Baked Stuffed Oysters

I can eat oysters any day –fried, on the grill, on the half shell, in a bisque, soup or casserole –any day any time. Today I had a taste for baked stuffed oyters and the flavors did not disappoint. If you enjoy oysters as much as I do, then give this dish a try.

Served with one of my tasty mixed cocktails18

With a little squeeze of lemon and we have something going on

If only you could savor the flavor…

 I went about it all like this…

First of all you have to start with quality ingredients. I picked up a pound of oysters from Westborn Market, a place I truly appreciate for their fresh produce, gourmet products, and hard to find food items. To properly get to the jewel inside those shells, use an oyster knife if you should have one…or a good sturdy knife if not. If you don’t have a glove specifically for the purpose of opening oysters, fold a kitchen towel to protect your hand. I used one of my butter knives to open the oysters. You want to get the tip of the knife under the hinge, work it a bit, and simply pry the oyster open. After opening the oysters, I used my little sharpie knife to gently run across the top shell to dislodge the muscle that attaches  the oyster to  its shell. Afterwards run the knife (gently again) under the oyster so that it’s free-floating in its delectable juices on the half shell. Try not to tilt the oyster as you do this — you want to keep that delectableness…that oyster liquor. And of course if your opening of the oyster is less than perfect, just pick out any bits of shell

Yes! This is what we want. That’s a beautiful thing don’t you think? Again, we don’t want to spill any of that sumptuous elixir out of the shells, so try to keep as much as you possibly can within the shell

Oh my! My oh my. At this point we could just squeeze a little fresh lemon over these luscious freshly shucked oysters , add a dash of Tabasco or your favorite Hot Sauce and enjoy. This reminds me of my travels last year (2014) to Rhode Island where we enjoyed a very delicious Seafood dinner at the Nordic Lodge.  http://www.nordiclodge.com/

Nordic Lodge, Charleston Rhode Island. This is Deven, expert oyster shucker, serving up some great Oysters on the Half Shell. Delicious!  I Had some great conversations with him…a really nice young man.

The Nordic Lodge. If you’re ever in this neck of the woods, do stop in. http://www.nordiclodge.com/index.htm Ok, back to our regularly scheduled program…

 I sautéed three scallions, 2 Tbsp chopped parsley, one medium shallot, 1/4 cup chopped celery,  and 2 cloves of garlic,  (all very finely chopped or minced in a food processor) in 4 Tbsp of butter. After sweating that for a few minutes, I deglazed the pan with 1/4 cup of  Pernod. If you don’t have Pernod, white wine will work quite well. Next, I added heavy cream to a consistency that I wanted. Generally heavy cream is not used, but I wanted a nice creamy texture.  The aromas!!  Add salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste, and a dash of Tabasco Sauce, 1 Tsp of Worcestershire sauce,  1 Tsp anchovy paste (lends a nice saltines), and let the mixture cook down a bit for a few minutes. At the point pictured above I added finely chopped asparagus. Now, the original recipe calls for 1/2 pound or about 2 cups of  fresh finely chopped spinach — for use with approximately 30 oysters. In this recipe I substituted asparagus for spinach because it was a rainy evening, I had no fresh spinach on hand,  and I really didn’t feel like venturing out into the rain to the fruit and vegetable market just to pick up spinach. Thus… I relaxed, poured myself a lovely glass of white wine, and used what I had on hand–asparagus. So, whatever green vegetable you have on hand. Just give it a good mincing and carry on!

Next I added a four-cheese blend featuring Smoked Provolone, Mozzarella, Asiago, and Romano cheeses just till melted

In another pan I heated about 2 Tbsp of olive oil, and added 3 Tbsp chopped parsley with 1/2 cup of bread crumbs,  seasoned with salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste.  Although I delight in making fresh bread crumbs, I used Panko bread crumbs, but gave them a little smash before-hand. Keeping those stocked in your pantry is a must

And mix it all together

Added 1/4 cup grated  Parmesan cheese and mixed it in well. Now we’re ready!

