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Skillet Greens with Crispy Shallots and Cider Gastrique

Skillet Greens with Crispy Shallots and Cider Gastrique

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  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 2 cups plus 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 2 cups thinly sliced shallots
  • 2 tablespoons bacon drippings
  • 2 pounds greens (such as collards, chard, and kale), stems removed, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips

Recipe Preparation

  • Dissolve sugar in 1 tablespoon water in small saucepan over medium heat. Increase heat; boil without stirring until amber, brushing pan sides with wet pastry brush, about 5 minutes. Add vinegar and crushed pepper (mixture will bubble vigorously). Stir until caramel bits dissolve. Cool.

  • Pour 2 cups oil into heavy medium saucepan. Attach deep-fry thermometer to side of pan and heat oil to 350°F. Working in batches, fry shallots until golden brown, stirring occasionally, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per batch. Using slotted spoon, transfer shallots to paper towels. Sprinkle with coarse salt.

  • Heat drippings with 1 tablespoon peanut oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add half of greens and sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper; toss until wilted. Add remaining greens; toss to wilt, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until greens are tender, adding water by 1/4 cupfuls if dry, about 45 minutes. Season with coarse salt and pepper.

  • Rewarm gastrique. Transfer greens to large shallow bowl. Drizzle some gastrique over and sprinkle shallots over. Serve, passing remaining gastrique.

  • This recipe calls for a few tablespoons of bacon drippings (fat). If you don't save drippings, fry up a few slices of bacon until you have what you need.

Reviews Section

Chef Recipes

Looking for a new delicious recipe to try out? Choose from our various selections of recipes created by Flavors chefs from across the country!

Archer's Catering: Steak Chimichurri Crostini

Steak Chimichurri Crostini
1 1/2 pounds flank steak
1 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
fresh ground pepper
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
Garlic salt
Loaf of Artisan or Italian Bread
Grated Parmesan

Chimichurri Sauce:
3 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
3 tbsp chopped cilantro
2 tbsp red onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp dry white wine
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp fresh black pepper
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp lime juice

Combine spices and rub on both sides of steak. Grill
each side on high heat for 4 minutes.Let sit 5 minutes.
Slice steak thinly and let cool.

Slice bread and lightly brush Olive Oil and sprinkle
garlic salt on both sides. Bake at 375 degrees until
golden brown and crispy.

Combine all Chimichurri Sauce ingredients in
food processor or use hand mixer until a thick
smooth luscious green sauce is achieved.

Place Steak slices on toast rounds and top
with Chimichurri Sauce and Parmesan Cheese.

Balfour at Riverfront Park: Vanilla Creme Brulee

Preheat oven to 325 degrees (conventional) 300 degrees (convectional)

combine egg yolk and sugar in stainless steel bowl

Combine cream and vanilla bean seeds in a sauce pot, bring to simmer

(place entire vanilla bean bod in cream as well)

When cream and bean mixture comes to a rolling simmer, strain thoroughly, temper a small amount into the sugar/yolk mixture, then combine remaining cream (whisking rapidly)

Pour mixture into desired vessel (4oz) place in a 160-180 degree water bath

(Custard has set when it very slightly ripples in the center)

Barleymash: Shrimp Agua Chili

Created by Chef Kevin Templeton from Barleymash San Diego
Provided by the American Liver Foundation’s Pacific Coast Division

Fresh shrimp (peeled and deveined)
Spanish red onions (peeled and sliced thin)
Avocado (sliced thin)

1 Cucumber (peeled and cut)
1 Bunch Cilantro
3 Serrano Chilis
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Coriander
1 tbsp Oregano
1 tbsp White pepper
2 oz Agave syrup
1 tsp Kosher salt

Smoked Paprika Oil

1 tsp Smoked Paprika
2 cups Olive oil blend
2 cinnamon sticks

Blanch shrimp in a mixture of water, salt and lemon juice. Blanch for 20 seconds. (shrimp should still be raw on the inside). Shock the shrimp in ice water. Once shrimp is chilled, drain and slice in half (long ways). Set aside.

Blend all ingredients together in a high performance blender. Make sure everything is liquefied. Run the mixture through a fine china cap strainer. Save the pulp and set aside.

Soak shrimp in the strained liquid for 30 minutes.

Smoked Paprika Oil

Bring all three ingredients to a simmer for 3 minutes. Turn off heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Strain through a coffee filter and refrigerate.

