Archive | appetizers RSS feed for this section

Crispy, Plump, and Juicy Fried Oysters

19 Feb

Is there anything better than a pipping hot fried oyster? It’s sweet and briney juices just burst in your mouth after you bite through it’s crispy and buttery envelope, all contrasted by the lemony, tangy taste of homemade tarter sauce–Mmm mmm mmm!

I love fried oysters so much that I asked Santa to bring me some for Christmas–and lucky me, his elf Jenna (my wonderful sister-in-law) delivered! (this tells you how behind I am on my blog posts!)

Anyway, these oysters were so delicious they really were little, pipping hot Christmas miracles. If you love fried oysters too, here’s how to create your own little fried Christmas miracles:

Ingredients for Homemade Roasted Red Pepper Remoulade:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tspn Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup of olive oil
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 tspn minced garlic
  • 1/2 tspn anchovy paste
  • 1 tbspn Worcester sauce
  • Tabasco sauce
  • 1 7.5 oz can of roasted red peppers
  • salt and pepper

Check the seafood counter at your local grocery store for freshly shucked oysters by the pint. Jenna found these ones at Costco.

Ingredients for fried oysters:

  • 1 can of Wondra flour (or another brand of very fine flour)
  • Cayenne powder
  • Paprika powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 pints of freshly shucked Oysters (Jenna used Willapoint–for some great info on Oyster varieties I recommend checking out the Oysterpedia iPhone app from one of my favorite restaurants, Mermaid Inn)

Directions for Red Pepper Remoulade:

  • Separate the yolks and whites of 2 eggs and, in a large mixing bowl add the 2 yolks to 1 tspn of Dijon mustard.
  • While whisking the yolks and mustard vigorously, slowly drizzle in about  1 cup of olive oil.  After 2-3 minutes of whisking the mixture will emulsify into a mayo.  It will be thick, tight, and pasty.

Tip: to keep your bowl stationary, use a dish towl to create a "nest" for your mixing bowl that will anchor it while you whisk.

  •  Zest 2 lemons and add the zest to the mayo, then cut the lemons in half and add the juice of the lemons to the mayo as well. This will both loosen up the sauce, so it gets to the right dipping consistency, and add a nice tangy flavor.
  • Chop and mince 3-4 garlic cloves until you have about 1 tspn of minced garlic. Stir the minced garlic, and 1/2 tspn of anchovy paste, into the mixture.
  • Add 1 tbspn of Worcester sauce (or to taste) and 6 shots of Tabasco sauce (or to taste) to the mixture.

Shhh--Worcester sauce is Jenna's secret ingredient--it gives the remoulade a deeper savory flavor.

  • Taste the mixture, then add salt and pepper to taste. The consistency at this point will be that of an aioli.
  • Open 1 7.5 oz can of roasted red peppers, chop and mince them. Add them to the sauce.

Tip: IIf the sauce is too thin for your liking after adding the roasted red peppers, you can add some sour cream or mayo to thicken it up.

Ok, that’s the sauce! Now for the oysters…

Directions for making fried oysters:

  • First, pour in 2 quarts of peanut oil into a deep frier (or pot on the stove) and begin to heat. I like using peanut oil for frying because it has a high smoking point (the temperature to which an oil can be heated before it smokes and discolors—indications of decomposition) which means that it won’t absorb or transfer unsavory flavors into your meal.
  • Then, create the breading mixture by pouring enough Wondra flour into a glass baking dish to coat the oysters, about 3-4 cups.
  • Season your flour by adding salt and freshly cracked pepper, as well as a few dashes of cayenne and paprika powder.
  • Take your 2 pints of freshly shucked oysters and drain some of the liquid off (fun fact–oyster “liquid” is caused oyster liquer). Then, place your oysters into the flour mixture, coat, and toss.

toss your oysters in your flour mixture until they are evenly coated

  • Once your oil has reached 350 degrees F, you’re ready to fry! Before you begin, you may want to prepare a plate with paper towel on it to receive the fried oysters.
  • One at a time, shake any extra flour off of your coated oysters (to keep your oil fresh you want to make sure that the oyster is evenly coated, but there is no extra breading). Then, slip them into the hot oil, making sure not to overcrowd the frier (that way the temp of the oil will stay stable and the oysters will cook quickly and evenly).
    Once the oysters are fried, let them rest for a few seconds on a paper towel, to drain off any additional oil. You’ll know they’re done when they crisp up and turn a nice, golden brown. Enjoy!

