Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Falling into Pot Pie for Fall, Short Rib Pot Pie with Dark Beer and a Collage of Vegetables


Pot Pie. Even the name conjures up the most delicious visions of flakey crust and deep flavored sauce with chunky fillings and rich aromas. Got you hungry?

Well it was Monday and I had the day off and I decided to invite my friends over for a little supper at the Kitchen at 7th and 20th. I had been thinking all day about comfort foods I was looking forward to in the chilly Autumnal weather and so I decided why wait for it to get any colder. I got out some wintery vegetables and some short rib meat that I had already cooked for another purpose and went to town.

Pot Pie's are a delicious relic of old English cookery that is rooted in the Middle Ages and has it's origins in the winter kitchens of some castle somewhere, when preserving the food was part of the purpose for stewing the food and topping or encasing with the pie crust. That led to peasant cooking and eventually pub fare and that takes us to today where the lowly pot pie is still the favorite of people all over in bars and Irish Pubs here in the U.S.

Now I don't pretend to have any kind of story about Pot Pies because I never ate them growing up. They were not in the family cooking vocabulary. They are however, one of the things I learned to love along with Gyros and Brussel Sprouts when I left home. So while I can't entertain with a personal anecdotal tale of Pot pie lore I will give you my thoughts on them and why I made this one. I think pot pies generally have become the dumping ground of lots of potatoes peas and carrots in gloppy white sauce with bits of chicken in them. I wanted to do something different. And I think that steak and kidney pies are good but not exactly what I would have as a pie base.

So I picked my favorite braising meat of all time, the short rib. And because I am sensitive to the overload of potatoes I choose my favorite wintery veggies and added some regular favorites and decided to forego the starch. And I decided that I wanted a rich sauce, brown and beer based like a good flemish stew. So with those ideas in mind I give you this Short Rib Pot Pie recipe which is very easy and very tasty. So try it out and enjoy, Ya'll!!


2 lbs cooked Beef Short Ribs, cut to 1/2” x 1/2”
3 cups Beef Broth
3 cups stout beer
¼ cup butter
1 cup Diced Carrot (separate into ½ cups)
1 cup Diced Celery (separate into ½ cups)
1 cup Diced Onion (separate into ½ cups)

1 pound mushrooms sliced
1 cup pearl onions
1 pound brussels sprouts halved
1 Tbls Fresh Thyme
2 Tbls Dijon
3 good shakes of Worcestershire Sauce
7 Tbls Flour
4 Tbls butter

1 Tbls garlic flavored oil
1 cup grated sharp cheddar (English Cotswold is nice)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Sauté ½ of the diced vegetables and thyme until golden
Add beer and 2 cups of broth

Cook down till reduced 1/3 add mustard and W Sauce
Make Slurry of flour and remaining broth
Add and stir till thickened allow to cool
Place brussel sprouts and pearl onions on baking sheet and toss with oil and salt and pepper
Bake covered at 350° for 30 (until just tender then cool)
Add ribs, vegetables and the raw mushrooms to the sauce and mix together gently
Cut  4, 5” rounds from your favorite pie dough
Fill 4 pot pie bowls

Sprinkle 1/4 cup of grated cheese over
Fold over dough and crimp closed
Poke a vent in the top
Bake at 400° for 20 to 30 mins or until the top is golden brown

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Meatball Madness and the New York Wine and Food Festival: Classic Norwegian Meatballs

I have recently completed working the New York Wine and Food Festival here in NYC.  It is one of my favorite albeit trying projects I do every year with my company and have done for the last five. Wow, five years, that's a long time. Well anyway one of the events which came about this year was called Meatball Madness. It was an celebration and a total homage to the mighty Italian meatball. That's right Italian meatball, not meatball in general but Italian meatballs. Now don't get me wrong there are probably many folks including me who enjoy an Italian meatball but really, do you have to limit it to just that type, can't there be room for other kinds of meatballs? Now this exclusivity probably has something to do with the fact that Giada De Laurentiis is the host for the evenings festivities and her shows are centered around Italian Cooking. Hence the Italian slant to the event. However, after five years I have to say i was tired of the taste and flavor profile being only red sauce and basil with cheese. I mean there are so many creative cooks out there why not open it up to the broad range of flavors and ethnic spices that could be really impressive as a show of culinary inspiration. I mean who doesn't love a meatball by any name!

