Monthly Archives: February 2014

Valentine’s Recap: Grilled Oysters and Salted Caramel Lava Cakes

IMG_6935Oysters have always been kind of a big deal around our house.  Michael spent the first few years we were together perfecting his fried oyster recipe, and the Fry Daddy he now uses to turn them out is undeniably his most cherished wedding gift.  If you’ve ever been to a party at our house, you know they are going to be on the menu regardless of whether they actually go with the main course or not and regardless of whether everyone we’ve invited over is either pregnant or just generally afraid of the little guys.  We’ve gotten in such a bad habit of requesting fried oysters off the menu at Brennan’s, that our favorite waiter knows to bring them without us even asking.  So it should come at no surprise that when we moved into our first house together, Michael gave me a set of sterling silver oyster forks as a house-warming present.  The one thing we haven’t really done at home is to shuck them fresh, so I set out to remedy that situation for Valentine’s Day this year.  I bought him a really cool oyster knife (and a set of gloves to protect his paws) and picked up a couple dozen oysters at Airline Seafood on the way home from work on Friday.

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The shucking part was easier than I thought it would be.  This little video was really helpful in learning how should you want to try your hand at it.

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I made a fancy mignonette sauce with champagne and pink peppercorns to accompany the raw ones, but it turns out classic cocktail sauce and a little Tabasco was all we needed.

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I also thought it would be fun to throw a few on the grill.  We had some once in Galveston that were just about the best things I’ve ever eaten.  We’ve tried desperately since to pry the recipe out of the guy who made them, but to no avail.  These were a pretty great runner-up though.  I made a compound butter based on an Emeril recipe, and put a little round on each oyster before they hit the grill.

IMG_6946They turned out pretty great, and are something I’m sure we’ll have fun playing with the recipe for over the years.  Maybe one day we’ll stumble upon the recipe for the ones we had in Galveston.  If we do, y’all will be the first to know!

IMG_6950For now though, this is a good starting point:

Grilled Oysters with Lemon Garlic Compound Butter

For the butter:
10 tablespoons softened  unsalted butter
4 tablespoons finely grated  Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tablespoons minced  parsley leaves
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon salt and fresh cracked pepper
1/4 teaspoon  cayenne pepper
Zest from one whole lemon

Combine together and roll into a little log using parchment paper and refrigerate until you’re ready to use it.  This makes enough for about two dozen oysters, but the leftover butter is great on all sorts of things.  We melted it over our steaks and it was awesome.  For the oysters put a little round of butter on top of each oyster and place on the grill for about 4 to 6 minutes until the edges curl and the butter begins to bubble.

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Michael was in charge of dinner, and this is what he came home with, for the TWO of us…

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Ridiculous, but pretty amazing regardless.  He made some scalloped potatoes and brussels spouts too, both of which were delicious.

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For desert, I made these salted caramel lava cakes that would be perfect for a dinner party.  You make the batter ahead and just refrigerate until you’re ready for desert.  Throw them in the oven for 10-15 minutes (depending on the size of your ramekins), and they’re done.  If you come over for dinner any time soon, don’t be surprised if they’re on the menu.  Just oooh and ahhh and pretend you didn’t see them here first, okay?  The original recipe called for you to make your own salted caramel, but then there was a little note at the bottom that you could just buy salted caramels and stick one inside the batter in each ramekin.  Perfect.

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Pretty delicious with a little blue bell on top!

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Successful Valentine’s if you ask me!!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!  This one is a quickie, but I wanted to share a little something in case you’re searching for a recipe for Saturday morning.  I made these last weekend and they would be so cute for breakfast in bed on Saturday.  Deliver to your Valentine with some hot coffee and you’ll be all set.  Hope everyone has a happy Valentine’s day!!

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Raspberry Barley Scones (Adapted from Good to the Grain)

Dry Mix:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons barley flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

Wet Mix:
1 stick cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup buttermilk (If you don’t have any, this works perfect in a pinch)
1 egg

1/2 cup raspberry jam
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly butter a baking sheet.  Sift together dry ingredients.  Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the dry mixture.  Work quickly, rubbing the butter into the mixture with your fingers until you have small even pieces everything is well combined.  Whisk together the wet ingredients and add to the dry mixture.  Stir until just combined and turn onto a lightly floured surface.

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Using your fingers work into a large disk about a half of an inch thick and cut into about a dozen hearts using a heart-shaped cookie cutter.  The number you get will vary with the size of your cookie cutter, but you only really need a few, so use whatever size you have.  My finished hearts looked like this.  IMG_6913Once they’re all cut out, spread the raspberry jam on one half of the hearts and cover with another heart to make a little sandwich.  Brush the tops with the melted butter and top with the sugar.  Place on a cookie sheet and cook for about 22 minutes until golden on top and oozing with raspberry jam.IMG_6914Serve with a little extra raspberry jam on the side and cuddle up to enjoy with your Valentine.  xo!

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Tuscan Lemon Chicken and Cooking Lessons from Mom

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What’s a newlywed kitchen without a few lessons from Mom?  Michael was in New Orleans for the weekend, so I invited my Mom over on Sunday to teach me how to butterfly a chicken.  She of course, learned it from Ina.  I intended to take pictures while she did it, but I was too busy trying to pay attention to the lesson at hand.  I watched as she nipped off the little tail so it would sit up straight, and then made a large cut down each side of the backbone to remove it.  Then she laid it down flat and removed the center breast bone with a little knife.  I was pretty surprised how easy she made it look, so hopefully I can duplicate her efforts next time.  Here’s a little video in case you’ve never done it before either.

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For the marinade, we used another one of her favorites from Ina.  Really simple, and really delicious as usual.  I was shocked she didn’t want to join us for dinner to get to enjoy all of her hard work, but she had pressing plans with the Tanglewood Garden Club, so we were left to ourselves on Sunday night.  Michael got home from New Orleans just in time to run a few errands with me and settle in for a nice evening at home.  He even gave me a few grilling lessons and let me pretend I was the one in charge of the Green Egg for the evening.  Turned out really tasty, and butterflying the chicken makes it cook so much faster.  This could easily become a Sunday staple.

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Tuscan Lemon Chicken (Adapted from the Barefoot Contessa)

1 3 lb whole chicken, butterflied
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
Zest of one large lemon
2 to 3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper
1 lemon, halved

Butterfly the chicken and sprinkle both sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Lay the chicken flat in a large baking dish.  Combine the olive oil, lemon zest, juice, garlic closes, and rosemary and pour over the chicken.  Allow to marinate for about 4 hours or overnight.

Prepare the grill, lighting the coals and allowing the temperature to rise to about 350 degrees.  Lay the chicken on the grill skin side up and cover with something heavy to weigh it down.  We used a cast iron skillet, but you could use  a bacon press or a brick wrapped in foil too.  Grill for about 12 minutes and then turn skin side down for another 12 to 15 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.  While the chicken is cooking, place the lemon halves cut side down on the grill for about 10 minutes.  Allow chicken to rest for 10 minutes, carve, and squeeze the grilled lemon halves over the top.  We served ours with rosemary and whole-grain mustard roasted potatoes and braised mustard greens.

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