A few years ago I had this bright idea to suggest a Vineyard version of the Italian-American feast of Seven Fishes for Christmas Eve. I’ve always been in the seafood-on-Christmas-Eve, beef-on-Christmas-Day camp. (And the popovers-on-Christmas-morning camp, see below.) But honestly what was I thinking suggesting that seven (or eight or nine) seafood dishes was a good idea? To pull that off, you’d need an army of nonnas or at least a crew of Vineyard potluckers in non-Covid times.

So forget about seven. Think three or four, in small portions. Elegant, curated, special.

Susie Middleton

I’m still going to put my money on starting with Crab-Stuffed Shrimp. But equally fun and special would be mini-Lobster Salad Rolls or Lobster Poke.

Alexandra Grablewski

Vineyard clams are essential.

Susie Middleton

Something simple like Littlenecks with Spicy Garlic Oil and Spinach might be nice, or you could go hearty with Oven-Roasted Clams in a Garlicky Tomato Pan Sauce.

Susie Middleton

Or maybe your tradition calls for Stuffies.

Third course? Scallops, hands down. I’m happy to report that I just updated our popular Seared Sea Scallops with Tomato Butter Sauce recipe using canned tomatoes (photo at top) so it’s now winter-friendly. Bay scallops are precious this year, but there’s no reason you couldn’t splurge on a handful and use them in place of the sea scallops in this recipe if you like. Or follow another scallop recipe.

Last (if you make it this far) would be a special fish dish. I noticed this week that The Net Result still has black sea bass and monkfish – two of the tastiest fish on the planet and coming in from our fishermen. So my vote for the fish course? First choice: Black Sea Bass with Fresh Garlic-Lemon Butter. Second choice (if I weren’t serving the tomato-ey scallops or clams): Monkfish à l’Armoricaine. Though I'm very fond of this recipe for Roast Fish Peperonata, too (as I frequently mention!).

Susie Middleton

I realize I’ve left out oysters (how could I?) and fried things like calamari and smelts (I saw fresh smelts and squid at The Net Result, too.) And fish tacos! And roasted cod! And seared striped bass! Sorry. Trying to keep things, er, simple.

Susie Middleton

Before you go to bed on Christmas Eve, remember to do two things. First, leave cookies out for Santa. (Some of mine, above, are ready to go: Molasses Crinkles, Chocolate Chocolate Chips, and Holiday Cut-Outs. I still have to make oatmeal cookies. Can’t decide between Chewy Oatmeal, Cranberry and Chocolate Chip cookies or Bakeshop Oatmeal Cookies with Add-Ins.)

Susie Middleton

Second, take the milk and eggs out of the fridge for Christmas morning popovers. Room temperature ingredients and a nonstick popover pan (top photo in the collage below) will give you the tallest popovers.

Susie Middleton

But if you like a popover with more stretchy custard inside, consider a cast-iron muffin tin. I still have the old one my Dad made our Christmas popovers in for years. (He’s 91 and still making the popovers, but he uses the nonstick popover pan now! The cast iron pan is in the lower photos in the collage below and improvised to hold cookie decorations, above).

Hey, don’t forget there’s a special holiday West Tisbury Farmers' Market this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Cinnamon Starship will be making breakfast sandwiches and burgers so you can grab a bite there, too. And by the way, Ghost Island Farm farm stand will close for their annual two-week hiatus starting Sunday, December 19.

We'll see you at the Ag Hall and on Instagram @cookthevineyard.


P.S. This just in! Congratulations to our Cook the Vineyard Baking Together columnist Abby Dodge, who's latest book, Sheet Cake: Easy One-Pan Recipes for Every Day and Every Occasion (Clarkson Potter), was chosen by The New York Times as one of their top cookbooks of 2021. Bravo, Abby! And lucky us, we've got the Red Velvet Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting recipe (an excerpt from the book) to make over the holidays.

Lauren Volo