Thursday, October 10, 2013

What Do You Know About Cretan Food?

Local fruit platter and other treats from Crete
Local fruit platter and other treats from Crete
Fall is a time that brings momentous changes, and this year is no exception.
I am in the process of launching very exciting limited engagement culinary and cultural tours to Crete, Greece.
I will be booking reservations in cooperation with PortoClub Travel, based in Heraklion, a division of Paleologos S.A. Shipping and Travel Enterprises.
People have already been asking how I "did" it. (I'm not done by far! Watch out now, I'm just getting started!)
In life, we choose our outcomes much more often than we think.
We can choose to let life happen to us.
Courtesy farconville & FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Courtesy farconville & FreeDigitalPhotos.net




Or.




Make life happen for us.
Courtesy Stuart Miles & FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Courtesy Stuart Miles & FreeDigitalPhotos.net













(...And say your prayers because...)
It doesn't always go according to plan!
There can be setbacks, imperfections, and just plain weird stuff to navigate.
But that's life!
Sometimes though, every now and then, after our travails, all we have to do is ask for what we want.
It is not rocket science. There is no special formula.
Spend time analyzing goals.
Work hard.
Work very hard!
Work even harder and smarter!!!
(No physics or calculus required yet? Hm.)
Be nice to people! Meet them. Ask the right questions.
Care.
About people. About food.
About the planet.
New beginnings. Photo credit: Hadassah Patterson- All rights reserved
Photo credit: Hadassah Patterson. All rights reserved.
About everything.
Learn responsibility.
Take pride in the stuff one is working so hard on.
Learn some more.
Overcome unbelievable obstacles.
Keep learning always...
Never give up.
It has been a pleasure to share my passion for local, regional, and creatively global food with each of you, and looking back, it is unbeliveable how much I have grown as of yet.
Original post -All rights reserved
Original post -All rights reserved
The journey thus far has been worth more than any endpoint, and I thank you for taking time out of your busy lives to read, share, or support.
I promise I will work just as hard as I always do to make sure you have a great time too, if you decide to travel this leg of the trip with me.
I will be there.

So I ask you:
What do  you know about Greek food?
Now consider what you know about Cretan food?
Here is what I know about delicacies from the Hellenic Isles:
They have been doing fresh, local food since before the U.S. was a country...
(Just saying.)
It is absolutely delicious.
The flavors are unique; even the familiar flavors have a different spin there.
The classes are a lot of fun and very adaptable to all kinds of dietary needs.
The food and culture are worth the trip.
The people are warm, genuine, and welcoming.
The location is beautiful.
The groups will be small, and classes are cozy and informal...

There is more to come soon on specifics.
In the meantime, I leave you with just a few of the pictures from my new friends in Crete, and a brief description of what will be happening...
Courtesy G. Portakalakis
Courtesy G. Portakalakis
ruins in crete
Courtesy G. Portokalakis
sea in crete lookout
Courtesy G. Portokalakis
         
What Will I Learn?
Your week (7 days/6nights) in Crete will be as much a hands on cooking experience as a cultural one
You will be introduced to the philosophy of local cooking and its traditions
 You will learn about the history of Cretan cuisine and how it was influenced by its occupation for more than 2000 years 
You will learn the inspirations behind the Cretan dishes
The methods employed by local producers...
How to make a variety of Cretan dishes from simple ingredients you can find back home
How very few ingredients can be the basis for 6 or 7 dishes 
How to prepare traditional Cretan dishes that can be adapted to special dietary requirements, but never compromising on flavor
The cooking techniques and methods used to create the dishes
You will enjoy yourselves, make memories, and take home a wealth of new knowledge in a very unique and comfortable traditional village setting.
In the meantime, because I prefer to focus on blog content quality, and not yelling at people, let me know if you would like to receive  periodic email newsletters.
You will be apprised of:
  • Detailed updates on the new website launch and optimal booking arrangements
  • Available tour types (traditional, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free)
  • General information regarding this off-the-beaten tourist path and relaxing destination
Please feel free to tell me more about your circumstances and what you are interested in so I can reply with the right information for you.
Also you may email via my about.me page:
Happy Journeys!
From World on a Table Tours, by Deelish! Foods


Saturday, September 21, 2013

New site!