Toss everything together and serve.

Blackbird's Kitchen: Blistered Brussels

6oz Fried Brussels
1oz Pecorino
salt to taste

2C Champagne vinegar
2C Orange juice
5ea Blood oranges juiced
2T shallots
1T garlic
2T Dijon
3.5C Olive oil
TT salt and pepper

Chart House: Rack of Olive Crusted Lamb

  • ½ cup of Black Olive
  • ½ cup of Green Olive
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • ½ teaspoon Pepper
  • ½ teaspoon Lemon Zest
  • Chop olives 1/8”
  • Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl
  • Place on Baking Pan
  • Bake @ 350 for 4 minutes or until dry
  • Coat Lamb Rack with Oil
  • Coat Lamb with Olive Crust
  • Bake @ 325until desired temperature
  • Serve with Pommery Mustard & Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

Cirque Kitchen + Spirits: Italian Pasta Recipe

– 1 ½ cups flour
– 1 whole egg
– 6 egg yolks
– 2 tbs olive oil
– 1 cup flour (for rolling)

Put a pot of water on the stove, and heavily salt it. Keep it on low heat, not a boil, you want it to simmer

Place the 1 ½ cup of flour in a mixing bowl, and create a well in the center. Place the oil, egg yolks, and whole egg in the center of the well.

Mix the center of the well with a fork or using your fingers slowly incorporate the flour in the center of the well.

Once everything is mixed together begin kneading the dough, adding a little flour as needed to get it nice and smooth. (Think as smooth as a babies bottom)

Once the dough ball is formed, let rest for 30min. Then begin rolling the dough out as thin as you like using a wine bottle or a rolling pin. Then cut desired shape and size.

Place in water and then take out as soon as it floats and the pasta is cooked.

Comal Heritage Food Incubator: Estofado Verde du Puerco

– 1 onion peeled, roughly chopped

– Optional: 2 serrano chilies (if you like spicy)

Roast the poblanos, tomatoes, and onion in the oven on a high temperature (400F) or in a cast iron skillet on the stove until everything is charred (for optimal flavor).

Peel the chilies and tomatoes of their outer skins

Place the onion, tomato, chilies, garlic in a blender and blend until smooth, set aside.

In a flat bottomed pot or rondeau, simmer the diced pork, salt, pepper, and bay leaf in a little sunflower oil, until all moisture has evaporated and the meat starts to fry and caramelize.

Pour blended onion, tomato, and chili mixture in with the pork and stir to incorporate.

Let simmer until pork is tender, and readjust seasoning.

Serve with tortillas, rice, and beans!

Country Club of Castle Pines: Cilantro Avocado Vinaigrette

Cilantro Avocado Vinaigrette

In a small blender combine the Avocado, Cilantro, Diced Red Onion, Chopped Mint, Lime Juice, Garlic, and Agave Nectar. Blend all the ingredients until they are well incorporated. Add the diced jalapeno and continue blending the mixture until all the ingredients are well incorporated. Slowly add the oil. Once all the components are combined taste and season with salt and pepper. This vinaigrette goes great with tacos or on a watermelon salad.

Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse: Cream Corn

– 2 cups heavy cream or milk

In a skillet over medium heat, combine the corn, cream, salt and pepper.

Stir until the corn is cooked through and the consistency becomes thick.

Remove from heat, stir in parmesan cheese

Downtown Aquarium: Colorado Striped Bass Parmesan

– 1/2 cup flour
– 1 egg, beaten with 1 tbs milk
– 6 to 8 ounces fresh shredded Parmesan
– 1 cup panko bread crumbs
– 2 Striped Bass filets
– 3 tbs oil
– 2 tbs butter
– 2 tbs lemon juice
– 6 lemon segments
– 2 tsp capers
– 1 tsp chopped chives
– 1 tsp chopped parsley

Place flour, egg, and parmesan mixed with the bread crumbs in three separate dishes.

Dip filets in flour first, shaking off excess, then into egg and finally in the cheese, taking care to coat the fish evenly and completely.

Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Place fish in pan and allow to brown about two to three minutes. Turn fish, taking care not to disturb the crispy browned cheese. After turning, the fish will take only three minutes. Remove to serving plates.

Wipe oil from the pan and return to the stove, heat pan. Add remaining ingredients and cook over medium heat until the butter is slightly browned.

