BY TERESA TAYLOR
Last week’s spate of refreshing weather reawakened a deep craving for oysters in me.
I know you can get them year-round from “off,” but I just don’t have much of a taste for them in the summer.
My late mother, a transplant to Tidewater Virginia from Ohio as a new bride in 1940, quickly submersed herself in Southern and coastal cuisine, including oysters.
Because we were Catholic, we ate fish on Fridays, and my dad often would bring home a quart of plump local oysters he bought from a street vendor on his way from work. Mostly we had them fried or “scalloped,” a casserole whose variations include “oyster pie” in the Lowcountry.
And we always looked forward to her oyster dressing in the Thanksgiving turkey, I think more than anything else at the meal.
Sandra Salmon of Summerville recently asked for oyster recipes.
Sandra’s husband is a big fan of oysters, she not so much, but Sandra is a good spirit and willing to seek recipes.
I thought of my mother, who also had to learn the ways of cooking oysters in her day. The difference is, my mother loved oysters with absolute glee.
I honestly thought we would get more response to this request, but those that came in are good ones.
Beth LeFevre Hendrix of James Island writes, “Rebecca Lang’s new cookbook for Southern Living ‘Around the Southern Table’ has an oyster stew recipe (see below) very similar to what I had a couple of times when living near Apalachicola, Fla. She also has a recipe for Creamed Oysters with Spinach. I am also attaching one I have used from ‘Mennonite Community Cookbook’ by Mary Emma Showalter.”
Makes 8 cups
1 pint fresh standard oysters
4 cups milk
2 cups whipping cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
Drain oysters, reserving oyster liquor. Pick out and discard bits of shell.
Place oyster liquor, milk, whipping cream and 1 tablespoon butter in a large, heavy Dutch oven.
Cook over medium heat, stirring often, 7 minutes or until butter melts. Scrape bottom and sides of pan to prevent milk from sticking.
Meanwhile, melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a medium skillet over medium heat.
Add oysters, and cook 2 minutes or until oysters plump up and edges begin to curl. Remove from heat.
Add oysters and any liquid in skillet to milk mixture. Stir in salt and next 2 ingredients.
Bring to a simmer (do not boil) over medium heat. Remove from heat; let stand, covered, 10 minutes. Season with more salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste.
Ladle hot stew into soup bowls. Sprinkle with chives and serve with oyster crackers.
— Adapted from Southern Living “Around the Southern Table” (Oxmoor House, $29.95) by Rebecca Lang.
2 (9-inch) pie crusts
1 pint fresh shucked oysters, drained and liquor reserved
4 medium-size russet potatoes, sliced thin (or 2 cups crushed cracker crumbs)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon minced parsley
11/2 cups whole milk
Grease a 9-inch pie dish and line with one pie crust. Alternate layers of oysters and sliced potatoes (or cracker crumbs). Sprinkle salt, pepper and parsley over the final layer.
Combine milk and reserved oyster liquor; pour over ingredients in pie dish. Place remaining pie crust on top, crimping to seal edges. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.
Pat Lindenmeyer of Summerville says one of her favorite cookbooks is “Pon Top Edisto,” and she shares these recipes from it.
Yields: 4 servings
1 cup buttery cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups oysters, drained
Combine cracker crumbs, butter, salt and Worcestershire.
Place half of mixture in a 1-quart baking dish or 4 oven-proof seafood shells.
Combine cream and oysters and spoon evenly over crumbs; top with remaining crumb mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
Yield 4 servings
1 quart oysters, drained
4-ounce package saltine crackers, crushed and divided
Juice of 1 large lemon
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon chives
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon horseradish
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon seafood seasoning
Red pepper to taste
Paprika for garnish
Lemon zest strips for garnish
Drain and set aside oysters. Cover bottom of 9-inch pie plate with 1/2 of cracker crumbs.
Combine lemon juice and next 7 ingredients; mix well.
Place oysters over crackers; cover with seasoning mixture and remaining cracker crumbs. Garnish with paprika and lemon zest strips.
Bake, immediately, at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned.
You only want the oysters hot.
Anne Hicks of Summerville offers this recipe sent to her by a friend many years ago.
1 quart fresh oysters
1 chopped onion
1 chopped green pepper
1 stick butter
2 (13.5-ounce) cans chopped spinach, drained
16 ounces cream cheese
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
2 (14-ounce) cans artichoke hearts or bottoms, drained and cut up
Additional butter and croutons for topping
Heat oysters in some of their liquor until edges curl; drain well.
Fry the onion and green pepper in the butter until limp. Add the spinach and cream cheese and stir until blended and smooth. Add bread crumbs and mix well. Add salt and pepper to your liking. Fold in cooked oysters.
Arrange quartered or chopped artichoke hearts (or sliced bottoms) in the bottom of a greased 11x13-inch baking dish. Top them with the spinach/oyster mixture. Dot with more butter and sprinkle croutons to your liking.
Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Betty Mills, 80, of St. Stephen is looking for a recipe she remembers from her teenage years: Tic Tac Toes. She says they are kind of like a cookie, and thinks they were made with whole-wheat flour.
If there’s a recipe you’ve lost or a dish you are just wondering about, email food@postandcourier or call Editor Teresa Taylor at 937-4886.