Hello!

Thank you for visiting my blog!

Please check out the new wordpress version!
I have migrated most posting there as I am taking on a new endeavor offering gourmet food tours to Crete, Greece. Check out my new website at www.deelishfoods.com 
Also, feel free to signup for the initial newsletter here!

Thank you for stopping by!

From Deelish!


Courtesy G. Portakalkis

Monday, July 1, 2013

Gluten-Free Tomato Casserole

A few things just remind us of childhood summers.

Fireflies

Sweet dew in the evenings

Playing tag until darkness takes over, (or after).

The sound of friends laughing on the porch, (swatting at mosquitoes).

Shucking corn, roasting it, and trying to find every last kernel before tossing it aside for the next ear one can make room for.

Barbecues, pig pickin's, and watermelons.

Tomatoes.

Sweet, juicy, heady, husky tomatoes. We ate them  in salads, on sandwiches, with cucumber and vinegar, or just by themselves, sometimes right off the vine, perfectly ripe, and musky with a sprinkle of sugar, like the fruit that they are...

The only thing that could possibly be more pleasant to eat than a fresh tomato is basil and tomato. Today I stopped by a local farmers market and tomatoes were everywhere. Big fat ones, little sungolds, Cherokee purples, all sorts of heirloom fruits... and out of nowhere came the heady scent of Thai basil. I had to have it. The man took pity on me and gave me a virtual bouquet of basil. Flowers would not have made me happier!

On the way home the thoughts of tomatoes swam around, and up bobbed some sweet memories. Coming up, my folks went through different seasons of growing them, and we had them every way they could possibly envision. Just when I thought we'd exhausted every possible method I learned one more, and this one would teach me about my family history.

My parents were sitting around the table reminiscing as usual. Laughing and telling jokes until the wee hours of the morning, they were. Of course, during a nightly trip I overheard them and was dying to find out what was so funny. So I stuck my head in the kitchen with my footie pajamas, wiggled my little self into a seat, and asked them precisely that.

They were still giggling and in between gasps my mom explained the legend of the Tomato Casserole. Apparently she grew up hating it. Now here I must digress; they were calling it tomato cobbler. Which is fine. But therein lied the rub. It wasn't cobbler, and that nasty little trick is what started her down the road to tomato casserole perdition. In hindsight, it was a very unfunny situation.

Ask any Southerner what a cobbler is, or anyone who's been here, and they will likely begin salivating and find the need to clear their throats slightly before really beginning a respectable description. It is sweet, succulent and fruity. Most cobblers are even a tad spicy, and frankly they are hard to screwup, but it happens. Still, a good cobbler can intimate alot about the maker's personality. Anyone with an innate sense of balance will refrain from "over-doughing it". Basically, one should get the impression that there is just as much fruit as crusty, slightly crisp and sweet buttery breading, even if there is a bottom crust. But one wouldn't call it a cobbler if it wasn't sweet. Ask anybody. A savory cobbler isn't a cobbler. It's a casserole. I have had and made sweet tomato cobbler and it can be delicious.

Hence one could understand my mother's consternation! You didn't hear it from me, but the relative who made it didn't put a whiff of sugar in it, and there was almost no dough to speak of! To make a bad situation even worse, it was more water than anything else, and someone stuck sweet spices in it. This of course led any well-tuned nose to believe there was dessert in the oven. Having a wait of epic magnitude, only to discover a soupy non-cobbler as the object of one's desires must have been exquisitely painful. I could only sympathize, both hands supporting my shaking head enraptured at this tale of sorrow. It was an abominable thing to do!

 The only saving grace one can attribute to the situation, is that they were cooking it for someone else, and apparently that was the way they liked it. I'm not sure that is good enough an excuse for pulling a stunt like that on someone at home. But nevertheless, that was the comical situation my parents were discussing, and it got funnier, and worse, the more they discussed it. I looked from one parent to the other, as they were playing verbal tennis:

"It was watery!"

