Friday, December 18, 2009

Oysters: Shelled out

In a perfect world, oysters would come straight from the estuary on ice, quickly shucked, a pat of flavored butter put on the oyster-on-the-half-shell sitting on a bed of rock salt, then put in the oven at 500 degrees for 12-14 minutes, or until lightly browned and bubbling: the quintessential Oysters Rockefeller, a dish named simply for its richness.

Alas, time and place were not perfect last night. The oysters were from a jar. Not having any shells, what to do? Well, I'm here to say that baked in an au gratin dish, Oysters Rockefeller are only slightly less stunning than their individual selves, and make a sumptuous dinner served over white fluffy rice. I followed the traditional recipe from "The New Orleans Cookbook" (Knoft, 1975, 264 pages) by Rima and Richard Collin, but since they were being served as a main dish rather than an appetizer, I made a few substitutions, namely more spinach and less butter. Sorry I didn't take a photo of it; the aroma was overpowering and we were hungry.

Oysters Rockefeller casserole
Serves 2

8 ounces select oysters, drained
2 cups packed raw spinach (about 5 ounces)
1/2 stick of butter, softened
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/4 cup green onions
1 tablespoon minced celery
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons Pernod or Absinthe

Preheat oven to 500 (or the maximum recommended temperature for your au gratin dish; mine was 480 degrees). Cook the spinach in the microwave until wilted but still bright green. Drain and dump it in the food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until everything is small and well-blended.
Arrange the oysters in the bottom of the au gratin dish. Spoon the sauce over. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and lightly brown. Cool for 3-6 minutes. Serve over a bed of hot, fluffy rice.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Oysters and patter

Ever bake Oysters Rockefeller without the shells? Me neither. But tonight I'm going to give it a whirl. Look for the results tomorrow.

I got a real upper of an e-mail from a Sacramento friend, Carolyn Konrad, who said, in part:
I visit your Lori K site about once a week, enjoying the way you write and explain recipes and preps. I can hear your voice. And appreciate your lovely good taste.
When I write in what often seems like a vacuum to me (after 30 years at newspapers, it's extremely different not to have dozens of people around you, brainstorming and opining and editing your copy), it's always good to know there are folks out there who enjoy my work.

Thanks to all of you for reading!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Slices of lemon

Freezing lemon slices is easier than I thought it would be, and I thought it would be easy. Lemons and cookie sheets are really all you need, and airtight containers or bags for storing them.

Start by slicing the lemons in half, and removing as many seeds as you can. Then either slice them thinly by hand, or use the food processor, with a 4mm slicing blade (the 2mm makes slices so thin you can see through them. Nice for garnish, but not so good for the freezing process). Lay them in a single layer on the cookie sheets, freeze until hard, then remove them from the cookie sheets and put them in bags and put them back in the freezer.

You can use them in water or drinks straight from the freezer; they act a little like an ice cube as they thaw out and flavor the liquid.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Meyer lemon-paloosa

My friend Joye just sent me a big box of Meyer lemons from her Sacramento yard. From the moment I opened the box, the house has smelled like lemon, Joye (sorry, I couldn't resist).

I've had a lot of fun giving them to Virginians who have never had the pleasure of one, preserving some, and today I'm going to give freezing them a try.

I heard that you just need to slice them, put them on cookie sheets, then freeze; once they are frozen stiff, remove them from the cookie tray and put them in an airtight bag.

For those of you new to preserving lemons, my recipe and technique can be found here: