Comfort food

When you are looking for comfort food, soup is a great choice.  This oyster stew is one of our favorites.  Samantha likes the broth but doesn’t want any of the oysters.  I put in some extra half and half so I have extra broth for her and we enjoy the extra oysters!

Oyster Stew

  • 3 slices bacon, diced
  • 4 TB butter
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup celery, minced
  • 1 1/2 TB flour
  • 1 1/2 TB Old Bay
  • 1 qt half and half
  • 1 pt oysters  (with the oyster liquor) – I actually had more than a pint because of my leftovers which isn’t a bad thing
  • dash Worcestershire sauce

Cook bacon in a heavy pan (love my Le Creuset!).  Remove bacon to a paper towel when done and reserve.  Add butter to the bacon fat and melt.  Add onion and celery and saute until soft.  Add flour and Old Bay and stir well to combine.  Cook for about 1 minute.  Add half and half and whisk until smooth.  Add oyster liquor and Worcestershire.  (We stopped at this point and let the mixture sit for about an hour until we were almost ready to serve.) Simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add oysters right before you are ready to serve and heat through – 2 – 3 minutes.  Serve with reserved bacon.

First dinner of 2015

More comfort food

This oyster stew is one of my favorites.  Even though Samantha isn’t an oyster fan, she likes the broth.  That works out well for us as we get extra oysters!

Oyster Stew

  • 3 slices bacon, diced
  • 4 TB butter
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup celery, minced
  • 1 1/2 TB flour
  • 1 1/2 TB Old Bay
  • 1 qt half and half
  • 1 pt oysters  (with the oyster liquor) – I actually had more than a pint because of my leftovers which isn’t a bad thing
  • dash Worcestershire sauce

Cook bacon in a heavy pan (love my Le Creuset!).  Remove bacon to a paper towel when done and reserve.  Add butter to the bacon fat and melt.  Add onion and celery and sauce until soft.  Add flour and Old Bay and stir well to combine.  Cook for about 1 minute.  Add half and half and whisk until smooth.  Add oyster liquor and Worcestershire.  (We stopped at this point and let the mixture sit for about an hour until we were almost ready to serve.) Simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add oysters right before you are ready to serve and heat through – 2 – 3 minutes.  Serve with reserved bacon.

Birthday dinner

Today is my husband’s birthday so I asked him to select the dinner.  He opted for oyster stew.  That worked out well as I got home from work late so I made the soup last night.  (Leftovers from a previous batch proved that it might even be better the next day.)

Oyster Stew

  • 3 slices bacon, diced
  • 4 TB butter
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup celery, minced
  • 1 1/2 TB flour
  • 1 1/2 TB Old Bay
  • 1 qt half and half
  • 1 pt oysters  (with the oyster liquor) – I actually had more than a pint because of my leftovers which isn’t a bad thing
  • dash Worcestershire sauce

Cook bacon in a heavy pan (love my Le Creuset!).  Remove bacon to a paper towel when done and reserve.  Add butter to the bacon fat and melt.  Add onion and celery and sauce until soft.  Add flour and Old Bay and stir well to combine.  Cook for about 1 minute.  Add half and half and whisk until smooth.  Add oyster liquor and Worcestershire.  (We stopped at this point and let the mixture sit for about an hour until we were almost ready to serve.) Simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add oysters right before you are ready to serve and heat through – 2 – 3 minutes.  Serve with reserved bacon.

oyster stew

Oyster Stew

I have had many different variations of oyster stew.  (We went to an oyster stew cook-off in St. Michael’s a few times and tried some really interesting ones.  I liked almost everyone.)  I found this recipe last year and I think it is my favorite.  We’re having it for dinner tonight with a salad.  (Picture is from last year.)

Oyster Stew

  • 3 slices bacon, diced
  • 4 TB butter
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup celery, minced
  • 1 1/2 TB flour
  • 1 1/2 TB Old Bay
  • 1 qt half and half
  • 1 pt oysters  (with the oyster liquor) – I actually had more than a pint because of my leftovers which isn’t a bad thing
  • dash Worcestershire sauce

Cook bacon in a heavy pan (love my Le Creuset!).  Remove bacon to a paper towel when done and reserve.  Add butter to the bacon fat and melt.  Add onion and celery and sauce until soft.  Add flour and Old Bay and stir well to combine.  Cook for about 1 minute.  Add half and half and whisk until smooth.  Add oyster liquor and Worcestershire.  (We stopped at this point and let the mixture sit for about an hour until we were almost ready to serve.) Simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add oysters right before you are ready to serve and heat through – 2 – 3 minutes.  Serve with reserved bacon.

First dinner of 2015

The last and the first(s)

We ended 2014 with a great dinner and started 2015 with a wonderful breakfast (and another great dinner).  I wanted to share as all 3 are new.