"Say it isn't so!"

"The dough on the top was soggy!"

"What?! What about the dough on the bottom?"

"There wasn't any."

(Mouth gape.)

"... and they put cinnamon in it!"

"Wow."

For a man who survived the Great Depression and a World War, "Wow" was something he reserved for special occasions... like somebody died. That we knew. Well. I'd heard him on the phone getting the news.

Shortly, we would learn from him, that a Tomato Casserole was indeed something to be savored. Note the savory allusion... Cautiously, he endeavored to divest my mother of her degustatory traumas and heal the wound over as patiently and delicately as possible. My feet started swinging and I gathered my little house robe around me, because I knew this was gonna be good. He was going to sell her on it. I listened as if my life depended on it, because I had apparently tripped in on "a Grownup Conversation" that I might need to use later... He described it in perfect detail:

"Well, sweetheart, the first problem is they called it the wrong thing. Now a real tomato casserole isn't watery. It's juicy, but layered with just the right amount of herbs and breading and seasoning, so it isn't dry either. If the tomatoes are ripe they will already have alot of flavor, and a few onions, a 'lil bit of garlic, and some butter take it to another level. You don't have to add a bunch of water though. They have plenty of juice on their own."

"I know it!" she cried out truculently, and sulked and laughed. By this time my feet were swinging a bit slower, and we were laughed out. I was sent back to bed yawning widely and rubbing my eyes, filled with visions of what a tomato casserole must really look, smell, and taste like.

Not long after, he treated us to precisely what he described, and I must say, it was worth remembering. The luscious aromas and the casserole dish laden with bubbling, crusty brown goodness...
It was definitely worth staying up late and watching my parents giggle over.

Now living without wheat flour is interesting. I won't say bad, but it sends one back to the drawing board.
So here is my take on my Dad's old classic. After one bite, I giggled. I hope you do too.

Gluten Free Tomato Casserole 

Yields 1-9inch pie pan or square baking dish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

1 TB Extra virgin olive oil

4-5 oz gluten-free breadcrumbs or very fine cornbread crumbs mixed with 1-2 TB honey

2 oz sorghum flour, 1 oz tapioca starch, and 1/2 oz potato starch

2 tsp chipotle powder

1 tsp cayenne

1 tsp ground sage

2 tsp salt

1 tsp white pepper

10-12 oz sliced ripe tomatoes, about 3 large tomatoes. (Buy them and stick them in a paper bag or on a sunny window a day or two.)

1-2 oz mixed chopped vegetables  or sweet peas and summer corn kernels

2 oz butter, sliced individually to spread evenly

3-4 oz yellow onion, medium diced or sliced thin

2 cloves garlic, minced fine (1 TB)

2-3 TB milk (gasp!) to pour on top

Chopped basil and oregano to taste

Directions:

Split the breadcrumbs in half for the bottom and top "crust". Oil the pan with the olive oil. Pour or pack in the  crumbs. If you'd like it good and crusty, blind bake it for 5-7 minutes. I prefer mine more like a dressing so I left it plain and started layering.

Place the tomato slices on top of the bottom crumbs. Spread 2 oz onion and 1/2 TB garlic mince over the tomatoes. Combine the flour mix with the seasonings, reserving some of the fresh herbs for garnish. Dust it with 2 TB of the flour mix and place pats of butter around the pan evenly.

Repeat.

There will be roughly 2 layers. Add the final half of the crumbs and pour all of the milk over it evenly. Bake 20-25 minutes, until the crust is solidifying and browning on top, and the filling is bubbly. It won't be solid, but it will be yummy! Dust a few herbs over it and a bit of the chipotle powder. Do what pleases. One might even toss some cheese over it when it comes out of the oven - baker's choice.

Now. Giggle. Laugh. Chuckle. Or just grin.

Happy Summer!
from Deelish!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Back Roads and Bright Skies

Endless blue

stretches to the eye's limit.
Jordan Lake

Warmth shines on every surface.