Eclat Culinary: Vegetable Stuffed Mushrooms

– 20 Large Button or Cremini Mushrooms
– 1 Package Boursin Cheese
– 1 Large Onion
– 1 Medium Carrot
– 2 Stalks Celery
– 2 Cloves Garlic
– 1 Tablespoon Butter
– 1 Tablespoon Fresh Chopped Herbs (Parsley, Chives, Thyme, Chervil, etc.)
– Panko Breadcrumbs
– Salt and Pepper To Taste

Remove stems from mushrooms and, using a melon baller, remove ribs and some of the inside of the cap to create a nice clean cup. Reserve all mushroom scraps.

Preheat oven to 325. Line a baking sheet with waxed or parchment paper and spray very lightly with nonstick spray.

Wash carrot, celery, and onion. Peel or trim, and cut into very small dice, keeping all items separate. Mince garlic. Chop mushroom scraps so everything is roughly the same size.

Melt butter in sauté pan over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until translucent. Add diced celery and carrot and sauté until cooked through (should be tender, not falling apart). Turn off heat and add minced garlic, sauté until fragrant.

Remove pan from heat and mix in herbs and Boursin cheese. Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary.

Let mixture cool slightly, then stuff into mushroom caps.

Sprinkle panko breadcrumbs on top of stuffed mushrooms, then bake at 325 until mushrooms are cooked through, filling is bubbly, and breadcrumbs are golden brown.

Elemental Table: Beef Cheek Mole

– 1.5 pounds beef cheeks (silver skin removed)

– 1 each: guillero chili, pasilla chili, ancho chili

Make the mole: combine onion, garlic, tomato and chilies and oil on a sheet tray and place into 475 degree oven for about 15 minutes, or until charred. Place into small saucepot with remaining ingredients except for the beef cheeks. Season with salt and cook on low heat for about 20 minutes.

While this is happening, season the beef cheeks with salt and pepper and sear in a medium sauté pan until browned on each side.

Remove cinnamon stick from the pot, and puree all of the mole ingredients in a blender until super smooth. Return to the pot and adjust salt if needed. Add beef cheeks and cover the pot with a lid and place into 275 degree oven for at least 2 hours. Check the doneness of the beef cheeks with a fork (should be falling apart).

Alternatively, this recipe can be done sous vide by adding beef cheeks to a vacuum bag with about one cup of mole sauce.

Knife & Board: Salmon Cakes

– Chopped Green Onions 1 Cup

– Worcestershire sauce 2 tsp

Season and cook the salmon until internal temp of 145f

Remove from oven and chill

In a mixing bowl, add mayo, lemon juice, Worcestershire and liquid eggs. Mix together.

Add remaining ingredients and mix together

Flake the salmon into the mixture and mix well.

Using a round mold form the 2oz patties, brown on griddle.

Hak's BBQ: Honey Cider Glazed Broccolini with Toasted Hazelnuts, Chia and Feta

Provided by the American Liver Foundation’s Greater Los Angeles Division
Created by Chef Sharone Hakman, owner of Hak’s BBQ


8 oz. package broccolini
handful of raw hazelnuts
1 teaspoon chia seeds
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1½ tablespoons of honey
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons hot water
salt and pepper to taste

Hazelnuts to toast:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place hazelnuts on baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Out of the oven, slightly pound hazelnuts with back of a spoon until they form coarse pieces.

Making the glaze:

Combine in small bowl vinegar, honey, olive oil, water, salt and pepper.

Grilling the broccolini:

Pour ¾ of glaze on broccolini and reserve rest for finishing. Toss well with broccolini. Preheat grill to high and grill broccolini on each side about 90 second to 2 minutes.

Place broccolini back in bowl and toss in chia seeds. Plate broccolini and top with crumbled feta. Garnish with toasted hazelnuts and drizzle remainder of glaze. Enjoy!

Le Pierre Caterers: Poached Quail With Peach-Cranberry Chutney and Black Truffle Risotto

Provided by the American Liver Foundation’s Mid-Atlantic Division
Created by Chef Lucmann Pierre of Le Pierre Caterers, Burlington Township, NJ



12 whole farm-raised quail (fresh)
2 cups julienned yellow onions
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 cup white wine
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp Goya Adobo seasoning
6 cups chicken stock
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
36 quail eggs (for garnish)
2 bunches of Enoki mushrooms (for garnish)
bunch of micro greens (for garnish)

Rinse the quail in cold water. Pat dry and tie the leg above the belly with butcher’s twine.