So with that in mind and a rainy Monday evening I set out to make a meal which would be a direct antidote to the singular Italian flavor profile of meatballs I had had at the festival. Meatball Madness indeed! I would make an Americana meatball with a country flavor profile and a Scandinavian twist!

Growing up in my family we split the heritage factor in 2 parts. One part southern and one part Norwegian via the Midwest queen city of Chicago. It's the norwegian part that figures in on the meatball front. Now here in the states Swedish foods and Swedish style ( thank you IKEA) has sort of overshadowed the rest of the Scandinavian peoples that have food and cultural heritages. Hence, Swedish meatballs not Norwegian meatballs are what everyone knows about. But I am here to tell you the Norwegians know a thing or two about meatballs as well. They differ in flavor profile and in the sauce or gravy. But most importantly they are NORWEGIAN and not Swedish! Cause calling them Swedish just pisses off the Norwegians!!!

So when I go about making meatballs I follow my Grandmother's lead and make them in the fashion if not in the direction of a Norwegian meatball. You could even say that the classic midwestern meatball came from the Scandinavians who came to these shores and settled in great part in the Midwest states. Either way I wanted to reclaim the meatball from my east coaster friends who grew up feasting on meatballs in Sunday gravy. I also decided I would make some side dishes to go along with these meatballs. Traditionally Norwegian meatballs are served with mashed potatoes and lingonberry jelly. it really is a comfort food meal and I love used to love them as a boy. I can remember they would always make an appearance around the holidays. On a buffet for a party or served at a dinner they could always be counted on for some delicious fun!

Now I don't cook for a crowd everyday but that is certainly one of the recipes I reserve for those occasions. Today however I wanted to take it up a notch. So I tweaked my Grandmother's recipe and came up with one that is a little bit different. I use a little  bacon in the meatballs and has the also uses a rich cheese and sour cream sauce as the gravy. So give them a try and let me know what you think! Enjoy Ya'll

Norwegian Meatballs from the Gabrielson Family Recipe

For the Meatballs

2 eggs, beaten
1 cup whole milk
1 cup dry bread crumbs (I like crushed panko)
1/2 cup minced onion
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 pounds lean ground beef
1 pound ground pork
6 pieces finely chopped bacon

For the Gravy:

3 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons finely minced onion
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups beef broth
1/2 cup heavy cream or sour cream
dash cayenne pepper
1 dash white pepper
optional: 4oz of gjetost cheese shredded

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, bread crumbs, onion and seasonings. Let stand until crumbs absorb milk. Add meat; stir until well blended. Shape into 1-in. meatballs. Place on a greased jelly-roll pan. Bake at 400 degrees F until browned, about 18 minutes. Set aside.
  2. For gravy, melt butter over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Saute onion until tender. Stir in flour and brown lightly. Slowly add broth; cook and stir until smooth and thickened. Blend in cream, cayenne pepper and white pepper and cheese. Gently stir in meatballs; heat through but do not boil.

Serve with my potatoes colcanon if you want to really kick it up!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Braised Red Cabbage, a Fall a Recipe for the Best Time of the Year

Fall is like no other time of year as far as I am concerned. The minute Summer really lets go of her grip on the planet and cool fresh breezes blow through the city I am so excited. Everything seems to pull itself back together. The hot sticky heat and humid conditions that raged through the Summertime give way to tight crisp and cooler temps which invigorate and which inspire. Fall is a culinary crossover from the bounty of the Summer garden to the end of the harvest as well as the preparation time for the Winter. Foods not enjoyed as much in the heat become available and appetizing once more as the cooler weather signals of desire for comfort. Preservation of the last of the Summer's bounty through pickling and canning come into play and we desire richer deeper flavors than the one's we sought in the the Summer's heat.