The Last Supper Part 2: Crab Cakes with Red Pepper Remoulade and Spicy Horseradish Cream

23 Aug

Part 2 of my last supper in Minnesota was even better than Part 1, Angel Hair Nets with Scallops and Lobster Sauce, if that’s even possible. Kevin and Jenna made moist, meaty crab cakes with a sweet red pepper remoulade and spicy horseradish cream. Delicious!

These crab cakes would make a fantastic main course or appetizer whether you’re entertaining guests at an elegant affair or throwing a casual dinner party. And it was certainly a very special farewell dinner. Thanks again, Kevin and Jenna. I miss you!


  • 2 lbs Alaskan King Crab or Jumbo Lump Crab
  • 2 Tablespoons of Dijon Mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons of Worcestershire Sauce
  • 6 dashes of Tabasco Sauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 bunch of chives
  • 2 tomatoes
  • Paprika
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Canola Oil
  • 1 jar of Roasted Red Pepper
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 jar of horseradish
  • 2-3 Lemons
  • ½ cup of sour cream
  • 1/3 cup of chopped pickled jalapenos
  • ¼ c. chopped cornichons
  • 1 bunch of flat leaf parsley
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  1. Chop or break up 2 pounds Alaskan King Crab or Jumbo Lump Crab—be careful to remove all shells. Leave somewhat chunky.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add the following ingredients to the chunks of crab:  2 T. Dijon Mustard, 2 T. Worcestershire Sauce, 6 dashes Tabasco, 2 eggs.
  3. Chop up the bunch of chives and add this to the crab mixture also.
  4. Dice up the 2 tomatoes and separate the outside layer of the tomato from the seeds. Add only the outside layer to the crab mixture. You don’t want to add the seeds because it the extra moisture will make it hard to form a compact cake with the crab.
  5. Add a pinch of Paprika, salt, and pepper.
  6. Combine all the ingredients (hands are best).
  7. Add breadcrumbs only to the point where the cake will form.  We used about ½ cup or so for this amount.  It is needed to bind with the egg and form the cake.
  8. With your hands, form cakes from the crab mixture. Then dredge the cakes in breadcrumbs.
  9. Put some canola oil in a pan over medium heat (just enough to cover the bottom of the pan) and saute the cakes until until golden brown on both sides.

    You can see the golden brown color on the cakes at the bottom, while the cakes at the top aren't completely seared.

  10. When the cakes are finished cooking, place them on some thick paper towels to drain off any excess oil.
  11. Place the crab cakes on a large platter and garnish with lemon slices. Serves 6 people with 2-3 crab cakes each.

    You can also sprinkle some extra chopped parsley on the plate for garnish.

Serve with:

These two sauces are the perfect compliment to the delicate sweetness of the crab cakes.

Red Pepper Remoulade

  1. Puree: 4 pieces of Roasted Red Pepper (from jar), 3/4 cup mayonnaise, 1 tsp. horseradish, lemon juice from 1 lemon
  2. Combine in bowl with 1/8 cup chopped cornichons and 1/8 cup lightly bruised capers.
  3. Chop up a handful of flat leaf parsley and add to the sauce.
  4. Taste the sauce, and if needed, season with salt and pepper.
  5. Chill the sauce until ready to serve.