Rub the quail with some vegetable oil and season on all sides with black pepper, Goya seasoning, onion powder and garlic powder.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining vegetable oil on medium-high, add the quails to the pan and sear for about 2 minutes on each side. Add 1 Tbsp butter, then add the white wine to deglaze the pan.

Allow the alcohol to cook off for about 1 minute and then add the onions, minced garlic and fresh thyme and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Add the remaining spices and the chicken stock, then stir in the tomato paste and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer covered for about 30 minutes or until very tender. Remove the quail from the skillet and transfer to another pan.

Add a dab of butter on top of each quail. Ladle half of the prepared Peach-Cranberry Sauce over the quails, cover with aluminum foil and place them in the oven at 350º for 20 minutes.

Recipe Summary

  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ tablespoons dried thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon crushed dried rosemary
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 potatoes, cubed
  • 2 pints fresh or frozen blueberries
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup apple juice
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
  • 3 slices pancetta or bacon, cut into thin strips
  • 6 shallots, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 pounds bok choy, sliced
  • 4 (8 ounce) boneless duck breast halves
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). In a small bowl mix together the salt, ground black pepper, thyme, and rosemary set aside. This will be your spice blend for seasoning the roasted potatoes and the duck breasts.

Place cubed potatoes into a 9x13 inch baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of your spice blend over the top of the potatoes. Toss the potatoes in the pan until they are evenly coated with oil and seasonings. Spread into a single layer across the bottom of the baking dish and bake for 35 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven.

While the potatoes are roasting, stir together the blueberries, water, apple juice, sugar, and jalapeno in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to low, and simmer until the mixture has reduced to the consistency of syrup, about 10 minutes.

Cook the pancetta in a large skillet over medium heat until crispy. Remove the pancetta to drain on a paper towel, leaving the drippings in the skillet. Add the shallots and the mushrooms to the hot skillet stir and cook them until soft and just beginning to brown. Remove the shallots and mushrooms and set aside. Increase heat to medium-high and place the bok choy in the hot skillet. Stir and cook the bok choy until the leaves are wilted and the white stalk pieces are tender, about 5 minutes. Return the shallots, mushrooms, and pancetta to the skillet, turn off the heat and set aside.

Rinse the duck breast halves and pat dry. Rub the remaining spice blend onto both sides of the duck breasts. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat, when the pan is hot put in the vegetable oil and butter. Immediately place the duck breasts in the pan, skin and fat side down. Do not move the duck breasts until the skin is deep brown, about 5 minutes. Turn the breasts and cook until the internal temperature of the thickest part is 160 degrees F (71 degrees C) for well done. Remove the duck from the pan and place on a plate, covered with foil to rest for 5 minutes. While the duck is resting, place the skillet with the bok choy mixture onto a burner over medium heat to warm through.

Slice each duck breast diagonally into 1/2 inch strips. Divide the bok choy mixture among four plates and drizzle each serving with 1/2 tablespoon of aged balsamic vinegar. Arrange the sliced duck breasts on top of the bok choy mixture ladle on blueberry sauce. Serve with oven-roasted potatoes on the side.

Combine the ingredients in a blender except avocado oil. Blend together while slowly drizzling in avocado oil. This dressing can be a little broken. Shake in a container with lid or whisk before serving.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees f. Peel your squash with a vegetable peeler. Once peeled cut in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Proceed to cut the squash into medium size cubes.

Toss the butternut squash with olive oil, fresh thyme, salt and black pepper. Arrange coated squash on a baking sheet evenly. Roast in the preheated oven until squash is tender and lightly browned, 25 to 30 minutes

  • 3 large eggs, room temp
  • 3/4 cup whole milk, room temp
  • 3/4 cup ap flour
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 t almond extract
  • 1 t ground pumpkin pie spice
  • 6 t salted butter, divided


  • 1 large granny smith apple, peeled, cored and cubed
  • 1 large gala apple, peeled, cored and cubed
  • 1 large pear (of your choosing)
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup apple juice
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries (or whatever dried fruit or raisin you like)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 2 cups chilled heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 t vanilla

Aglio e Olio–Lightened Up!

If you haven’t seen the movie Chef, drop what you’re doing and catch it on Netflix STAT. It is definitely in my top 10 all time favorites films, Jon Favreau’s passion project which he wrote, directed, and starred in. Chef is a redemption tale of a man trying to reclaim his voice in the kitchen, and finds his way back to his family in the process.