Spooning the asparagus mixture onto those lovely oysters. Ideally you would want to have some rock salt on hand. Again, it was a rainy night, I had none, and I was not venturing out…so I used some Kosher salt. The salt is used just to stabilize the oysters in the dish so they don’t tilt and lose that scrumptious oyster juice. Of course the rock salt will lend to a more appealing presentation and photograph. Thus, I do recommend using it

Oh my…my oh my. These were in a cast iron skillet if you were so wondering

Topping with the breadcrumb mixture

Ready to go into that oven that’s been preheated at 450 F

Topped with a little of that Smoked Provolone, Mozzarella, Asiago, and Romano cheese mixture…because my Men-folk like it like that. Then into an awaiting oven preheated at 450 F and baked until golden…about 10 minutes, but you make the call

Time! Oh let me tell you about it…

Plate with fresh lemon slices. Add a nice mixed cocktail featuring fresh pineapple, apple, cucumber, and white Tequila

Enjoy

And let’s have at it shall we?

Frying up a few oysters was a must. Served with fresh and fried red & green jalapeño peppers, along with capers..amazing

2Baked Stuffed Oysters

Enjoying the lovely sunset behind the Nordic Lodge as we waited for our page for dinner. Very beautiful and serene scenery

Nordic Lodge

Nordic Lodge, Charleston Rhode Island. We had a blast!

Flat Iron Steak with Chimichurri Sauce and Proscuitto Wrapped Shrimp

I must say that one of my favorite cuts of beef to cook is flat iron steak. Similar to flank steak in that it cooks fairly fast and to perfection of your desired doneness. I find it to be a  tender cut of beef, especially when marinated. The chimichurri sauce is  a nice bright saporous addition. On the menu today — Surf & Turf. I picked up some great prosciutto from Gratiot Central Market as well as a few pounds of shrimp. I had an entirely different use planned for the prosciutto, but  thought what better way to utilize it than to wrap the shrimp with the prosciutto. It added the perfect balance of saltiness.

Served with rice pilaf and roasted brussels sprouts

 Generally when I do steaks, I’ll also do a saute of mushrooms. This is balsamic mushrooms and onions

Margherita Prosciutto has such a nice flavor that imparts just the right amount of saltiness in my estimation to just about any dish it’s used in.  A wonderful Italian salt-cured ham indeed. I had it sliced paper-thin. Most often prosciutto is served uncooked, but when cooked the flavor is nicely enhanced

Cleaning up the flat iron steaks of silver skin, the tough connective tissue, as well as any excess fat, then seasoned with Himalayan pink salt and freshly ground black pepper

The grill was heated over moderately high heat with a few TBsp of oil,  fresh thyme and garlic. Cooked for approximately 5 to 6  minutes then…

…flipped and cooked for about another 6 minutes for medium rare. Cook a little longer if you desire your steaks medium. My husband prefers medium–I prefer medium rare. So these were cooked more towards medium doneness. I aim to please  🙂

0aIn the meantime, for the chimmichurri sauce, I did a chop of fresh parsley, cilantro, oregano, mint, shallots and garlic

Placed it in the food processor and minced

Added a little salt to taste, red wine vinegar, olive oil,  red pepper flakes and mixed well

That wonderful prosciutto was wrapped around shrimp that were cleaned and deveined. The shrimp had been marinated in white wine, garlic,  fresh minced ginger, and fresh cracked black pepper for about 1/2 hour. No salt needed as the prosciutto would take care of that

4aSautéed in a little olive oil for a few minutes per side

And of course when the shrimp take on a nice pink color, we know they are done

Rested the steak for about 10  minutes to allow those wonderful juices to “re-gather” themselves together. Sliced the steak on the bias and added the chimichurri sauce and a few chopped scallions

Plated

I think the next time I wrap shrimp in prosciutto, I’ll stuff them first with perhaps a  crawfish mixture. Just a thought in the making.

