Friday, November 27, 2015

Roasted Brunoise Garden Vegetables and Chèvre Crostini





     A Nice Simple French Café Style Crostini Appetizer Or Light Lunch!   
     Today's appetizer features a roasted brunoise garden vegetables and warm Chèvre (fresh goat cheese) on toasted French bread.  Brunoise translates to 1/8" dice or 1/8" cube pieces.  The easiest way to learn proper brunoise knife skills is to learn from a chef in person or to watch an instructional video on Youtube.  Most French Precision Cut instructional videos are available on this free video website.  Some instructional videos are better than others, so it pays to browse for accurate information too.  
     
     Roasted Brunoise Garden Vegetables and Chèvre Crostini:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Brunoise means to uniformly dice cube shaped pieces that measure 1/8"x1/8"x1/8".
     Goat cheese contains no fat, so it will not melt.  Chèvre will only soften when it is warmed.
     Step 1:  Brush 3 thin slices of French Baguette Bread with olive oil.  (About 3/8" thick.)
     Place the bread slices on a baking pan.
     Bake the crostini in a 325ºF oven till the bread is toasted crisp with a light golden color.
     Set the crostini aside.
     Step 2:  Brunoise dice these vegetables:
     - 2 tablespoons of celery
     - 2 tablespoons of carrot
     - 2 tablespoons of green bell pepper.
     Step 3:  Place the brunoise diced vegetables on a small roasting pan.
     Drizzle a very small amount of olive oil over the vegetables.
     Step 4:  Bake the brunoise vegetables in a 350ºF oven for only 2 to 3 minutes, till the vegetables are halfway cooked.
     Remove the pan from the oven and set it on the stove top.
     Step 5:  Cut a few thin slices of chilled soft Chèvre goat cheese.
     Place the sliced goat cheese on top of each of the crostini.
     Place the chevre crostini on a baking pan.
     Sprinkle equal amounts of the brunoise garden vegetables on the goat cheese.
     Step 6:  Bake the crostini in a 350ºF oven till the goat cheese softens and the brunoise vegetables are roasted al dente.  (The vegetables should not be browned.)
   
     Café Style Lunch Presentation:
     Place the Roasted Brunoise Garden Vegetables and Chèvre Crostini on a plate.
     Garnish the plate with a simple vinaigrette salad of your choice.  A small portion of caponata is a nice optional accompaniment!
 
     This light crostini snack has a very pleasant comfortable flavor! 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Sour Mash Bourbon Turkey a la King en Phyllo with Hickory Smoked Linguica and Roasted Scallion Threads








     A Fancy Version Of Turkey a la King!
     Chicken a la King was created by a cook named William King over 100 years ago at the famous Bellevue Hotel in Philadelphia.   Chicken a la King originally was a classy fine dining recipe.  The combination of ingredients yielded such a tasty flavor that this entrée became popular in all wakes of life.  
     Unfortunately, Chicken a la King has for the most part has disappeared from fine dining restaurant circles.  During the last 50 years, this classic entrée has been resigned to being offered mostly at greasy spoon diners and institutional food facilities.  As expected, Chicken a la King that is served at a school cafeteria is not exactly going to be a gourmet item.  Even so, because the combination of ingredients is so well thought out, even a Chicken a la King that is made in a correctional facility will be palatable.  

     Because the basic list of ingredients for Chicken a la King work so well together, it is very easy for a chef to modify the recipe to create a new gourmet version.  Today's Sour Mash Bourbon Turkey a la King en Phyllo with Hickory Smoked Linguica and Roasted Scallion Threads is a good example of jazzing the old original recipe up with a classic Americana Cuisine theme in mind.  
     Turkey a la King is the most popular variation of the original recipe and using turkey automatically inspires following a classic American cuisine path.  Turkey a la King is also perfect for using up leftover roast turkey from Thanksgiving.  
     Good old Kentucky Sour Mash Bourbon replaces the Dry Vermouth in today's recipe.  Bourbon adds a rich comfortable flavor to the sauce and it marries with the rustic taste of Hickory Smoked Portuguese Linguica Sausage.  
     Portuguese Linguica is highly seasoned like Cajun Andouille, but the choice of ground chile pepper is a combination of robust tasting Paprika Chiles.  Portuguese Linguica is not a Chorizo, but it is similar.  If no Hickory Smoked Linguica is available, then any highly seasoned hickory smoked sausage is a good second choice.
     There are no Peas in today's modern Turkey a la King version, but you can add peas if you wish to.  Sweet Peas were usually an optional ingredient anyway.  
     Roasted red bell pepper adds a richer flavor than plain red bell pepper.  Portobello field mushrooms are richer tasting than cave button mushrooms.  Adding a few drops of truffle oil can really enhance the mushroom flavor in the cream sauce.  Crème Fraîche enriched béchamel tastes richer than plain milk gravy.  Roasted scallions add a unique rustic flavor.  
     As one can see, today's recipe is not your average high school cafeteria Turkey a la King, so it deserves an eye catching plate presentation.  Why not go with a starch that adds an interesting texture?  Phyllo Dough Sheets can be purchased pre-made and frozen at most grocery stores.  They are easy to work with, but they always must be kept covered with a towel or they will dry out.  An ordinary oven proof soup bowl was inverted and used as a shaping mold to drape the butter sheets of phyllo.  A Phyllo Bowl is easy to make and it looks impressive when presented!

