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Archive for Food Holidays

TIP OF THE DAY: Savory Bread Pudding

Mushroom Bread Pudding

Applewood Bacon Bread Pudding

Broccoli Goat Cheese Bread Pudding Recipe

Individual Bread Puddings

[1] Mushroom and radicchio bread pudding with Gruyère cheese (recipe below from Good Eggs/Tartine Bakery). [2] Chestnut and applewood smoked bacon bread pudding (here’s the recipe from La Brea Bakery). [3] Broccoli, goat cheese and tomato bread pudding (here’s the recipe from the New York Times). [4] Individual spinach-shiitake bread puddings (here’s the recipe from Food & Wine).

 

Bread pudding is a popular dessert—sweet, custardy, comfort food. It turns no-longer-fresh bread into something sublime.

Leave out the sugar and you have a savory bread pudding, to be served as a side with dinner.

In fact, bread pudding was originally a savory dish, served as a side with dinner (for the poor, it might have been the dinner).

It remains a welcome side dish, but can also replace a frittata, strata or quiche at brunch.

THE HISTORY OF BREAD PUDDING

Bread pudding originated in the 11th or 12th century as a way to use stale bread.

Pieces of bread were cut or torn, combined with other ingredients (cheese, onions, mushrooms and other vegetables, bits of meat), topped with custard and then baked until the top was set but the inside was soft and creamy.

Bread pudding is closely related to the Italian dish, strata. The difference is that stratas are typically made with more eggs than cream, making them eggier and more breakfasty—kin to a frittata or a quiche rather than a custard.

The same ingredients can be used with all. The differences are in the proportions; and a strata traditionally uses milk instead of cream.

A soufflé dish or casserole makes the nicest presentation at the table, but you can make bread pudding in a baking pan. Another nice touch is individual servings, made in ramekins, custard cups or even muffin pans.

If you don’t like mushrooms and radicchio, substitute the same quantity of ingredients you do like; or check out the recipes in the photos or the list below.

TIP: Proteins—chicken, meats, shellfish, smoked fish—are delicious add-ins. Dice or shred leftovers and toss them in.

RECIPE: MUSHROOM & RADICCHIO SAVORY BREAD PUDDING

This recipe hails from San Francisco, courtesy of Tartine Bakery’s Chad Robertson and Good Eggs, the Bay Area’s premium grocery delivery service.

You can assemble the dish a day ahead and refrigerator it, letting it come to room temperature before baking.

Prep time is 25 minutes, cook time is 50 minutes. Bake the pudding an hour before you plan to serve it.

Ingredients For 4-6 Brunch Servings

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 leeks, white parts only, finely chopped
  • ½ cup dry white wine or stock
  • Olive oil
  • 2 pounds assorted mushrooms, stems trimmed and caps halved
  • 1 head treviso or other radicchio, leaves separated
  • 5 eggs
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • Pinch pepper
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 2/3 and ½ cup grated Gruyere, divided (substitute Cheddar, Jack or other semihard* cheese)
  • 3 ounces smoked ham, chopped
  • 2 slices day-old country bread, torn into large chunks
  •  
    ________________

    *Semihard cheese is a classification based on the weight and texture of the body (paste). They are not hard cheeses, like Aged Gouda, Mimolette or Parmesan, but yield easily to a knife. Examples include Colby, Comte, Edam, Gouda, Jarlsberg, Manchego, Queso Blanco and “Swiss.”

     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. While the oven heats…

    2. MELT the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks and sauté until soft, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the wine evaporates—about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

    3. HEAT a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil is smoking, arrange the mushrooms cut-side down in the pan and cook without stirring until they are seared and caramelized, about 1 minute more. Stir the mushrooms; add the radicchio and cook until it is wilted, about 1 minute. Season to taste. Remove from the heat.

    4. MAKE the custard. Whisk the eggs and salt in a bowl until well blended. Add the cream, milk, pepper, nutmeg, thyme, 2/3 cup cheese and ham and whisk to combine.