Flat Iron Steak, Prosciutto Wrapped Shrimp with Chimichurri Sauce,  Balsamic Mushrooms and Onions with Rice Pilaf

22Wine pairing was a nice Antica Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 vintage

Below is a short video below of a flat iron steak I cooked several months ago, served with a red wine reduction, topped with fried onions and green pepper corns, served with a mash of celery root stuffed in a portobello mushroom cap. Photo above.

Stuffed Calamari

I’m always stuffing something it seems. This is a dish that may be rather exotic to some, as many squirm at the thought of eating Stuffed Squid Tubes or Calamari (Italian name) if you will. They’re also known as cuttlefish. I find calamari to a have a nice ‘delicate’ flavor that is twice as sweet as lobster. These were stuffed and simmered in a sweet tomato sauce.  They are very  tantalizing and tasty. 

The tentacles were fried with a few rings in a dusting of flower seasoned with fresh cracked black pepper and salt–that’s it. I didn’t want the taste of the calamari competing with any other seasonings. Served with snap peas. I must have something green on the plate.

The fried tentacles and calamari rings were very lite, tender, crispy, and tasty.

Slice on the bias to reveal the tasty stuffing

I prefer buying the pre-cleaned calamari. Theres still a little cleaning to do but it’s very minimal, and as you can see, at $8.99, they’re very inexpensive. This package yielded a count of 12.

Thawed and removed for the package

Chopped a small onion and garlic for the tomato sauce. the marinated cherry pepper and shiitake mushrooms will be part of the squid stuffing.

Rinsed them under cool water inside and out, gave a little ‘pat’ dry on paper towels and ready for the next move.

Remove any translucent skin

Next remove that little external flap.

Give the tentacles a gentle pull to remove and set them aside for later use.

For the stuffing I blended 4 cleaned and deveined shrimp and 2 of the whole squid tubes in my small food processor until I had what looked like a squid and shrimp mousse. I added  steamed spinach that I cooked earlier in the day on hand (you can use fresh chopped spinach), bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, the marinated cherry pepper, 1 egg to bind, and gave it a mix.

Addition of the shiitake mushrooms. Shiitake mushrooms have a wonderful unique flavor and went really well here.

Addition of  some fancy crabmeat, mixed well. Of course you can stuff them as I have here, or use your own creativity and suite your  personal palate.  Now its time to stuff those tubes.

Use your fingers or a small spoon to gently fill each squid tube.

There we are…all stuffed. I saved one to chop into calamari rings and fry.

Secured the opening with toothpicks. We don’t want to lose that stuffing in the sauce.

Sautéed onion and chopped red bell pepper for a few minutes, then added garlic and continued until the garlic was fragrant, then added on can of tomato sauce. You can use marinara sauce, crushed Roma tomato sauce of the like. After the sauce was in the pan, I added sugar–a little at a time to cut the acidity of the tomatoes and as well impart a little sweetness.

While the tomato sauce was simmering, I began to add the stuffed calamari.

Now  cover and simmer for 15  minutes. While the calamari was simmering, I sliced the tube that I set aside into rings, floured (only added salt and pepper) it along with the tentacles and fried till golden in a small pot containing enough canola oil to accommodate them.  The oil was probably around 350. I didn’t take time to use my thermometer. I checked the oil by dropping a pinch of flour in it, and if I get a little sizzle, I know its ready. This was late-night cooking and I didn’t take time to grab the thermometer…just went by ‘feel.’

Spoon some of the sauce into a shallow bowl or plate, place the stuffed tubes in the sauce. I sliced one as mentioned to show the stuffing, and garnished with the fried tentacles and rings.

I’ve heard some say that cooking the squid this way will result in a tough rubbery texture, and if overcooked that can happen. But let me assure you, these were very tender.

Delectable!

Pair with a nice Chardonnay – Beringer Private Reserve 2011 –very good indeed.

I love the taste that the grill imparts. Served here with fresh linquine with minced clams in clam sauce.

It’s Gumbo Time!

