HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Uploaded by Pusateri's Fine Foods on 2019-11-22.
Each year, our entire family comes together to create a casual, entirely participatory and incredibly delicious Christmas. Here’s how we make it easy.
The holidays have a hum that I just love: kids running around, grown-ups jockeying for space in the packed kitchen, and everyone else raising glasses (and laughing) in the living room. It’s chaos in the absolute best way. My grandchildren are happy and healthy, and there always seems to be a beautiful new baby to pass around. The one with the calming force is my mother, Nonna Dina, who’s forever tweaking dishes to make sure they’re to our liking. I see members of my immediate family almost every day—my three grown children are always milling around the stores—and we have meals together regularly. But the holidays are the best opportunity for all of us to reconnect with one big, hands-on Italian Christmas. And like all families, we have our traditions. The ritual aspect of the holidays is comforting. It’s also easier to follow a game plan you know like the back of your hand.
Here’s how I do Christmas. I keep my decor fairly classic—green, red, silver and gold with one big tree, put up early before the mad in-store rush. Christmas Eve is the biggest Pusateri family bash, with around 30 family members in total. Most of us are exhausted from a very long day helping out in the store, so we don’t make anything too complicated. It’s an Italian tradition to serve seafood and fish: I love jumbo shrimp, butterflied and seasoned with breadcrumbs, alongside a white fish (like halibut), zuppa di pesci, pasta and hearty veggies. The next day, we get together for breakfast with the kids and grandkids. Then comes church, followed by a late lunch.
Christmas Day dinner tends to be the culinary showstopper. It’s also a participation sport. Everyone has their role in the meal prep and we keep it as stress-free as possible. We always start with a charcuterie platter full of my favourite cheeses from Pusateri’s parmigiano-reggiano, with a mix of a soft brie or boursault, a bold gorgonzola and a sharp cheddar. We add beautiful meats—prosciutto, salami, bresaola—as well as cerignola olives, figs and candied nuts for sweetness.
The family Christmas spread includes roasted potatoes, a fresh fennel and arugula salad and a ready-made ham—all you have to do is pop it in the oven and glaze Dinner’s centrepiece is a spiral ham from the store. It comes cooked and sliced—a Christmas miracle!—so all you have to do is pop it in the oven and glaze it every once in a while. We’ll serve roasted potatoes, green beans with pomegranate for a festive pop of colour, pasta shells stuffed with ricotta and spinach, and Pusateri’s delicious apple-and shallot stuffing.
Piping cannoli and decorating cookies for the dessert table is a multigenerational tradition—with Nonna at the helm, of course.
Dessert is a second feast, with my mother’s tiramisu, which is the same recipe we make in our stores, plus freshly piped cannoli and two panettone—a pandoro classico for the purists and a newer discovery by Fratelli Sicilia in pistachio.
This year’s showstopper is a frutti di bosco tart with fresh berries and cream filling. So, so delicious.
For all of our at-home celebrations, some of my favourite times at the holidays are in our stores. The hours run long, but I love seeing customers—all the hugging, kissing and well-wishing. We feel a responsibility to make everyone’s festivities special. Even with the mayhem, we find the time to pop a bottle of champagne and toast our team members. Some have been with us for 10, 20 and even 30 years—our chosen tribe, our loyal crew, our people. At the end of the day, we’re one big family.