NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Most families have their Christmas traditions. For Italian-Americans, the fun begins the night before.

Beatrice Tosti of Il Posto Accanto stopped by to pay homage to the beloved Feast of the Seven Fishes.

See below for some of Bea’s recipes:

CROCCHETTE DI BACCALA` AL CURRY

Spicy salted cod croquettes with curry

This recipe comes from the Abruzzo region of Italy, and was sent to me by my dad (best dad ever) who saw it in a newspaper and took the time to save the cutting. It has been a best seller at the wine bar since we opened in 1999.

1/2 pound of clean baccalà already softened in water

3 peperoncini or any kind of fresh spicy chile. Decide the amount according to the heat

1 small onion

3 cloves of garlic

2 tablespoons of chopped Italian parsley

3/4 heaping cup of flour

2 medium eggs

1/2 cup minus 2 tablespoons of milk

1 teaspoon of curry, to yo taste

Frying oil

Chop the clean and peeled onion, garlic, parsley and peperoncino/chile together. Mince the dried baccalá and add to the onion/garlic mixture. Add curry, eggs, milk and four. Mix well and let sit for 10 minutes. If you feel it is too runny add bit of flour BUT wait to fry one croquette before you do. When the oil is ready (if you immerse a toothpick in it it should bubble happily) spoon your mixture into the oil. Do not make it fall into the hot oil or you will burn yourself with the splatters. The croquettes are ready when they are nice and golden. At the restaurant, we serve them with mixed baby green salad with orange sections.

SERVE 6 and you can double the recipe. The batter stays happy in a sealed container in your refrigerator for 2 days

 

TIMBALLO DI PENNETTE AL SALMONE

2LB SMALL PENNETTE PASTA

COARSE SEA SALT

1/2 LB SMOKED SALMON TRIMMINGS

1/2 CUP BREADCRUMBS TOASTED IN A PAN OVER MEDIUM HEAT WITH A BIT OF EVOO

2 TABLESPOONS OF PLAIN BREADCRUMBS

1/2 CUP GRATED PARMIGIANO OR GRANA PADANO

SOME BUTTER FOR YOUR BAKING DISH

FOR THE BECHAMEL

1QT PLUS 1/2 CUP WHOLE MILK

7 TABLESPOONS OF UNSALTED BUTTER

1 CUP OF FLOUR MINUS 2 TABLESPOONS FLOUR

SEA SALT

A PINCH OF NUTMEG

1/2 CUP OF GRATED PARMIGIANO REGGIANO OR GRANA PADANO

THE JUICE OF 1 LEMON

1 TEASPOON SALT or to taste, the salmon is salty and so is the cheese. Play it by ear.

PREPARE YOUR BECHAMEL

Please do not be afraid of the bechamel, it is super easy.

Bring milk to almost boil in a pot over medium heat, I whisk it every once in a while so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Melt the butter over medium heat in a 4qt pot, when melted (not burned or brown butter, just melted) add the flour and use a whip to mix making sure there are no lumps, cook for a couple of minutes. Add the super hot milk 3 or 4 ladles at a time whisking away and making sure it is well incorporated before you add more milk. It will be ready once all the milk is added and you see some bubbles in your bechamel. Add salt, nutmeg and parmigiano. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Do not oversalt, there is always time for that.

Bring a large pot of water to a roaring boil, add coarse sea salt and your pennette. Cook very al dente, it will cook more in the oven. Drain pasta and place in a bowl. Add the bechamel and the salmon trimmings and mix well, if you think it is too dry, add some of your pasta cooking water, a little bit at a time.

Butter your favorite baking dish (a use one that is 13X10 or an even slightly bigger one) and sprinkle your plain breadcrumbs at the bottom and add your pasta. Top with grated parmigiano, your toasted breadcrumbs and some bits of butter and place in the middle of your oven preheated to 400 degrees. Cook until nice and crispy golden on top, 30 minutes?. Let sit for 10 minutes before you serve.

Prepare the night before and place in oven 1 hour before your are ready to sit.

