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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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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George’s Double Chocolate Brownies

Celebrating Chef George's 24th Anniversary on PBS

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An often requested recipe from George Hirsch Lifestyle, it is ideal for every occasion. Enjoy as is or upgrade by topping with your favorite ice cream. The brownie derives its character from a deep rich cocoa base for the chocolate flavor.

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Double Chocolate Brownies

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Makes 12-18 Brownies

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 pound (2 sticks) sweet butter, softened at room temperature

2 cups granulated sugar

4 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts

1 1/2 cups semisweet chopped chocolate pieces; or chocolate, or butterscotch chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Grease and flour an 8 x 12 x 2 inch-baking pan.

In a small bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt well. Set aside.

Cream butter in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add granulated sugar, cream on high speed for 2 minutes, until light and fluffy. 

On a low speed add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, stopping machine to scrape down the bowl well after each addition. On a low speed add flour and cocoa powder to the butter mixture and mix just until flour is absorbed. Do not over mix. 

By hand, fold the pecans and chocolate in with a rubber spatula.

Optional: if using coconut; mix 3/4 of coconut with pecans and chocolate. 

Using a spatula, spread the batter into baking pan making sure the batter is spread evenly and smooth. 

Bake for 25-30 minutes. Caution to not over bake. Brownies are baked when pressed cakes springs back when pressed lightly with your finger or a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 2 hours and cut the brownies into rectangle or square pieces.

Know Your Cookie:

A brownie is considered a sheet cookie, as it's soft batter spreads across sheet like pan to bake. Other types of sheet cookies would include blondies and rainbow cookies. After sheet cookies are baked they are cooled and can be cut into squares, rectangles or any other shapes. 

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Lamb Osso Buco with Mousseline Potatoes as seen on George Hirsch Lifestyle

Osso buco is a traditional Milanese dish made with veal shanks, and is just as good or even better when prepared with lamb. Cooking with a low and slow braise is the key to a good tender lamb shank. And, while the lamb slowly cooks you can improve on the osso buco by preparing my Mousseline Potatoes as a side. Both are warm and comforting! 

George Hirsch's Lamb Osso Buco

Lamb Osso Buco with Mousseline Potatoes

Makes four servings

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4 whole lamb shanks 

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup carrots, chopped

1/4 cup onion, chopped

1/4 cup celery, chopped

10 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced

1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup tomato sauce

2 cups chicken broth

1 Tablespoon rosemary

1 teaspoon thyme

Pinch of fresh ground black pepper and sea salt

Click For Mousseline Potatoes Recipe

Preheat large saucepan.  

Add olive oil and brown meat on all sides.  Add onions, garlic, carrots, celery and cook until light brown.  

Add vinegar and reduce for two minutes.  Add tomato sauce, broth, rosemary and thyme.  Cover and cook meat for two hours at a gentle simmer. The lamb shanks are fully cooked when the meat becomes flaky and shrinks away from the bone. Add fresh ground black pepper and sea salt to taste.

Mousseline Potatoes from George Hirsch Lifestyle TV Series

Serve the cooked lamb shanks with sauce and vegetables on top of hot, steamy mousseline potatoes. 

13 EPISODES on 4 HD-DVD Disk Set
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