Scalloped Oysters

I’m not a fan of oysters.  I want to be, but I simply cannot get past the mouth feel.  Each summer I try to eat one.  The operative word here is try.  I live near some of the best oyster beds in the world.  I can’t get enough clams and mussels, so what’s the difference?  I can’t figure it out.

This dish is a holiday tradition in my family.  It was always on the buffet every Christmas eve and it was always eaten to the last crumb.  What I find amusing is my mother who originally made it would not eat it, I took over and do not eat it and this year C the MP made it and won’t eat it.  What a bunch of maroons!

We use oysters in a jar for this recipe.  Shellfish is very seasonal in our area and we’re total rule followers when it comes to fish and game regulations.  Since you will be baking them, you won’t notice the difference.

1 pint oysters

4 tablespoons oyster liquor

4 tablespoons cream

½ cup dry bread crumbs

1 cup cracker crumbs (Ritz or something equally light and buttery)

½ cup melted butter

S & P

Mix together bread and cracker crumbs.  Stir in butter.  Put a thin layer in the bottom of a shallow baking dish, approximately 8 x 8.

Mix together the cream and oyster liquor.

Put a layer of oysters on the crumbs.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Add ½ of the oyster liquor mixture.  Sprinkle with some of the bread crumbs.

Repeat layers and cover with the remaining crumb mixture.

Bake 30 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

*  from the Recipe Box:

Mom would make this every Christmas for Dad, P, and L once she joined our group.  You either love oysters or you don’t, but everyone who does loves this dish.

Oyster liquor is the liquid in the jar with the oysters.  Drain and save to use in the recipe.

and remember:  You are only going to be as good as the people you surround yourself with, so be brave enough to let go of those who keep weighing you down.  Big kiss, Lynn

Cornbread Stuffing

I love Thanksgiving.  It’s all the fun of Christmas gatherings without having to go shopping.  While I’m not a huge fan of turkey (remember my protein problem), I do love the sides:  stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce.  I can taste them now.

I used to make a very simple bread stuffing up until a few years ago when I switched to a sausage stuffing one of the gals I worked with told me about.  Big kiss, Nancy.  Now I’ve decided to go a step further and I’ve switched it up to a cornbread sausage stuffing with craisins.   Yes, that was angels singing in the background.

The other reason I make this recipe is to use it as a side dish.  It always amazes me how satisfying it can be on a chilly night.  The Hunka-hunka has even asked for it as the main course.  We have simple needs.

1 cup sliced celery

1 cup chopped onion

1 pound sausage

1/2 to 1 cup of crasins (if they are very dry, I soak them in a little warm water before adding)

1/2 cup butter

1 12 ounce box Mrs. Cubbison’s Cornbread Stuffing Mix

2 cups chicken stock

Saute the sausage.  Add the celery and onions while the sausage is still pink.  Add the butter.  When the vegetables are translucent and the butter has melted, add the stuffing mix.  Taste for seasoning.  I might need salt or extra sage.  Add the chicken stock.  Let it absorb.  Place into your turkey or do as I do, and place into a buttered 9 x 13 inch casserole.  Drizzle with melted butter and bake at 375 degrees for about 20 to 30 minutes depending on how crispy you want the top.

*  from the Recipe Box:

You can easily make your own corn bread for this recipe if you are not a lazy butt like me.  I’d put any leftover cornbread in the freezer until I had enough for a batch.

I don’t like putting stuffing into poultry.  I think it always gets too ooey-gooey.  I’d much rather have it crispy with the bread maintaining it’s shape and texture.  You’ll have to decide the best way for you.  Keep me posted.

and remember:  The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.  Big kiss, Lynn

 

 

Arugula Bread Pudding

Don’t start me.  I know what you’re thinking.  Bread pudding is a dessert, but I found this recipe in Gourmet and couldn’t stop thinking about it.  I used to love my Gourmet magazine, but now I’m a Bon Appetit reader due to circumstances beyond my control.  So many of the cooking magazines are a bit too upscale for me.  I’m just too lazy to want to attempt any recipe that has 2 pages of instructions.  My bad.

I’ve been eating bread pudding since I was a little girl.  I’ll share Grandma Olson’s recipe soon.  The big decision back then was whether you were a raisin person or not; I was.  This recipe has little in common with that one.  Savory is becoming more and more important in my repertoire.  I love a good side dish and the addition of Gruyere, one of my favorite cheeses, makes this almost irresistible.

I love the look of this on the plate next to almost any meat.  I’m a major pork tenderloin person and this is great with it or any pork.  It’s nice to have a starch side dish that isn’t rice or potatoes.  This has really good visual appeal.  And of course a favorite cheese.  Bon Appetit!

6 cups cubed country-style Italian loaf

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

5 eggs

6 slices bacon

1 large shallot, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

6 ounces baby arugula or baby spinach (6 cups)

5 1/2 ounces Gruyere cheese, coarsely grated (1 1/2 cups)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees with the rack in the middle.  Butter a 2 quart shallow baking dish.

Whisk together milk, cream, eggs and S & P in a large bowl.

Cook bacon in a 12 inch-heavy skillet over medium heat, until crisp.

Transfer to paper towels to drain, then coarsely crumble.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the skillet.  Increase heat to medium-high and cook shallot and garlic, stirring constantly, until golden, about 1 minute.  Gradually add arugula and cook, stirring, until it wilts.

Stir arugula mixture, bacon, cubed bread and cheese into milk custard.  Transfer to baking dish and cover with foil.  Bake 30 minutes, then remove foil and bake until golden in spots, about 10 more minutes.