Gumbo—what do you think of  when you hear the word gumbo?  Perhaps Naw’leans, fleur-de-lis, the Saints (remember Bum Philips?), Jazz, the French Quarter, the Bayou… just to name a few. Of course some of those great Louisiana Chefs like John Besh, Emeril Lagasse, Paul Prudhomme, come to mind. And let us not  forget Justin Wilson. I spent many a day watching Justin Wilson fix up a nice New Orleans meal, and will never forget how he could stir up a roux when making  gumbo. Watching him cook a meal was nice, then he would sit down with a glass of wine and make you wish you were sitting there with him savoring the food as well. Looks like he could cook up a mean gumbo….I gawr an tee! (you know I couldn’t leave that out). Gumbo seems to appeal to most everyone, and what you put in it can be tailored to suit your taste. Just serve it in a nice bowl over steamed white rice and some crusty bread to soak up that delicious broth. My bread of choice today was cornbread.

A meal that really leaves you ‘full and satisfied’

Add a sprinkle of file’ powder at the end to complete the experience. File powder  is a herb ground from the young leaves of the sassafras tree– a yellowwood tree with brittle wood and aromatic leaves and bark; source of sassafras oil. I tell you, I am thankful for the sassafras tree!

With the addition of crawfish

Stick to your ribs kind of meal

Oh my

Zatarains!

Complete

Come, Let us make Gumbo!!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds shrimp

1 pound lump crabmeat

1 andouille sausage

1 smoked kielbasa sausage –about 4 cups total sausage

1 large onion, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped

1 pound (16 ounce bag) cut okra

1 can stewed tomatoes (or two–I used two)

8 cups (2 quarts) chicken broth ** I used a combination of shrimp stock and chicken broth–1/2 of each. Well I had those shrimp shells stashed in the freezer –had to put them to good use

6 large cloves garlic, minced

2 bay leaves

6 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

1/2 cup chopped scallions

1 Tbsp fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme

1 Tbsp fresh basil or 1 tsp dried basil

1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp Louisiana hot sauce (or a brand of your choice–Tabasco sauce works also)

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1 Tbsp file’ powder

1 or 2 Tbsp Creole seasoning

1/4 cup oil

1/4 cup flour

Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

I also used snow crab legs that was cooked separate and added last. I baked them in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes, wrapped in foil with butter

You can also add fresh mussels, crawfish, and scallops. I left those out for another creation later

Proceed:

Peel, devein, and clean the shrimp–set aside. Pick over the crabmeat to ensure there’s no residual pieces of shells and/or cartilage–set aside. Season both with the Creole seasoning.

To make the roux, heat the oil and flour in a heavy bottom pot or dutch oven over moderate heat (medium low), stirring continually.  We want a nice dark roux, and after about 15 to 20 minutes or so, you should begin to see a nice caramel color. Do not burn! Nothing worse than a burnt flour taste in your roux. Continue to cook and stir until it’s a nice dark chocolate brown. What that roux is going to do is add a nice rich color to the Gumbo, a great depth of flavor as well as provide a thickening agent for the base.

Next add the onions, celery, bell pepper, and garlic and continue to stir until the vegetables are softened. Add the chopped sausage and stir that in. Next, the tomatoes and of course mix it in–followed by okra and  chicken broth, bay leaves, basil, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, cayenne pepper, a little salt and pepper–stir top with some of the parsley and scallions, cover and simmer for 1 hour with an occasional stir.  Add the seasoned shrimp, crab meat, and file’ powder and cook until the shrimp curl and turn pink.

Serve over white rice, and a sprinkle of file’ powder. Garnish with the rest of the parsley and scallions– Enjoy!!

The beginning of the roux, the base for the gumbo. Some say, it’s all in a good roux

Its beginning to take on a nice color. Adjust your heat as necessary. If you notice the flour clumping, the heat is too high and probably taking on a burnt odor–do not burn!!