     Phyllo Bowl Garnish:
     This recipe yields 1 large Phyllo Bowl.
     Step 1:  Cut 10 squares of phyllo dough sheets, so they measure 10" x 10."
     Keep the phyllo sheets covered with a dry towel, so they do not dry out.
     Step 2:  Place a round soup bowl or small mixing bowl (about a 2 1/2 cup capacity bowl) upside down on a baking pan.
     Brush both sides of 1 phyllo sheet with melted unsalted butter. 
     Drape the sheet over the soup bowl dome.    
     Work with one phyllo sheet at a time till all 10 sheets are draped over the bowl.  Try to leave the edges uneven, to create a nice visual effect.  
     Step 3:  Bake the phyllo in a 350ºF oven, till it becomes a crispy golden color.
     Step 4:  Allow the phyllo, the baking pan and the bowl to cool to room temperature.
     *This next step is a bit tricky to do.  The object is to minimize damage to the crisp phyllo bowl!
     Place a shallow wide stew bowl over the top of the phyllo bowl on the baking pan.
     Invert the shallow stew bowl, baking pan and the crisp phyllo covered bowl as altogether at one time.
     Remove the baking pan.
     Use thin tongs to grasp the soup bowl mold, while gently prying off the crisp phyllo bowl.  
     *The phyllo bowl will now be setting in the shallow stew bowl and it is now ready to be filled with Turkey a la King.  If any phyllo leaves break off, then do not worry about it.  Just piece them around the base of the phyllo bowl, so it looks nice.
     Set the stew bowl with the phyllo bowl lining aside where is will not be damaged.  

     Roasted Scallion Thread Garnish:
     There is a difference between a scallion and a green onion.  The flavor of a scallion is much richer.  Scallion are almost never sold in markets, so green onions are a good substitute.  Scallions have a short shelf life and they are usually sold as a garden fresh item by an herb purveyor.
     Place 1 thin julienne sliced green onion on a baking pan.
     Drizzle a little bit of melted unsalted butter over the green onion threads.
     Roast in a 350ºF oven, till the green onion threads become crisp and turn a caramelized brown color.
     Set the roasted green onion threads aside.

     Sour Mash Bourbon Turkey a la King with Hickory Smoked Linguica: 
     This recipe yields 1 hearty portion.
     This recipe is made with oven roasted turkey breast.  Leftover roast turkey from Thanksgiving is the best choice, but if none is available then slow roasting a whole turkey breast is a good option.  
     The roasted turkey is added late in the recipe, because roasted turkey has a tendency to shred, when it is simmered in a sauce.  
     If you want to add the optional peas to this recipe, then add 1/4 cup of sweet peas at the same time that the turkey is added.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced shallot.
     Add 2 tablespoons of diced onion.
     Add 1/3 cup of large diced green bell pepper.
     Add 2 tablespoons of minced celery.
     Add 1 chopped green onion.
     Add 3 to 4 small portobello mushrooms that are cut into quarters.
     Sauté till the vegetables are tender.
     Step 2:  Add just enough flour, while constantly stirring to soak up the excess butter in the pot and to create a roux.  (about 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons)
     Stir for about 1 minute, so the roux is combined.
     Step 3:  Add 1/2 cup of turkey broth or chicken stock.
     Add 1/3 cup of Kentucky Sour Mash Bourbon.
     Add 1/3 cup of milk.
     Add 1/2 cup of cream.
     Stir till the sauce comes to a gentle boil.  (The sauce will thicken to a very thin soupy consistency.)
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1/4 cup of sour cream while stirring.
     Step 5:  Add 3 ounces of Hickory Smoked Portuguese Linguica Sausage that cut into thick half moon shapes.  
     Add 3 tablespoons of large diced roasted red bell pepper.
     Add 1/2 of a bay leaf.
     Add 1 small pinch of thyme.
     Add 1 small pinch of marjoram.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of black truffle oil.  (optional)
     Step 6:  Gently simmer and reduce the sauce, till it is a thin sauce consistency.
     Step 7:  Add 5 ounces of roasted turkey breast that is cut into large bite size pieces.
     Simmer till the turkey is hot and the sauce becomes a medium thin consistency that easily coats a spoon.
     Keep the Turkey a la King warm over very low heat.

     Sour Mash Bourbon Turkey a la King en Phyllo with Hickory Smoked Linguica and Roasted Scallion Threads:
     This recipe describes 1 plate presentation.
     Place the crisp phyllo bowl lined shallow stew bowl on a countertop.
     Gently spoon the Sour Mash Bourbon Turkey a la King with Hickory Smoked Linguica into the phyllo bowl that is setting in the shallow stew bowl.
     *If too much is placed in the crisp phyllo bowl at one time, then the phyllo will break.
     Garnish with the roasted scallion threads.

     Viola!  A classy looking American style Turkey a la King that tastes great!  

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Asparagus and Ham Roulades with Brandy Cheddar Crème





     A Nice Vegetable Item For A Banquet Or Holiday Dinner! 
     Every once in a while, I post a recipe that has become lost in the past.  Today's asparagus spear roulade was a popular item at yacht clubs and country clubs many years ago.  We used to prepare ham wrapped asparagus roulades with a variety of cheese sauces.  Cheddar cheese sauces seem to be the best choice and a splash of brandy adds an elegant touch.
     The holiday season is here and there are a few directions that most folks go when planning Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner for themselves and guests.  During the last few decades, dining out has become a worthy option.  Dining out means not having to clean up the kitchen after the meal is done.  Another option is to prepare a gourmet holiday dinner at home or to hire a private chef to do all the fancy cooking.  By far, the most popular option is a good old fashioned classic holiday dinner that is composed of old family recipes that have been handed down for many generations.
    When planning a holiday dinner for family and guests, many folks like to introduce a few new food items along with the old family recipes.  Some folks attempt to go off the scale on the gourmet side and often the cooking idea loses something in the translation.  
     A better alternative for folks that do not attempt to cook fancy gourmet food on a regular basis is to perfect something simple.  This is where today's asparagus recipe fits in.  Ham wrapped asparagus spears are easy to make.  Making a good brandied cheese sauce is not all too difficult either.  The end result is a holiday dinner side dish that is a real crowd pleaser!    
    
     Brandy Cheddar Crème:   
     This recipe yields a little more than 1 cup.  (Enough for 3 to 4 asparagus and ham roulades.)  
     The mother sauce for this recipe is béchamel.  
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour, while constantly stirring, to make a roux.  (The roux should be shiny and not caky looking.)
     Constantly stir till the roux become a white color, with very little hazelnut aroma.
     Step 2:  Add 1 cup of milk while whisking.
     Add 1/2 cup of cream.
     Add 1/4 cup of brandy.
     Stir as the sauce heats and thickens to a very soupy consistency.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 2 tablespoon of chopped onion.  
     Add 1 spice clove.
     Add 1 small pinch of nutmeg. 
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Step 4:  Gently simmer and reduce the sauce till it is a thin sauce consistency that can coat a spoon.
     Step 5:  Add 1/3 cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese, while gently stirring.  (The better the cheddar, the better the sauce!)
     Stir till the cheese combines with the sauce.  (The cheese will thicken the sauce to a medium thin consistency that easily clings to a spoon.
     Step 6:  Add 1 tablespoon of brandy to refresh the flavor.
     Add 1 pat of unsalted butter, while gently whisking.  (monte au beurre)
     Step 7:  Pour the sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a second sauce pot or ceramic sauce container.
     Keep the sauce warm over very low heat or keep the sauce warm in a 135ºF bain marie.  Stir occasionally.

     Asparagus and Ham Roulades:
     About 18 thin asparagus spears are needed for making 2 roulades.  Pencil thin asparagus spears do not have to be peeled.  
     If you use larger asparagus spears, they will have to be peeled and you will have to judge how many asparagus spears will be needed for each roulade.  
     Each asparagus and ham roulade should be about a 1 1/2" in diameter.
     Step 1:  Select a nice roasted ham at a delicatessen and request whole undamaged slices that are about 1/32" thick.  (One slice of ham is needed per roulade.)  
     Step 2:  Boil a pot of salted water.
     Blanch about 18 pencil asparagus spears for about 15 to 20 seconds, so they are still fairly crisp.  (Thin asparagus spears cook quickly!)
     Step 3:  Use a fryer net to remove the spears from the hot water.
     Shock the asparagus spears in ice water.
     Step 4:  Remove the asparagus from the ice water and place them on a cutting board.
     Trim the asparagus spears, so they are about 7" in length.
     Step 5:  Trim the width of 2 slices of ham, so each ham slice is as wide as the stalks of the asparagus spears.  The asparagus tips should be exposed when the spears are wrapped.
     Step 6:  Place the 2 ham slices on a counter top.  
     Place about 9 pencil asparagus spears across the end of each ham slice.
     Tightly roll the ham and asparagus together to form roulades.
     Step 7:  Brush a baking pan with unsalted butter.
     Place the roulades on the baking pan with the seam side facing down.
     Brush the ham and the exposed asparagus tips with melted butter.
     Step 8:  Bake in a 325ºF oven, till the ham gains a little bit of golden color and till the asparagus spears become hot.  (Be careful not to bake the roulades for too much time, or the asparagus tips will dry out!) 
     Keep the asparagus and ham roulades warm on a stove top.

     Asparagus and Ham Roulades with Brandy Cheddar Crème:  
     Place the roulades of asparagus on a plate.
     Spoon a generous amount of the brandy cheddar crème sauce over the ham and onto the plate.
     No garnish is necessary!

     Brandy accents the flavor of sharp cheddar cheese.  This is a nice tasting old fashioned vegetable side dish!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Carnival Squash Soufflé







     Light, Delicate, Carnival Squash Soufflé!
     It seems like new varieties of winter squash appear in food markets every autumn.  Some are relatively unknown natural varieties and others are carefully developed garden hybrids.  The names of odd winter squash can be confusing too, because produce department managers at grocery stores often mislabel exotic varieties of squash that they have never seen before.
     Originally, I thought the squash used to make today's recipe was a Dumpling Squash, but that was because the squash was mislabeled at the food market.  As it turned out after doing a bit of research, the squash was actually called a Carnival Squash.  Carnival Squash are also called "Festival Squash or Heart Of Gold Squash."  Because Carnival Squash have about the same shape and flavor as a green speckled Dumpling Squash, it easy to get the two mixed up.  In the end it really does not matter, because it is the good taste that counts!  
     There are a few different color varieties of Carnival Squash.  The yellow orange striation color variety looks pretty on a plate.  Carnival Squash have a delicate flavor that tastes kind of like Acorn Squash.  A light delicate winter squash flavor like this is perfect for making soufflé.  
     Two small Carnival Squash are required for today's recipe.  A hollowed par-baked Carnival Squash is used as a soufflé baking ramekin, instead of a ceramic ramekin.  The second Carnival Squash is used to make the soufflé batter.  Because the soufflé is baked in a squash shell, the soufflé is practically guaranteed to have a moist texture.

     *This entire recipe yields 1 petite soufflé!

     Dumpling Squash Preparation:
     Step 1:  Cut the tops off of 2 Carnival Squash.  (This is done just like cutting the top of a pumpkin open to make a Jack O' Lantern.)
     Use a spoon to remove the seeds and pulp.
     Step 2:  Place the 2 squash shells on a roasting pan.
     Place 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter in each squash.
     Bake in a 300ºF oven till the squash just starts to become tender.  (par-bake)
     Step 3:  Allow the squash to cool to room temperature.
     Set 1 of the par-baked Carnival Squash aside.  (This Carnival Squash will be used as the soufflé ramekin.)
     Step 4:  Cut the second squash in half.
     Scrape the squash meat out of the shell and set it aside.  
     Discard the empty shell.  

     Béchamel Sauce:
     This recipe yields a little more than 1 cup.  (Enough for at least 2 petite soufflés.)  
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour, while constantly stirring, to make a roux.  (The roux should be shiny and not caky looking.)
     Constantly stir till the roux become a white color, with very little hazelnut aroma.
     Step 2:  Add 1 cup of milk while whisking.
     Add 1/2 cup of cream.
     Stir as the sauce heats and thickens to a very thin sauce consistency.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add thick slice of onion.
     Add 1 spice clove.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 small pinch of nutmeg.
     Add 1/2 of a small bay leaf. 
     Step 4:  Gently simmer and reduce the sauce, till it becomes a thin sauce consistency that can coat a spoon.
     Step 5:  Pour the sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a container.
     Keep the sauce warm on a stove top.

