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Oysters Rockefeller

Oysters Rockefeller. Photo by Brittany Steiner/Unsplash

By Barbara Beltrami

There are some of you out there who know how I feel about oysters. I’m crazy about them, so much so that one of the items on my bucket list is to learn how to open them.  And so serious am I about this challenge that I’ve ordered the appropriate utensils from Amazon and am now the proud owner of an oyster knife and gloves. 

And there are some of you out there who also know how accident prone I am so what remains now is meeting not so much the challenge of opening the oysters but doing so without impaling myself on the oyster knife! 

My favorite oyster preparation is no preparation … just opening them and slurping them raw from the shell with maybe a squeeze of lemon and/or a raspberry mignonette. In second place are fried oysters, preferably in a traditional po’boy sandwich. And then, let’s not forget Oysters Rockefeller, that elegant appetizer on a bed of spinach, doused with Pernod and baked on a bed of rock salt.

Raspberry Vinegar Mignonette

YIELD: Makes about 1/3 to 1/2 cup


1/4 cup white or red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar

2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots

1/2 tablespoon coarsely ground pepper

Pinch of salt


In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients. Cover and let sit for 20 to 30 minutes for flavors to blend. Serve with freshly opened chilled oysters on the half shell and French bread with unsalted butter.

Fried Oyster Po’ Boy

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


3 eggs

1 quart shucked oysters, drained

2 1/2 – 3 cups cornmeal

1/4 cup flour

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 /2 teaspoon cayenne

Canola or vegetable oil for frying

1 long baguette, cut cross-wise into 4 pieces, then sliced horizontally

1/2 cup mayonnaise or remoulade sauce

1 1/2 cups shredded iceberg or romaine lettuce

2 tomatoes, thinly sliced 

12 dill pickle slices


In a medium bowl, beat eggs, add oysters, stir to coat and let sit 10 minutes. In a gallon size resealable plastic bag, combine cornmeal, flour, salt and pepper and cayenne. With a fork, remove oysters, one at a time, from bag. Let excess egg drip off, then shake and toss, again, one at a time, in cornmeal mixture. 

Pour one inch of oil or more into a deep skillet; heat over medium-high setting till a pinch of flour mixture sizzles; place oysters, with spaces in between, in oil and fry, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes. (You may have to fry them in two batches); drain on paper towels. Spread top halves of bread with mayonnaise or sauce; on bottom halves arrange lettuce, tomatoes and pickles, then oysters; add sandwich top. Serve with fries or potato chips.

Oysters Rockefeller

YIELD: Makes 8 appetizer servings


4 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup unflavored bread crumbs

1 shallot, minced

2 scallions, thinly sliced

2 cups fresh spinach, washed and drained

1/4 cup Pernod

Salt and pepper to taste

Generous dash hot red pepper sauce

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

24 oysters on the half shell

Rock salt

Lemon wedges

Fennel leaves


Preheat oven to 450 F. In a small-medium saucepan melt butter, add garlic and cook over medium heat just long enough to infuse butter, 2 minutes or less. In a small bowl, place bread crumbs and half the garlic butter; toss and set aside. To the remaining garlic butter in the skillet, add shallot, scallions and spinach and cook just until spinach wilts, about 2 to 3 minutes. Deglaze pan with Pernod, add salt and pepper and hot red pepper sauce, then continue cooking over medium heat until liquid evaporates, about 2 to 3 minutes.  

Add oil and parsley to bread crumbs, season again with salt and pepper to taste and toss to combine. Put one teaspoonful of spinach mixture on top of each oyster, then top with a teaspoonful of the bread crumb mixture. Generously sprinkle a large baking pan with rock salt; arrange oysters in the salt crystals to keep them from tilting; bake until golden, about 10 to15 minutes. Remove from oven, top with fennel leaves and serve with lemon wedges and chilled champagne.

