An oyster by another name is not the same…
Quote for Today: He who truly knows has no occasion to shout. Leonardo Da Vinci
Culinary Institute of America
Today in food history (May 22, 1946) the world’s premier culinary school, The Culinary Institute of America was founded in Hyde Park, New York. This milestone brought to mind some reflections from my past.
In 1997, I gave up teaching tennis when I was thrust in the role of kitchen manager at a restaurant on the outskirts of Atlanta. Everyone told me I was out of my mind, working twice as hard and making half as much. To this I proclaimed, “Sorry, I’m happy.”
Three months into my role of running a kitchen, everyone from family to former tennis students were telling me to go to culinary school. At the time, in my early adulthood, I was happy with what was unfolding, and terrified of being stuck in debt with a culinary education.
Before I attained the illustrious position of kitchen manager, I waded through three C.I.A. Chefs who tried to turn a profit at our busy restaurant. One of the executive chef’s, Jeff Pax, taught me the side of the business that foodies do not get – profit margin.
Up until Chef Pax, I was just keeping things status quo and focusing on specials. Chef Pax put me in my place. Although he allowed me to continue purchasing, everything had to come through him. Within a week, we had changed everything from purveyors to portions and cut our food costs by twenty-five percent.
Although Chef Pax was not as passionate about food as I am, he was a shrewd businessman and what he taught me still runs through my veins today. One of his favorite recipes was based on products that we had on hand all the time – Oysters Sharon.
1 – Pound fresh spinach
3 – Tablespoons butter
1 – Medium onion – small diced
2 – Tablespoons minced garlic
½ lb – Ground Tasso Ham
1 – Cup dry white wine
2 – Cups heavy cream
2 oz – Pernod or Anisette
1 – Teaspoon nutmeg
1 – Teaspoon brown sugar
Parmesan cheese and parsley to garnish
1) Shuck one dozen oysters and place in baking dish.
2) In a large sauté pan, sweat onions and garlic.
3) Add spinach, heavy cream, Tasso Ham
4) Reduce by half and add Pernod and remaining ingredients
5) Top oysters with spinach mixture, cover with Parmesan cheese and bake at 350 degrees until golden brown. Leftover topping maybe used to turn any sauce or soup into a Florentine. Get creative!
CJ & TJ
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