     Carnival Squash Brandy Crème Puree:
     Step 1:  Place the reserved prepared Carnival Squash meat in a small sauce pot.
     Add 1/4 cup of the béchamel sauce.
     Step 2:  Place the sauce pot over medium low heat.
     When the sauce start to simmer, add 1 ounce of brandy.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of granulated sugar.
     Add 1 small pinch of allspice.
     Simmer the ingredients for 1 minute.
     Step 3:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Finely puree the ingredients with an electric blending wand or a food processor.
     Step 4:  Place the thick squash puree in a mixing bowl.
     Add a little bit more of the béchamel sauce, while whisking, so the puree is a medium thin sauce consistency that easily coats a spoon.  (The amount depends on how moist the squash meat is.  About 2 to 4 tablespoons more béchamel is about enough.) 
     Set the mixing bowl of brandied squash puree aside.
     
     Carnival Squash Soufflé:
     Step 1:  Place 2 egg whites in a second mixing bowl.  
     Whisk the egg whites till medium soft meringue peaks appear.
     Gently fold the meringue into the brandied squash puree.
     Step 2:  Place the reserved par-baked Carnival Squash on a baking pan.
     Pour the Carnival Squash Soufflé Batter into the Carnival Squash Shell till it is full.  (Any extra batter can be baked in a separate ceramic ramekin.)
     Step 3:  Select a steel ring mold that is the same width as the open top of the Carnival Squash shell.
     Brush the inside of the ring mold with melted unsalted butter.
     Press the ring mold onto the open top of the Carnival Squash shell, so it is firmly seated.  (The ring mold will act as a soufflé collar.)
     Step 4:  Bake the soufflé undisturbed for 20 minutes in a 375ºF oven.
     Step 5:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Run a paring knife against the inside of the steel ring mold, to loosen the soufflé from the steel ring mold collar.
     Remove the ring mold.
     Step 6:  Place the Carnival Squash Soufflé on a small serving plate.
     Garnish with an Italian Parsley sprig.
     Serve immediately before the soufflé deflates!

     Viola!  A nice tasting savory Carnival Squash Soufflé with a natural looking presentation! 

Mussels Marinara





     Mussels Marinara! 
     In places where fresh mussels are not available, there are many people that have never heard of today's recipe.  At small towns located in midwest farm communities, Mussels Marinara might as well be the name of an Italian professional wrestler starring in match that is broadcast on a Saturday morning local television channel!  
     All up and down the American eastern seaboard, nearly everybody is familiar with Mussels Marinara.  Italian restaurants located near the east coast offer plenty of seafood on the menu.  Fresh Atlantic Blue Mussels are available year round and the price is reasonable.  From New England down to Virginia, Mussels Marinara is offered at local taverns, diners, fine dining restaurants and of course, nearly every Italian restaurant.
     Mussels Marinara is a popular antipasti because there is plenty of great flavor.  Even an extra large portion of Mussels Marinara is not too filling, so this appetizer will still leave plenty of room for pasta, entrée and dessert courses when dining out.
     Part of the Italian approach to creating a romantic fine dining experience is to offer food items that are meant to be shared by 2 guests.  Usually the items shared by couples are antipasti or desserts.  Opening and ending a multi course meal with shared items inspires intimate conversation and romance.   A platter of Mussels Marinara for two will certainly get the ball rolling!

     Blue Mussels must be clean and fresh for today's recipe.  Fresh Blue Mussels are easy to find at food markets along the Northeast Coast, but the farther one is from the shore, the less likely fresh mussels will be found.
     If no fresh Blue Mussels are available, then frozen mussels are the next best choice.  There are a few frozen mussel products to choose from.
     Farm raised Green Mussels are usually pre-cooked and frozen on the half shell.  Green Mussels are not well suited for making Mussels Marinara.
     The best choice is Cryovac packages of frozen Blue Mussels.  The vacuum packaging seals in the fresh flavor, while pinching each shell shut.  Cryovac packaged frozen Blue Mussels do take a little longer to open when they are cooked and some shells will not fully open.  Even so, Cryovac packaged frozen Blue Mussels are close enough to being fresh, that they are better than having no mussels at all.
 
     Marinara Sauce:
     Follow the link to the recipe in this website.
     • Classic Marinara Sauce

     Mozzarella & Arugula Bread: 
     This is an optional garnish for 1 mussels marinara appetizer!  This garnish should be prepared before cooking the mussels marinara.
     Garlic Bread or fresh baked Italian Bread is usually served with mussels marinara.  Baked bread with an Italian cheese melted on top actually is an old fashioned Italian antipasti.  Often the cheese bread is served on its own as Bruschetta with a tomato basil topping.  Cheese Bread also is nice for garnishing mussels marinara.      
     Step 1:  Cut 1 thick slice of Italian bread and brush it with olive oil.
     Place the bread on a baking pan.
     Lightly toast the bread in a 325ºF oven.
     Step 2:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Place a few thin slices of fresh mozzarella on the toasted bread.
     Place a couple of arugula leaves on top of the cheese.
     Lightly brush the arugula with olive oil.
     Step 3:  Return the bread pan to the oven.
     Bake till the mozzarella softens and the arugula wilts.  (Do not brown the cheese or it will taste bitter!)
     Keep the cheese bread warm on a stove top.

     Mussels Marinara: 
     This recipe yields 1 large portion that can be shared by 2 guests.
     Step 1:  Clean and de-beard about 25 Blue Mussels.
     Step 2:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium/medium high heat.
     Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil.
     Add the prepared mussels.
     Briefly sauté till the shells start to heat and open.
     Step 3:  Add 1/4 cup of dry white wine.
     Add 1/4 cup of water.
     Bring the liquid to a boil.
     Step 4:  Add 3/4 cup of Marinara Sauce.
     *Add just enough marinara sauce to coat the mussels with flavor.  Mussels Marinara should not look too saucy!
     Step 5:  Cover the pan with a lid.
     Let the mussels steam in the sauce, till the shells open.  (It only takes 2 to 3 minutes for fresh mussel shells to open.)
     Step 6:  Remove the lid.
     Discard any mussels that do not open and discard any broken shells.
     Step 7:  Rapidly simmer and reduce, till most of the excess liquid evaporates.
     Remove the pan from the heat.

