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Posts Tagged ‘spinach’

Bagna Càuda Grilled Oysters

In Food, Recipes on December 30, 2010 at 9:09 am

Oh my god I love oysters. And that 18th century adage about only eating oysters in months that contain the letter “r”? Welcome to the 21st century where sustainable farming and advanced wet storage for freighting means you can enjoy oysters year round. Yes, there are seasonal crops, so do ask your fishmonger what’s best to grill, what’s best to eat on the half shell in any given month. And while now is the height of the season to enjoy Pacific oysters raw, last night I had grilled oysters on the brain. Something about the pouring rain and hot-off-the-grill garlicky oysters sounded super. Back at home, Mr. Foodinista shucked away.

First, a word about gear. We have a French-style stainless oyster knife with guard by Rösle that is ideal for smaller oysters, like my favorite Kumamotos. That said, with our monster Canadian mollusks, last night we were wishing we had an East Coast-style shucker with a long flat blade (also called a “stabber”) given the deep cup of the shell and flat top. I think I’m going to order a four-inch Dexter-Russell with a high-carbon-steel blade for Mr. Foodinista. Hog Island Oyster Company sells them online for $15.

Dexter-Russell oyster knife via HogIslandOysters.com

While Mr. Foodinista shucked, I opened up a little tin of Trader Joe’s anchovies. I keep a few of these tins on hand at all times. Sometimes, when I’m feeling nostalgic for my starving student days and craving a sodium bomb, they stand in for lunch in a pinch.

Last night, however, a filet or three found their way into a modified bagna càuda (traditional Piedmontese warm dipping sauce of garlic, anchovies, oil, butter). I threw the anchovies, a bunch of Italian parsley and about 8 cloves of garlic into a mini food prep and chopped the hell out of it.

The mixture then eased its way into a hot bath of melted butter and olive oil in a skillet.

Ideally you would have rock salt on hand and would first sprinkle that onto a baking sheet and nestle the oysters on the half shell on top to steady them. We did not have rock salt. Next time. I spooned the bagna càuda over the freshly shucked oysters and Mr. Foodinista disappeared with the tray and grilled them over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, when the sauce just started to bubble.

My husband noticed that the sauce that had spilled over onto the pan steamed up during the grilling, and I like to believe it added a little extra loveliness.

Since there was a fair amount of the bagna càuda left, I tossed some into a wok and added a ton of spinach leaves, along with some more chopped anchovies, red pepper flakes and mint leaves from our garden. You then sauté covered, over medium heat (stirring a few times with a wooden spoon) for three minutes. Pour yourself a glass of Gavi (a Piedmontese white), sit down around the table and make a wee bit of a pig of yourself.

Spinach, Chickpea and Bacon Tapas

In Food, Recipes on February 9, 2009 at 8:37 am

spinach

A couple of years ago, I tagged along on one of my husband’s business trips to Barcelona. Two years later we’re still talking about the food (and hitting the cava). Perhaps our favorite dish was the chick pea, bacon and spinach tapas we ate at Cal Pep. Did I mention there’s BACON involved? It’s so simple, but a perfect use of its ingredients. We love this alongside a roasted chicken on a Sunday night, and though we’ll never be able to duplicate Cal Pep’s, we have fun trying. (For a truly decadent experience sub in pancetta for the bacon.)

3 slices thick-cut bacon, or pancetta

Olive oil

15-ounce can chick peas, drained and rinsed

Pinch red pepper flakes

Pinch pimentón dulce (smoked Spanish paprika)

8 ounces spinach

1-2 garlic cloves, minced

Parboil bacon for about a minute, to get rid of excess fat. Then chop and saute over medium heat in a heavy skillet until bacon begins to brown. Add chick peas, pepper flakes, and a couple tablespoons oil, and saute until chick peas begin to brown, about 4 minutes. If chick peas seem dry, drizzle a little more oil.

chick pea

Add spinach, pimentón, and garlic and sauté until spinach sweats down, 1-2 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.