Oysters doing it for me right now

I won’t lie I got lucky with living in the coastal VA area. The access to local seafood is pretty abundant and always fresh. I’ve grown a big liking to seafood and its one of the things I really love to cook now. I kept seeing posts on facebook about oysters here in Norfolk from Sam Rust Seafood here locally great guy and a great resource aside from other seafood guy here locally.

Growing up didn’t really mess with oysters a lot or ever wasn’t something my parents or family ever really got into. I can’t imagine my dad who is the most bland eater in the world slurping down an oyster. Note to self when they visit this summer…put him through the ringer. I never really had an oyster until maybe four years ago when I was in Charleston visiting friends and was invited to a oyster roast at their compound from then on in as a southern boy oysters became a part of life. I’ve had them in a lot of ways some super gross inside of shots of whiskey with hot sauce and also in more elegant ways as well. Tonight I grabbed about two dozen and did them two ways for friends here locally for a light dinner. Probably should add that maybe don’t these for someone you don’t really know or are trying to make a decent impression on. Words cannot describe the debacle that I went through to open a dozen of each. That pointy, thick knife with the big wooden handle called an oyster knife? Sam tells me that the best way to determine whether an oyster or clam is fresh, alive and well is to knock ‘em. Specifically, knock two against each other or one against the counter. If they sound hollow, throw ‘em away. Also, oysters and clams should be closed super-tight (um, YEAH. I know.) When you get home, grab 2 bowls, one that fits inside the other. Unbag the oysters and clams and put them in the smaller bowl. Fill larger bowl with ice and put the smaller bowl inside, on top of the ice. Refrigerate. According to SRS, if stored properly, they’ll last for a few days like that. But I always go by the rule of eating them same day or next day.

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I did the oysters two ways the first that will be shown below is an Asian inspired oyster Mignonette. I tend to lean a lot towards Asian and Latin flavors  I enjoy the contrast of bold and subtle that play with one another on the pallet.

For the Asian Mignonette

1 teaspoon water
2 tablespoons sweetened (seasoned) rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon red peppercorns or red chili flake
1 teaspoon finely minced ginger
1 teaspoon finely minced shallots
1/4 teaspoon whole coriander seeds (optional)

In a small bowl, whisk together the Asian Mignonette ingredients. Additions to this I like to add some crunchy panko to the tops of the oysters. Also if you’re looking for a smoother mignonette this can be done in a blender it will puree it to a nice green silky color.

OystersRockefeller

Oysters Rockefeller 
Makes 24 appetizers

2 dozen oysters, shucked
5 tbsp butter, unsalted 
1/2 bag fresh spinach leaves, stems removed and finely chopped 
1/2 onion, chopped 
3 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped 
1 stalk celery, finely chopped 
1 garlic clove, minced 
3 tbsp cooked bacon, chopped
2 tbsp white wine 
2 tbsp heavy cream 
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Swiss cheese
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp Pernod
Rock salt
Lemon wedges for garnish


Using an oyster knife, pry open the oyster shells and remove the oysters, reserving the oyster liquor. Discard the top and loosen each oyster from the base of its shell. Set aside and keep cool.

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Spread a 1/2-inch thick layer of rock salt on a large baking sheet and arrange the oyster shells on top, making sure they’re all level. The rock salt will stabilize them. Pour a little of the reserved oyster liquor on top of each shell. 

Finely chop the onion and celery. Melt three tablespoons of butter in a sauté pan over medium heat, and add the celery and onion and cook one minute. Add the chopped spinach and the remaining butter, and cook another minute or two until the spinach has wilted. Add the white wine and Pernod and cook another two minutes, stirring constantly. Add the cream and stir to combine. The mixture may be made ahead of time up to this point, and refrigerated until ready to use, up to 3 days.

Remove the chilled Rockefeller topping from the refrigerator, and beat the mixture with an electric mixer to evenly distribute the butter and infuse air into the topping. Spoon the spinach mixture evenly over each oyster, spreading it evenly out to the edge of the shell, then top with the crumbled bacon and a sprinkle of chopped parsley. Combine the Parmesan and the Panko and scatter evenly over the oysters, with a dot of butter if you wish. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, watching carefully, until the edges of the oysters begin to curl around the edges and the topping is bubbling and lightly browned.
oysters with bacon
Oysters rockefeller with bacon on top
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New things in little places

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Had an amazing meal last night at Legrand here in Norfolk. Place is everything a “foodie” could want its small only seating about 12 people tops and the menu always ever changing based on what they buy for the day.  I had pull pork on toast with house made pickles and Alabama white sauce and also not picture “mushrooms on toast”.

The good: Lots of food for a great price totally left stuffed and happy. The pork was very juicy and had a nice smokey flavor to it. The pickles had a good sweet flavor to balance out the smoke from the pork along with the ‘White sauce” which was mayo and horseradish.  The mushrooms on toast was nice the chicken confit was nice and tender not overly oily and had good balanced flavor. The mixed mushrooms and kale that topped the bread also had a nice seasoning to them and balanced out the dish well.

