Cooking with Love

with Gianna Conte (Jan)

Cooking with Love

with Gianna Conte (Jan)

Christmases Past

Memories of Christmas always include food. Without the traditional meal and desserts, it's just another day. I know, you're thinking that the holiday is about the birth of Baby Jesus, but we need to honor him by feasting on foods that are only eaten at that time of year, just to make it a special time.

Christmas at my house growing up was about my mother making cartellate, strips of dough, shaped into a rose and deep fried, doused in fig syrup and then sprinkle with ground almonds and sugar. They are a labor of love.

They look weird, but the taste is like no other you've ever had.

Christmas 2018 - eating at a restaurant on Christmas Eve.

CHRISTMAS 2008 - Me and my sisters at Antoinette's home celebrating the holiday.

CHRISTMAS 2006 celebrating in Germany

CHRISTMAS 2006 making apple strudel with Austrian captain of the Viking river cruise of Austria and Germany. It was his mother's recipe.

Christmas 2006 shopping in Duesseldorf, Germany with my daughter and son.

Christmas 1956 - my first Christmas in America

Baked baccala for Christmas Eve

Three days before preparing to cook: Cut up pieces of salted dry baccala as large as you desire.

Soak in cold fresh water and change water at least three times per day for at least 2 days. Keep refrigerated.


2 lbs. dried salted baccala (after being soaked in water for three days and cut into pieces – pat dry very well to remove as much liquid as possible

Olive oil as needed

One large onion, diced.

1 clove garlic, sliced.

½ cup cherry tomatoes cut in half (opp)

Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup Italian green or black olives (pitted)

28 oz crushed tomatoes

1 tsp rinsed capers

¼ cup white wine

Red pepper flakes to taste


In large dutch oven, heat at least 3 tbsp of olive oil and add onion and garlic.

Let simmer until soft and translucent. Add fish pieces one at a time. Let the fish sauté on both sides and become white with color.

After a minute or two, add cherry tomatoes, black pepper and salt to taste. Add wine – let simmer until the smell of the wine dissipates.

Add olives, capers and crushed tomatoes. Drizzle with 2 Tbsp olive oil. Toss gently – cover with lid ajar.

Simmer for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place uncovered fish into the oven for 40 minutes or until fork tender.

Take out of oven – sauce should look like it has a dark skin on top and become one. Carefully ladle onto platter. Get the bread!

Delicious baccala eaten on Christmas Eve.