet, sweet, delicious moments.

  12. Anonymous July 12, 2014 at 7:09 pm #

    Can you call Rita and Joan right now and ask them for the extract recipe of the shrimp and then post it here, most importantly the clams too. Please.

  13. susan March 8, 2015 at 10:52 pm #

    I know I am reading this out of season, but you just brought back the most wonderful memories for me of our Christmas' with nonna, and nonni, and all the Zia's and Zio's. The food was always wonderful, but the family connections were priceless. How I miss them all so. Any chance you have a recipe for the Lard Bread? My tastebuds are watering for some. Down in the south here, we have nothing like the Lard Bread. Thank you for the lovely reminder of such happy times.

  14. Mister Meatball March 9, 2015 at 11:00 am #

    Susan, the lard bread was not homemade and so I do not have a family recipe for it, sorry.

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