It’s a road movie filled with plenty of funny and charming moments, but (as I’m sure you can guess) the food is just to die for. Jon Favreau manages to capture the heart behind food, whether it’s whipping up gourmet grilled cheese for a child you love, the creative process that happens in the kitchen, the sensuality of feeding your partner on a sexy date night, or going back to an old recipe from the happiest time in your life. One of the food-porniest moments of the film happens when Jon Favreau makes a skillet full of Aglio e Olio (pasta with olive oil and garlic) for Scarlett Johansson, and holy hell so they make it look delicious. (Trust me, this movie clip is everything).

Celeb chef (and you know, The Godfather of modern day food trucks) Roy Choi wrote all the recipes for this movie, and let’s just say the one for his Aglio e Olio is…indulgent. Like, an entire cup of olive oil kind of generous. Considering it’s a Tuesday night, that kind of richness just isn’t going to fly. My trick is to stretch the olive oil by incorporating the starchy water that the pasta boiled in–it thickens up into a light sauce that evenly coats every noodle. Have it ready on your kitchen table in 20 minutes flat.

  • About 1/2 a package of pasta (any kind will do but there’s something extra satisfying about slurping angel hair or linguini. Today, I used orrichiette!)
  • 2 tablespoons of good olive oil
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, sliced as thin as you can. Like razor-blade-Goodfellas thin.
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon (be sure to zest it first, duh!!
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 fists full of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 4 cups of greens, rough chopped (optional, but a great way to sneak some good nutrition and fiber into this indulgent dish. I used pea tendrils because that’s what I picked up at the farmer’s market, but spinach, arugula, or Swiss chard is good)
  • 1/2 cup of Parmesan or pecorino
  • A handful of breadcrumbs (optional, but adds a nice textural element. Don’t use the gross bread crumbs that come from the aisle in a grocery store either–toast up a couple slices of French bread or some rolls, or bust out some crostinis and crunch them up with your fingers)
  1. Cook your pasta in salted water according to the instructions on the package, by subtract a minute from the shortest suggested cooking time. You want this pasta al dente…mushy noodles are gross. Plus, it’s going to cook again in a skillet later, and you don’t want them to overcook.
  2. While waiting on your pasta to cook, slice up your garlic, chop your parsley and greens, and zest your lemon.
  3. Before draining your pasta, pour 1/2-3/4s of a cup of the starchy pasta water into a heat-proof measuring cup or a bowl. Dump the pasta into a colander.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a skillet on medium heat, and add the garlic slices and red pepper flakes. Let cook until aromatic but not scorched, about 3 minutes. Keep an eye on it!! As soon as you see the edges of the garlic start to brown, add the pasta water. Let the sauce boil and thicken for about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the pasta, greens, parsley, and a dash of salt in the skillet, and toss until the greens have softened. Add the lemon juice and cheese, and toss again, tasting to see if it needs more salt or red pepper.
  6. Serve garnished with bread crumbs. Delish!!

Remix The Dish: this pasta is pretty much a blank canvas, so toss it with anything you have in your fridge. Leftover chicken, steak, or shrimp, roasted veggies, or leftover diced crudité would all taste great.

VeganMoFo: Flavor Bible Week – Mushrooms

My second ingredient for Flavor Bible Week is mushrooms, specifically shiitakes, from page 228. The flavor matches that jumped out at me were bacon, celery root, lemongrass, onion and soy sauce. Another flavor match listed was soup, so that is what I made.

If you’ve never cooked with celery root (aka celeriac), give it a try! Once you get past the nubby exterior it’s easy to work with. Celery root lives up to its name it tastes like celery but feels like a root vegetable.

Celeriac & Caramelized Onion Soup with Lemon grass and Shiitake Bacon

The lemon grass and onion highlight the creamy celeriac soup, while the shiitake bacon is the real star. This recipe gives you enough mushrooms to have a piece with almost every bite. The shiitake bacon method is borrowed from the Bauman College cookbook.

