I probably start most of my blog post the same way. I talk about how it’s been so long since my previous post and how busy I get and I’m going to try to do better! It’s all true.
I had a show in February with two artist friends at Fifth Avenue Art Gallery, in Melbourne, Florida entitled Open for Interpretation. The three of us, each submitted three words and all of us had to “interpret“ all nine words. So the show consisted of 27 artworks. The nine words were: tree, oyster, spicy, sunflower, honeybee, fishing, collection, vintage and origami. The three of us have very different styles and mediums that we work in. I am a mixed media artist, my friend Lori is a watercolorist and my friend Barbara is currently working with digital ink transfers. As I sometimes do, I didn’t get started on the project as early as I should have and in the end worked feverishly to get all my pieces finished. But I did enjoy the process and I like the playfulness and directness of my finished work for the show.
I love cooking with lemongrass… in all forms. I buy it fresh whenever I see it and I alway keep a “tube” of it in the fridge. Look in the fresh produce area of your grocery store for herbs that come in squeeze tubes– almost as good as fresh and they are so handy when I am in the middle of a recipe and missing fresh herbs.
Lemongrass: lemony, yes… light, fresh, tart. I use lemongrass in most of my Thai or Vietnamese dishes, it provides so much flavor, especially when combined with ginger, garlic, citrus juice and fish sauce. One of my favorite dishes is Lemongrass Pork Meatballs in Lettuce Cups.
Dinner a few night ago:
Lemongrass Pork Meatballs in Lettuce wraps
Rice Noodles with red peppers, scallions and shiitake mushrooms
The great thing about these meatballs is that they are mostly pork… no breadcrumbs or fillers. They are juicy and tasty and go great with hot or cold noodles and with lots of fresh herbs.
Mix all the ingredients together and either saute in a pan with 2 TBLS oil or bake in a 375 oven for about 20 minutes. I like to saute them so I can keep a close eye on them and make sure they stay juicy.
The SECRET SAUCE
It is only the most magnificent sauce ever! Vietnamese table Sauce goes on everything…
1/4 C of fish sauce
1/4 C of lime juice
1 stalk of lemongrass finely chopped
3 TBLS brown sugar or light brown sugar
1 clove of garlic 1 TBLS of freshly grated carrot
2 tsp finely chopped Thai chiles (adjust for your heat tolerance)
add all the ingredients and let set for 30 minutes or more… I keep a jar of it in the fridge.
You can do a quick pickle very easily…
fresh veggies along with a mixture of vinegar, sugar and spices like cinnamon, cloves, star anise, peppercorns, etc.
Heat up the vinegar and sugar and spices just till the sugar dissolves and let cool. Add your choice of julienne veggies like: onions, radishes, cucumbers, etc and let them sit for as little as 20 minutes… I keep a jar of “pickles” in the fridge and add them to salads, sandwiches and meatballs.
ENJOY! Bon Appetit :)
Improving on the mighty raw oyster… puhleeeese. Freshly shucked with a little splash of tabasco, it’s such an amazingly simple and sumptuous bite. From my title, you may know where I’m going with this, there is that legendary creation that most definitely comes close; Oysters Rockefeller.
Thank you Antoine’s for moving to New Orleans, most likely that contributed to your culinary exploration of ocean creatures and choosing the oyster when the shortage of snails demanded creative solutions. Created in 1899 by Jules Alciatore, son of the restaurant’s founder and named after John D. Rockefeller because of the ultra-rich sauce, Oysters Rockefeller continues to elicit ooos and aaaahs from food enthusiasts everywhere.
I resisted the temptation to stray from that most purist of briny goodness, the raw or slightly steamed oyster with hot sauce on a saltine, for many, many years. While on a trip with my husband in California some years ago and driving along the coast north toward Mendocino, we stopped at an “oyster shack” to try some highly recommended West Coast oysters. When they arrived, we asked about sauce… hot sauce, cocktail sauce… crackers? “No, we don’t have those, how about Mignonette Sauce?” I had been eating oysters all my life and never heard of it, but its delicious on oysters… shallots (on my favorites list) pepper (top of my list) and vinegar. But back to O. R.
Good food drives most of our travel plans; it’s just so important! Most of the time the reward of “finding” a great new place or exciting, delicious dish is well worth the time it takes to research and fit meal opportunities into our itinerary. I hate to admit it, and will most definitely correct it on our next trip to New Orleans, but we have never dined at Antoines. I LOVE New Orleans and the amazing food options from muffeletta sandwiches from the market to super fine dining available throughout the city. Galatoires on Bourbon Street has very good fellers and they surprised me when I asked for a recipe and my waiter handed me a postcard with their recipe, apparently they have been approached before. I will try that one… but I haven’t yet. Presently, my favorite place for Oysters Rockefeller is in Savannah at Vic’s On the River. I enjoyed a plate 9 days ago and that prompted my decision to cook some last night. Vic’s was kind enough to share a list of ingredients they may or may not use in their’s but no recipe. So as usual, I searched some recipes online looking for what I would imagine to be the very best representation. I ended up going with a recipe on Bon Appetit and making a few variations.
Here is the recipe… a starting point, I almost never follow a recipe exactly… I like to add my favorite ingredients where I can and make the dish my own.
1 garlic clove
2 cups loosely packed fresh
1 bunch watercress, stems
trimmed (I didn’t use any… but added extra spinach)
1/2 cup chopped green onions
3/4 cup (11/2 sticks) unsalted
butter, room temperature
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons Pernod or other
anise-flavored liqueur ( I used Sambuca)
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground (no… I couldn’t locate mine, so I added an little extra Sambuca)
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (I did a Tablespoon)
1 pound (about) rock salt
24 fresh oysters, shucked,
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Position rack in top third of oven and preheat to 450°F. Finely chop garlic in processor. Add spinach, watercress and
green onions to garlic. Process, using on/off turns, until mixture is finely chopped. Transfer mixture to medium bowl.
Combine butter, breadcrumbs, Pernod, fennel and hot sauce in processor. Process until well blended. Return spinach
mixture to processor. Process, using on/off turns, just until mixtures are blended. Season with salt and pepper. DO
AHEAD Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover; chill.
Sprinkle rock salt over large baking sheet to depth of 1/2 inch. Arrange oysters in half shells atop rock salt. Top each
oyster with 1 tablespoon spinach mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake until spinach mixture browns on top, about 8
minutes. ORIGINAL RECIPE on BonAppetit
It was amazingly easy! I wish I had found larger oysters, and will try to get better ones next time. We really loved this first attempt at making these at home… so fresh and bright and delicious. If you LOVE oysters, you should get to shucking and give these a try.
My very, very favorite and unforgettable oyster dish is the wood-fired spicy roasted ones at Cochon in New Orleans… if you planning a visit you should definitely stop in!