     Mussels Marinara with Mozzarella & Arugula Bread Garnish:  
     Place the Mozzarella & Arugula Bread garnish on the center of the plate.
     Arrange the mussels on a plate so they look nice.
     Spoon the Marinara Sauce and mussel juices from the pan over the mussels.
     
     Bread is great for soaking up the extra Marinara Sauce and juices from the mussels.  Warm Italian cheese bread adds a nice touch!   

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Manhattan Clam Chowder




     Manhattan Clam Chowder!
     Many New Englanders claim that any chowder that is not made with milk is not a chowder.  This one size fits all definition of chowder is not true.  There are many kinds of chowder around the globe and milk is really just an optional ingredient.    
     The French invented chowder several hundred years ago.  Milk was not always part of the original chowder recipe.  The earliest French clam chowders were made with clams or foraged seafood from the shoreline.  Salt Pork, Green Bacon, lard or suet was in most kitchens back in those days.  Salt pork or bacon is part of many of the earliest recorded chowder recipes.  French chowders made prior to the age of Columbus contained no potatoes or any ingredients from the western world.     
     The French were not the only Europeans that lay claim to creating the first chowder.  Chowder was also made in Portugal and Spain a few hundred years ago.  Folks in Portuguese fishing villages made seafood soups in a big pot that is called a Caldera.  Seafood cooked in these cooking vessels was called Caldeirada.  A traditional Caldeirada technically is a chowder, even though after the Colombian Exchange the recipe was changed to include western world items like chile peppers, potato and tomato.  

     Both Rhode Island style Red Chowder and Manhattan Clam Chowder were created by Portuguese fishermen in New England.  These chowders were basically made the same way that a traditional Portuguese Caldeirada was made.  
     Manhattan Clam Chowder was created long before the year 1900, but it was called New York Chowder back in those days.  The locals referred to the highly seasoned tomato broth chowder as Fulton Fish Market Chowder.  It was not till some time during the Great Depression, the name of this chowder was changed to Manhattan Clam Chowder.
     For Manhattan Clam Chowder, bacon or salt pork is rendered to start the recipe.  A small amount of flour is added to the grease to create just enough roux to give this chowder a very thin body.  Carrots are added if the tomatoes are acidic, but many chefs add carrots no matter what.  Celery, bell pepper, onion, garlic, Spanish Paprika and a few select herbs combine to create the classic flavor.  Potatoes make this chowder hearty enough to warm up the bones of a fisherman on an icy cold day!

     Digital Pocket Camera Food Photo Distortion Problems     
     One thing that I have noticed about digital pocket cameras, is that certain food colors cause the sensors to overcorrect.  For example, tiny specs of oil floating on broth end up looking like spilled paint.  The bright orange color of Anatto (Achiote) really sends the yellow and red color sensors into a state of chaos.  A reddish orange tomato broth soup, like Manhattan Chowder, can look dull in one photo and the next photo might have a blaring contrast that looks like bright neon lights.  
     Food photography takes some practice and each individual digital camera has its own characteristics.  I usually use a good pocket camera for most food photos.  The problem is that pocket cameras are notorious for distorting the red, yellow and orange color tints.  Some experts blame it on the lens quality, while others say the fault is in the digital processing sensors.  
     The Manhattan Clam Chowder photos in today's article are a good example of how the color distortion effect was not noticed, till it was too late.  Out of 15 photographs, only 3 were remotely worthy of being published.  Adjusting the contrast with photo processing software was the only solution, but this method does not always correct bright orange color distortion.  
     As can be seen, even the best digital pocket cameras can lead to frustration when photographing food.  Chefs that are attending college, like myself, operate on a very low budget.  This means that there barely is enough money to prepare food for a photo example.  The food and the photos have to be perfect the first time, every time, when doing things on a college student budget.  
     The best way to avoid food photo distortion complications is to use a Digital SLR Camera with a high quality wide lens.  The better the lens, the more natural the photo will look and color distortion will be eliminated.  I use a Nikon D90 SLR for outdoor photography and now it looks like that professional camera will have to be used for food photography too, especially when taking pictures of soups that are a bright orangish red color!
  
     Manhattan Clam Chowder:
     This recipe yields about 3 cups of chowder!
     The tomato puree should be acidic.  Canned tomato puree from Spain or California is best for this recipe.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of finely chopped smoked bacon or salt pork.
     Gently sauté, till the grease is rendered from the bacon and the bacon is a golden brown color.
     Step 2:  Add 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of small chopped onion.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced white part of a green onion.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of small diced green bell pepper.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of small diced celery.
     Add 2 tablespoons of small diced carrot.  (optional) 
     Gently sauté till the vegetables are tender.
     Step 3:  Add just enough flour, while stirring, to barely absorb the excess grease and to create a thin roux.  (About 1/2 to 1 teaspoon)
     Step 4:  Add 3/4 cup of canned tomato puree.  
     Add 2 1/2 cups of clam broth.
     Add 1/2 cup of minced fresh clams or minced canned baby clams.  (Quahog, large neck or little neck fresh clams are best for this kind of chowder.) 
     Step 5:  Raise the temperature to medium high heat.
     Bring the chowder to a boil.
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Spanish paprika.
     Add 1 small pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of thyme.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Add 1 pinch of minced Italian Parsley. 
     Add 3/4 cup of diced potato.
     Step 7:  Simmer the chowder till the potatoes are tender and the volume reduces to about 3 cups.
     Step 8:  Ladle the Manhattan Clam Chowder into a soup bowl.
     Garnish with Italian Parsley leaves.

     Classic Manhattan Clam Chowder!  