Friendly breezes

tickle the face tenderly

and wrap around limbs,

gently.

Aromas...

Honeysuckle,

freshly mown sweet clover grass,

and 'Secret Gardens'

over boundless carpets of

vivid, lush greens that sway...
Canola fields in NC

All are calling

from the dense, moist soil

for summer's bare feet

and lazy days.

The road stretches on...

Furrowed fields glitter in the sun

studded with sweet warm rubies.

Towering dark giants

of Eastern Red Cedar

stand sentry along quiet roads

guarding lost stories,

full hearts,

and brave lives.

'Queen Anne' bows

in a noble gesture

that bids valiant riders

"Farewell...

 and good travels."

HP

Happy Summer
from Deelish!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Banana Quinoa Cake with Cinnamon Almond Butter Icing - Gluten Free


Well this spring has been very momentous, challenging, and unique.
First there is the weather. North Carolina has had cooler temperatures for springtime, higher winds for longer periods, (March 'comes in like a lion', not May?), and pollen season has been a bit wetter. I know this may not hold up scientifically. I'm no meteorologist, but that's my take on it.

Strawberry season came in a bit later in NC, but thank goodness it is here, despite the challenges farmers have faced with bad seeds, stemming from a Canadian supply company. That said, there is still plenty of strawberry happiness to go around, as I discovered at our local farmers market, and on my 'back roads' tour via NC Hwy 64.

Also, I've been pretty well under wraps while preparing for the school cake competition. It was pretty sweet to have a silver medal to show for the challenges I overcame and all my hard work. I was equally thrilled for all of my fellow students! Many of us won medals, and surely all of us put alot of heart into it!

So I am just now really getting back into some kind of routine that is more familiar, after completing 6 classes this past semester, and edging my way steadily toward completing my degrees! Summer break is coming to a close for me, and I am ramping right back up to start a stint of management classes.
Before I do, here is a tasty little treat that is like this spring... singular and still downright enjoyable.

This gluten-free cake was easy to make and turned out to be seriously nibble-worthy nosh! The icing came about because I love almond butter and other nut butters. One could easily use peanut butter, tahini, or even a soy version if there is a nut allergy in the house. The nut butter adds an element of richness and extra nutrients.

Quinoa flour is more cream-colored, almost yellow, and has a nice nutty aroma and flavor to it. The cake is more dense, almost like a bar-style cake. It also keeps well in an air-tight container without refrigeration. Keep in mind that a slice of this dessert packs all the amino acids and a dose of protein. So this is a very whole item to snack on without as much sugar as a classic dessert!

Banana Quinoa Cake with Walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Ingredients:


4 oz quinoa flour
4 oz all-purpose gluten-free flour
6 oz butter softened
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
(optional ¼ tsp nutmeg)
4-5 oz  chopped walnut or walnut pieces (optional)
2 bananas, mashed to a pulp
¼ cup maple (or agave) syrup 
1 egg
1 cup (8 oz) milk, (almond or regular)


Whisk the dry ingredients to evenly incorporate flours, spices, and baking powder.
Soften the butter and mix until fluffy. Add bananas, syrup, and egg. Mix until well combined.
Add milk and blend until batter is mostly smooth, there will be some lumps and that is ok. The consistency should be thick, but like pancake batter. Frankly, it makes tasty pancakes too!

Add nuts if using, and mix lightly. 
Pour into a well-greased and floured 9 inch pie pan or square cake pan. 
A 9x13 pan will yield bars or squares.
Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes. 
The cake will be light in color, slightly brown around the edges and a toothpick inserted will come out clean. It should be dense and moist.
Let the cake cool completely before icing. If not icing, a nice final touch would be to cut slits and drizzle syrup over as a glaze.

Cinnamon Almond Butter Icing
¼ cup butter (2 oz) melted
2 TB or 1 oz almond butter
½ tsp cinnamon
8 oz confectioners sugar
1-2 TB milk or other liquid (I used tea!)
1 tsp vanilla

Melt the butter and add the nut butter. Add confectioners sugar all at once, and add cinnamon.  Stir with a spatula, whisk, or blend with mixer until moist and very thick. Add vanilla and then liquid to consistency. It will smooth right out. I used the whole 2 TB and it turned out fine. This is a matter of preference. 
Enjoy! 