    5. PLACE the bread chunks in an 8-inch soufflé dish and add the leeks, mushrooms, and radicchio. Pour in the custard all the way to the rim. Sprinkle evenly with the ½ cup cheese. Let stand for 8 to 10 minutes until the custard saturates the bread.

    6. BAKE until the custard is no longer runny in the center, about 50 minutes. Let the pudding rest for 15 minutes before serving.

    MORE SAVORY BREAD PUDDING RECIPES

  • Artichoke Bread Pudding
  • Butternut Squash Bread Pudding
  • Chestnuts & Applewood Smoked Bacon Bread Pudding
  • Cranberry, Pecan & Bacon Bread Pudding
  • Mushroom, Leek & Parmesan Bread Pudding
  • Portabella Bread Pudding
  • Savory Sausage and Cheddar Bread Pudding
  • Spinach Bread Pudding With Lemon & Feta
  • Spinach & Garlic Bread Pudding
  • Spinach-Shiitake Bread Pudding
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    RECIPE: New England Clam Chowder

    January 21st is National New England Clam Chowder Day, with a cream base. There is no National Manhattan Clam Chowder Day, honoring the tomato-base version; but you can have your choice of recipes on February 25th.

    THE HISTORY OF CHOWDER

    Chowder is a type of soup (see below for the major categories) made with potatoes and onions. It can include clams or other seafood, chicken, corn and creative variations.

    A friend of ours has an old family recipe from Maine for a haddock chowder. Feel free to combine fish and shellfish. How about a surf-and-turf chowder with both chicken and fish or shellfish?

    The word chowder has its roots in the Latin calderia, which originally meant a hearth for warming things and later came to mean a cooking pot. The word evolved to cauldron, which in French became chaudiere, a word that easily became chowder in English.

    The first chowders in our culture were fish chowders, made in cauldrons in fishing villages along the coast of France and in the Cornwall region of Southwestern England. When the fishermen came to the New World, they found clams in huge supply along the northern Atlantic coast, and clam chowder was born.

    Celebrate today—or any day demanding a hearty soup—with this yummy clam chowder.

    RECIPE: NEW ENGLAND CLAM CHOWDER

    This one-pot recipe, adapted from Bon Appetit, can be made a day in advance, up to Step 5. Bring the chowder to a simmer before adding the clams on the second day.

    Substitutes:

    Whichever clams are freshest are the ones to use. We’ve used razor clams, and actually prefer them for the surprise factor and arty appearance.

    If you have no access to fresh clams, you can substitute two 10-ounce cans of baby clams, plus 6 cups of bottled clam juice (not clam juice cocktail) for the broth.

    Ingredients For 8 One-Cup Servings

  • 8 pounds clams in shell*, scrubbed
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 celery stalks, minced
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold† potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • Garnish: chopped fresh chives or parsley
  • Oyster crackers or saltines
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BRING the clams and water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Cook until the clams are just open, 8-10 minutes; discard any that do not open. Drain, reserving the broth. Transfer the clams to a baking pan, rimmed sheet or platter; let cool until comfortable to handle, remove the meat and discard the shells. This step can be done 1 day ahead. Cover the clams and broth separately and refrigerate.

       

    New England Clam Chowder

    New England Clam Chowder

    Clam Chowder Bread Bowl

    [1] The clam chowder recipe with bacon from Bon Appetít. [2] Some recipes are heavier on the cream, but that gives you more cream flavor, less clam-vegetable flavor (photo courtesy Mackenzie Ltd.). [3] Clam chowder in individual bread bowls at Arch Rock Fish of Santa Barbara (alas, now closed).

     

    2. CHOP the clams into bite-size pieces. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve set over a large bowl. Add water to measure 6 cups.

    3. MELT the butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fat is rendered and the bacon begins to brown, about 8 minutes. Add the celery, onion, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes.