Fall makes me think of colors and hues darker than summer. where the sky can be a brilliant blue but the crisp nip in the air elevates that blue to something extraordinary and sings with the Autumnal hues that it backdrops. The scent of chimney smoke and damp leaves brings back memories of Autumns past, first day of school, fall football games, college semesters, first jobs perhaps out of school, or the first time we sent our own children off into the world in whatever phase that might be, from kindergarten to military service. Fall always seems like a beginning to me, even if it is signaling the end of a cycle.

Fall makes me want to gather in for the impending Winter those parts of my life which I was freer with in Summertime. It is studious and serious and a time to get things moving. Accomplishment seems more precise and less relaxed than during the warmth. And the foods we eat take on a serious note with more complex and concentrated flavors, an earthy meaty quality if you will.

Now fall is a wonderful time for sumptuously prepared vegetables and vegetable dishes. I mean as we move into the fall the veggies become a little more solid and they can be prepared in the most wonderful of manners. Squashes, pumpkins, brussel sprouts, root veggies and leafy greens all seem to prosper in the cooler fall temperatures. And they all seem to go along with the season and the comforting foods we want and crave during this season.

One of these veggies is Cabbage. Now I love cabbage. I really do, in cole slaw, in cabbage rolls, in salads, in potatoes colcanon. I really love it when it's well prepared. I mean lets face it cabbage can be that veggie that has the funky smell or is boiled to death in a pot of water and becomes a bad version of itself, faded and stinky.

But when prepared carefully and artfully cabbage can be amazing. Red Cabbage cooked down with some vinegar and sugar mix seems like a very common way to prepare it. But a REALLY good version of this type of dish is hard to find. This version of that common recipe is a really good one and I am sure and if you try it out you will agree. 

Forrest's version of Braised Red Cabbage with Goat Cheese

1 Medium sized head of red cabbage
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoon balsamic glaze or sauce ( optional )
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup water
4 oz soft goat cheese ( Cherve)

In a pot melt butter and oil
Cook cabbage and let begin to soften
Add the rest of the ingredients
Stir to combine and let cook covered on medium heat for 60 mins, if it gets to dry add more water
Add one ounce of the goat cheese and let melt in and stir in
When ready to serve crumble the remaining goat cheese over the top and gently stir
Serve in a bowl or on a platter and save a few bits of the cheese to dot the top with as a garnish.
Enjoy ya'll!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Football Recipe Corner, Chili Dogs or Virginia is for Hotdog Lovers

So last fall I wrote about how Williamsburg, Virginia is one place that forever will represent Christmas time. But Virginia in general will forever be for me the state where I first lived in four seasons and learned to love them. Before that my family had always lived in warmer climes. Being about 10 when we moved to a wintery place for the first time it was quite a revelation. I attended high school in the suburbs of Washington DC. and when I went away to college it was to James Madison University. A school of about 4000 students at the time, JMU sits in the middle of the Shenandoah Valley in a small hamlet called Harrisonburg. No longer small, the school and the town have grown up quite a bit. But when I was there it was still very rural and very redneck. In fact I was surprised by how conservative the school and the student body was upon arrival there. It was certainly not what I had expected a university to be like. I had thought it would be very Brideshead Revisited but JMU was more like Frat City than Oxford. Frats, Beer, "fraternizing", and of course Football were all high on the agenda. Well that and tailgating, which was sort of one and the same. And tailgating meant tailgating food!

Fall of course also meant the beginning of the school year and so during the first semester I enjoyed the fall leaves changing around me and in the Mountains above us. Signaling natures shift into the colder part of the year. And of course at JMU, that same climate change meant Football Season!! Now tailgating  and eating was big and great for the pre-game, but for those who wanted something after the game there were only a few options.

Back then Harrisonburg was a small town and as such the local eateries were mostly well...local. That was good because that meant that the big chains had not yet moved in yet. But after the game you want something that you can eat that says grilled goodness and comfort ya'll! And I mean what says football season and fall more than a chili cheese dog! Well that and it's also good for soaking up all that beer you had during the game. I had come to college knowing a thing or two about chili cheese dogs from places in Virginia near my home. But my college experience gave me the third establishment in the trinity that shaped my hotdog chili cheese making recipe. Let me tell you about those places.