1 Tbs olive oil
large sweet onion, halved and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
2 lbs celeriac, peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes
4 cups vegetable broth or water
stalk lemon grass, smashed and cut into 6-inch pieces
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
dash salt, or more to taste
dash ground white pepper
1/4 lb shiitake mushrooms, sliced very thinly
1 Tbs coconut oil, melted
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1 Tbs tamari

1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, stir to coat, and turn the heat down to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes, until caramelized and slightly browned. Watch to make sure the onions don’t burn or get too dry.
3. Turn up the heat to medium high. Add the garlic and poultry seasoning and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, until fragrant.
4. Add the celeriac, vegetable broth or water and lemon grass. Cover, turn the heat up and bring to a boil.
5. Turn the heat down to medium and simmer 20 minutes, covered, until celeriac is easily pierced by a fork.
6. Meanwhile, combine the shiitakes, coconut oil, smoked paprika and tamari. Spread out on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 20-30 minutes, flipping the mushrooms once after 15 minutes. If smaller pieces start to burn, remove them to a plate as needed.
7. Remove the lemon grass pieces from the pot. Transfer the soup to a blender, in batches if necessary. Add the almond milk, salt and white pepper and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
8. Divide the soup among four bowls and top with the mushrooms. Serve hot.

Amount Per Serving
Calories 288.88
Calories From Fat (26%) 75.72
% Daily Value
Total Fat 8.7g 13%
Saturated Fat 3.72g 19%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 526.39mg 22%
Potassium 1281.21mg 37%
Total Carbohydrates 50.92g 17%
Fiber 8.48g 34%
Sugar 8.52g
Protein 7.64g 15%


Every year we celebrate my girlfriend Liane’s birthday with her. Her birthday is in July so we are lucky enough to have a fun event at the lake. It’s always a beautiful evening of food and wine, celebrating a beautiful soul. Earlier this year, Liane took a holiday to Nova Scotia and enjoyed seafood and beer in a pretty fabulous sounding restaurant on a pier called The Half Shell. This adventure provided the nudge toward a birthday dinner theme for this year: Oysters!

I was slow to come to raw oysters. Throughout my childhood, my dad kept cans of smoked oysters in the cupboard. I was always repulsed by the look of them and slightly put off by the texture of them but I could not resist their salty oiliness. I would eat them on crackers with a little crumble of blue cheese. And then when I was 12, I had an oyster po’boy at a roadside shack along the Gulf of Mexico, somewhere between New Orleans and on route to Florida. I can still remember the big white roll slathered in mayo, crispy cold shreds of iceberg lettuce and the crunch of the breadcrumb coating on the oysters, followed by the surprise of the warm creaminess of the hot oysters. It was incredible. I’ve never had another po’boy that meets up to that experience.

So, canned oysters and hot, breaded oysters were okay by me but raw oysters? Um, nope. Then about 10 years ago, Alex and I visited an oyster restaurant in Toronto called Starfish and I felt the time had come to really take the plunge, quit nibbling around the edges. The incredibly knowledgeable owner/head shucker hooked us up with oysters from all over the place: ….. There were delicate little oyster, meaty, creamy oysters, and mammoth I-think-not-Alex-can-have-those oysters. They were served with lemons and horseradish, and hot sauce, and champagne mignonettes. The owner walked us through pairing up and taught us the history and harvesting practices of most of them. He shucked them quickly and deftly with shuckers he designed and had made for himself. It was a beautiful evening and I left a raw oyster convert.

A couple of years later, we took a fun weekend to New York and one of the great highlights was a place called Maison Premiere in Brooklyn. It was ah-mazing. The whole place was done up to look like a New Orleans bar from the turn of the last century, with big, slow moving fans, rickety little tables and peeling wallpaper. Our trays of oysters came on tin plates with shaved ice and we drank cocktails and slurped the oysters all back while listening to live brass band. That was a pretty incredible experience and I truly believe experiences enhance and filter our food experiences.

Possibly my favourite oyster experience came a few years ago in Nova Scotia. Alex and I, along with Adam Connelly from Segovia, attended the Chefs’ Congress run by Chef Michael Statdlander (a dream of mine is to bring this conference to Winnipeg but that is blog for another day…) We were set up in a field next to the Bay of Fundy and during the day, we attended workshops held under open-sided white tents. At the mid-morning break, instead of the usual stale muffins and coffee, Chef Michael Smith set up a giant old wooden cutting board piled with buckets of oysters on ice and shuckers standing upright, having been stabbed into the board. We walked up, grabbed an oyster, shucked it yourself and slurped it back. Followed by a shot of PEI vodka for anyone interested. It was the best conference I’ve ever attended and those were the freshest oysters I’ve ever tasted, having been plucked from the waters the day before. It was a magical experience.