I always like New Year’s Eve dinner to be special.  Some years we have done complicated tapas feasts, last year I did a Thai menu.  This year I didn’t get carried away and as it turned out with some last minute craziness, I was glad that I had kept things pretty simple.  Here is what I fixed:

Rockfish with oyster sauce

  • olive oil
  • 6 oz rockfish per person (I ended up using two for 3 of us)
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 3 oysters per person
  • chives

Heat about 1 TB of olive oil in a small saucepan.  Add shallot and cook until soft – 2 – 3 minutes.  Add wine and bring to a boil.  Simmer until wine is almost gone and then reduce heat.  Add half and half and cook over low heat.

Using a nonstick pan, heat 1 – 2 TB olive oil over medium high heat.  Season fish with salt and pepper and then add to pan, skin side up.  Cook 3 – 4 minutes a side with pan covered.  (Rockfish is dense and unlike tuna, you don’t want it rare.  I find that covering the pan with a lid helps to get it cooked through).   While fish is cooking, add oysters to the cream sauce.  Spoon sauce and oysters over fish and then garnish with chives.

I served it with garlic spinach.

New Year's Eve dinner

New Year’s Eve dinner

I thought it would be fun to fix something special for New Year’s Day breakfast.  I had seen an episode of the Barefoot Contessa where she made oven baked pancakes with fruit.  Here is what I did:

Oven baked pancakes

  • 1 package raspberries,
  • 2/3 cup strawberries, sliced
  • 1 TB sugar
  • 2 TB melted butter and 4 tsps for the dishes
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • grated zest from 1 lemon
  • confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 425.  Toss berries and sugar in a small bowl and let them sit.  Put 1 tsp butter each into 4 gratin dishes (I used the ones I use for potpies – they are about 6 – 7 inches across.)  Put dishes onto sheet pans.

Whisk eggs in a medium size bowl until mixed.  Whisk in milk.  Then whisk in flour, vanilla, lemon zest and melted butter.

Put sheet pans with gratin dishes into the oven for 3 minutes.  Remove and brush butter around in pans so that bottom and sides are well covered.  Pour batter into dishes and bake for 12 – 14 minutes (switch the pans between the oven racks halfway through).  Remove from oven and place each pancake on a plate.  Fill with fruit and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.  Aren’t they pretty?  Keith said he felt like he was at a bed and breakfast.

First meal of 2015!

First meal of 2015!

I had extra oysters left from the rockfish dish so I decided to make oyster stew for New Year’s dinner.  I got a cookbook for my birthday which has a recipe for oyster stew from The Milton Inn.  We decided to try it with minor modifications:

Oyster Stew

  • 3 slices bacon, diced
  • 4 TB butter
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup celery, minced
  • 1 1/2 TB flour
  • 1 1/2 TB Old Bay
  • 1 qt half and half
  • 1 pt oysters  (with the oyster liquor) – I actually had more than a pint because of my leftovers which isn’t a bad thing
  • dash Worcestershire sauce

Cook bacon in a heavy pan (love my Le Creuset!).  Remove bacon to a paper towel when done and reserve.  Add butter to the bacon fat and melt.  Add onion and celery and sauce until soft.  Add flour and Old Bay and stir well to combine.  Cook for about 1 minute.  Add half and half and whisk until smooth.  Add oyster liquor and Worcestershire.  (We stopped at this point and let the mixture sit for about an hour until we were almost ready to serve.) Simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add oysters right before you are ready to serve and heat through – 2 – 3 minutes.  Serve with reserved bacon.  I have to tell you, I love oyster stew and I have had many different variations and we have made it before but WOW!  I think this may be the best oyster stew I’ve ever had.  I can’t wait to make it again.

First dinner of 2015

First dinner of 2015

Oyster stew

One of the things that I find useful about blog is that I can go back and read recipes and find what I said did or did not work.  I wanted to make oyster stew tonight and remembered that we had made it last winter.  When I looked up the recipe on blog, my comments told me what to tweak.  I was very happy with the result!  Last year I had pureed the base and decided it wasn’t worth the effort.  I wanted the oysters good and hot and the soup needed a bit more flavor.  Here is what I did tonight.

Oyster Stew

  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3 TB butter
  • 3 TB flour
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 tsp Old Bay
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 pint oysters

Saute onion, celery and shallot in butter until soft (about 3 -4 minutes).  Stir in flour and then gradually stir in half and half and milk to make a cream sauce.  Add Old Bay and salt and pepper to taste.  (NOTE: Can be made ahead to this point with oysters added when ready to serve.)

When ready to serve, heat and then add oysters with oyster liquor.  Cook for a few minutes until oysters start to curl.  Serve.

NOTE: I like to strain the oyster liquor off of the oysters and wash the oysters.  I found two large bits of shell tonight.  If you dump the oysters and liquor into the soup without that step, someone could get a big chunk of shell.