The one college place that really to this day will not be rivaled for fall football loving, beer soaking up, after frat party Friday night food is Jess' Quick Lunch, a chili dog place. For atmosphere alone it was amazing, formica floors and countertops, bright florescent lights, stainless steel fixtures and the chili dogs which were grilled came unadorned except for the ketchup and onions. They were good and quick and greasy in the best way. But they were the second chili dog I had had in Virginia. The first of my adventures in Chili dogging came from the very famous Vienna Inn in the northern Virginian town of Vienna, Virginia.

                                             Jess's QuicK Lunch

Now the Vienna Inn makes the most amazing chili cheese dogs on the planet, no....really. And it was my brother Chris who turned me onto them. he worked down the street at a very famous camera shop called what else, Vienna Camera. Well the employees would get lunch at the Inn regularly. He called them "Death Dogs", and we called them good!

As it states on the Inn's website:

Opened in 1960, the Vienna Inn is a staple in the heart of Vienna, Virginia. Youthful placemat art on the walls and teeming trophy shelves demonstrate the family-friendly nature of the establishment.
The menu also has something for everyone. Seafood lovers will enjoy the spiced shrimp or the blackened tuna sandwich and those looking for something lighter can find nourishment in the grilled chicken salad.
It is chilli macs and chilli dogs that the Inn is most famous for - and rightly so. Selling over 10,000 chilli dogs every month you would be remiss to pass up a loaded dog, complete with chili, cheese, spicy mustard and diced onion.
The Vienna Inn's unrefined charm has made it a steadfast landmark that may grow older, but has not aged a day.

Yes the Vienna Inn has amazing Chili Dogs. But there is one more American hotdog dining icon that I encountered in Virginia and remains to be discussed and has formulated my way of making hotdogs and that icon is LUMS.
Now LUMS was a chain which grew out of south Florida and expanded all over the country. They were most famous for the Ollie Burger, which many proclaim to this day as one of the best burgers ever made. And they were known for their Hotdogs which were slow cooked and held warm in beer, a nod to the midwestern manner for preparing brats. They were also famous because they were one of the first "family restuarants" to serve alcohol. I can remember getting a "Schooner" of beer at LUMS across the way from the Magic Pan when I was 18 years old. 

So that brings us to making tailgating dogs today the Ole Virginny way! The way I learned to make them based on the techniques of the three establishments that I encountered in the great state of Virginia as a young man. I have merged the preparations to come up with Forrest's Ultimate Chili Cheese Dog. So clearly the chili is what makes a great chili dog and have I got a great recipe for that. Check this one out. Enjoy, Ya'll!

Forrest's Ultimate Chili Cheese Dog (based on three Virginia Hotdog Icons)

Forrest's Hot dog Chili: ( this is no joke ya'll ) 

3 tablespoons Chili Powder
2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon allspice powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon Butter
1 large onion finely minced ( food processor minced)
2 gloved minced garlic ( I use the jar )
1 1/2 pounds ground beef ( Chuck )
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 4 oz can tomato paste
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 cups water

In a bowl combine all the spices
In a pot add the butter and onions and cook over medium heat till translucent add garlic and let bloom
The to this pot add the spices and let cook with the onions and garlic to bring out the flavors but don't burn. Then to this pot add all your wet ingredients and stir to combine. Bring to a boil for 2 to 3 mins.
Reduce heat down to a simmer and add the beef with your hands breaking it up into bits
Stir and let cook down for an hour with a lid on. Stir occasionally and then check for seasoning. Then remove the lid and simmer down till most of the liquid is gone but the chili is till nice and moist. 

For the hot dogs

You will need
1 package all beef hotdogs
1 package Hotdog Buns ( nice quality maybe potato rolls )
2 cans of lager beer
2 cups water
1 large white onion
8 oz finely shredded yellow sharp cheddar cheese
Spicy brown mustard

Take a stock pot and pour water and the 2 cans of lager beer into it. The cheaper the better. Add 1/2 of an onion that has been cut in half, chop the other half for topping the hotdogs. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer. Place 1 package of good quality all beef hotdogs in the pot and let simmer for about an hour while the chili is cooking. When ready to serve  you can grill the dogs in a pan or on the grill again to crisp or serve right out of the beer broth. Your choice.

