Spring Feasts, Birthdays and Farewells

avgolemono rice

Monday:          Avgolemono Rice with left-overs

ravioli

Tuesday:          Home-made ravioli with ricotta and spinach in basil-cream sauce

Salmon

Wednesday:    Avocado Toasts / Glazed Salmon with Pinot Noir / Roasted Asparagus and potatoes

Avocado Toast

Avocado Toast from Wednesday

Thursday:        Dunnings Gathering

Birthday girls

Patsy and HIlda, the Welsh (Ford, Slavish) birthday girls

Friday:             Hilda and Patsy birthday party

ribs

Saturday:         Roasted Oysters w/ lemon and parsley butter / Ribs with coleslaw, baked beans,                            and Grilled Tomatoes / Blueberries with Lime Sugar and Crême Frâiche

Nashville chicken

Sunday:           Nashville Style Hot Chicken / Coleslaw / Roquefort with walnuts and raisins

It was a pleasantly busy week with family and friends, a week which put this blog into perspective – cooking is no big thing.  But who we share a meal with and who we gather with and entertain – these are the things that sustain us.  The food plays an important, but secondary role.

Now we did some serious gathering last week revolving around the birthday party for Patsy and Hilda at the Ford house and the visit of Bill Fettes.

Patsy and Stephen have sold their beautiful old house and this may have been the last substantial gathering on the cozy porch.  They are moving back to the Cape and there will be a large gap in the ‘burgh for some time.  [For insiders:  Tadhy’s Bar has already been disassembled.  Sic transit gloria mundi.]  The party was great – the food, particularly the vichyssoise, was spectacular – but the birthday girls and the guests were unbeatable.  All three of the Ford daughters were in town to celebrate as were the Slavish side – David and Kathleen and Peter and Abby.  And they all lent their beauty and wit (and much-needed youth) to the proceedings.  There were also many dogs – or maybe just one.  All of the dogs (dog?) looked alike – I had been doing a deep dive into Stephen’s Scotch and am a little cloudy on the canine question.

Brother-in-law Bill Fettes was also in town this week, in time to attend the party and just in time to assemble (with no help from us) a new grill for our recently extended grilling deck.  Bill is recovering from rotator cuff surgery, but even with just one good arm he put the grill together in one tenth the time it would have taken the other Bill.  For his trouble, we served him, Billy and Emily, and UFR and Annie a dinner of roasted oysters and barbecued ribs.

We have written about roasting oysters before – but we took a different approach this time and we liked it well enough to share with you.  We are raw bar fans and it took us a long time to even consider roasting an oyster – so good are they shucked, glistening and ready to eat with a little horseradish or hot sauce and lemon.  I’m glad we got over ourselves and learned to roast them.  A roasted oyster is an entirely different animal – possibly a different phylum – from a raw one.

The rice dish we had on Monday and the home-made ravioli on Tuesday were both very good.  But home-made ravioli is a physical task that I cannot impose on you until Fettes (who follows and occasionally cooks from the blog) recovers from his surgery.  So, we’ll share the Greek approach to a one-pot rice meal with you.

 Oysters

Royal Roasted Oysters

We sort of mamboed into this recipe over the last few years.  We learned how wonderful and meaty roasted oysters were, several years ago when adding them to a grill of clams and mussels.  Then, during a meal at Drago’s in New Orleans, we learned how they could be enhanced by a flavored butter.

So here’s the deal:

Ingredients:                             (3 large oysters per person for an appetizer, 8 for dinner)

Timing:                                    5 minutes to make the compound butter

2 – 3 minutes to roast the oysters on a hot grill

As long as it takes you to scrub and shuck the oysters
(about 10 minutes in my case – I scrub them earlier and
keep them wrapped in a damp towel in the refrigerator
until it’s time to schuck)

Prep:

Scrub the oysters.

Make a lemon-garlic-parsley butter.  For 24 oysters use 1 stick of room temperature butter, a teaspoon of salt, the juice of ½ lemon, one clove of minced garlic, and a tablespoon of chopped parsley (and a dash of tobacco or a teaspoon of Frank’s Red hot for a bit of heat – or some red pepper flakes).  Mix these together to form a compound butter.

Shuck the oysters

Roast the Oysters:

Put a good ½ spoon of butter on top of each oyster.

Put your shucked oysters on the grill.    (You can get a nifty rack which prevents the oysters from tipping and losing their precious liquor at Amazon.com)

Cook for 2-3 minutes over a very hot fire.

[Note:  If you wish, put some well-soaked hickory chips or blocks on the fire to give a smoky flavor to the oysters.

Serve immediately with some good crusty bread to soak up the oyster liquor and butter.

avgolemono 2

Extra                                                       Avgolemono Rice

(adapted from NYTM, April 16, 2017)

This is a great dish – very like risotto – using peas (we would add asparagus) to give you a light, comforting meatless Monday.

Timing :                                   40 minutes or so

Ingredients:                             Serves 4 for dinner

1 ¼ cups jasmine rice
¾ cup frozen peas
½ cup of asparagus, sliced on the bias into 1 inch pieces, blanched for 2 minutes in boiling water and cool in an ice bath, then drain and reserve
2 cups lamb stock (we used a box of beef broth)
5 large egg yolks
4 scallions, sliced into 1/3 inch rings on the bias
¼ cup lemon juice
Kosher salt for cooking the rice and for seasoning the sauce
Finely ground black pepper

Prep:

Measure out the ingredients, chop the asparagus and scallions and separate the egg yolks.

Cook:

Bring 8 cups of water to a full boil and season lightly with salt.

Rinse the rice under cold water and pour into the boiling water, stirring for a while to keep the grains from clumping.

When the water returns to a boil, lower the heat to a gentle boil and cook until just done – maybe 12 minutes, but keep checking it.  (You’ll be doing some more cooking so don’t cook until soft at this point.)

Drain the rice – give it a couple of shakes to remove more water.  Spread the cooked rice out on a sheet pan lined with parchment to cool quickly.

Rinse the peas under cold water to remove the ice crystals.

Bring the stock to a simmer.

In a stainless steel bowl, whisk the egg yolks and lemon juice together until fully incorporated.

In a slow stream, constantly whisking, add half of the hot stock into the yolks.

Now whisk that mixture back into the remaining stock.

Return the pot to the stove and simmer, still whisking to keep the eggs from cooking too fast and hard, until the sauce is full-bodied and approximately the consistency of buttermilk – about 90 seconds.

Stir in the scallions, then the peas and asparagus and when the peas turn bright green, turn of the heat and stir in the rice.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve in bowls.

Welsh girls

Hilda, Molly and Patsy