The bad: The pork itself was awesome, but they added pimento cheese which you don’t pick up any of that flavor it gets lost. It added a richness to the dish, but didn’t do much to complement other flavors. They also use a lot of butter on the bread almost in excess not to say this is a bad thing, but it can over power the dishes both very quickly. Lastly a little bit more salt would of been helpful.

Overall I love this place and will be back many many more times to come!

Sprouts

Another veggie that keeps showing up in our fridge that I really don’t care for is Brussels sprouts, but they seem to be a crowd pleaser and sell well.

Brussels sprouts are a cultivar of the same species as cabbage, in the same family as collard greens, broccoli, kale, and kohlrabi; they are cruciferous (they belong to the Brassicaceae family; old name Cruciferae).About 80% to 85% of US production is for the frozen food market, with the remainder for fresh consumption.[9] Once harvested, sprouts last three to five weeks under ideal near-freezing conditions before wilting and discolouring, and about half as long at refrigerator temperature. American varieties are generally 2.5–5 cm (0.98–1.97 in) in diameter. (Wiki)

Raw Brussels sprouts contain excellent levels of vitamin C and vitamin K, with more moderate amounts of B vitamins, such as folic acid and vitamin B6 (USDA nutrient table, right); essential minerals and dietary fiber exist in lesser amounts. Brussels sprouts, as with broccoli and other brassicas, contain sulforaphane, a phytochemical under basic research for its potential anticancer properties. Although boiling reduces the level of sulforaphane, steaming and stir frying do not result in significant loss.Brussels sprouts and other brassicas are also a source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical being studied for how it affects DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells in vitro. Consuming Brussels sprouts in excess may not be suitable for heart patients taking anticoagulants since they contain vitamin K, a blood-clotting factor. In one such reported incident, doctors determined that the reason for a heart patient’s worsening condition was eating too many Brussels sprouts which countered the intended effects of blood-thinning therapy.

I should probably start eating these things more…

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Pan seared sprouts with roasted apple, fig balsamic, and crème friache

Makes 1 small app serving

  • 6 sprouts cut in half
  • 1/8 cup of green apples diced fine
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 tbl honey
  • Fig balsamic glaze (bought at any local store)
  • EVOO
  • Salt/Pepper to taste
  1. Add oil to a small sautee pan and bring to a light simmer then add sprouts, be careful they will cause the oil to pop at first. Let the sprouts develop a nice caramel color as the render down stir every 2 minutes.
  2. Deglaze the pan with balsamic fig glaze toss sprouts to get a nice coat
  3. Add the apples, cinnamon, and honey toss to coat everything
  4. Place pan into a oven at 350-400 for 7-10 minutes until sprouts are fork tender
  5. Remove the pan carefully and add the mixture to a small plate or bowl top with crème friache

Getting cold time for a little soup action

Only in VA or possible any other coast town it can go from 40 degrees to 80 in a matter of three days. This normally means that you’re constantly sick or trying to avoid catching a cold with the weather flux. Recently at the restaurant we have had an abundance of fall veggies come through given our access to local farmers. I have had a lot of butternut squash, pumpkins, and parsnips in the walk in lately. I try to use these in a lot of different ways, but soup is always a quick crowd pleaser and easy mid shift meal. I got bored with the standard stuff of pureeing squash little heavy cream nutmeg and calling it a day. Below I’ll give you my two soups we ran this week one is a curried pumpkin and coconut milk and the other is a root veggie soup.

While you might want to skip using fresh pumpkin in baked goods , it’s a must when making homemade pumpkin soup. Yes, it takes a while for the pumpkin to roast, but once the gourd is cooked through, the soup comes together in no time. Plus, roasting real pumpkin lets you reserve the pumpkin seeds for toasting and adding as a topping. If you have other stuff laying around such as butternut squash this will work across the board or blend them together.

Notes

If soup is too thick, add more stock to thin it out. In addition, if soup is too thick when reheating leftovers, add more stock until the desired consistency is reached.

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Ingredients: Yields about 7 cups of soup-increase if making in bulk.

1/4 tablespoon of sage

1 onion, medium dice
1 tablespoon coconut oil or butter. This is up to you if you want to make it vegan or not.
2-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 teaspoon curry powder (I used red to give the soup a deeper color, but yellow is fine)
3/4 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 medium-sized (2-pound) pumpkin, cut in half with seeds and pulp removed
3 1/2 cups stock, vegetable or chicken
1/2 cup coconut milk
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Rub pumpkin halves with coconut oil or butter. Then place flesh-side down on a foil-lined cookie sheet and roast for 45 minutes or until flesh is tender when pricked with a fork. Once cool enough to touch, scoop pumpkin flesh out from the skins and set aside for later use.
  2. Heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat, and melt oil or butter. Add onion and do not stir. Allow onions to brown on one side, then flip them in one move and do not stir again, allowing onions to brown on other side. Add garlic and ginger, stir, and cook for 1-2 minutes, until garlic becomes fragrant and slightly brown. Add curry powder, coriander, cumin, and cloves, and constantly stir until spices become toasted and fragrant, about 60 seconds. Add stock, coconut milk, and pumpkin, and bring to a boil.
  3. Turn off heat, and use an immersion blender to blend the soup until smooth. Alternatively, transfer soup in batches to a blender, and blend until smooth. Once soup is completely smooth, turn flame back on to medium-high heat and bring soup to a simmer. Taste as you go this is where you can control the spice of the soup. For me I like it to have some kick and this is also where you can begin to play with the consistency of the soup thin or thickness.
  4.  When I add this to the bowl I normally either finish it with some chopped cilantro on top and a drizzle of coconut milk. This both will help to combat the heat of my version when I make. Other fun options are to thinly cut a jalapeno and place on top to give it crunch and heat.