Until next time...

Happy Spring Eating
from Deelish!

Strawberry Source information:
NC Cooperative Extension Service http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/021413-CSJ-Strwbry-Virus-email-public.pdf
News and Observer online article http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/04/07/2809392/nc-state-extensions-forecast-helps.html
News 14 Carolina online article in Google http://triangle.news14.com/content/top_stories/693800/infected-strawberry-plants-hurting-crop-across-nc

Monday, April 29, 2013

A Bone to Pick - A Spring Odyssey with Shad

Forgive me.

If anyone has a sensitive stomach, or stringent principles, this post may not be to taste. Season as desired or pass it on to a less finicky foodie neighbor, 'as you like it'.

Spring is a season of beginnings.

The land awakes, stretches a bit, and cries out loud. Flowers cover the grassy hills in velvet carpets of technicolor.The sky wears its bluest blue, and brand new leaves shoot forth from dormant hiding places. Living things rejoice and congregate, freed from the barriers of winter, and then multiply.

I must now broach a bony subject. After reading a great post by my friend Nancie McDermott on shad roe, I eagerly jumped back into a shad-habit of spring consumption. Also worth noting is her subsequent post on The Lee Brothers Dinner. Their Cookbook contains a great treatment of Shad as well and a few key tidbits on what to do with them.



American Shad, or Alosa sapidissima,  is a fish of the east coast which historically has spawned in every accessible river and tributary from Canada to Florida. (see Maryland Dept of Natural Resources link enclosed) Native Americans, or American Indians, were therefore first known to be shad fishermen as a group in the United States. It is now one of the most popular indigenous fish, in its season.They are the largest in the herring family and the most abundant anadramous fish on the east coast. The females may travel  up to 1200 miles during the freshwater spawning process. The juvenile's larval development actually would not occur in saltwater. Interestingly enough, mature shad actually return to the rivers of their birth for this process, and could therefore be called "river-specific".
(see UmassAmherst)

They are also incredibly delicious! It may be true that tuna is referred to as seafood 'chicken'. But the flesh of  shad is very meaty, light, and flavorful. Frankly, it is even good right out of the fridge cold...remind one of anything? With all this loveliness to offer, there cannot possibly be any downside, can there? Well... there may be a slight challenge. The average American shad contains anywhere from 750-1000 bones! That is a very thoughtful dinner, indeed!

...And think I did. I first tried a recipe I'd used previously which dissolved the bones... I thought I remembered, I reckon, maybe. Slow baking with all my might, those multitudinous 'thorns in the flesh' stayed put and I racked my bean trying to recall what I did differently the last time. Apparently, after much research and sourcing of available advice on the issue, the only way to truly be rid of the 'interruptions' is to find one's very own bonafide shad fillet person and care for them dutifully.

 Nevertheless, I had a wonderful time eating it, as well as the roes. But as for the prickly situation I encountered, I contacted Nancie to get her thoughts on the subject. We agreed that it was well worth the effort regardless, and she suggested baking it covered with rock salt, which was also delicious.

Giving it another go, I got permission from the gents at my local seafood market to watch them fillet a few. The experience was eye-opening. Really, because had I blinked, I would have missed it. They stripped it down to fillets in an instant, but this only separated the shad from its primary back bone. There were still several rows of secondary bones to contend with, which I did.

My preferred experience is now to buy it whole, scale it, and separate the roes from their mommy themselves. (Sorry kids!) This keeps my roes intact for further research purposes!

 
The separation can be done a couple of ways, either starting at mid-line behind the head, or at the very front of their um, (pardon me!), anal fin, by making a small slit as close as possible to the flesh in the cavity. Mid-line of a shad, there is a very important vessel that bleeds profusely when fresh, and can thus make a delicate operation quite murky. 