Spicy Horseradish Cream

  1. Combine: ½ c. sour cream, 3 T. horseradish, 1/3 c. chopped pickled jalapenos and ¼ c. chopped cornichons.
  2. Chop up a handful of flat leaf parsley and add to sauce.
  3. Taste and if needed, season with salt and pepper.
  4. Chill until ready to serve.


The genius chefs, Kevin and Jenna.

Almost gone!

Tuna Ceviche with Fresh Herbs, Candied Ginger and Summer Peaches

3 Aug

Summer is the perfect time for ceviche. It’s a light, nutritious  dish with lots of flavor. And, it’s beyond easy to make.

Ceviche is fish or shellfish that’s been marinated in a citrus-based mixture. Lemons and limes are the most commonly used fruits, but if you look you can find recipes that incorporate oranges or grapefruits. In addition to adding flavor, the citric acid in the fruits causes the proteins in the seafood to become denatured, which pickles or “cooks” the fish completely–without heat. How fun is that.

Start with a fresh piece of good quality fish–this isn’t the time to use something from the freezer since the extra moisture will interfere with the cooking process. For this recipe I used two Ahi tuna steaks.

Tuna Ceviche


  • 2 Ahi Tuna Steaks
  • 3 lemons
  • 4 limes (set one aside for garnish)
  • 2 tablespoons of Sesame Oil
  • 2 tablespoons of Mirin (this is a sweet Japanese cooking wine vinegar made from Sake–you should be able to find it in your neighborhood grocery store)
  • 2 tablespoons of Hot Oil
  • 1/3 cup of peanuts
  • Candied Ginger (also known as crystalized ginger–you should be able to find it in your grocery store, too. Look in the baking aisle.)
  • 2 just-ripe peaches
  • Basil leaves
  • Chives
  • Mint leaves
  • Salt and Pepper


  1. To prepare the marinade, start by placing your two tuna steaks into a baking dish.
  2. Add sesame oil, mirin, and hot oil to the dish–flip the tuna steaks so that the liquid can coat each side.
  3. Slice 3 lemons and 3 limes in half and squeeze them over the tuna (set one lime aside for garnish). You’ll see the steak turn color slightly when it’s hit by the acid in the lemon and lime juice–what you are seeing is the cooking process begin.  Don’t throw the fruits away–the oils in the lemon and limes’ skin will add lots of flavor to the marinade.
  4. Roughly chop up the peanuts and sprinkle over the steaks.

    If you look closely at the steaks, you can see whitish spots where the citric acid has already begun cooking the meat.

  5. Flip the steaks over a couple of times so that each side is doused in the marinade. Then, transfer everything in the baking dish into a large gallon-sized ziplock bag. This should allow the steaks to be submerged in the marinade, so that the meat will undergo the citric acid cooking process.

    Inside the ziplock, the tuna steaks should be partially submerged in the marinade.

  6. Let the tuna marinate until the surface of the meat changes colors completely–this means the cooking process is complete. The time required will vary on the size and thickness of the seafood you’re using. Traditional style ceviche is usually marinated for about 3 hours. But, the longer you leave the meat in the marinade the more it will break down, so you want to take it out before it completely mushifies.  Yes, that is a technical term. For example, small scallops (or if you cut the tuna steak into chunks) will cook faster than one giant steak, since the small pieces have more surface area for the citric acid to penetrate.
  7. While you’re waiting for the tuna to cook, de-skin your peach and cut it into bite sized pieces. You want to use a just-ripe peach that will hold it’s shape after you cut it, not turn to mush. Take out your fresh herbs and do a rough chop for them as well as your candided ginger.
  8. When the cooking process is complete, take your steaks out of the ziplock and roughly cut into bite sized pices. Put the pieces into a mixing dish, add your cut up peaches, chopped herbs and candied ginger, and toss.

    Yum! The herbs add lots of freshness, the peaches add some sweetness, and the candied ginger is the secret ingredient that adds a bit of spiciness.

