It’s right around now that looking at my calendar causes me to break out in a cool sweat. Parties, events, recitals- I’m sure you can relate!

So while I could go on about the fine points of the suspension system of sofas, I doubt that’s on your radar at this moment.

At this time of year, I’m always looking for dishes to bring to events. These two continue to be crowd pleaasers for me, and have now gone into the permanent holiday rotation schedule. They’ve also become a tradition in our family. Time-consuming? Yes, they are. Expensive? Yes to that too. Worth the effort? Again, yes, totally!

Think of making them as cooking therapy for a snowed in day (which are sure to come). And they travel extremely well for parties.

This first one is adapted from an old recipe book my mom adores, Noteworthy, which came from the Ravinia Festival. We oddly serve this in the late morning on Christmas day along with Champagne and a smörgåsbord of other munchies (I’m sure you have weird traditions too, don’t judge).

marinated-shrimpMarinated Shrimp with Oranges

Makes 4 servings, but we always double, even triple sometimes!

  • 1 pound large raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1 orange, peeled and sectioned
  • 1 small red onion, sliced very thin
  • 1/4 C. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 C. unfiltered cider vinegar
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 2 T ketchup
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t mustard seeds
  • 1/2 t cilantro leaves (dangerous for a crowd and therefore optional)
  • 1/2 t capers
  • 1/4 t celery seeds
  • 1/8 t ground black pepper
  • Romaine Leaves or crackers

 

  1. One day or at least 8 hours ahead, marinate shrimp. In 4-qt saucepan, heat 3 inches’ water to boiling. Add shrimp, return to boil and cook covered, 2 minutes or until shrimp are cooked through. Drain, rinse in cold water and drain well again.
  2. In large bowl, combine shrimp, orange and red onion. In medium bowl, combine vinegar, oil, lemon juice, ketchup, sugar, garlic, mustard seeds, cilantro, capers, celery seeds, and pepper. Pour over shrimp mixture and stir to coat well. Refrigerate 8 hours, or preferably overnight. Serve on crackers or romaine leaves.

This next one is the holiday recipe one that I hang my hat on year after year. I make gallons of it and swear I’ll never do it again after seeing my grocery bill. But I do, every year without fail. Don’t skimp- the guy behind the deli counter will curse your name, but your guests may well kiss you harder this year. If there was ever a perfect leftover intended for a hangover, please let me know too.

antipasto salad

Mixed Antipasto Salad

adapted from Epicurious. I think the secret is actually the fennel flavor. People think it’s celery but  when they get a bite of anise flavor from it, it’s a surprise, and not an unwelcome one. I humbly nominate this also to be the perfect leftover holiday hangover nibble too. Near the end of parties, people will fight over tupperware containers with this inside.

For the marinade

  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

For the salad

  • 3 large carrots, cut diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 2 small fennel bulbs (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut crosswise into 1/inch-thick slices (about 3 cups)
  • 2 red bell peppers, roasted and cut into strips (or jarred)
  • 2 yellow bell peppers, roasted and cut into strips (or jarred)
  • a 12-ounce jar pepperoncini (pickled Tuscan peppers), rinsed and drained well
  • 3/4 pound black or green brine-cured olives or a combination ( I use a mixture of green Cerignolas and black Kalamatas)
  • 1/4 pound sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and cut into strips (or fresh cherry- either way)
  • 3/4 pound marinated or plain bocconcini (small mozzarella balls, available at specialty foods shops and some supermarkets)
  • 1/2 pound pepperoni or soppressata (hard Italian sausage, available at Italian markets, some butcher shops, and, some specialty foods shops), cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices and the slices quartered
  • two 7-ounce jars marinated artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained well
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh parsley leaves plus, if desired, parsley sprigs for garnish

Make the marinade: 1.  In a small bowl whisk together the garlic, the vinegars, the rosemary, the basil, the oregano, the red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste, add the oil in a stream, whisking, and whisk the marinade until it is emulsified. 2. In a large saucepan of boiling water blanch the carrots and the fennel for 3 to 4 minutes, or until they are crisp-tender, drain them, and plunge them into a bowl of ice and cold water. Let the vegetables cool and drain them well. In a large bowl toss together the carrots, the fennel, the roasted peppers, the pepperoncini, the olives, the sun-dried tomatoes, the bocconcini, the pepperoni, the artichoke hearts, the marinade, the minced parsley until the antipasto is combined well and chill the antipasto, covered, for at least 4 hours or overnight. Transfer the antipasto to a platter, garnish it with the parsley sprigs, and serve it at room temperature.

So back to shopping and gifting!

Dean Malambri signature

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