So. I prefer the fin method, staying as close to the flesh as the long, sharp, flexible blade of a fillet knife will allow. At first the cut should be tentative, and one should periodically check the cavity while slicing through until proficiency is obtained with practice. This method ensures not going through the very delicate membrane holding the egg sac together. Once punctured, the eggs will easily disburse and subsequent cooking could be quite difficult, but not impossible.

Continuing all the way up through the belly, one can easily distinguish the other things that make a shad, well, a shad. 

At this point, all that remains is to go in at the base of the head and separate the rest of it with extreme caution, so as not to burst the roes at the tip. The greenish line pictured here is bilious, so that and the other stuff can be pulled out and tenderly cut away from the lobes of roe and discarded. That chore completed, it is now quite alright to slice through the spine at the center of the open cavity and puncture that artery so the fish bleeds out. Rinse well or salt soak a couple of hours and cook, as you like...

The roes are usually salt soaked several hours and/or then poached before using. This tip was attained from  my school chefs at Wake Tech. That is a delectable story of its own.

On my journey I discovered that a favorite way to cook the fish itself is indeed a nice slow bake with thick onion slices. I like to add thick slices of red, orange, and yellow peppers. One can do this head on or head off, I prefer leaving the tail on, just to scrape out any extra bits. If not slow baking, the peppers may be chopped instead of sliced.


Slow Baked Shad with Onions and Peppers

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F

1 large gutted whole shad, about 4-5 lbs
2 large onions, about 1 lb or 16 oz total sliced, 1 inch thick
3 large colorful peppers, about 10-12 oz total, sliced 1 inch thick
3-4 sprigs of tarragon
3-4 sprigs of chervil 
3-4 sprigs of chives

Optional - 1TB chipotle powder.
 (A little chipotle powder is great for a nice, smoky, and subtle heat.)

Directions
Lay the onion slices down first in a pan large enough to hold the fish, and add a 1-2 inch layer of water, broth, or stock.

Place the fish on top of the onions, add the herbs inside and scatter a few on top with the chipotle. 
Add the colorful peppers, and seal the whole pan with foil or an airtight lid.
Slow bake for 4-5 hours, checking after 4 hours to ensure moisture retention. 

Many recipes cover the shad in bacon and broil. If one uses a little bacon fat, there's no need to get it all soggy! Fry the bacon and eat it. Use the fat to broil it! Just a thought. We are talking a slow-bake here, folks! Better yet, use the bacon on the roes and eat that while waiting!

 The best springtime tradition is to eat baked shad with fresh new asparagus, lightly sauteed with a bit of butter.
"Double Shad Delight" with the brine from about.com recipe,
then slow- baked with broth or water to braise, and bay leaf.


In the meantime, the shad saga continues.... 

Happy Eating!
from Deelish!





Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Inspirational Email Received: "Burned Biscuits..."



Today, I am sharing an email I received from one of my older Sisters, who received it from someone else....
I don't know who authored it, but I certainly did not. This was just very touching, and I would like to share it with my online community, because everyone is going through something at some point. 

Just because we have a great day doesn't mean everyone else has. Compassion and kindness go a very long way....

Burned Biscuits
When I was a kid, my mom liked to make breakfast food for dinner every now and then. And I remember one night in particular when she had made breakfast after a long, hard day at work. On that evening so long ago, my mom placed a plate of eggs, sausage and extremely burned biscuits in front of my dad. I remember waiting to see if anyone noticed!
Yet all my dad did was reach for his biscuit, smile at my mom and ask me how my day was at school. I don't remember what I told him that night, but I do remember watching him smear butter and jelly on that ugly burned biscuit. He ate every bite of that thing... never made a face nor uttered a word about it!
When I got up from the table that evening, I remember hearing my mom apologize to my dad for burning the biscuits. And I'll never forget what he said: "Honey, I love burned biscuits every now and then."
Later that night, I went to kiss Daddy good night and I asked him if he really liked his biscuits burned. He wrapped me in his arms and said, "Your Momma put in a hard day at work today and she's real tired. And besides - a little burned biscuit never hurt anyone!"
As I've grown older, I've thought about that many times. Life is full of imperfect things and imperfect people. I'm not the best at anything, and I forget birthdays and anniversaries just like everyone else. But what I've learned over the years is that learning to accept each other's faults, and choosing to celebrate each other’s
differences, is one of the most important keys to creating a healthy, growing, and lasting relationship.
And that's my prayer for you today... that you will learn to take the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of your life and lay them at the feet of God.
Because in the end, He's the only One who will be able to give you a relationship where a burnt biscuit isn't a deal-breaker!
We could extend this to any relationship. In fact, understanding is the base of any relationship, be it a husband-wife or parent-child or friendship!
"Don't put the key to your happiness in someone else's pocket - keep it in your own."
So, please pass me a biscuit, and yes, the burned one will do just fine.
And PLEASE pass this along to someone who has enriched your life. Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Casual Saturday: Shrimp with Orange Tarragon Hollandaise and Shucked Oysters