 

POLIPETTI AL SUGO

Baby octopus in tomato sauce

2lb BABY OCTOPUS buy them already cleaned

6 CLOVES OF GARLIC SLICED

1 PEPERONCINO or crushed hot chili pepper

EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

3 TABLESPOONS EVOO

1LB 12OZ DICED PLUM TOMATOES

A BIT OF CHOPPED ITALIAN PARSLEY

SEA SALT

SPLASH OF WHITE WINE

GRILLED PEASANT BREAD FOR SERVING

A tasty easy and delicious recipe that can be prepared ahead of time. Every family from most Italian region have their OWN VERSION. Here is mine.

Wash the clean baby octopus under running water and place in a strainer to dry. Place a 4qt pot over medium/low heat with EVOO and sliced garlic, let the garlic cook slowly until a light gold, add the peperoncino let cook 30 seconds, add the octopus turn heat to medium high and let cook until the liquid is absorbed, add the wine, let it evaporate, add the tomatoes, bring to boil, lower to simmer, add a pinch of sea salt, cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour with lid on. Taste for seasoning after 30 minutes, adjust, if too liquid remove the lid and cook more.

Serve in a bowl with grilled peasant bread, decorate with some chopped parsley and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

 

CANAPÉ E RUSTICI DI PESCE

Finger food

When we have company, it is paramount that they do not come into the kitchen and start tasting things because they are hungry. I make always sure that there is plenty to nibble on and here are some ideas for a seafood night. Use any kind of vessel you prefer, a cut and grilled to toasted baguette, mini phyllo baskets, small puff pastry shells, crisps, little squares of focaccia…sky is the limit.

TOPPINGS

BURRATA CHEESE SALMON ROE AND DILL

Break the burrata with a fork and in a blender with a bit of evoo and a pinch of black pepper, use as a filler and top with salmon roe and dill. I like this in a puff pastry shell

SMOKED SALMON AND CREME FRAICHE

Creme fraiche with thinly sliced and chopped red onions topped with smoked salmon and micro greens. In a Phyllo basket

ROCK SHRIMPS CORN AND SHALLOT

Finely chop half a shallot and let cook in a tablespoon of olive oil and half tablespoon butter add15 rock shrimps and cook for 5 minutes add 1/2 cup of corn and cook for another 5 minutes over medium high heat. Increase heat to high and add 1/4 cup of cognac making sure you do not burn yourself. If you want you can add a couple of tablespoons of heavy cream. Serve this on a grilled crostini

CRABMEAT SALAD CHIVES SPICY AIOLI

You can cheat and make the spicy aioli by adding hot sauce, chopped garlic and lemon juice to mayo. Mince half a bunch of chives with half a pound of crabmeat. Add a bit of aioli at a time until you like the way it tastes. Serve with a thin slice of avocado on top ver grilled 7 grain bread

 

TAGLIOLINI PICCANTI GAMBERI LIMONE E CREMA

Spicy tagliolini shrimps lemon and cream

If you are a “crowd” the baked pasta is the way to go. If you are 4 or 6, you should try this super simple dish that will impress your guests. It is also a perfect Valentine’s day pasta.

Quantities of pasta, in Italy pasta is a starter, we consider 1lb of spaghetti or linguine will feed 5 people. If your pasta is an entree, you might want to be more generous. Remember that “pasta fresca” or “pasta all’uovo”, fresh egg pasta, yields more. 9oz will feed 4 people. So take that into consideration and decide how much pasta is enough for you.

1lb LINGUINE OR SPAGHETTI – 9oz PASTA ALL’UOVO

20 LARGE SHRIMPS washed, peeled, deveined, no tail

4 CLOVES OF GARLIC PEELED

THE JUICE OF 1 LEMON or more to taste

2 SHAKES OF CAYENNE PEPPER, or more if you like spicy, spicy

SEA SALT

COARSE SEA SALT

2TBSP OF OLIVE OIL

6 TBSP UNSALTED BUTTER

1 CUP OF HEAVY CREAM

1 DICED TOMATO FOR DECORATING

1 WASHED LARGE LEMON THAT YOU WILL GRATE OVER THE PASTA

Put large pot of water over high heat and bring to roaring boil.

