February 2013

Early Spring Salad with Fennel, Watercress, Pomegranate, and Hazelnut Vinaigrette

February 25, 2013
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In Southern California, fennel grows wild along the highway, a product of some long ago wayward seed blown by the wind or dropped by a bird. The frothy fronds with their wispy yellow flowers grow as tall as a tree alongside the stretch of coastline going through Camp Pendleton between Los Angeles and San Diego. I’ve often considered pulling over to see what they’d be like if I tried to dig one up, but I have yet to brave the highway traffic to do so.

Thought to have been brought to California by the Spanish hundreds of years ago, today wild fennel is considered by many to be an invasive plant. But never fear, if you’d like to grow it in your garden, you can buy non-invasive varieties. Easier still, just buy it in the market. While it’s available almost year round, the peak fennel season is autumn through early …

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Oysters part 4- How to Make Oysters Rockefeller

February 19, 2013
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There is over a century of history surrounding the recipe for Oysters Rockefeller and as many recipes out there as there are varieties of oyster. Created in 1899 at Antoine’s restaurant in New Orleans, the dish was a version of one originally made for snails. Legend has it that when it was first eaten, people said it was “rich enough for a Rockefeller,” hence the name.  One thing is for sure, the recipe is a closely guarded secret and while people have tried to duplicate it, it’s never been published, not even in their Antoine’s cookbook.

There’s been much debate over the years as to the ingredients, but experts agree the most traditional versions are made with a mix of herbs and watercress, not spinach which has become more common. Bacon, Parmesan cheese, cream, and even hollandaise sauce, are frequent additions, but not original. This version is as faithful as …

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Oysters Part 3- Sauces and Garnishes

February 13, 2013
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So now that we’ve talked about the history of oysters, the different types and where they come from, and you’ve seen how to buy, clean and open raw oysters, how about making some sauces to go with them? Below are some of the most traditional ways to serve oysters. My favorite is mignonette sauce, or just completely unadorned. How do you like your oysters?

Mignonette Sauce

Mignonette Sauce

Mignonette is the typical French accoutrement for oysters. Order oysters or a fruits de mer platter in any Parisian bistro and what you’ll get is a clean taste of the sea with a wedge of lemon and this piquant sauce.

4 oz red wine vinegar
2 ea shallots, peeled and minced
1 Tbsp freshly cracked black pepper

Mix all ingredients together and allow the shallots to marinate at least 1 hour.

It’s all about the shallots.
The shallots add a savory component …

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Oysters Part 2- How to Buy, Clean, and Open Raw Oysters

February 9, 2013
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For a historical background on oysters, please read Oysters Part 1-Introduction; The seduction from the sea.

Buying, Care and Cleaning:

Buy the freshest oysters possible from cold waters (look for oysters from the Pacific Northwest, both coasts of Canada, and places in the far southern hemisphere like New Zealand and Chile). Do not eat or buy any whole oysters which are open as this means they have died and are not safe for consumption. Sometimes a live oyster will open slightly. Give it a tap and if it snaps shut, it’s still alive. If not, toss it.

Store fresh oysters in the refrigerator with the cup side down and their flat side facing up. Cover with a wet kitchen towel. Do not store them on ice because sitting in melting fresh water can kill an oyster. Don’t store oysters in an air-tight container because lack of oxygen can kill them. …

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Oysters Part 1- Introduction; The Seduction From the Sea

February 5, 2013
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“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy, and to make plans.” -Ernest Hemingway

Oysters are one of nature’s finest “whole foods”. They need no adornment, no processing, and no cooking to eat them at their very best. There is a reason oysters are considered an aphrodisiac. Not only do they seduce with their flavor, shape and texture, but they’re loaded with zinc and other minerals said to encourage amorous feelings.

Eating an oyster is to experience a seduction from the sea. Like the ocean misting your face during beach walk on a blustery …

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