Shrimp with Orange Tarragon Hollandaise and Shucked Oysters (on Toast)

Oysters are highly evocative food.
Some folks love them, some folks hate them, and some tout them as an aphrodisiac.
Whatever one's preference may be, they are certainly easy to cook!


Shrimp fall in the same category skill-wise, and do beautifully with all the citrus available in the dead of winter!

This recipe is a combination of favorites. I just wanted to chill out and spoil myself a bit before getting back into the grind after the holiday breaks. 

Tarragon transforms seafood into royalty, much like the fairy godmother of seafood cuisine. Orange is a refreshing change from the ubiquitous and exhausted lemon usually paired with fruits de mer platters.
If anyone knows me, they know I have a thing for hollandaise sauce. It just is what it is and I don't make excuses or explanations. So this dish makes me happy. I hope it is enjoyable for everyone else also!

This recipe serves 2 but can easily be doubled.

Heat 2 quarts water to simmer in a double boiler bottom pan. Use this for heating the sauce.

Steam 2 dozen freshly scrubbed and soaked oysters in the shell for 8-10 minutes, with 2-3 large sprigs of tarragon. Check them early. They will open slightly when done. Do not overcook, or they will be tough and leathery, which is unacceptable and worthy of public flogging (but easy to do – so watch it)!
(I used a rice cooker/steamer for this, so cooking times may vary for stock pots or other methods.)

While they are steaming is a good time to whip up the hollandaise sauce quickly.

Over the simmering water place a medium stainless steel bowl with:
2 egg yolks
1 oz orange juice
1 oz white wine vinegar

Whip this mixture over the double boiler until frothy but do not overcook, only 1-1 ½ minutes tops.
Take the bowl off the heat or it will cook the yolks. Remove the double boiler from heat also.

Slowly and steadily drizzle into the yolks…
6 oz clarified butter heated with 2TB Tarragon (chopped)
… while whipping furiously to emulsify the mixture into a creamy sauce. Do not add too much butter at once or the sauce will break. Nearing the end it is okay to add more butter quickly.

Season with Salt and White Pepper (and/or cayenne) to taste and hold warm over the steaming (but no longer cooking) pot.

Begin a sauté with 2 oz sliced onion and 4 oz sliced bell peppers over medium heat in ½ oz butter or oil.
Add ½ oz minced garlic.
Once the aromas are released, add ½ lb peeled and deveined shrimp.
Sauté the shrimp until it is pink and no longer translucent, approximately 6-8 minutes.

Plate the sauté on toast (crust off).
Add another ½-1 oz of orange juice to sauce if needed for flavor or consistency, and give it a final whip and taste before plating.

Pour the sauce over the shrimp and toast, add shucked oysters if desired.

(Optional: drizzle Sriracha picante/Chili Garlic Sauce for color and flavor boost)
Garnish with orange slices or fresh tarragon. 

Notes:
The sauté is fine over rice pilaf instead of toast for a more formal affair.
Wines to try with this: Moschofilero (lovely dry Greek white wine with spritely citrus and floral notes), or a robust Sancerre.


Happy Eating!
from Deelish!