Friday, November 6, 2015

Hähnchenschnitzel with Mushrooms en Brazilian Peppercorn Mustard Crème Fraîche








     Chicken Breast Schnitzel!
     Balance is essential when designing a German style recipe.  The flavors should create a feeling of warmth and satisfaction.
     The dining table is not always good arena for introducing new food items that challenge the senses.  The majority of the dining public only seeks familiar flavors and comfort.
     Designing new recipes that are made with familiar flavors that do not overwhelm guests is the way to please those who have conservative tastes.  This is best accomplished by studying the traditions of a cultural cuisine, then designing a recipe that has flavors that fall within the cultural cuisine guidelines.  For example, the sauce for today's schnitzel is made with Pink Peppercorns and Russian Mustard, but these items are nothing more than a twist upon traditional German cuisine flavors, so the end result is not too extreme for conservative tastes.
     On the other hand, if guests look forward to a challenging dining venture, then by all means go for it!  There are many chefs and restaurateurs that cater to a niche market that lives for adventurous dining experiences.
    Challenging new food items are best introduced during a chef's tasting event or as part of a multi course pre-fixe tasting menu.  Tasting events are a good medium for customer feedback.
     Newly created food items that challenge the senses can also be introduced as a complimentary amuse bouche offering when guests are seated.  The idea is to create interest and not force something new upon the guests.  If the reaction favorable, make a sale and serve it up or make a note of it and make plans to offer the item on a special menu while the "iron is hot!"   
    
     By German tradition and by European authenticity laws, when schnitzel is not made with veal, the name of the meat has to be part of the entrée title.  Pork Schnitzel is the most popular alternative offering.  Chicken Schnitzel and Wild Game Schnitzel both take a distant third or fourth place in popularity.  
     Schnitzel can be made any size, but the meat should be pounded thin.  By definition, schnitzel is made with small cutlets, but there are restaurants in Germany that serve gigantic Wienerschnitzel that is the size of an extra large 32" pizza!  
     Schnitzel can be breaded with egg wash, but buttermilk is best.  Schnitzel is best when it is pan fried in duck fat or pork lard, but vegetable oil is acceptable too.  Some recent studies show that hydrogenated oils pose a higher health threat than animal fat when frying food.  Besides, duck fat and lard definitely impart a superior flavor and color.

     Brazilian Pink Peppercorns have a smokey light black pepper flavor.  More pink peppercorn can be added to a sauce than black pepper, because the pepper flavor is lighter.  If the hollow pink peppercorns are simmered in the sauce, they can be left whole and they will become semi soft, but they will still have some crunch when chewed.  When bitten into, the pleasant aromatic pink peppercorn flavor is released.  Crushing pink peppercorns does release more flavor in a sauce, but the eye appeal is not as nice.

     Mustard is a traditional German sauce ingredient.  Care must be taken not to add too much mustard to a sauce, or the mustard will be the only flavor that can be tasted.  Balance is the key.
     Mushrooms are nice for adding richness to a sauce.  Mushrooms also mellow the flavor of mustard.  Mushrooms help to balance the flavor of today's German style sauce for chicken schnitzel.
     Today's recipe is fairly easy to make and it can be served any season of the year.  Chicken Schnitzel with a tasty sauce appeals to guests that eat no red meats.

     Brazilian Peppercorn Mustard Crème Fraîche:
     This recipe yields 1 generous accompanying portion.  (about 3/4 cup) 
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced sweet onion or shallot.
     Add 1/3 cup of petite button cave mushroom wedges.
     Add 1 peeled fluted mushroom cap.
     Sauté till the mushrooms are tender.
     Step 2:  Remove the fluted mushroom cap and set it aside.
     Step 3:  Add just enough flour to absorb the excess butter in the pan, while stirring.  (about 1 teaspoon)
     Stir till the roux is combined.
     Step 4:  Add 3 ounces of dry Riesling Wine.
     Add 1 teaspoon of smooth deli style German Mustard.
     Add 1 cup of light chicken broth.
     Add 1/3 cup of milk.
     Add 2 tablespoons of cream.
     Add 2 tablespoons of sour cream.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of whole pink peppercorns.
     Add sea salt to taste.
     Step 5:  Bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
     Stir as the sauce heats and thickens to a very thin consistency.
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Return the reserved fluted mushroom to the sauce.
     Simmer and reduce till the sauce is a thin sauce consistency that can glaze a spoon.
     Step 7:  Keep the sauce warm over very low heat or reheat the sauce to order.  (Add milk or chicken broth if the sauce becomes too thick.)

     Hähnchenschnitzel:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée portion.  
     There is almost always some breading mixture leftover when breading meats.  The sifted used breading mixture can be refrigerated in a container for 7 days or it can be frozen.  
     Buttermilk or egg wash can be used to bread the chicken.
     Step 1:  Place 2 large eggs in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 tablespoon of milk.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Whisk the ingredients, till they are blended.
     Set the egg wash aside.
     Step 2:  Butterfly cut a 6 ounce chicken breast filet.
     Pound the meat thin and even with a meat mallet.
     Season with sea salt.
     Step 3:  Dredge the cutlet in flour.
     Dip the cutlet in the egg wash.
     Dredge the cutlet in plain fine French bread crumbs.
     Step 4:  Heat a sauté pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat.
     Add enough lard or duck fat (or vegetable oil), so the melted lard is about 1/4" deep.  
     Adjust the temperature of the lard or oil to 350ºF.
     Step 5:  Pan fry the breaded chicken cutlet.
     Allow the cutlet to turn a golden color before flipping.  (The chicken should be flipped twice while pan frying, in order to prevent excessive browning.)    
     Pan fry till the chicken schnitzel is a golden brown color on both sides.
     Step 6:  Place the schnitzel on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to drain off any excess grease.
     
     Hähnchenschnitzel with Mushrooms en Brazilian Peppercorn Mustard Crème Fraîche:
     Place the chicken schnitzel on a plate. 
     Spoon a generous amount of the sauce over the chicken schnitzel.
     Place the fluted mushroom garnish on the schnitzel.
     Sprinkle a couple pinches of minced curly leaf parsley on the sauce.
     Serve with vegetables and a potato of your choice.
     The vegetable in the pictures was buttered blanched broccoli. 

