Photographic Evidence

…of last night’s Feast of the Three or Four Fishes:

xmas eve dinner
You guys. Oh my god, you guys. I don’t even know how I managed to pull this off. It didn’t seem like a lot on paper (original menu or the prep list) but if my boss hadn’t let everyone leave at noon yesterday, I’m not sure I could have managed this. Namely the latkes, which I will a) do in advance next year and b) make with pre-shredded frozen potatoes because who cares if it’s cheating when your regular shredded potatoes just turn a rusty shade of brown, like, immediately.

Not that anyone complained about them. They didn’t look like the results of the Smitten Kitchen recipe that bore their existence, but I have yet to meet a decent human being who will turn down fried potatoes topped in fats and salt.

I would like it noted that I deserve all of the awards, please, for creating a Christmas Eve menu made up of items that double as superlative Christmas Day brunch items. That strata? The one with sausage, butternut squash, kale, feta, roasted red peppers, and sun-dried tomatoes? Basically just a breakfast casserole. Because I just ate it for breakfast, and I feel slightly less hungover now, at least if I don’t think about the five bottles of champagne that once lived in our refrigerator. Of those five bottles, only one exists today.

So I’ve got my protein. I ate some vegetables. I had my coffee, and then my tea (made with my fancy new infuser and my fancy new loose leaf tea). I’m hydrating. I’m planning my New Year’s Day menu, which is infinitely easier because all Hoppin’ John requires is ten hours and a slow cooker.

Feast of the Three or Four Fishes

First things first – I am not Italian. Not even in the least, most tiniest bit. I know this because I got the 23andMe test last year, and while the analysis of my DNA surprisingly revealed small parts Iberian, West African, and Middle Eastern/North African, there is 0% Italian ancestry in my genes.

What am I, though? Mostly Irish and British. Which means that when I say that something is “THE WORST,” I am always aware that my ancestors came primarily from a wet, starved rock in the Atlantic so maybe I’m just talking out of my ass.

Anyway.

I’m not at all Italian, but this doesn’t stop me from cribbing on their holiday traditions for food. This year I am borrowing from the Feast of the Seven Fishes and making it mostly un-Italian and also a little bit lazy manageable with Three to Four Fishes. Technically three, but could be four if we’re talking about format rather than actual fish species (ahem, salmon).

The menu:

– Potato latkes with crème fraiche, cured salmon, and ikura
– Roasted shrimp with artichoke-herb pesto
– Buttery crab bread pudding
– Strata with chard, roasted red peppers, butternut squash, chicken sausage, and sage
– Salami (a St. Louis tradition and Christmas present from my dad) and cheese
– Something sweet, hopefully brought by someone else because hello, I am making everything else
– Champagne. Lots of champagne.

Of all of the menus I plan during the year, Christmas Eve might be my favorite. Traditionally, the Christmas Eve meal is shared between myself and my boyfriend of 8 years, Graham. For those who don’t know Graham from my other blog, he is a professional cook who currently works as a sous chef and erstwhile pastry chef at a Seattle-area restaurant. The thing about dating a chef is a) they don’t cook at home and b) any expectation that you will get to spend weekends and/or holidays together is ludicrous and insane. So, then, getting to spend Christmas Eve together means I can go a little nuts and make the richest, most comforting, sooooometimes most expensive meal I can.

A few years ago it was shortribs braised in red wine and spooned over a gooey, creamy Parmesan polenta. Last year it was a breathtakingly pricey porchetta that I didn’t realize cost so much until I was physically handing over the money for it, effectively living out one of my recurring nightmares about buying things at mystery prices that turn out to bankrupt me (the porchetta did not actually bankrupt me, but thinking about how much it cost still makes my stomach hurt).

This year’s Feast of the Three or Four Fishes will be expensive but not prohibitively so, and we’re also sharing it with our friend Craig, who moved from St. Louis to Seattle a literal three days ago, and a couple of other friends with whom we booked an extremely fancy hotel suite last year and drank ourselves silly until six the next morning. Which, for someone who isn’t at all Italian, kind of beats having to slave over aeons of prep and homemade pastas only to have it consumed by a groaning table of hirsute gesticulators.

So we will have our busted Feast of the Seven Fishes, stolen from the Italians and infused with healthy amounts of Jewish potato presentation, Seattle seafood, and a little bit of Irish thriftiness.

Definitely nothing even approaching THE WORST.