By Barbara Beltrami

Nothing says “I love you” more than a home-cooked dinner on Valentine’s Day. Well, of course, there are certain tokens of love that come in tiny boxes, I suppose. Let’s not underestimate them! There are also dinners out in fancy restaurants with champagne, candlelight and bills the size of your mortgage payment, gargantuan heart-shaped boxes of chocolate that blow away your New Year’s diet resolutions, and sexy lingerie that may be anything but after you’ve eviscerated the box of chocolates.

Except for those tiny-boxed things, forget the other stuff. Get out the vacuum, throw all the usual clutter under the bed or in the hall closet, make yourself a shopping list, tie on an apron and whip up your own elegant candlelight dinner.

Chill the champagne and whip up an elegant and delicious dinner that won’t break the bank or your back. Leave time for a nice long bubble bath or shower and squeeze into that dress or suit you bought for that occasion last year and haven’t worn since.

Start with a dozen oysters (you know what they say about oysters!) and some champagne. Move on to citrus-flavored chicken with a nice dry white or red wine, and finish up with a chocolate-raspberry cake. And don’t forget to light the candles.

Oysters Rockefeller

They say these oysters are so named because they’re “as rich as Rockefeller.” Time to update the name maybe?

YIELD: Makes 2 servings


2 tablespoons butter

One garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons bread crumbs

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 rounded tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

One shallot, peeled and minced

½ cup frozen chopped spinach, cooked

1 tablespoon anise liqueur

Salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste

Dash hot pepper sauce

One dozen fresh oysters, opened on the half shell

2 cups kosher salt

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 450 F. Melt one tablespoon butter in small skillet. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and mix with bread crumbs, oil and Parmesan cheese. Melt remaining tablespoon butter in same skillet. Add shallot and spinach and cook, stirring frequently, until shallot becomes translucent, one to two minutes. Remove shallot and spinach.

Add liqueur to pan and stir to scrape up any browned bits. Stir in salt and pepper and hot pepper sauce, stirring constantly over low heat for 30 seconds. Add to bread crumb mixture. (There will probably be only a little bit); mix thoroughly.

Generously spread kosher salt around bottom of small shallow baking pan. Set oysters in salt and surround each one with enough salt to keep it from tilting. Distribute the spinach mixture evenly over oysters, then top with bread crumb mixture. Bake until tops are golden, about 10 minutes, but check often. Serve with lemon wedges and crusty bread.

Citrus Roasted Chicken

I wrote about this chicken almost two decades ago and when I run into people from way back then, they still mention how much they love this recipe. It’s also great re-heated the next day.

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


One 2-3 pound chicken, cut up

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

½ cup sugar 1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour

One egg, beaten

¾ cup orange juice

¾ cup grapefruit juice

¼ cup dry white wine

½ cup toasted sliced almonds

One orange, sliced

Fresh parsley

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 F. Wash chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in a shallow baking pan.

In a small or medium saucepan mix sugar and flower. Add egg, orange juice, grapefruit juice and wine. Stir thoroughly. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is slightly thickened. Pour over chicken. Bake, uncovered for one hour or under tender and done.

Sprinkle with almonds. Garnish with fresh orange slices and parsley. Serve with rice, and a crisp green salad or cooked green vegetable such as broccoli or green beans.

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Strawberries

Chocolate and strawberries are so Valentine-y. If there are any leftovers, you can cut the cake into squares and pass it off to the kids as brownies.

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings


3 squares unsweetened baking chocolate

One stick unsalted butter

2 eggs

¾ cup sugar

¾ cup flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ cup chocolate chips

One pint fresh strawberries, washed, dried, hulled and halved top to bottom

¼ cup currant jelly, melted

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease an 8-inch springform pan. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate squares and butter over low heat. Cool. In mixer bowl, beat the eggs. Add the sugar, then the melted chocolate and butter; continue beating till blended. Stir in the flour and the vanilla extract. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth with spatula.

On outer rim of batter, sprinkle a one-inch-wide circle of the chocolate chips; then make a small circle of them in the middle. Bake 25 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, then remove from pan. Arrange halved strawberries, cut side down, around remaining surface of cake, overlapping if necessary. Brush tops of strawberries with melted currant jelly.

Serve with sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream and a nice cup of espresso.