    4. ADD the reserved broth, potatoes, thyme, and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, 20-25 minutes.

    5. COMBINE the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl to form a slurry, and stir it into the chowder. Return the chowder to a boil to thicken. DO day ahead. Let cool; discard the bay leaf.

    6. STIR in the clams and cream. Taste and season with salt as needed (some clams are brinier than others) and pepper; or allow diners to season their own. Divide the chowder among bowls. Garnish with chives or parsley. Serve with and oyster crackers.
    ________________

    *Discard any uncooked clams with broken or opened shells; these can collect bacteria. Conversely, discard any cooked clams with shells that have not opened.

    †Substitute Baby Dutch potatoes or other waxy potato (here are the different types of potatoes).

     

    Manhattan Clam Chowder

    Rhode Island Clam Chowder

    Razor Clams

    [4] A beautiful Manhattan Clam Chowder from an Australian cooking competition, MasterChef. [5] Rhode Island Clam Chowder has a clear base. Here’s the recipe from The New York Times. [6] Sweet-flesh razor clams can look exotic, yet beautiful, in a clam chowder (photo courtesy The Fish Society).

     

    Types Of Clam Chowder

  • New England Clam Chowder. If you like creamy soups, the New England style may be more of your cup of soup. It’s milk- or cream-based (with flour as a thickener), and splattering it is unlikely to permanently ruin that shirt or tie.
  • Manhattan Clam Chowder. If you want to save calories or cut back on cholesterol, Manhattan Clam Chowder is based on broth and tomatoes. It is actually an Italian clam soup, arriving on these shores with Italian immigrants in the late 1800s. It tends to be seasoned with oregano, from its Italian heritage. The original Italian soup achieved broader appeal with the name of New York Clam Chowder, which evolved to Manhattan Clam Chowder.
  • Rhode Island Clam Chowder. This variation, found chiefly in Rhode Island, is made with clear broth.
  •  
    THE DIFFERENCES: BROTH, CHOWDER, SOUP & MORE

  • Bisque: A thick, creamy soup that traditionally was made from puréed shellfish. Today bisques are also made from fruits, game fish and vegetables.
  • Broth & Stock: Liquids in which meat, fish, grains or vegetables have been simmered. The difference between a broth and a stock is that broth is made from the desirable ingredients; stock is made from “leftovers” such as bones and skin; thus broth is richer and more nourishing than stock. Both are used as a base for soups and gravies.
  • Chowder: Chunky soups thickened with flour. The main ingredient chowder can range widely, including chicken, corn, fish and seafood.
  • Consommé: A broth that has been clarification. This means that egg whites or other ingredients are boiled in the broth to coagulate the sediment, resulting in a clear, elegant-looking soup.
  • Gumbo: A dish that can fall into the soup or stew category, a strong stock of meat and/or fish/seafood, with pieces of the protein and a variety of vegetables, served over rice. Gumbo is traditionally thickened with okra or filé powder (from the sassfras tree) and vegetables. A gumbo is traditionally served over rice.
  • Gravy: Gravy is not a soup, but a sauce; although Americans have often turned canned soups into sauces. Gravies are made from the juices of cooked meat or vegetables after they have been cooked. Almost all gravies start with a roux (ROO), a mixture of flour and butter; and are thickened with starch (flour, corn starch, arrowroot, etc).
  • Purée: Some soups are puréed into smoothness. A purée can be considered a vegetable or grain/pulse counterpoint to a bisque. The technique also produces smooth apple sauce, whipped potatoes and puréed vegetables (carrot purée, broccoli purée, etc.).
  • Ragout: The French term for a main-dish stew. Note that in Italian, n Italian cuisine, ragù is a meat-based pasta sauce.
  • Soup: Any combination of ingredients cooked in a liquid base: fish/seafood, fruit, meats, starches and vegetables. Soups can be thick and hearty or thin and delicate. While cooked ingredients can remain in the soup, the objective of the ingredients is to flavor the liquid. Soup can be served warm, room temperature or chilled. Fruit soups can be served for starters or desserts.
  • Stew: A hearty dish made from proteins, vegetables, pulses, etc., simmered in a liquid (water, broth, stock, wine, beer) and then served in the resulting gravy. Stewing is a technique to cook less tender cuts of meat: The slow cooking method tenderizes the meat and the lower temperature allows the flavors to combine. There is a thin line between soups and chunky soups; generally, stews contain less liquid. Sometimes the name is adopted for a soup. Oyster Stew, for example, is a thick soup with butter and milk or cream, like a bisque.
  •  
    MORE FOR SOUP LOVERS

    THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SOUP

    THE HISTORY OF SOUP

      

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    PRODUCT: Scotch-Infused Chocolates For Burns Day

    Scotch-Infused Chocolate Truffles

    Whiskey Truffles

    Laphroaig & Dark Chocolate

    Chocolate for Burns Night. If you need something more simple, grab a quality dark chocolate bar (photos #1 and #2 courtesy Burdick Chocolate, photo #3 courtesy Laphroaig).

     

    Luke Scotch? Like chocolate? Combine both on January 25th.

    On that day, the birthday of the great Scottish romantic poet Robert Burns (1759-1796) is celebrated. Family and friends gather for Burns Night, an evening of good food and company.

    A traditional Burns’ Supper (Scottish supper) is served. It can consist of beef pie, cock-a-leekie soup, colcannon, haggis, nettles and tatties, smoked haddock and more.

    Perhaps, some of Burns’ most popular poems are read: A Red, Red Rose; To a Louse; To a Mouse; Tam O’Shanter, Ae Fond Kiss and perhaps most appropriate to the occasion, Address to a Haggis.

    You could celebrate with dinner, with a cup of tea and some shortbread, or with a dram of Scotch.

    But that dram would be so much better with a box of the Robert Burns Whisky Bonbons from L.A. Burdock Chocolate.

    Available for just a few weeks, these chocolates are infused with a variety of fine Scotches, including Macallan, Glenfarclas, Talisker, Springbank, Highland Park and Lagavulin.

    A half pound gift box is $42.00.

    Don’t tarry: Order yours today at Burdick Chocolate.

    Finish the evening with Burns’ most famous poem, set to a folk song:

    Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
    And never brought to mind?
    Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
    And days of auld lang syne?
    And days of auld lang syne, my dear,
    And days of auld lang syne.
    Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
    And days of auld lang syne?

    We twa hae run aboot the braes
    And pu’d the gowans fine.
    We’ve wandered mony a weary foot,
    Sin’ auld lang syne.
    Sin’ auld lang syne, my dear,
    Sin’ auld lang syne,
    We’ve wandered mony a weary foot,
    Sin’ auld ang syne.
    We twa hae sported i’ the burn,
    From morning sun till dine,
    But seas between us braid hae roared
    Sin’ auld lang syne.
    Sin’ auld lang syne, my dear,
    Sin’ auld lang syne.
    But seas between us braid hae roared
    Sin’ auld lang syne.

    And ther’s a hand, my trusty friend,
    And gie’s a hand o’ thine;
    We’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
    For auld lang syne.
    For auld lang syne, my dear,
    For auld lang syne,
    We’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
    For auld lang syne.

     

    You can sing along with this bagpipe version of Auld Lang Syne from the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.

    HERE’S MORE ON PAIRING CHOCOLATE & SCOTCH.
     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Tom Kha Gai Soup

    Our neighborhood Thai restaurant closed on December 31st, victim to a(nother) heartless New York City landlord.

    It left us without our weekly supply of tom kha gai—and at the start of National Soup Month, no less.

    Tom kha gai, literally “chicken galangal soup,” is a spicy and sour hot chicken soup with coconut milk.

