Oyster stuffing, or dressing, originated in New England, some say all the way back to the Colonial period when oysters were extremely plentiful and therefore eaten by rich and poor alike. They made their way to tables in the Midwest during the 1850’s when refrigerated train cars were first used. Since they had to be transported at great expense, they became more of a delicacy and were reserved for special occasions. In the 1900’s NE oysters went out of fashion due to high levels of pollution in the Atlantic.
Living in the Pacific Northwest has the huge perk of being close to some of the best oyster beds in the world, like Netarts and Yaquina Bay. You don’t need to shuck oysters for this dish. Buy a jar of freshly shucked oysters at your local fish market, and be sure to reserve the “liquor” from the jar.
The oysters lend a rich flavor to this stuffing without tasting “fishy”. They also keep this stuffing from drying out. I added a small can of smoked oysters to replicate the smoky flavor of bacon. You can make this with vegetable stock so it’s perfect for the pescatarians (those who don’t eat meat other than seafood) at your Thanksgiving table.
- 24 oz. Italian style bread, cut into one inch cubes and toasted in the oven
- 1 stick of butter, divided
- 1/2 lg. yellow onion, diced
- 1 large leek, white parts only, halved lengthwise, and sliced.
- 3 stalks of celery, diced
- 1/4 c. dry vermouth or dry white wine
- 1/2 t. celery seed
- 1/2 t. dried sage
- 3 oz. can of smoked oysters, chopped
- 10 oz. freshly shucked oysters, cut into thirds, reserve the liquor
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 C. vegetable broth
First prep all of your ingredients, and toast your bread cubes. Set them aside. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 4 T. of the butter. Add the onion, leek, and celery to the pan and sautee until soft and translucent. About 5-6 minutes. Add the vermouth or wine and stir up all the browned bits. Stir and cook until the liquid has evaporated, about two minutes. Scrap the vegetables into a large mixing bowl and allow to cool a bit. Meanwhile, in the same skillet cook the celery seeds, and sage with the chopped, smoked oysters, until they start to turn golden brown. Scrape in with the vegetable mixture. When the veggie mixture has cooled, add the fresh oysters and eggs, and stir gently to combine. Add the bread cubes and toss gently. Add the reserved liquor from the jar – up to about 1/4 C. You don’t want to break down the bread or oysters too much- I find that using my hands is really the best way to do this. Add the broth a little at a time and combine. You want the bread to be somewhere between moist and soggy. You may or may not use all the broth. The mixture should hold together when you scoop some into your hand, but it shouldn’t be dripping wet. Scrape the whole thing into a buttered baking dish about 9 x 11 inches. Cut the remaining 4 T. of butter into chunks and dot the top of the stuffing with it. Cover and chill until ready to bake. This can be assembled the day before. To bake, heat the oven to 350 degrees (while the turkey is resting is the perfect time) and bake, covered with foil for about 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until is has a nice golden brown crust, and is hot throughout- about 10 – 12 minutes longer.
Posted in Holidays and Special Occasions, Seafood
Tagged classic, dressing, fresh, holiday, netarts, old fashioned, oregon, oyster, oysters, pacific, pacific northwest, shucked, stuffing, thanksgiving, washington
Wow. So, so, so delicious. I realize I am tooting my own horn here, but really, this dish is a winner. The sweet potatoes are smooth and light thanks to being passed through a potato ricer, the browned butter gives it a wonderful, rich nuttiness, and the crisped brown sugar on top elevates it to a dessert-like decadence. This is a rich one, so you don’t need a large amount to serve a crowd, just a few spoonfuls per person will do. Serves 8, 1/4 C. servings.
- 4 medium-sized sweet potatoes I used orange, but yellow would work well too. Orange sweet potatoes are often labeled as yams in the supermarket. True yams come from Africa and are rarely sold in stores here (more than you wanted to know about yams).
- 5 T. butter
- 1/2 C. heavy cream
- salt to taste
- 2 T. brown sugar
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Poke holes in the sweet potatoes with a fork and place them on a baking sheet. Roast for 50-60 minutes or until tender. Allow them to cool and then peel and slice them. You can roast them a day or two before you want to serve this dish to save time.
Heat the butter, sliced into pieces, in a saucepan over medium-high heat. When the butter starts to foam, watch it carefully, swirling the pan occasionally to prevent scorching. Wait for the butter to darken to an amber color and pour immediately into a separate bowl to stop the cooking. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel and put it back on the burner over medium heat. Pass the roasted sweet potatoes through a potato ricer or a food mill into the saucepan. Cooking out the moisture is what will keep the potatoes from becoming gummy or gluey. Pass some of the potatoes through the ricer, stir, pass some more through, stir, until all the potatoes are in the saucepan. Stir and cook for a minute or so, until the potatoes start to stick to the bottom of the pan. Pour in the browned butter and the cream. Stir to combine and season with salt to taste. Scrape the mixture into a baking dish. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top. At this point the dish can be covered and chilled until ready to broil and serve, up to 24 hours. When you’re ready to serve, bring the dish to room temperature, place the uncovered dish under the broiler for about 1-2 minutes. Watch it carefully for burning. You want the sugar to melt, caramelize, and crisp up like the top of a creme brulee. Serve right away.