When Liane said she wanted oysters for her birthday, we were happy to make that happen. Alex sourced 2 kinds of oysters, malpeques and village bays. He then set about making mignonettes to highlight certain qualities in the oysters (I’ll let him talk about that and share some of the recipes). On the night of the party, we had chilled bottles of bubbly which goes great with oysters. Prosecco, Cava and, of course, Champagne all pair beautifully and cover a wide range of price points. Prosecco (Italy) and Cava (Spain) are both at the lower end of the spectrum, with many lovely bottles available for under $20. As for Champagne, the range is vast. My favourite is Veuve Cliquot and it is about $80-100 a bottle at the MLCC right now.

One of the really cool things that happened at Liane’s birthday party was the spontaneous shucking class Alex led. There were a few people at the event who had never shucked and so he taught them. It’s a great skill to have and once you get going, not too hard to pull off. Our eldest daughter learned how to shuck when she was 15 and got pretty fast at it, turning out plates of dozens of oysters at our old restaurant. There is this sweet spot, and when find it with the shucker, it gives to most satisfying pop and then the whole oyster opens up. You have to scrape under the oyster and do a quick once-over for shell bits, then pop it on the ice tray and grab another one. I highly recommend a shucking party, it’s a good time for everyone.

About Oysters

There is a huge variety of oyster types, but the all come from one of 5 edible oyster species. They usually get their names from where they are from, Malpeque, Raspberry Point, Chesapeake Bay etc…. Sometimes they are given cute names that describe their appearance. Lucky limes are called that because of the green colour of their shells. The wide range of flavours come from the characteristics of the water where they were harvested. In general, the colder the water the cleaner the flavour and the smaller the meat. Oysters harvested in warmer waters tend to have a more pronounced “fishy” taste and tend to be larger. I had some Chesapeake Bay oysters in Baltimore that were as large as my fist. Its fun to try a variety of types and enjoy the nuanced tastes.

Oysters once harvested have long shelf life. If you ever have chance to look at old cookbooks from the prairies, you will see lots of recipes that contain oysters. This is because they were one of the few types of seafood that could be shipped this far inland before the advent of refrigerated transportation. When buying oysters, make sure they are fully closed and feel heavy for their size. They should smell like the sea, not like a dead fish lying on the beach.

To shuck an oyster you need an oyster knife. This is a short blunt knife. Although you can buy fancy ones like the Henckell’s or even Paddy’s own design, I am partial to the simple wood handled ones available for about 7 bucks at Gimli Fish Market. You can even do like a lot of the old maritimers do and use a stubby slot screwdriver. You will also need a tea towel, folded 3 times, this is used to hold the oyster and protect your fingers.

To shuck and oyster

f the oysters feel dirty or gritty, rinse under cold water, use a brush if needed. Take a look at the oyster. There will be a flat side and a rounded side. You will also notice that the shell comes to a point. Place the oyster on the counter or cutting board with the flat side up and the point facing you oyster knife hand. Using the towel, hold the oyster in place. Do not press down too hard. With your other hand, hold the oyster knife, keep your fingers on the inside of the little guard to protect your fingers from the jagged shells. Gently work the tip of the oyster knife between the shells were it comes to a point. Don’t try to force it, just wiggle it gently. You will feel when you have the knife in properly, it feels like a little pop. Once the blade is in place, turn it, like you are turning a key to open a door. Do not pry it open, just twist the blade. When the shells come apart, run the blade along the top shell, keeping the blade flat against the shell. This will cut the muscle away from the shell. Then run the end of the blade along the inside of the bottom shell to release the meat from the shell. Try not to tear the meat and try to keep as much liquid in the shell as possible. The “liquor” keeps the oyster juicy and tasty. Check the oyster to make sure there are no little fragments of shell on the meat. If the oyster meat is dry or if it smells overly fishy, discard the oyster.

To eat the oyster, just tip the shell into your mouth and slurp it back. For novice oyster eaters, just swallow the oyster whole like you are doing a tequila shot. Once you have learnt to love the taste of oysters, give the meat a little chew before swallowing it to get more of a flavour experience. I like oysters completely unadorned, but they are also good with a squeeze of lemon or lime, a couple drops of hot sauce or some freshly grated horseradish. Traditionally, oysters are served with a mignonette, which really just mean something small. The most traditional mignonette is just finely diced shallots with red wine vinegar. I like to play around with other versions. Here are a few to try:


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