  9. To present the ceviche, I like to spoon it into little pudding dishes–makes a great side or appetizer.
  10. Slice the remaining lime into wedges. Garnish each dish by placing a lime wedge on the rim.

    This recipe makes 6 appetizer-sized dishes.

    Prepared ceviche-style the tuna will be tender and flavorfull. So yummy! Enjoy!

Oven-Roasted Basil Leaves: The Better Potato Chip

23 Jul

Thank goodness it’s the end of the week.  Time to settle into some sweats and watch the Twins.

Once again I’m behind (as I am with many things!) on using the basil leaves from our frantically growing plants–but, I have no energy tonight to make something elaborate.

Our super-hyper basil plant is a Genovese variety, but you can use any type you like for this recipe. Did you know there are over a dozen varieties?

Luckily, my fairy godmother, The Barefoot Contessa, has a ridiculously quick and easy “recipe” (if you can even call it that) for oven-roasted basil leaves that makes for a heavenly end-of-the-week treat. If you’ve never tried these before, it may sound strange to roast something that’s literally thin as a leaf. But trust me–the basil not only stands up well in the heat, its flavor is intensified even more.  Imagine the most amazing potato chip–deliciously salty and so crispy it has a lightness to it. Now, imagine that potato chip, but with the big flavor of fresh, sweet basil.

Oven-Roasted Basil Leaves (as seen on an episode of Barefoot Contessa)


  • Basil leaves (I find you can fit about a dozen on a baking sheet)
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Wash and dry your basil leaves. Make sure they’re really dry so they crisp instead of wilt in the oven.
  3. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Arrange the basil leaves on the sheet and sprinkle with olive oil and sea salt.  Toss the leaves with your hands to make sure they’re well-covered with oil and salt.
  4. Place the baking sheet in the oven and roast for 5-10 minutes (until leaves turn dark green and become crispy).
  5. Gently blot/drain basil leaves with paper towel. Emphasis on gentle–when they’re nice and crispy they can crumble easily.
  6. Plate and enjoy!

    I like putting an entire leaf into my mouth and eating it in one bite--salty, sweet, and so crispy!

Tomato Mozzarella Basil Salad

7 Jul

You know I love basil. But, I’m having a hard time keeping up with my plant. It’s like it’s on steroids. Seems like every morning it’s sprouted more new leaves.

Today I thought I’d make tomato mozzarella basil salad–often called caprese salad.  It’s a great way to put extra basil to good use. Plus, I’m crazy about the flavor of heirloom tomatoes right now–they’re unbelievable. I like to buy three different colors–they look so pretty with the green of the basil and the creamy white of the mozzarella.

This is a super fast and easy recipe that makes a great summer appetizer or side salad. In terms of any tricks or tips to making caprese salad, here are a couple:

  • Always keep your tomato, even after slicing it, at room temperature–if they’re refrigerated, they lose flavor and become mealy.  My smarty pants brother tells me this is because the tart taste of tomatoes is due to a chemical called Linolenic Acid converting to Z-3-Hexenel, and this reaction is disrupted by cold.
  • Individually salt and pepper each tomato-basil-mozarella unit, and use kosher or sea salt. This will really bring out the flavors of the ingredients.

Tomato Mozzarella Basil Caprese Salad


  • 3 medium-sized heirloom tomatoes, preferably different colors, sliced into thick slices
  • 1/2 cup of fresh basil leaves
  • 1-2 lbs of fresh mozzarella, sliced into thick slices
  • extra virgin olive oil, drizzled lightly over the salad
  • sea salt and pepper


  1. Line up the tomato, basil, and mozzarella slices and season each unit with salt and pepper before adding on the next unit. I like to arrange them into a circle on a platter, alternating the color of the tomato slice used. Isn’t it pretty?
  2. When all your ingredients are lined up, drizzle a bit of olive oil over the salad.
  3. Enjoy!

beautiful! next time I'll try using purple basil to add another color to the platter.