Butternut and Root Vegetable Soup ( serves 8 )

1 large butternut peeled, seeded and cubed
3 carrots peeled and chopped
3 parsnips peeled and chopped
1 sweet potato peeled and chopped
1 large onion peeled and chopped
2 leeks cleaned and chopped (white parts only)
8 cups vegetable stock
2 cloves fresh garlic crushed
1 teaspoon ground thyme
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil

1. Heat oil in a large pot, add onion and garlic and stir-fry till the onion is soft.

2. Add remaining vegetables, thyme and salt and pepper and stir-fry for a few minutes.

3. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer till all the vegetables are soft (about 45 minutes).

4. Cool before pureeing.

5. Adjust seasonings and re-heat before serving.

Note: With this its up to you how you want the soup to be if you want a smooth soup follow step four, but I like texture so I saved half and didn’t puree it and pureed half then added it back.

Quick and Easy Gluten-Free Seafood Pasta

The Domestic Man

Many years ago, pasta cooked with seafood was my solution when I wanted something that tasted great without spending much time in the kitchen. Pasta cooks quickly and is delicious; seafood cooks even more quickly and is even more delicious. It’s almost like cheating in the way that you can have a memorable meal in a manner of minutes.

While pasta is rarely on our dinner table these days, we still miss the convenience of a quick Italian-style dinner. So from time to time I’ll whip something up with zucchini noodles or rice-based pasta. When we’re looking for a special treat, we’ll use Cappello’s grain-free fettuccine, which is made using just five ingredients: almond flour, cage-free eggs, tapioca flour, xanthan gum, and sea salt. Although this recipe in particular was made with Cappello’s pasta, directions for all three pasta types are provided below.

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Green Tea pulled pork

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Living in the south pulled pork is as much as a staple as sweet tea. Everyone has a recipe and everyone likes it a certain way.

First set your oven to 185 degrees F, the fat and connective tissue break down I was once told by a women of the earth that this fat that comes off is a great skin product. If you try it great let me know, but I have no use for the fat that is coming off from the pork. The key is to slowly raise the temperature of the meat to 185 F then keep it there for at least an hour. In an ideal world, you’d put it in a heating vessel that holds a steady 185 degree temperature then leave it there for a day … But then again in an ideal world I’d be allowed to BBQ in my Ghent  apartment and not have to go to the restaurant 13 hours a day either. I roast it in a dutch oven at 200 degree F. It will still take at least 5 hours mind you, so this isn’t a quick weeknight meal, but you could also put this into a crockpot on low and let it do it’s thing while you’re at work. I used smoked salt or liquid smoke  to give it a bit of that bbq flavour, but nothing beats putting it in a real charcoal smoker for hours on end.

4-5lbs well marbled pork butt

for the rub
2 Tbs loose green tea leaves
2 Tbs smoked salt
1 Tbs brown sugar

I like to on the eve of makeng your roast, put the ingredients for the rub in a spice grinder or blender and blitz until it ground into a relatively fine powder. Rub this into your roast then wrap with a couple layers of plastic wrap and put it in the fridge. This will also bring out the flavor of the tea a lot more.

Take the pork out of the fridge about an hour before you start cooking to let it come to room temperature. This will slowly open of the fat walls to absorb that flavor.

Unwrap the roast and put it in a dutch oven or other heavy pot with a tight sealing lid then put it in the oven. Now go try to forget about it for 5+ hours while it slowly cooks. You’ll know its done when when a fork inserted into the meat makes it come apart. I just leave it and go to work/gym/ect.. some people get nervous about this not saying your house will burn down, but if you’re clean you should be fine.

Remove the pork from the pan and when it’s cool enough to handle, “pull” the pork apart using a fork and your fingers. If your lid had a reasonable seal, you should also have some liquid at the bottom of the pan (this stuff tastes amazing) pour some of this over your meat for added flavour and moistness. If you have a lot of liquid like I did, you can dilute the broth with some water, add some pork potatoes and kale and turn it into a soup. 

For me I did sliders I just made basic cornbread with jiffy I didn’t use milk I used one can of creamed corn instead plus two table spoons of sugar.

For a slaw in keeping with the Asian theme I used:

1 green apple

1 pear

3 tbl cilantro

saki about 1/4 cup

3 tbl of sugar

small drizzle of honey

1 tbl fresh ginger

I chopped the apples and pears into fine match sticks combined all the other ingredients slowly reduced on a stove then topped it on my pork.