     This is a nice tasting café style chicken schnitzel entrée!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Farfalle Valentino with Salmon and Artichoke




     A Romantic Pasta!
     Valentino Sauce traditionally accompanies Farfalle Pasta sauce.  I am not sure about the origins of Valentino sauce.  More than likely Valentino Sauce is a New York Italian creation, although several Italian chefs that came directly from Italy to restaurants where I was working already knew the recipe.  
     The better question concerns why this sauce is called Valentino.  The answer is obvious!  This sauce is designed to appeal to the ladies! 
  
     Valentino Sauce is always made to order and it is never supposed to be made ahead of time.  Valentino Sauce is made with tomato puree, vodka, cream or besciamella.  Valentino sauce is always delicately seasoned.  Only enough tomato is added for the start of a Valentino sauce to turn the sauce a light pink color.
     The trick to making Valentino sauce is to flambé the small amount of tomato puree in the pan to enhance the tomato flavor.  The light caramelization of the tomato sauce increases flavor.  French chefs refer to this technique as "pincer," which means "to pinch more flavor."  
     After the small amount of tomato puree is flambéed, the cream or thin besciamella sauce is added and the sauce is reduced to the proper consistency.  The goal is to create a rich velvety tomato cream that is pink in color and gentle on the palate.  The vodka imparts very little flavor at all.  

     Vodka Sauce is a similar sauce.  Vodka Sauce is usually made only with vodka and béchamel sauce or cream.  Some chefs add tomato puree to Vodka Sauce.  Vodka Sauce has a more pronounced vodka flavor because the amount of vodka added is a higher proportion than what is added to Valentino sauce.  As a result, not all of the alcohol is denatured.  
     Even so, I have seen many Italian chefs make Valentino sauce the same way that the tomato version of Vodka Sauce is made.  It is just a matter of preference or a different interpretation.  
     "Did women in the early 1900's need vodka to be swooned by Valentino or were the women sober?"  This question lends to interpretation, because some say that Valentino was the world's greatest lover, while others might say something tongue in cheek, like "She must have been drunk to fall for that guy!"  
       
       One thing that is certain is the word Valentino refers to the world's greatest lover, Rudolph Valentino.  Because of the association with this early 1900's sex symbol, Farfalle Valentino is usually served on Valentine's Day at romantic Italian restaurants.  Thats amore!
 
     Farfalle Valentino with Salmon and Artichoke:
     This recipe yields 1 pasta entrée.
     Adding salmon and artichokes increases the appeal!
     Farfalle take about 10 minutes to cook al dente.  The sauce can be made in the same amount of time as it takes to cook the dried pasta!  At the finest Italian restaurants that I worked in, we cooked every pasta to order (a la minute). 
     Step 1:  Start cooking 1 portion of farfalle pasta in a pot of boiling water over high heat.
     Gently stir the pasta occasionally, so it does no stick.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of pomace olive oil.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced shallot.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Sauté till the shallot turn clear in color.
     Step 3:  Add 1/4 cup of imported Italian canned tomato puree.  (Italian tomatoes are the best!)
     Add sea salt and 1 small pinch of black pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of minced basil leaf.
     Gently sauté for a few seconds, till the tomato sauce becomes aromatic.
     Step 4:  Add 1/3 cup of vodka.
     Flambé!
     Allow the burning alcohol to lightly singe the small amount of tomato puree in the pan.
     Step 4:  Add 1 cup of cream.  (Or add 1 cup of thin Besciamella sauce.)  
     Simmer and reduce the sauce till is a very thin soupy consistency.
     Step 5:  Add 3 ounces of salmon filet that is cut into thin slices.
     Add 4 blanched fresh artichoke hearts (or canned artichoke hearts) that are cut in half.
     *Do not stir the sauce after adding the salmon or the salmon pieces will break apart!
     Simmer and reduce till the sauce is a medium thin consistency.
     Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.  (Add a splash of milk if the sauce gets too thick.)
     Step 6:  *By now, the farfalle pasta should be cooked al dente.
     Drain the water off of the farfalle pasta.
     Add the pasta to the sauce.
     Gently toss the sauce and pasta together.
     Step 7:  Mound the Farfalle Valentino with Salmon and Artichoke on plate.
     Sprinkle a few pinches of finely grated Parmigiana Cheese over the pasta.
     Garnish with a basil sprig.

     Irresistibly delicious!  

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Bluepoint Oysters with Lemon Fish Sauce







     Shucked Fresh Bluepoint Oysters On The Half Shell!
     Eastern Oysters are a species that flourishes in the Gulf of Mexico and the American Atlantic Seaboard.  There are several varieties of Eastern Oysters and they do vary in shape.  Blue Points and Virginia Oysters are some of the best oysters to eat on the half shell.  Apalachicola Oysters and Long Island Oysters are also among the best.
    Just like with ocean fish, it is a good idea to check sustainability ratings, before purchasing oysters.  Some types of Eastern Oyster stock are recovering from over-harvesting.  The good thing about Bluepoint Oysters is they are abundant and the price is reasonable.
     Do not choose oysters from regions that have pollution problems or recent oil contamination problems!  By recent, that means within the last 20 years!  That is a fair warning for those who prefer Gulf of Mexico oysters!
     My first kitchen job was in a very busy Southwest Florida seafood restaurant.  Back in those days, fresh was the best selling point, so the owners never had seafood delivered to the restaurant.  The owners selected seafood fresh off the fishing boats when they came in from the Gulf of Mexico.  When oysters were needed, the owners drove over 400 miles north from Naples to Apalachicola to select top quality oysters.  Fresh is best!        