Place a large sauté pan over high heat with the oil, garlic cloves and a pinch of salt, lower to medium as soon as garlic starts to color. Add the shrimps let them cook 1 to 2 minutes per side, add salt, we like some color. Remove shrimps and garlic and set aside. Bring the heat to low and add cayenne and butter, do not let the butter burn, now add the lemon juice and cook for a couple of minute, you can add butter if you like. By now your water is boiling, add salt and the pasta, cover so the water will come to a boil faster. Remove the sauté pan from the heat and taste for seasoning, do not worry if it is too lemony, the cream will take care of that. Cook your pasta al dente, when almost ready place your sauté pan over the fire and warm up your sauce, add the shrimps, add the pasta. Let the flavors marry and taste for seasoning, more salt? More Cayenne? More lemon? Add some of the pasta cooking water and the cream. Let cook until the water absorbs, zest the lemon over your pasta.

Plate and sprinkle your diced tomato over every plate.

 

INVOLTINI DI PESCE SPADA

Swordfish rollatini, or any kind of fish that lends itself to be rolled into a rollatino. The following preparation will serve 4, with 2 rollatini each. This is another delicious recipe that can be prepared the day before and it will just need 20 minutes in a high oven to be ready.

1LB THIN SLICES OF SWORDFISH, if possible 1/4 inch thick skin removed, the thinner the better, around 8 slices

1 MEDIUM ONION diced

1 AND A HALF CUP OF PLAIN BREADCRUMBS

4 SLICES OF GOOD QUALITY WHITE BREAD crust removed.

THE JUICE OF HALF A LEMON

7 MINT LEAVES

SEA SALT TO TASTE

BLACK PEPPER TO TASTE

1 CUP EVOO plus more for drizzling

1 HANDFUL OF ITALIAN OR SPANISH PINENUTS

1 HANDFUL OF RAISINS SOAKED IN VINO

4 FRESH BAY LEAVES

Brake the white bread using your hands and place in a bowl. Put 3/4 cup oil in a sauté pan over medium heat with onions, pine nuts, raisins and a teaspoon of salt. Cook around 10 minutes making sure the onions do not burn and mixing. When ready, the onion should be cooked and slightly colored, remove from heat and let cool down. Chop the mint and add to the onion mixture and combine with white bread, juice of half lemon and more oil if you think the stuffing looks dry.

Place the stuffing on one extremity of the slice of swordfish and start rolling. Once you have stuffed all the slices, roll in breadcrumbs. You should not need to secure the rollatino, just place it seam side down in a baking dish, if you are having difficulties, Justus a toothpick. Drizzle oil, the bay leaves on top and place in the oven preheated to 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

 

GAMBERONI E POLENTA

Spicy large shrimps and polenta

This is a new entry in our repertoire and an instant favorite with our guests. You can serve as an appetizer or a main. I know you must be shrimped out by now, this crustacean seems to be everybody’s favorite!

POLENTA

Slow cooked polenta is the way to go, follow direction on the box and finish with 1/2 cup buttermilk and parmigiano cheese.

If you are not in the mood to stir, buy a box of instant polenta. 2 cups go a long way, and follow directions on the box finishing with 1/2 cup of buttermilk and parmigiano

I count 2 or 3 of the largest shrimps I can find per guest, lets say we have 4 guests.

12 AMAZING SHRIMPS AS BIG AS YOU LIKE THEM or regular size, cleaned, shelled deveined

6 PLUM TOMATOES diced, placed in a bowl with 1 minced clove of garlic, sea salt and EVOO

SPICY ITALIAN CHERRY PEPPERS how hot can you go? 3 sliced peppers? More? Less?

SEA SALT

4 CLOVES OF GARLIC

7 BASIL LEAVES

A SPLASH OF WHITE WINE

1/4 CUP EVOO

In a large sauté pan place the EVOO over medium heat with the garlic cloves, let the garlic get caramelized, increase the heat a bit and add the peppers, cook for 10 seconds and add the diced tomatoes with its juices and 2 generous pinches of salt. Cook for 5 minutes, taste for seasoning and adjust. Add the shrimps, let the heat come back up and add a splash of vino, let evaporate. Lower the heat. When the shrimps are done, turn the fire off. Place polenta, we want a soft mash potato texture, the polenta will get harder as it cools down, always better to keep it on the softer side, on a serving dish and top it with your shrimps. Instant happiness and comfort food

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