    In Thailand, most tom kha gai/kai recipes include coconut milk, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, Thai chili peppers, cilantro (dill weed in Laotian versions), straw mushrooms (or shiitake or other mushrooms), chicken, fish sauce and lime juice.

    Fried chiles are sometimes added, for a smoky flavor as well as texture, color, and heat—just a touch so they don’t overwhelm the other flavors.

    Other versions substitute seafood, pork or tofu for the chicken. We adapted this recipe from the Long Grain restaurant in Camden, Maine.

    The soup is very easy to make. The challenge for people who don’t live near Asian markets is to find some of the ingredients. We’ve suggested substitutes.

    Don’t want to chase after ingredients? Don’t like ginger or lemongrass? Try this recipe for Spicy Sea Bass Chowder With Coconut Milk.

    RECIPE: TOM KHA GAI, THAI CHICKEN & COCONUT MILK SOUP

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 1 1” piece ginger root, peeled
  • 10 kaffir lime leaves (substitute 1 tablespoon lime zest and ¼ cup lime juice)
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1½ pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1” pieces
  • 8 ounces shiitake, oyster, or maitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 can (13.5 ounces) coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce* (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
  • 1 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 stalks fresh lemongrass, tough outer layers removed (substitutes†)
  • Garnishes: sliced chiles or chili oil, chopped cilantro, lime wedges
  •  
    Preparation

    1. LIGHTLY SMASH the lemongrass and ginger with the back of a knife. Cut the lemongrass into 4” pieces. Bring the lemongrass, ginger, lime leaves and broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce the heat and simmer until flavors are melded, 8–10 minutes. Strain the broth into clean saucepan; discard solids.

    2. ADD the chicken and return to a boil. Reduce the heat, add the mushrooms, and simmer, skimming occasionally, until chicken is cooked through and mushrooms are soft, 20–25 minutes. Mix in the coconut milk, fish sauce, and sugar.

     

    Tom Kha Gai Soup

    Tom Kha Gai Soup

    Lemongrass

    Tom kha gai, Thai coconut soup. [1] Photo by Evan Joshua Swigart | Wikimedia. [2] A more elegant presentation from DC Cuisine. [3] Lemongrass: top, with the outer leaves, which are removed (center).Photo courtesy Keirsten’s Kitchen.

     
    3. DIVIDE the soup among bowls. Garnish with cilantro; serve with chili oil and lime wedges.

    MORE FOR NATIONAL SOUP DAY

  • Different Types Of Soup: A Soup Glossary
  • The Different Styles Of Soup: Bisque, Broth, Chowder, Consommé, etc.
  • Soup Garnishes
  • Drizzled Soup Garnishes
  • Start A Soup Club
  • Soup In A Tea Cup
  • How To Finish Soups In A Blender
  • How To Puree Soup With An Immersion Blender
  • The History Of Soup
  •  
    ________________
    *Your supermarket probably carries the Thai Kitchen brand. It’s inexpensive and functional; but if you’ll be using fish sauce frequently, spring for one of the better brands from Thailand or Vietnam.

    †There is nothing like fresh lemongrass. Trim the outer leaves and the bottom (see photo above) and use the first six inches of the base. You can buy fresh lemongrass online and you may find frozen lemongrass locally, which is almost as good. Dried lemongrass is as pale a substitute as dried basil, parsley and other herbs. You can steep any leftover lemongrass, including the trimmed tops, into a delicious herbal tea. To substitute: Zest from 1 lemon = 2 stalks lemongrass. You can also use fresh lemon verbena, lemon balm or lemon leaves.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Oysters Rockefeller

    Oysters Rockefeller

    Oysters Rockefeller With Bacon

    Oysters Rockefeller With Cheese

    Oysters Rockefeller

    [1] Many Oysters Rockefeller recipes look something like this (here’s the recipe from Tide & Thyme). [2] Some add bacon (photo courtesy Arch Rock Fish). [3] Some have more sauce (here Mornay, a cheese sauce) than veggies (photo courtesy My Honeys Place. [4] An approximation of Antoine’s original recipe (photo courtesy Saveur Magazine).