Serve the dogs as such:

Take a Bun open it up on the bottom give it a squirt of spicy brown mustard and a squirt of Mayo
Add the Hotdog
Top with the chili
Top with chopped onions ( white )
Top with the cheese
Serve and enjoy!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Magic Pan Spinach Salad The 1980's Superstar Salad Revisited

Spinach Salad is one of those dishes that has had an interesting history is the American culinary landscape. There are many manifestations and versions of this salad some with warm bacon dressings and some with cold tart or sweet dressings all designed to compliment the flavor of the base of the salad which is the spinach leaves themselves.

Spinach salad as we know it has it's roots in the Pennsylvania Dutch country of western Pennsylvania's rolling farm country in Lancaster. The "Dutch" as we call them really came from the word "Deutsch" or German so we really are talking German food roots here when we look at their cuisine. And what a building block of American Midwestern cuisine it is. Pot roasts, noodles, potatoes , layer cakes, strudels, and even cabbages and casseroles are all part of the rich culinary heritage left us by the German settlers of this country.

The Pennsylvania Dutch in particular had the emergence of the mushroom growing farming industry in their backyard which grew up and prospered in that area until today. Alton Brown speaks about the likely hood that spinach and mushrooms found themselves together in this part of the country easily and that the salad that grew out of it based was on a hot bacony vinegar dressing that was prevalent in German cooking. That this occurred is really no accident given that German cooks used this kind of dressing for a variety of dishes, and the flavors really help to make ordinary vegetables sing!

Now I am familiar with this kind of dressing and this kind of spinach salad given that my Grandmother and Mom came from Chicago, another very heavily German influenced food town. But my real introduction and love of spinach salad came from my time spent working at the Magic Pan Restaurant in Tyson's Corner, Virginia back in the 80's as a student.

Now if you have been reading my blog you will know that I have referenced the Magic Pan Restaurant before. But for those of you who have not been a brief story.

The Magic Pan was a restaurant chain started by a Hungarian Couple , the Fono's in San Francisco in the 1970's. The original concept had been an Austrian style crepe restaurant mostly with recipes from Mrs Fono's family background. There were Ham crepes and Spinach crepes and chocolate and Strawberry crepes for dessert.

The business expanded and was purchased by Quaker Oats in the 1980's. They took the concept expanded it to a french country kitchen concept and rolled it out across the nation. The center piece of each Magic Pan was the giant tile enclosed Crepe Wheel which spun around and cooked the crepes and other dishes while the customers looked on. I remember as a 12 year old being taken to the Pan and being just mesmorized by the giant cooking wheel of crepe goodness! It was one of the first "chain" restaurants in the country in a time when the US was just beginning to discover different foods. The Pan delivered that and at a decent price point. It was also a perfect time for a crepe restaurant as like fondue, crepes were all the rage in the 1970's. The thing that was interesting about the Pan looking back was that all of the food was cooked on site with real recipes. This required a staff of cooks to be behind the scenes at all the locations and was not a cheap way to do business. Amongst the many reasons for the demise of the chain was the rise of sit down restaurants like TGI Friday's and Applebee's that offered a full service bar and menu with a central commissary supplying the chain. This meant cost savings on site and guaranteed that that food was the same everywhere. Interestingly enough this concept was pioneered by Howard Johnson's, who with Jacque Pepin at the helm produced frozen entrees which could be uniformly served all over the US.

Eventually through falling revenues and customer base the Pan collapsed. Interestingly enough the last Pan to close was the Mclean Store where I worked. A testament to Sue the manager and eventual owner I understand, who ran a tight ship and kept it afloat!

