Sure, I love smoked salmon on a salad and gravlox with capers, but I also love smoked mussels and smoked oysters right out of the can. "That's not ultra farmer-market fresh" you might say, but throw that smokey, delicious shellfish onto a farmer market salad and perhaps we can come to some sort of an agreement. I'll take a smoked trout salad with avocado on butter lettuce over a foie gras topped filet Mignon any day of the week.
Perhaps it's the imitation crab sticks in the refrigerator snack drawer that were always there, or the 2 pounds of steamed clams that was often a favorite of my mothers as an ideal main course for dinner. I can see the large bowl of grey, steaming clams, mouths wide in the middle of our family table, my brother and I with our little dishes of melted butter, and my dad- always with his bread and butter to soak up the clams' juices.I remember playing Atari in the living room with my brother and as a snack, we would be given a fork and kippered fish still in the can. Healthy for sure- all those lovely omega-3s, but a bit odd compared to apple slices that most kids ate. Of course we ate tuna fish sandwiches, but my restless Gemini mother knew there were more fish options out there- be it canned, fresh, cracked, fried or smoked, we tried them all. Sometimes we were given half of a steamed Dungeness crab over newspaper, creamy oyster stew with sourdough or shellfish-rich cioppino for our Christmas dinner.
I could blame it on my scant amount of Norwegian ancestry or my cravings for oily-rich vitamin D for my Seattle skin-what ever the reason for my salty seafood cravings, one thing is certain,
I believe there is an incredible under estimation of the beauty of smoked and canned seafood. All of these delicious memories should indeed be followed by a canned or smoked recipe. So here you go:
Picnic of Smoked Oysters and Gooey Brie
Makes 1 picnic plate for 2
1 can of good quality smoked oysters
6 slices ripe pear or crisp apple6 slices of ripe avocado
1 demi fresh baguette artisan bread, sliced
One 3 oz. piece of triple cream French brie (or camembert)
2 c. fresh torn lettuce, (mix baby greens or butter lettuce)high quality extra virgin olive oil
coarse salt and cracked black pepper
** Wine pairing suggestion: a bright Pinot Gris, mineral Rose or a crisp Riesling
Open the can of oysters and place them on a small plate. Place that plate onto a large platter. Arrange the pear, avocado, baguette slices around the plate. Place the wedge of gooey cheese onto the platter with a broad cheese knife. Toss the greens with a little olive oil and salt and pepper and distribute greens onto two serving plates. Encourage your guest to spread the gooey cheese onto a slice of bread and top it with a smoked oyster. Or try a baguette slice with cheese and avocado, or cheese and pear. The idea is to encourage flavor experimentation. The basic olive oil greens add a nice simple salad in contrast to the rich cheese and oysters. Like with any recipe- adding or subtracting different ingredients is all part of the cooking process. Perhaps add some duck rillet or tangerine slices to this simple picnic.
Maybe this article should be titled "how to raise a foodie." I think the big lesson here is to expose your children to a lot of different food as they are growing up if you want an adult who really appreciates good food. There is nothing more enjoyable for a cook than to prepare a meal for someone who really enjoys eating. Cooking for a picky eater is so boring!
How many 3 year olds will eat oysters! You did! But to be fair you were also served those horrid frozen fish sticks!
Candy (the Gemini Mother)
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