So now we are in that limbo week, between Christmas and New Year's Day. Perhaps you still have family and friends happily gathered around, and perhaps you are still spending a lot of time in the kitchen. Wondering what to do with those last sad leftovers, and starting to lust after something different to eat, maybe unable to face once again that sweet potato casserole that has been cycled through the microwave one too many times.
So today, a solution to both problems.
Let’s begin with finishing off those leftovers. I went to a divine Christmas tea at my dear friend Sandi’s house, and the most popular of all the lovely little nibbles on offer was one that you can whip up out of those leftovers! They looked pretty and holiday-ish, too. Let’s call them Spicy Turkey Cranberry Rounds.
No recipe needed, just do this: Take a round cookie cutter and make some circles out of soft white or wheat bread. Top them with your leftover cranberry sauce (you do make your own, don’t you? It takes 5 minutes! I've used this recipe for years). But first spike the sauce with a little chopped jalapeno, to give it some kick. Spread it on the bread, top with a turkey slice, a tiny dollop more of sauce, and a green leafy thing (arugula, parsley, cilantro, or microgreens). Voila! Surprise your crowd with these at happy hour, or make them a light lunch.
Now it’s time to make dinner, and we are ready to take a path far from the leftover turkey and ham, without wallowing in the kitchen. For this I recommend one of my very favorite dishes. It’s indulgent, simple, and tastes of the sea.
I always order this when we visit Nice, as it’s a specialty there. Which means they probably nicked it from the (nearby) Italians, who call it Spaghetti con Cozze e Gamberetti. No matter what you call it, it’s delicious!
RECIPE: Pâtes aux Fruits de Mer
Use a hot or mild chili of your choice here. In France we would use piment from a jar; or you could use dried red pepper flakes to add heat. You can throw in any shellfish you like to the mix, but the briny taste of mussels is pretty essential. If you add some baby clams, that would make it even better. (photo above, a home-cooked version, and at left, from a fancy restaurant in Nice).
1 pound (500g) grams spaghetti
1 pound (500g) mussels
1/2 pound (250g) shrimp
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
a small red chili, seeded and diced (or piment, or red pepper flakes to taste)
1/4 cup (50 ml) white wine
juice of a lemon
small bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped
freshly grated parmesan
Cook the spaghetti according to package directions. Meanwhile, clean mussels (tap any that remain open; if they don’t close up, pitch them). Peel shrimp. Leave tails on as the French would or off like the Americans, up to you.
Heat the oil in a large skillet and sautée the garlic and chili for about 2 minutes. Add mussels and wine and cover. Cook just a few minutes, until mussels are open, checking frequently. Discard any unopened mussels.
Add shrimp, cook 3 to 5 minutes more, turning them, until fully pink. Add the lemon juice. Remove from heat, add salt and pepper to taste, and stir in parsley. Add hot, drained pasta to the pan, toss well and serve. Pass the parmesan cheese, and toast the new year.
The basic recipe is by Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo.
In the COMMENTS: Well, several southerners checked in on the muscadine wine post, bless your hearts. Vicky is encouraging y'all to embrace muscadines. As I said, love 'em or hate 'em. Suzanne, we grew up thinking just like your Tennessee daddy! (and I had a Tennessee daddy too, by the way).
A very happy new year to all!