Try this oyster appetizer

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 13, 2014

It is crunch time again and I have to begin the planning of Christmas dinner. I am doing a prime rib roast with Yorkshire pudding and some greens on the side. I am starting with a new oyster appetizer that I found in the November 2014 issue of ‘Saveur’ magazine. Jane and Michel Stern travel around the world to out of the way places to find interesting things to eat. They can be heard on The Splendid Table on NPR and write for several food magazines. They were traveling around the Florida Panhandle and found some places to eat serving delicious shrimp and oysters. This oyster recipe is from Wakulla Springs Lodge in Wakulla Springs, Fla. I thought some of you might know this place since it is not that far from home.

In the December issue of’ Saveur’ Jane and Michel Stern were in England trying to find the best sticky toffee pudding recipe. Now I like sticky toffee pudding and try to find it whenever I am in England or Scotland. The Stern’s thought they had found the best at a café in northwestern England, but they were told this pudding had come from a big box restaurant, and were told that to find the best you had to go to Cartmel. There is none richer. They found Cartmel and the sign upon entering the town said, “The Home of Sticky Toffee.” This is dairy land and the pudding needs to be made with the best cream. This version I am giving is the closest to the classic English dessert, and is adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s cookbook called Rose’s Heavenly Cakes published in 2009. Notice the dates are soaked in stout beer!

So here are my appetizer and dessert for Christmas dinner….compliments from Jane and Michel Stern.

Oysters Dupont

Serves 2-4

1/3 cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tbsp. minced herbs, such as basil, oregano, and rosemary

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Coarse rock salt, for baking sheet

12 oysters, preferably Apalachicola, on the half shell

6 oz. feta, crumbled

6 oz. lump crabmeat

1 ½ tbsp. capers

Chopped parsley and thinly sliced scallions, for garnish

Hot sauce, lemon wedges, and toasted ciabatta, for serving (optional)

Heat oil and garlic in an 8” skillet over medium heat. Cook until garlic is golden, 4-5 minutes. Stir in herbs and pepper; let cool. Heat oven broiler. Line a baking sheet with rock salt about ¼ “deep. Nestle oysters onto bed of rock salt. Spoon reserved garlic oil over oysters and sprinkle with feta, crabmeat, and capers. Broil until feta is golden brown and the oysters begin curing at the edges, 2-4 minutes. Garnish with parsley and scallions; serve with hot sauce, lemon wedges, and roasted ciabatta, if you like.


Sticky Toffee Pudding

Serves 8-10

For the pudding:

1 cup stout beer, preferably Guinness Extra Stout

1 tsp. baking soda

10 large pitted dates

2 cups flour

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

½ tsp. kosher salt

1 cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar

6 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened, plus more

1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract

3 eggs

For the toffee sauce:

1 cup packed light brown sugar

16 tbsp. unsalted butter, preferably Plugrá (can be found at Whole Foods) (It is a European style butter with higher fat content but made in America. I prefer Kerrygold which is made from grassfed cows.)

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped and reserved

½ cup heavy cream

1 tbsp. lemon juice

¼ tsp. kosher salt

Make the pudding: Heat oven to 350°. Boil beer in a 1-qt. saucepan. Stir in baking soda and dates; let cool. Transfer to a food processor; purée until smooth. Whisk flour, cinnamon, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt in a bowl. Using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, beat sugar, butter, and vanilla until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. With the motor running, slowly add dry ingredients, alternating with reserved date mixture, until a smooth batter forms; pour into a greased 9”x13” baking dish. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the pudding comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

Make the sauce: Simmer sugar, butter, and vanilla bean and seeds in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in cream, lemon juice, and salt. Strain sauce; let cool. Cut pudding into squares; drizzle with sauce.