The Feast of Seven Fishes

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The Feast of Seven Fishes

A popular southern Italian tradition celebrated all over the world is the Feast of the Seven Fishes. In Italy it is called “la cena della vigilia,” or Christmas Eve Dinner, December 24th, observed by abstaining from eating meat on Christmas Eve, enjoying the holiday meal with family, filled with a seafood spread. 

George Hirsch Lifestyle, Feast of the Seven Fishes

WHY SEVEN? Some say the number seven represents the seven sacraments, seven days of creation, or simply the fact that seven signifies perfection in the Bible. This may be speculation, however what is known is that this celebration is something that is very much appreciated and shared by most Italians and lovers of fish.

Fish: You will find virtually any Mediterranean fish prepared from this region. Everything from anchovies to eel. Popular fishes in the feast include calamari, smelts, clams, and shrimp. 

One of my favorite is baccalá, a dried, salted cod. 

Baccala How To: To reconstitute the baccalá, you soak it for two days, changing the water three or four times.

I prepare the baccalá several ways including sauted and with tomatoes, but it's also quite popular to prepare it in the oven with potatoes or even in a salad with potatoes and black olives.

The Seven Fishes is a feast that brings family and friends together to celebrate a very important evening, and the seafood is only the centerpiece of what really takes place..keeping a tradition alive with family and friends. Isn’t that what holidays are really about? Buone feste! 

Seafood Chowder

Fritto Misto

Linguini Calamari Sauce

Baccala and Potato Recipe

Capitone Arrosto & Fritto

Clam Pie Recipe

Mussels in White Wine Sauce

Stuffed Calamari Recipe

Shrimp Risotto Recipe

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On the First Day of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas my true love sent me a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

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Making homemade desserts can be intimidating if you are not a trained pastry chef. Solution, my Apple Pear Tartelette. When the apples and pears are ripe it’s time to pick & prepare. This tart is also a great last minute “I’m entertaining tonight dessert.” And, once you’ve made this a couple times you’ll want to strut your pastry 101 skills and whip it up in front of your guests. Enjoy!

George Hirsch Pear Tart

Warm Apple Pear Tartlette 
Makes six servings
chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle 
1/4 cup unsalted sweet butter
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons water + 2 Tablespoons white pure cane sugar
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 medium size Granny Smith apples; peeled, cored and sliced + 2 medium size gala or a sweeter apple; peeled, cored and sliced + 2 Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and sliced
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
pinch ground nutmeg
1 store bought frozen puff pastry shells, baked  

Preheat sauté pan to medium temperature. 
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add water, white sugar and brown sugar, and bring to a simmer. Reduce temperature and let simmer two minutes. Cool and mix with sliced apples.
Optional: 
Add 2 Tablespoons cranberries or toasted walnuts to apple filling.
In center of baked puff pastry, top with warm apple and pear filling. Serve with freshly whipped cream or ice cream.

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Hot Apple Tart as seen on George Hirsch Lifestyle

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The original legend tells that an apple tarte was made upside down by mistake—and so, I call it a confused apple pie. And the tart is still a tart with or without the e. Believe it or not- tarte tatin is easier to make than apple pie; and could even have higher appeal because it’s served warm. So put your best pastry move on and make it for your guests for dessert, they’ll love the show! 

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Tarte Tatin aka Apple Tart

Makes six servings

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2 large green apples, peeled, cut into quarters, remove core and cut into 1/2 inch slices

1/2 stick sweet butter

1/4-1/2 cup pure cane granulated sugar, depends on tartness of apples

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, defrosted 

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees.

Spread room temperature butter in the bottom of a nine-inch non stick oven proof sauté pan. Sprinkle sugar completely over bottom of pan. Arrange apple slices on top of sugar.  Cover apples with puff pastry dough, but do not stretch dough. Press dough lightly around the inside rim of the pan. Cut away corners of excess dough so puff pastry fits into the round sauté pan. With the tip of a knife, poke three to four tiny holes in dough.

On the stove top, begin to cook the tart on a high heat until the dough begins to bubble. This will take about 3-4 minutes. By cooking on the stove top you are browning the sugars and apples. If the dough bubbles up too high, gently pierce dough with tip of a knife to allow excess steam to escape. Once the tart has been cooked on the stove top, place the tart in the oven for ten to twelve minutes or until the pastry is light brown and fully baked.

Remove tart from oven, allow to set about thirty seconds. CAREFULLY, with a large serving platter place inverted over tart. With a towel holding the hot pan and anther hand on top of the inverted platter, turn the platter right side up and un-mold the tart from the sauté pan. 

Top with powdered sugar. Serve warm with fresh whip cream or ice cream. 

Geore Hirsch Lifestyle Apple Tart
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Meatballs for Goodness

After all these years, my nana's meatball recipe is still nurturing and comforting. I am delighted to share once again a simple recipe filled with goodness. Thank you nana for teaching me the essentials of a recipe, even those ingredients not listed here. 

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Nana’s Meatballs, as seen on George Hirsch Lifestyle

Makes 12 Jumbo, 24 large or 40 mini meatballs

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle

3 pounds ground beef, 80 / 20 blend; can use combo of beef, pork, and veal

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 sweet onion, chopped fine

2 eggs, cracked and beaten

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

2 Tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

3 cups day old Italian bread, pulsed into crumbs

1/2 cup chicken broth, to soften bread crumbs (variable amount may have to add more broth just to soften crumbs) 

Fresh ground black pepper

* Note all ingredients should be very cold before blending. 

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In a mixer or by hand mix all ingredients until well blended. Dip hands in ice water before shaping into round balls.

Spray an oven-roasting pan with grease spray.

Use an ice cream and scoop up meatballs; roll by hand until they are shaped round. Do not over handle as to not over warm up meat. Repeat until all meat is used up. Do not over crowd meatballs to make it easier to move them while baking. 

Refrigerate meatballs for at least 30 minutes to chill. Prepare Tomato Sauce below.

Pre heat a large heavy gauge sauté pan to high heat, or if making a large quantity of meatballs brown in a hot oven at 425 degrees F. 

Roast meatballs for five minutes in oven or on stovetop just until they begin to brown. If roasting gently shake pan to move meatballs to turn over, or use a spatula for meatballs if browning in sauté pan. Continue cooking for a few additional minutes (or less if mini) or until meatballs are brown on the outside. Meatballs will not be fully cooked and will continue to cook in tomato sauce. 

Remove meatballs with a spatula and add to gently simmering sauce and continue cooking for 20-30 minutes. 

For the Tomato Sauce:

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil 

1/2 cup minced sweet onion

6 cloves garlic, minced 

2 (28 ounce) cans crushed San Marzano Tomatoes

2 (6.5 ounce) cans tomato sauce

1 Tablespoon dried basil leaves

1/2 teaspoon oregano

Fresh ground black pepper

2 Tablespoons each fresh chopped parsley and basil

In a large saucepot sauté add olive oil, onion, and garlic over medium heat until light brown. Stir in crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce. Season with dried basil, oregano, Italian seasoning, pepper, and half of the parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cooked browned meatballs and top with fresh chopped parsley and basil before serving. 

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