Posted in Holidays and Special Occasions, Vegetarian
Tagged casserole, delicious, dinner, holidays, puree, rich, side dish, sweet potato, sweet potatoes, thanksgiving, Vegetarian, yams
Get your family in on the cooking with these easy make-your-own pizzas. Start with store-bought whole pitas, naan, or flatbreads. I love Greek pita because it’s soft and pillowy and grills up nicely without getting too crunchy. We used Pomi Tomato Sauce, which comes in a carton. I like this sauce because it’s not thick and sweet like American pizza sauce can sometimes be. We also made some of our pizzas with parsley pesto, which made for a bright, vibrant change of pace. This is a great meal for a party, especially if you are serving people with different dietary restrictions. You can easily accommodate the pickiest eaters with a wide variety of choices. Everyone’s happy!
For the Pesto:
- 2 C. fresh parsley, packed
- 1/4 C. olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- salt and pepper
- juice of 1/2 of a lemon
- 1/4 C. chopped walnuts
Put all the ingredients into a blender (I used my smoothie maker) or food processor, and puree until smooth.
Pizza Topping Ideas:
- Pomi Tomato Sauce (or your favorite sauce)
- Sauteed crimini mushrooms
- Sauteed chopped bell pepper, or jarred roasted peppers
- Sauteed red onion
- Grilled zucchini
- Crumbled Soy Sausage or Chorizo
- Fresh Basil Leaves
- Tomato Slices
- Fresh mozzarella cheese
- Daiya Vegan Cheese shreds
- olive oil, salt, and pepper
Heat your grill to medium. Brush both sides of the pitas with olive oil. Set out all the toppings and let everyone make their own. Grill for 6-8 minutes with the lid closed, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
Posted in Italian, Quick Dinners, Vegetarian
Tagged easy, family, flatbread, grilled, kids, make-your-own, naan, party, pesto, pita, pizza, pizza bar, vegan, Vegetarian
I love to have people over for brunch. I am in favor of any event that gives me an excuse to drink champagne during daylight hours. What I don’t love is getting up early to cook, so I like to look for things I can make ahead of time. Wow, I sound really decadent and lazy. I’m really not. Promise.
A strata is a basically a savory bread pudding. It’s eggy, and custardy, and cheesy, and delicious. It’s the perfect make-ahead brunch dish. You can assemble it the night before and bake it while your friends are having their first glass of bubbly. Another nice feature of a strata is that you can customize it to meet the needs of your guests. As long as you cook it first, you can add pretty much any meat (crumbled Italian sausage is awesome in this) or veggie to suit everyone’s taste. Serves 8
- 1 and 1/2 loaves of crusty French or Italian bread, torn into cubes (about ten C.)
- 1 C. fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 t. olive oil, divided
- 4-5 C. broccoli florets
- 2 large leeks, white and light green parts, sliced
- 2 shallots, diced
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 t. red pepper flakes
- 1 t. Herbes d’ Provence, or dried basil or oregano
- 3-4 C. spinach leaves
- 2 C. grated asiago, mozzarella, parmesan mixture, (Swiss would also work well), divided
- 12 eggs
- 1 C. heavy cream
- 2 C. milk
Distribute the bread cubes and parsley evenly in a 13 x 9 inch baking dish, set aside. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the broccoli on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle 1 t. oil over it. Sprinkle the broccoli with salt and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, heat a skillet with the remaining 1 t. of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and shallots, a little salt and pepper, and the red pepper flakes and dry herbs. Stirring occasionally, cook until the leeks are tender and the shallots are starting to caramelize. Add the spinach and stir until wilted. Remove from heat. Whisk the eggs, cream and milk until well blended. Sprinkle half of the cheese over the bread and add the leek mixture and the roasted broccoli. Use your hands or a pair of tongs to gently toss everything together so that it is well distributed. Pour the egg mixture over the whole thing and top with the remaining 1 C. of cheese. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Remove the dish from the fridge about thirty minutes before baking. Bake at 350 uncovered until the egg mixture is set and the cheese is melted and golden, about thirty to forty minutes.
Posted in Holidays and Special Occasions, Vegetarian
Tagged breakfast, brunch, christmas morning, do ahead, easy, eggs, holidays, make ahead, quiche, savory bread pudding, spinach, strata, Vegetarian, veggie