Fish, kielbasa still on the menu in many local homes

Last updated: December 19. 2013 4:38PM - 866 Views
JOE SYLVESTER jsylvester@timesleader.com

Jane Sabatelle adds fresh kielbasa to the fridge at Sabatelle's Market in Pittston. Kielbasa is a favorite for Christmas dinner in many families.
Jane Sabatelle adds fresh kielbasa to the fridge at Sabatelle's Market in Pittston. Kielbasa is a favorite for Christmas dinner in many families.
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(Braided Cinnamon Bread)

Submitted by Christina Hitchcock

Bread ingredients

2 cups milk

2 ounces solid packed yeast

2 sticks butter, softened

½ cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

7 cups flour

2 eggs

1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)

1 tablespoon water

Filling ingredients

1 stick butter, melted

3 tablespoons sugar mixed with 1 tablespoon cinnamon

Heat milk over low heat to body temperature. Dissolve yeast in warm milk. In an electric mixer, cream together sugar, salt and butter. Using the dough-hook attachment, alternately add milk and flour to the butter. Add eggs and mix until combined. Dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl. Add more flour if necessary.

Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and leave in a warm place to rise. Dough should double in size (about 30 minutes). Prepare filling ingredients. Preheat over to 400 degrees.

Flour work surface and top of dough. Roll out dough to a ¼-inch thick rectangle. For filling, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Roll dough into a log and place on baking sheet in a horseshoe shape. Using kitchen shears, cut dough into V or leaf shapes throughout the loaf and braid sections of the dough, alternating right over left and left over right. Cover with a dish towel and place in a warm place to rise for 30 minutes.

Beat egg and water together. Brush top of dough. Bake for 25 minutes in preheated oven. Cover with foil during the last 5-10 minutes of baking to prevent over-browning.


Submitted by Christina Hitchcock

Dough ingredients

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 eggs, plus 1 egg for egg wash

1 tablespoon water

Semolina flour (or cornmeal) for dusting

Filling ingredients

2 48-ounce containers ricotta cheese

2 eggs

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup mozzarella, shredded

4 tablespoons parsley, minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all dough ingredients together until incorporated. If dough is too dry, add a 1 tablespoon of water as needed. Knead dough for 10 minutes.

In an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour and salt. Add the eggs, one at a time and continue to mix. Drizzle in olive oil and continue to mix until it forms a ball. Sprinkle some flour on work surface, knead and fold the dough until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Brush the surface of the dough with olive oil and wrap the dough in plastic wrap; let rest for about 30 minutes,

Cut the ball of dough in half, cover the piece you are not immediately using with a damp dish towel to prevent it from drying out. Dust the counter and dough with a little flour. Press the dough into a rectangle and roll it through a pasta machine, 2 or 3 times, at widest setting. Reduce the setting and crank the dough through again, two or three times. Continue tightening until the machine is at the narrowest setting; the dough should be very thin (you should be able to see your hand through it.). Dust the sheets of dough with flour as needed.

Beat remaining egg with 1 tablespoon of water to make an egg wash. Dust the counter and sheet of dough with flour, lay out the long sheet of pasta, and brush the top surface with the egg wash, which acts as a glue. Drop tablespoons of filling on half of the pasta sheet, about 2 inches apart. Fold the other half over the filling. Using your finger, place a small indent in the dough to press out any air pockets. Cut each pillow into squares and crimp the four edges with the tines of a fork to make a tight seal. Dust the ravioli and a sheet pan with cornmeal to prevent the pasta from sticking. Place the ravioli in a single layer on the sheet pan and allow to dry slightly. At this point, ravioli can be frozen or cooked immediately.

To cook the ravioli, place them in a large pot of boiling salted water for 4 minutes. Do not overcrowd the pot. The ravioli will float to the top when ready. Carefully remove the ravioli from the pot with a slotted spoon; they are delicate. Serve with your favorite sauce.

This is the third in a three-part holiday-food series.

Holiday traditions handed down from grandmothers to mothers to daughters are ever-present in kitchens and dining rooms throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania, but there’s something extra-special about how those traditions apply to Christmas Eve.

Jane Sabatelle of Sabatelle’s Market in Pittston can vouch for that.

While the tradition of the Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve, which used to follow a period of fasting, is not so prevalent anymore, fish still is popular.

“It’s not so much the Seven Fishes, but we sell the baccala (cod), shrimp,” Sabatelle said.

She said people still buy smelt, and the store’s own breaded haddock, made in the store’s meat deli, is a big seller for the holiday.

“They’ll be buying pans and pans of it,” Sabatelle said. “We get the fresh haddock in. We have our breading that we make up. We fry the haddock and sell it per pound.”

The imported salted baccala is also a big seller this time of year, even though the cooks at home have to soak it for two or three days to get the salt out, she said.

“That’s a big tradition down here in Pittston,” she said. “It comes in a big wooden box. We have to pry it open.”

Once the cod is soaked, it becomes two to three times its size, Sabatelle said.

“We’ve been getting calls about the snails,” she added. “We haven’t been able get them for years. We do sell a lot our homemade kielbasa. People go for that, whether they’re Polish, Italian, Irish, Lithuanian.”

Imported chestnuts also are a popular item for Christmas Eve and Christmas. People roast them to eat by themselves or put them in the stuffing for Christmas dinner.

Kielbasa is popular for Christmas dinner to eat along with turkey or ham. Sabatelle said a lot of people in the Pittston area cook homemade sausage late Christmas Eve.

“Every family seems to have their own traditions,” she said.

Cathy Fusco of Pittston Township remembers those traditions.

“It was always big Christmas Eve as far as the Seven Fishes,” she said.

Her mother would cook up such fish as smelts, octopus, calamari (squid), lobster, shrimp, crab or sometimes cod, as well as linguine with anchovies, garlic and olive oil.

Diane Brewster of Edwardsville said her grandmother made pierogies and split-pea soup for Christmas Eve.

For food blogger Christina Hitchcock, who lives near Moscow in Lackawanna County, ravioli has been a tradition handed down for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day dinners. For the past couple of years, her family has been having the ravioli on Christmas Day. Hitchcock, her mother and other family members make the ravioli themselves.

“It is big group activity,” she said. “I’m usually in charge of the dough.”

They usually make cheese ravioli, with the stuffing consisting of ricotta, eggs, Parmesan and mozzarella cheese, parsley and garlic. When they eat on Christmas Day, they have the ravioli first then turkey.

“Christmas Eve, we usually try to have some fish or seafood,” Hitchcock said. “My dad’s side of the family is Italian. They celebrate the Feast of the Seven Fishes.”

The ravioli tradition also was passed down from her dad’s mother, who would get up at 4 a.m. to make them.

“She would make them for every holiday,” Hitchcock said. “Even Thanksgiving. We’d have to eat them, then the turkey.”

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