*  From the Recipe Box:

I don’t usually buy shallots; I’m too cheap to be bothered.  Small yellow onions will do just fine for me.  How much different are they really?  Don’t tell anyone, but I don’t usually have fresh garlic either.  Dried and granulated works just fine for me.  See, I told you I was a lazy butt.

I also use half and half instead of milk and cream if that’s what I have.

and remember:  If you work hard and are kind, amazing things will happen.  Big kiss, Lynn

Polenta

If I gave you the choice between cornmeal mush, grits and polenta, which would you choose?  Polenta, or as my dad would call it, Cornmeal Mush or Grits, are the exact same thing.  Cornmeal made for mush is ground a little finer.  Do some things not translate?  Is it fancier to call something by a foreign name even though it’s the exact same thing you grew up with?  When I was a kid, my dad would request cornmeal mush for breakfast.  Am I guilty of a little snobbery here?  You noticed I labeled this post polenta, not cornmeal mush or grits, so I’m just as guilty.  I wanted you to look.

In this era of gluten-free everything, why aren’t we using cornmeal more often?  My dad grew up in Idaho.  Until the day he died, he said it was a good place to be from.  Mush was a part of his daily meals, if he was lucky.  Poverty was the norm in Depression era Idaho and yet dad had nothing but good memories of cornmeal mush.

This wasn’t a staple in my mom’s Minnesota home, so we all had to learn from dad.  He liked it formed into a loaf to firm and then sliced and fried.  He then liked it served with syrup.  And not maple syrup, but dark Karo syrup or molasses.  Or along side pork chops with gravy.  He liked it in a bowl with milk and sugar.  It’s a different taste if you aren’t used to it, but on a cold winter day, it might be worth a try.

3 cups water

1 cup milk

1 cup cornmeal

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese if you are using this as a side dish

Bring the water and the salt to a boil in a saucepan.  In a separate bowl, combine the milk and cornmeal to a smooth paste.  Slowly add the cornmeal to the boiling water.  Return to a boil and then reduce to low.  Stir almost constantly for about 15 minutes until it thickens to a consistency you find pleasing.  Serve it warm with a little more cheese sprinkled on top.

and remember what my super amazing Nina Simone had to say:  It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me and I’m feelin’ good.  Big kiss, Lynn

 

Salsa?

I love Ted Kennedy Watson.  I love his blog, his Instagram, his stores, his recipes; I’m a fan.  I could go on and on and tell you all the amazing things about him, but this is really about a recipe on his blog a couple of weeks ago.

There is one problem, he calls it a summertime salad, but I called it a bean salsa.  It is similar to my mom’s bean salad, but it just leans towards salsa to me.  I did break my rule of always following the recipe as written the first time you make it, but sometimes you just can’t wait.

Start by mincing one half cup red onion, cover with your favorite vinegar, and pickle to mellow the onion for a few hours.

Lightly cook 5 ears of corn and cut off the kernels.

Remove the seed and juice and medium chop about 2 cups of tomatoes.

Remove the seed and medium chop 1 large cucumber.

Julienne 1/2 cup cilantro

Drain 2 cans of black beans.

Add everything together in a bowl, pour over some extra virgin olive oil and mix lightly.  This is great both cold or room temperature.

Ok, you know me. Gluten-free girl was up the day I was making this.  She’s quite a cook in her own right.  She had some excellent suggestions.  It almost becomes a game.  First, we forgot to pickle the onion, so I don’t know if that makes a huge difference.  I was too lazy to cook corn, you now me.  If you use frozen corn, 1 to 1 1/4 cups corn equals approximately 5 ears.  I misread the recipe and thought it called for 2 cups canned tomatoes.  That worked out just fine.  We drained the beans, but next time I would rinse them as well.  We added S & P and some taco seasoning.  We like things a little spicy.  We let it sit for a while and then tried it with corn chips.  Nummy.

I’ve tried quite a few of his recipes; I’ll remember to share them soon.  They’ve all been good.  Thanks, Ted.

and remember:  Promises mean everything, but after they are broken, sorry means nothing.  Big kiss, Lynn

Rice Pilaf

Aunty Kay always made the best rice pilaf.  She would make it up at the cabin to go with seafood or at home to go with everything else.  Either way, it totally fit the occasion; it was the perfect side dish.  I don’t follow the typical pilaf rice rules.  I buy Niko Niko short grain sticky rice and I use it for everything.  So, if you want the picture perfect pilaf, my pilaf is not the pilaf for you.  You need to follow the recipe and use the long-grained rice.  I’m too lazy to have different types of rice.  Tell no one, but I even use sticky rice for risotto.  Shhhh.

The way I make it takes hardly any more time than cooking a pan of rice.  Pilaf is unexpected.  I think it’s a little frou-frou compared to plain rice.  People think you’ve treated them special, that you’ve gone out of your way to make things extra special for them.  Just nod, smile and tell them they are worth it.

The other thing you need to consider is doubling the batch so you can use the leftovers for fried rice.  This makes excellent fried rice.  Since I use onion, celery and mushrooms, we are talking the perfect fried rice base.

4 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 small onion, chopped, approximately 1/2 cup

1/2 to 1 pound sliced cremini mushrooms

1/2 cup sliced celery

10 ounces green peas

2 cup uncooked regular long-grain rice

4 cups chicken broth

1 teaspoon salt

In 10 to 12 inch fry pan with lid, melt butter over medium heat. Cook onion, mushrooms, and celery in butter about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender.

Stir in rice. Cook 5 minutes more, stirring frequently. Stir in broth and salt.

Heat to boiling, stirring once or twice; reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 16 minutes (do not lift cover or stir); remove from heat. Add peas.  Let stand covered 5 minutes.

and remember:  Manners matter, good looks are a bonus, humor is a must.  Big kiss, Lynn