     Choosing A Good Safe Oyster Knife
     One of the first things that I learned in that old seafood restaurant was how to shuck oysters perfectly with ease.  A good Oyster Knife makes all the difference in the world!
     A cheap flimsy department store oyster shucking knife is a lousy tool to choose.  Low quality oyster knives lead to plenty of frustration.  When more pressure is applied to a lousy oyster knife blade design, the blade will flex or chip the shell, without prying the shell open.
     The best oysters shucking knives can be found at restaurant supply stores.  Dexter Russell makes both the best oyster shucking knife and the best clam knife on the market.  The surgical grade stainless steel blade is high quality and I have never seen a Dexter Russell Oyster Knife blade break, even at the busiest Florida seafood restaurants. 
     The Dexter Russell oyster knife has a white colored handle that is easy to see.  The handle has a non-slip texture and the end of the handle is wide, so pressure can be applied from the palm of the hand.
     The best part about these shucking knives is the safety feature!  Dexter Russell oyster knife handles are buoyant and the white handle can be seen floating in an oyster washing tub.
     Oyster shucking is done on a sink area that has fresh cold water flowing.  Oyster knives that do not float, inevitably end up in sinks that are filled with muddy oyster water.  Two hands are used to swoop mounds of oysters out of washing water, so an oyster knife that sinks to the bottom has a very good chance of stabbing straight through an oyster shucker's palm!
     A knife wound in muddy oyster water almost always means that the victim will be contaminated with some odd strain of bacteria or Hepatitis.  An employee that comes down with seafood related Hepatitis (Hepatitis A or Hepatitis B) by law must be restricted from the workplace, till they are cured.  A short handed crew in a busy seafood restaurant is never a good thing.

     Protect The Hands
     If bare hands are used to shuck several bushels of oysters, by the end of the day the hands will look like they have been through WWIII.  It is best to grasp oysters with a wet terry cloth towel or wear thick rubber gloves.
     Protective thick rubber gloves work to an extent, but sooner or later a few oysters require extra shucking pressure.  Shuckers that wear gloves sometimes get overconfident and they do not press a stubborn oyster against a wooden block, when applying extra pressure with a shucking knife.  The extra force applied is enough to drive an oyster knife through a protective glove.
     Old time oyster shuckers use a folded wet towel in one hand to grip oyster shells.  Since a wet towel offers no protection from an oyster knife, all stubborn oysters have to be held against a wood block while prying them open.
    When prying tough oysters open, always visualize the direction of where the point of the blade will go if the oyster knife slips.  Keep the fingers out of the way and angle the blade so it does not pierce the web of the hand if the blade slips.  The point of an oyster knife is thin and dull, but it can piece through skin if extra pressure is applied.
     Oyster knives can chip and leave a sharp point.  After hours of shucking, the oyster shells can actually sharpen the point of an oyster knife.  An oyster knife with a razor sharp point is dangerous.  A chipped or sharp oyster knife tip has to be ground back to its original shape with a dull point for safety's sake.    

     Shucking
     Shucking skills do come with experience.  I have personally shucked a few tons of oysters during my career.  In the pictures above are six good looking undamaged shucked Bluepoint Oysters.  That is the object of the game!
     •  By law, seafood markets, caterers and restaurants must save shellfish ID tags for 6 months.  This way if a shellfish food borne illness outbreak occurs, the origin can be traced.
     • Choose fresh, unopened, good smelling oysters.  If the shell smells bad then the oyster is not far behind.  Bad raw oysters can cause illness, so use good judgement. 
     • Always shuck oysters to order.  Shucking oysters ahead of time causes drying and possible bacterial contamination.
     • Oysters can be opened over a container to catch the oyster liquor.  Oyster liquor is required for some recipes.
     • The goal is to serve an undamaged clean oyster on one undamaged shell half.  Serving mutilated oyster meat on broken shells is not a good thing.  Perfectly shucked oysters please oyster loving customers to no end!
     • Experience is the only way to develop the skill of reading where to place the shucking blade on the shell, before prying.  An experienced shucker knows where to start prying when shells are soft and easily broken.  A good shucker also knows where to pry when an oyster seals its own shell tighter than a drum.  Practice is the only way to develop these skills.
     • I usually pry the heel point of the shell first.  The heel point offers the best leverage.  The object is to pry the upper shell from the lower shell just enough, to slide the shucking knife against the inside of the top shell to sever the attaching mussel.  The top shell is then easily freed.
     • Rinsing opened oysters under cold water ensures that no sand or bits of shell will be served.  The oyster is rinsed under cold running water before severing the muscle that attaches the oyster to the bottom shell.  This way the oyster meat is not washed out of the shell down the drain of the sink.    
     • It is also important to look for pearls, because a pearl can break a customer's tooth.  Usually a pearl can easily be seen or felt.  The pearls are nearly worthless, but they are fun to collect.
     • After rinsing, the oyster knife is used to sever the muscle that attaches the meat to the bottom shell half.  Slide the oyster knife under the meat against the shell to sever the attached muscle.
     • Ugly shells and damaged shells make for ugly presentations.  Always serve the oyster on the better looking shell half.
   
     Learning how to shuck oysters is easy if you learn from somebody that is adept at performing the task.  After some experience you will become what they call, "A Bad To The Bone Mother Shucker!"      
   
     Lemon Fish Sauce:
     This recipe yields enough for 12 shucked oysters.
     Bottled Ponzu Sauce has been a popular oyster dipping sauce in recent years.  Ponzu is a thin sauce made with fermented dried tuna, soy sauce, Mirin and citrus fruit.  
     Bottled Vietnamese Fish Sauce is made with sun dried anchovies, so the umami flavor is a bit deeper than Ponzu.  Fish Sauce can be found in Asian food markets and some grocery stores.
     Step 1:  Place 2 tablespoons of Vietnamese Fish Sauce in a small bowl.
     Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1 tablespoon of water.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of palm sugar or granulated sugar.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Step 2:  Set the mixture aside for 20 minutes, so the flavors meld
     Step 3:  Place the Lemon Fish Sauce in a small ramekin.
     Garnish with a few long thin strands of lemon zest.
     Set the ramekin aside till the oysters are shucked.

     Bluepoint Oysters with Lemon Fish Sauce:
     This recipe describes presenting a half dozen Bluepoint Oysters.
     Step 1:  Place a bed of dandelion greens on a plate.
     Place the ramekin of Lemon Fish Sauce on the center of the plate.
     Set the plate aside.
     Step 2:  Shuck 6 Bluepoint Oysters.  (Follow the guidelines above on this page, if you have never shucked oysters before.)
     Step 3:  Arrange each oyster on the plate.
     Tuck a thin lemon wedge under the edge of each oyster, so the oyster shell does not wobble on the plate.

     Viola!  Raw oysters!