     

    January 10th was the first-ever Oysters Rockefeller Day.

    It was celebrated big-time in New Orleans, where it was first created at Antoine’s Restaurant.

    Today, consider your own twist on the world-famous dish.

    OYSTERS ROCKEFELLER HISTORY

    Oysters Rockefeller was invented in 1899 by Jules Antoine Alciatore at the end of Gilded Age. (Jules was the son of restaurant founder Antoine Alciatore, who passed in 1874 and was succeeded by his wife, then his son. The restaurant is still going strong in the hands of the fifth generation, and is America’s oldest family-run restaurant).

    Served as an appetizer or first course created , the dish was named after John D. Rockefeller Sr. (1839 – 1937), who is considered to be the wealthiest American of all time and—by a majority of sources—the richest person in modern history.

    As necessity is the mother of invention, the dish was created because of a shortage of imported French escargots needed for his father’s signature recipe, Escargots Bourguignon: snails in a butter sauce of garlic, parsley and shallots, the first Antoine substituted brandy for the traditional white wine.

    With the shortage of snails and the waning interest in escargots, Jules Antoine created a replacement with local oysters, always available.

    The original sauce recipe is a secret, but is a purée of a several green vegetables: flat-leaf parsley, celery leaves, tarragon leaves, chervil and green onions, seasoned with salt, a dash of hot sauce and anise liqueur.

    There was no spinach, the green most often used in copycat versions.

    Oysters on the half-shell are topped with the sauce and bread crumbs, and then baked (now often broiled). They are served as an appetizer, first course or starter—different terms for the first dish of a multi-course sit-down meal.

    Why Oysters “Rockefeller?”

    The dish was named for the intense richness of its flavored roux (a paste, not a cream sauce, deemed “rich enough for Rockefeller”—John D. Rockefeller Sr., the richest man in history). The greens contributed the color of money. As with the escargots, there was anise liqueur.

    From what can be deduced, in Antoine’s original Oysters Rockefeller recipe, oysters on the half shell are topped with herbed breadcrumbs, butter and cream, then baked.

    The herbs and proportions are secret, but sleuths have determined that they include flat-leaf Italian parsley, celery leaves, tarragon leaves, chervil and green onions. Seasonings included salt, pepper and hot sauce.

    This became a “wow” dish in New Orleans, where oysters were popularly served on the half shell, but not incorporated into complex recipes.

    There is no record that Rockefeller (who died of arteriosclerosis) ever ate the dish.
     
    Chefs Make Oysters Rockefeller Variations

    A later variation of the recipe substituted spinach for most of the herbs, which is mainstream today.

    Some leave off the breadcrumbs and purée the green herbs/vegetables, creating a smooth green cloak over the entire oyster. Some mince the greens and mix them into the breadcrumbs.

    Over the years, other chefs garnished the recipe with shredded Gruyere or Parmesan, some with a thick layer of melted cheese covering both the oysters and the sauce.

    Bacon inevitably worked its way in.

     

    You can make your own signature recipe (more about that below), working off of this template—which of course isn’t the secret recipe, but a re-imagining of Antoine’s recipe by Saveur magazine.

    RECIPE: OYSTERS ROCKEFELLER

    We adapted this recipe from Saveur, which attempted to recreate the original. You can see it in Photo #4, the last photo above.

    The oysters are topped with a roux full of herbs and vegetables. Saveur’s variations from the original include:

  • Celery ribs instead of celery leaves.
  • Scallions instead of shallots (scallions are more flavorful; shallots are sweet and mild with a hint of garlic).
  • Cayenne instead of hot sauce.
  • Broiled instead of baked.
  •  
    As an appetizer, we prefer three large oysters. If you’re serving a big meal, two will suffice. And, if you’re having a NIBBLE-style eight-course meal, one will do.

    Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

  • 12 fresh oysters, chilled (the larger the better, not kumamotos)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 6 scallions, minced
  • 2 ribs celery, minced
  • 2 sprigs tarragon, stemmed and minced
  • 1 bunch parsley, stemmed and minced, plus sprigs to garnish
  • 1 tablespoon anisette, Pernod or other anise liqueur
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground white* pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons fresh bread crumbs
  • Rock salt
  • Optional garnish: parsley or tarragon sprigs or whatever appeals to you
  •  
    We decorated the dishes with slender, red cayenne chiles for color—not meant to be eaten. But two guests ate them nevertheless!

    Variations For Your Signature Oysters Rockefeller

    Create your own signature version. Call it Oysters Rockefeller à la [Your Name].

  • Anchovy paste (1 teaspoon)
  • Anise flair: fennel instead of celery, anise liqueur, optional basil
  • Anise be gone: substitute watercress for the tarragon and brandy, sherry or wine for the liqueur
  • Brandy or white wine instead of the liqueur
  • Bread crumbs: panko, crunchy Japanese bread crumbs, instead of fresh crumbs
  • Gruyère, Jarlsberg or Parmesan (1/4 cup or less)
  • Heatless: nutmeg or Worcestershire sauce instead of cayenne
  • Homage to the original inspiration: escargots instead of oysters
  • Pipe the topping, like Duchess Potatoes
  • Spinach lovers: substitute spinach for 3/4 or more of the parsley
  • Surf and turf: add bacon, pork belly, crisped prosciutto
  • Wild card: add whatever you like!
  •  

    Oyster On The Half Shell

    Fresh Tarragon

    Rock Salt

    [5] Be sure to save the oyster liquor (photo courtesy Pangea Shellfish). [6] Tarragon, a popular herb in French cuisine, has an anise-like flavor and aroma (photo courtesy Good Eggs). [7] Rock salt is a good cushion so the oyster fillings don’t spill out when cooking and serving. This fine rock salt is great for serving. You can use a coarser version for baking, if it’s cheaper (photo courtesy The Bite Sized Blog).

     
    Preparation

    1. FILL 2 baking dishes halfway with rock salt. Shuck the oysters over a large measuring cup (e.g. Pyrex with a lip) or bowl to catch their liquor and reserve it (you should have about 1/2 cup). Discard the top shells. Loosen the oysters from the bottoms of their shells with a knife. Nestle 6 shucked oysters in their shells into each bed of rock salt; chill.

    2. MAKE the roux. Melt the butter in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook until smooth, stirring, about 2 minutes. Add the oyster liquor; cook until the mixture thickens into a paste, about 2 minutes.

    3. STIR in the cayenne, scallions, celery, tarragon, parsley, and salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook until soft, about 1 hour. Transfer to a food processor, add bread crumbs, and process into a smooth paste, about 2 minutes.

    4. HEAT the broiler to high. Place the paste in a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2″ fluted tip. Pipe the paste completely over the oysters. Broil until the paste begins to brown and the oysters are just cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Garnish each plate with parsley sprigs.
     
     
    CHECK OUT OUR OYSTER GLOSSARY FOR THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF OYSTERS
    ________________
    *White pepper has been traditionally used by French-trained chefs, to avoid black specks in white or light-colored dishes. White pepper is the conventional peppercorn, Piper nigrum, with the black husk removed. In addition, much of the piperine—the compound that gives pungency to the peppercorn—is in the black husk. Frankly, we like the specks and the extra flavor from the husk, and use black peppercorns universally. If you don’t have white pepper, simply use black pepper. Here are the different types of pepper, including pink peppercorns, green peppercorns and dozens of others, none of which is Piper nigrum.

      

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