Even as people turned away from the Magic Pan because of trends so today people are looking back and recognizing the value that the concept had  not only as a novelty but as a place and a culinary experience. Whether the scene of many a boozy lunch by the ladies of Mclean or candle lit dinners for couples in love in the evenings, the quiet elegance and french country charm enveloped the diner in a world beyond the Mall and beyond their own. Upon entering the Tyson's Pan one was struck by the charm and sophistication of the surroundings. The excellent service and of course the tasty and interesting food. Food which for the time was new, foreign, and different. Before food TV, Media, food blogs and the internet., Americans were new to many of the foods the Magic Pan was serving.
And many look back with fondness to the time and place they discovered those foods for the first time. The Magic Pan.

Among of the super star dishes of all those boozy lunches by the "Ladies who Lunch" of Mclean Virginia was an assortment of salads. Two of the most popular where the "Orange Almond Salad" ( very Californian) and the Pan's version of this classic spinach salad. As with most of their dishes the Pan put their own twist on this dish. The Pan's take on this salad grew out of two factors I would guess. One was that the chain was a California based company. So the idea of salads as a meal was something very Californian. This also influenced the type of ingredients the salad had. I mean it's not complicated. Spinach, Mushrooms, Bacon, Eggs. But instead of doing a warm bacon and egg dressing like it's German forbearers the Pan took a more refined French/Californian approach to the salad dressing it with a really nice mustardy vinaigrette.

Regardless the result was something easy to prepare in the kitchen at the Pan and easy to prepare in your kitchen now. So take a look at this version of an old American standby and give it a whirl, it's an oldie but goodie revisited but with an emphasis on a goodie! Enjoy Ya'll!  

SPINACH SALAD (Based on my recollection of the Magic Pan's recipe)

 1 cup vegetable oil
 1⁄2 cup tarragon wine vinegar
 1 tsp dry tarragon leaves
 3⁄4 tsp salt 1⁄8 tsp pepper
 1 tsp sugar 
 1⁄2 tsp Dijon mustard

 Combine all ingredients except oil. Slowly whisk in oil.

 Fresh spinach
 Fresh mushrooms, sliced
 Chopped bacon 
 Chopped hard-boiled egg

Wash and dry spinach leaves. Sprinkle mushrooms, chopped cooked bacon and chopped hard boiled eggs over spinach. Toss with dressing.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

New American Cooking, Roasted Oysters a Low Country Tradition

Fall in the Low Country of South Carolina was always my favorite time of the year. It always means along with the cooler temperatures people gathering for local events and social season galas again after the long hot Summer months. It also means a return to Oyster Season and one of the great traditions of the Low Country, the Oyster Roast.

Now Oyster Roasts are sort of the fall version of a Pig Picking in the Low Country. A gathering for any reason and a feast based on the bounty of the beds which line the offshore waterways of coastal South Carolina and Georgia. Traditional roasts take place out of doors in the evening and always involve communal eating tables and lots of beer. Oysters are usually brought up in big crusty bunches called and are placed in a large oyster roaster which is typically a metal barrel on it's side with a heating element under it or coals inside of it with a grate to hold the oysters above the heat wet burlap bags are placed over the oysters to cook them by literally steaming and roasting them in their own juices. Pretty spectacular as far as roasting goes. They are then brought to the table in big clumps and with a hammer and a shucker guests are invited to help themselves and feast on the bounty of the sea before them. Today there are large mobile oyster roasters which travel around and position themselves where ever the party is and provide the services needed to cook the oysters for the dinner. They look kind of like huge BBQ trailers and are backed up near the action to provide culinary drama as well as the facility to roast the oysters. All in all, oysters served up with cocktail sauce,hot sauce and copious amounts of beer are the order of the day. ANd please someone tell me what could possibly be wrong with that!!! These meals are usually accompanied by all the usual suspects. Bowls of cole slaw and potato salad and baskets of cornbread or biscuits adorn the table. But the real star of the show is of course the oysters themselves.

