Eating out is nice, but at home is cheaper

Published 12:00am Saturday, January 18, 2014

We paid a visit to Nashville last week for an after New Year’s visit with our relatives. Now, these relatives do not cook much, but they do know how to go and get some good food. So, I always enjoy what they bring in. For breakfast we had some delicious spinach quiche, and one morning, biscuits with good ham and brie. We even went to a restaurant and had a drink while waiting for the food to take out. This is not fast food but gourmet take-out!

Since Husk has a new location in Nashville, I wanted to go and give it a try. I love the Husk restaurant in Charleston, S.C., and wanted to try Sean Brock’s new venture. Some of our relatives had already visited this restaurant and did not really like it. Sean Brock is very creative and his combinations are always interesting (and usually quite tasty) such as for starters: Crispy Pig Tails, Soy Red Pepper Glaze, Benne, Cilantro; or Chilled Rappahannock Oysters with Buttermilk Consommé, Apple and TN Caviar; so can you decide whether this should be ordered? My favorite place for raw oysters is still Frank Stitt’s Highlands Bar and Grill. We tried to stop in Birmingham on our way up to Nashville for lunch at Fon Fon or Botega, but both were closed that day!

Several of us at the table ordered pork (really just a pork chop) with nine-hour cabbage and yellow hominy, with West African mustard onions. The pork chop was OK but not terrific and I could not find many greens under the pork chop. This was $28. This makes me think that sometimes it is better to eat at home! It is a treat to eat out but one must be prepared to pay a lot when eating at these restaurants. I will go to Husk again but maybe for lunch when it is not so expensive.

Oysters in spaghetti? You’ve got to try it.
Oysters in spaghetti? You’ve got to try it.

Actually the oysters were probably one of the best items, and they’re in season, so I decided to buy some and do some sauces for them. I found three good sauces in my new issue of Louisiana Cookin’. Each of these mignonette sauces makes two cups or enough for 24-32 raw oysters. For those of you who do not like raw oysters, I have included a special recipe with oysters and spaghetti.

Taken from Louisiana Cookin’ January/February issue 2014:

CUCUMBER MIGNONETTE

Makes 2 cups

¼ cup diced cucumber

6 tablespoons minced shallot

1 cup rice wine vinegar

½ teaspoon ground white pepper

In a small bowl, add cucumber, shallot, vinegar and pepper; whisk thoroughly. Cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

TRADITIONAL MIGNONETTE

Makes 2 cups

¼ cup minced shallot

1 cup red wine vinegar

½ teaspoon ground white pepper

In a small bowl, add shallot, vinegar and pepper; whisk thoroughly. Cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.

 

GREEN APPLE MIGNONETTE

Makes 2 cups

¾ cup diced Granny Smith apples

6 tablespoons minced shallot

1 cup Champagne vinegar

½ teaspoon ground white pepper

In a small bowl, add apple, shallot, vinegar and pepper; whisk thoroughly. Cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Oyster spaghetti was on menus in New Orleans in the past, but not so much anymore. This is from Chef Brian Landry, chef at the restaurant Borgne in New Orleans.

OYSTER SPAGHETTI

Makes 6 servings

2 tablespoons salted butter

½ cup finely chopped shallot

¼ cup finely chopped green onion (white and green parts)

3 tablespoons minced garlic

1 cup dry vermouth or white wine

1 to 1 ½ cups oyster liquor

3 cups heavy whipping cream

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

48 large Gulf oysters, shucked

Salt

Ground white pepper

1 pound cooked spaghetti

Garnishes: shaved Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet, melt butter over high heat. Add shallot and green onion; cook until translucent, about 3 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium-high. Add garlic, and cook one minute more. Add vermouth, swirl the pan to deglaze, and simmer two minutes. Add oyster liquor, cream, bay leaf, and thyme. Simmer until cream is bubbling and the sauce begins to reduce, about eight to 10 minutes.

Stir in Parmesan. Add oysters, and cook until the edges begin to curl. Remove and discard bay leaf. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.

In a large bowl, combine oyster mixture and cooked pasta. Gently toss.

Divide pasta and oysters between six bowls. Garnish with shaved Parmesan.

So go buy some oysters and have a feast for one-third of the price of a restaurant.

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