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Grilled Oysters with Spicy Tarragon Butter

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There’s a birthday in the house. A very special birthday. Our dog Bob is 2. We rescued him just about a year and a half ago. It was hard. He wasn’t very sure he wanted us and we weren’t sure we could handle all of the neurosis this rescue dog came with. We knew all about these difficulties when we decided to rescue him. He was born in Georgia. He and his siblings were immediately put into a shelter. They had to have been abused. He was adopted and returned (was this the abusive person?). He was then sent to another shelter – one of those horrific kill shelters. At 3 months he was rescued from that awful place, and then rescued from one rescue organization by the fabulous folks at Underhound Railroad. He spent 3 months under the care of Underhand Railroad living with a foster mom a few miles from here.

We talked about a dog. We talked about rescuing a dog. We scoured sites looking for the perfect dog. AND THERE HE WAS.

We met him. He wouldn’t look at us. He wouldn’t come near us. He hid behind his foster Mom (thank you, Jamie).

We glanced at each other across the lawn and knew. He needed a home. He needed love and support. He needed us. We wanted to be those people for him. We decided his name had to be Bob. Twofold – (1) Canned Heat from Woodstock – Woodstock Boogie “I’ve got a dog his name is Bob” and (2) the movie What About Bob – we say this an awful lot.

The first three days he spent under a table – shaking. Then we lost him, in the woods, for 3 days. Wet, scared puppy, rain, halter *poof* gone. When he came back we just weren’t sure anymore. Bob was just NOT happy with us. I talked the Dear One off the ledge. He talked me off the ledge. The folks at Underhound asked us to give it more than a week. So we did. Their support was incredible – phone, emails, texting.

Then Bob fell in love … with me. Not so much the Dear One at first, which was very difficult when WE wanted a dog and the dog didn’t want BOTH of us. Be patient, he will come around. Those words became our mantra.

We were patient. We were frustrated and sad. Our hearts were aching for this poor little dog who had to have been so badly treated that he had no faith in humans, even those who walked him and fed him and gave him treats – or our friends who fed him under the table when they thought we weren’t looking.

Suddenly, once day, without our realizing when or how it happened, OUR dog appeared. The one who jumps up and down when he hears my car. The one who wants only the Dear One to chase him around the yard. The one who knows if I say “time to brush your teeth” to come running to the kitchen. My secret service agent. The Dear One’s play mate. He is more of a puppy now than he was at 6 months old when he first entered our lives.

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Happy birthday, sweet dog. Thank you for letting us put a silly hat on your head. Thank you for trusting us. Thank you Dear One (as always) by indulging me with really wanting this insane dog. Perhaps this insane dog found the perfect insane home with two insane humans and all their insane friends.

So when Bob turned 2 and he was really and truly now OUR dog, he needed a special dinner. Enter the birthday dinner …

birthday-cake

A meatloaf cupcake, wrapped in bacon, mashed potato frosting and carrot candles. Maybe it was gone in 2 bites.

The grownups, however, didn’t want Bob’s birthday dinner surprise so we had Baked Oysters with a Spicy Tarragon Butter. This is a Bobby Flay recipe from Food & Wine.

We have a friend who grows oysters. When he calls and says he has oysters the only answer to be given is – OH.YES.PLEASE. We ate a bunch of them and had a bunch left over, but no shucking knife. Our dear friend said to just bake them in a hot oven and they’ll open right up.

These are so fresh, so sweet, so perfectly briney and grown just off the coast a few miles from our house.

  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons chopped tarragon
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 3 dozen medium to large oysters, such as Gulf Coast or Bluepoint

NOTE: The oysters we used were farmed by a friend the day before. These are, without a doubt, the best oysters I have ever eaten.

Light a grill.

oysters

NOTE: It’s February – in Maine. The grill is away in the shed, shivering, waiting for spring to make an appearance. I turned the oven  up to 500 and baked the oysters for 10 minutes. The top shell lifted right off and we continued from there.

tarragon

In a food processor, pulse the butter with the tarragon, hot sauce, salt and pepper until blended. Transfer the tarragon butter to a sheet of plastic wrap and roll it into a 2-inch-thick log. Refrigerate the butter until slightly firm, about 15 minutes. Slice the butter into 36 pats.

NOTE: I had 2 dozen oysters, but made the same amount of butter. There would have still been a lot left over with 36 oysters. I sliced the butter and froze it. There’s a salmon somewhere just itching for this butter!

baked

Place the oysters on the hot grill, flat-side up. Cover the grill and cook until the oysters open, about 5 minutes.

NOTE: A baking sheet and 500 degree oven for 10 minutes did the same thing.

with-butter

Using tongs, transfer the oysters to a platter, trying to keep the liquor inside. Quickly remove the top shells and loosen the oysters from the bottom shells. Top each oyster with a pat of tarragon butter and return the oysters to the grill. Cover the grill and cook until the butter is mostly melted and the oysters are hot, about 1 minute.

NOTE: Turned on the broiler and put the baking sheet back into the oven.

Serve right away.

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Lovey’s Brownies

 

In March 1990 Food & Wine had a special chocolate issue. On the cover of the issue was a brownie recipe called Lovey’s Brownies. Many of the staffers contributed recipes for this issue. This particular brownie recipe came from the mother of someone from Food & Wine.

March of 1990 was also the month and year my mother became a grandmother. She had visions of making wonderful cookies and brownies and cakes for her precious Lovey. When she saw this recipe, she knew this would be the perfect brownie recipe for her grandson.

Much to my mother’s chagrin, Tommy is not a chocolate fan. But HIS mother is! I love this brownie recipe. It’s simple to put together, makes a generous amount of gooey, rich brownies, and uses only one pot!

Try these brownies. I promise you will fall in love with them too! It is just as simple to make these brownies as it is to reach for a box of brownie mix – and these taste so much better!

  • 2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter
  • 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 C sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1 C walnuts, coarsely chopped (optional)
  • 1 t instant espresso
  • 1/2 t cinnamon

NOTE: I usually leave out the nuts. My husband is not a nut fan – he just likes to drive me nuts which is slightly different.  The espresso and cinnamon are my addition to this recipe. It just adds a certain – hmm, what is that flavor to the brownies. Feel free to leave them out or add more in!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 13″x9″x2″ baking dish.

In a large saucepan, heat the butter over a low flame until it’s half-melted. Add the chocolate and stir until the butter and chocolate are completely melted and combined. 

Remove the butter and chocolate from the heat and stir in the sugar with a wooden spoon until incorporated.

NOTE: I am not sure about the importance of a wooden spoon, but it seemed an important detail so who am I to mess with perfection.

Using the wooden spoon, beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well after each egg until the eggs are fully incorporated and the chocolate mixture is shiny.  Stir in the vanilla extract. Add the flour and salt all at once and mix until blended. Add the espresso powder and cinnamon. If using, stir in the chopped walnuts.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the brownies are slightly firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center indicates that they’re moist (but not dry!). Do not over bake.

Let the brownies cool completely in the pan.

NOTE: I have added chocolate chips into the batter. I have sprinkled the top with fleur de sel before baking. You can tailor this to your own style and tase. But, whatever you do, I dare you to eat just one!