Recently, I attended a brunch with my friend Melissa at Ditch Plains a bar/restaurant in NYC and we ordered the roasted oysters as a starter. It came on the half shell swimming in an herb garlic sauce and toasted baguette under each oyster. It reminded me of the roasted oysters I have had in Florida while working at Seaside Music Theatre in Daytona Beach Florida several years ago now. And as Melissa and I spoke about it I remembered having a similar dish at home which might have been made by my Grandmother with Smoked Oysters in a chaffing dish and served with toasts. But regardless, I knew I would recreate these in some fashion at the West 20th Central Kitchen.

So in planning this I decided that I wanted to make this as a starter dish and make it pretty easy. By that I mean that you know I don't like to work hard to get seafood out of shells. So I wanted to make this from shucked oysters and make it in a scallop shell. However, I thought that the idea of a garlic compound butter and toasted bread sounded kinda amazing! So off i went.

Just for the record I love scallop shells. They are so old school and so elegant in my mind. They were always around when I was little for special occasions. Plus the rich lovely seafood dishes prepared in them came to the table right out of the oven piping hot and brimming with goodness. Cream sauces, or crusty buttery bread crumb toppings over scallops, oysters, shrimp, crab, or even lobster. They were the stuff of special occasion meals or holiday dinners. They were the things of crisp white linen tableclothes, sparkling glassware and dancing candle flame. In short something special.

So here is my redition of a home oyster roast. Done in a scallop shell and baked in the oven with all the garlicy, buttery goodness of a french seafood preparation. I hope you try it for one of your special occasions or just a week night when you are feeling adventurous. Enjoy Ya'll.

Roasted Oysters in Garlic Compound Butter

1 pint fresh oysters
4 to 6 scallop shells ( baking shells depending on the size of the oysters)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1/2 stick of butter unsalted at room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons white white
1 teaspoon finely minced shallot
1 box rock salt


Mound some rocksalt on a baking sheet
Place the scallop shells in the salt to keep them level
Drain Oysters and divide among the scallop shells
Cream butter and other ingredients together
Divide the butter in big dallops among the Oyster Shells
Place into a preheated 375 degree oven
Bake for 5 to 7 mins
Then broil for 2 mins till oysters are browning in the butter

Serve with slices of lightly toasted baguette  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

New American Cooking Iron Skillet Cornbread ( Rutherford Grill Cornbread Revisited)

So I have written about cornbread before. But as time has gone on I have worked to improved on the recipes I have had in the past. I wrote a blog about cornbread which was a take off on the Rutherford Grill cornbread people rave about, even though I have never had it. And that came out well. But in the meantime I have been dining around and one of the restaurants I went to last time I was home in Charleston was Husk. Now Husk has been getting lots of attention from all over and even the James Beard Foundation honored them as one of the best new restaurants in the South. One of the most famous things on the menu is the skillet cornbread.

Well I have to say I have lived by that my whole life. And there are two definite camps in the south, those who like savory cornbread and those who like sweet. And never the two shall meet. Also there is the white cornbread verses the yellow cornbread. For this recipe I choose the white. I chose also for ease to pick a cornbread baking mix instead of buying the flour. cornmeal and baking powder separately. It's a small cheat but the brand I picked is white cornbread mix by Aunt Jemima and it worked well.

So what makes this cornbread good, well it's the insides. Plus the presentation can't be beat a small iron skillet crusted over with amazing cornbread goodness.

It looked like this which is awesome.

What makes this so spectacular is the mix of green chili's, peppers, cheese, butter and whole yellow corn that is in it. It's really delicious but unlike the Rutherford Cornbread it is not very sweet and it is golden with hints of yellow cheddar not from yellow cornmeal.

3/4 cup Butter melted
4 teaspoons sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup corn (frozen)
1/2 4 oz can or Hatch Green Chili peppers
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons jarred jalepeno peppers diced
2 cups Cornmeal baking Mix ( white cornmeal from Aunt Jemima)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Sea Salt Maldon flakes

Mix wet ingredients together
Mix Dry together
Mix together to combine but don't overmix a little dry bit here or there is fine
Sprinkle with the sea salt

Heat oven to 425

pour into a hot buttered 6 inch cast iron pan

Bake for 30 mins or until a toothpick comes out clean and the top is crusty and puffed

Cool 5 to 10 mins then enjoy with butter!