Ahhhh….that’s a nice color. The longer you cook and stir, the deep the color. Justin Wilson was known for really getting a dark chocolate color on that roux. However, this was quite fine for me

Trio of onions, bell pepper, and celery, then garlic

Andouille and smoked kielbasa sausage

Enter the stewed tomatoes

Shrimp stock, chicken broth and the wonderful okra made their entrance to the Gumbo get-together

Seasoned Crabmeat

Our lovely crawfish all cleaned and ready

The shrimp and crawfish–seasoned with Old Bay and Creole seasonings as was the crabmeat

Adding the lovely Creole seasoned shrimp and crabmeat

Top it off with a little fresh parsley and scallions, cover and let her simmer

Served with white rice with a pinch of red pepper flakes;  chopped fresh parsley and scallions to garnish

And let us not forget to add a little more of that file’ powder–oh my! This was so delicious

With snow crab.

Its Gumbo Time !

     You’re Going To Love It

I GAU RAN TEE !

For the Love of Scallops

I had a taste for scallops and this is what I came up with

Seared Scallops with a stir-fry of asparagus and seafood mix served with orzo

Oh there they are. Make sure there is not excess moisture on them to ensure a nice sear, so pat dry with a paper towel very well

Sear time! In a smattering of very hot oil, just a few minutes per side

Sauteing our chopped asparagus, onion, bell pepper

And also getting the calamari, mussels, shrimp, and bay scallops ready

Sauteed some water chestnuts

Mixed it all together….let everyone get all acquainted with one another

A closer look….this is making me happy

The seafood has made it’s entrance, as well as a few sliced cherry tomatoes

Another closer look after adding sliced scallions

Plated with the scallops and orzo and chopped fresh basil

Well I just have to get a closer look again

Yes…for the love of scallops!

A cut through tells me that they were cooked quite nicely

Yes, one more close-up

Later that day, there was just one lone mussel left, filled with all of its goodies

Rubyz Seafood Delight

This is a dish that embraces some of the Seafoods that I really enjoy, namely, Shrimp, Mussels, Scallops, and Calamari—served in a wonderful  Clam Sauce.

Rubyz Seafood Delight

I used;

  • Shrimp, Mussels, Scallops, and Calamari
  • Mushrooms      mixture package containing Shiitake, Oyster, Enoki, Chanterelle
  • Note***Reserve      some of the Oyster Mushrooms to garnish the finished dish.
  • 1      cup of bean sprouts
  • 8      TB olive oil
  • 1/4      c each chopped bell pepper, onion, celery
  • 2      cloves garlic- chopped
  • 1      can gourmet clam sauce
  • 2      TB chopped fresh parsley or dried (I used dried here)
  • 1/4      tp red pepper flakes
  • Cracked      black pepper & salt (to taste)
  • Fettuccine

And Proceeded thusly;

  1. Heat one half– 4 TB olive oil in medium sauté pan and add the chopped bell pepper, onion, celery and sauté until veggies are aromatic.
  2. Add the garlic and sauté a few minutes more
  3. Add the mushroom mixture and cook just until the mushrooms are wilting
  4. In another sauce pan, heat the other half of the olive oil and add the seafood, sauté until shrimp are nice and pink
  5. ***Note*** the mussels are already cooked
  6. Retain the juice that’s produced from sautéing the seafood as it is quite flavorful.
  7. Add the seafood mixture to the pan with the mushroom mixture
  8. Next throw in those sautéed, chopped veggies, salt & pepper, and simmer on medium low for about 15 minutes to incorporate all of the flavors
  9. The bean sprouts should be added at the end to retain some of its crispiness.
  10. Add the clam sauce and serve over the fettuccini

Mushroom mix–Shiitake, Oyster, Enoki, Chanterelle

Into the saute pan with a little olive oil

 Sauteed for a bit, added cracked black pepper & salt…looking good, smelling even better

Seafood mixture of sea scallops, shrimp, calamari, & mussels into another saute pan

They’re coming along swimmingly

Added the seafood to the mushroom mixture; spooned some clam sauce into the pan…not too much…didn’t want to overpower the juices from the mussels. Wanted to have a nice balance of flavors

Added chopped green bell pepper, celery, and parsley

A closer look

Topped with fresh enoki mushrooms

Served with Fettuccine

 

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