Monday, November 14, 2016

The Hawthornes Dine On Oysters.

 The Hawthornes LOVE their oysters.

Just the other night,Mr. Hawthorne made simple broiled oysters -lemon juice, grated Parmesan, and panko. The main flavor is the oyster.  The brininess and oceany goodness of the oyster
is complemented by the lightness of the additions.
Mr. Hawthorne likes to showcase the flavor of the oyster, with nothing to detract or overwhelm the delicate oyster.

 I'm the same way, but sometimes I like a nice sauce with which to nap my oysters and make you think, "Mmmmm... What was that sauce in there with the oysters?  I want some more."
 But, NO!!!  You can't have anymore!

And that's the beauty of a little dab of a Rosie's Bernaise Sauce and some extra little things she threw in.

 This is what my Bernaise sauce looks like on the oysters.  
You don't need a whole lot.
My "recipe" for Bernaise will top 2 dozen oysters.
 Grate a little Gruyère cheese over top, sprinkle on some chopped chives and tarragon and minced onions, and finally some panko.

Under a 450° broiler until panko is light brown.

 Wasn't it fortuitous that my gomphrena was blooming next to my tarragon and chives?

 What is a Bérnaise Sauce?  Basically a Bérnaise sauce is the love child of one of the five "Mother" sauces in the repertoire of French cuisine - the Hollandaise sauce.  OK, the other four sauces are Béchamel, Velouté, Espagnole, and Sauce Tomate.

Now this begs the question, "What is a Mother Sauce?"  And why are there five?  Chef Marie Antoine-Carême, back in the early 1800s in his book L'Art de la Cuisine, organized all the French sauces into four foundational groups - béchamel, velouté, espagnole, and allemande.  Later on, Chef August Escoffier refined Carême's sauce work in his 1903 Le Guide Culinaire, made allemande a child sauce of velouté and added sauce tomate and hollandaise to the list.

From these five sauces, hundreds of sauces are built on the backbones of these basics.

Now, if we're going to talk about Mother Sauces, we must talk about a roux and brown and white sauces.

What is a roux?  Oh goodness.  How many times have I talked about roux?  Here goes again.  Escoffier called the roux, which comes in three colors - white, pale, and brown- the "cohering element in sauces."  Coulda sworn I was the one who said that, but apparently Escoffier beat me to it if you believe everything you read on the Internet.

 A roux is simply a mixture of fat and flour, in equal amounts.  Butter is melted.  Flour is added and the mixture is cooked and stirred until the desired color is achieved..A brown roux is cooked longer and exudes a nutty scent and it's used with a brown stock.

A pale roux is for veloutés or cream sauces.

A white roux is for bêchamel and white sauces.  Escoffier advised to cook only as long as " do away with the disagreeable taste of raw flour."  Again, I thought I said that, but Google says, "NO!"

To briefly go over the basic sauces, 2 brown sauces and 3 white sauces.

 Sauce Espagnole - This is a brown roux with brown stock and tomato paste added at the end.  Its derivatives include demi-glace, a reduction, and bordelaise, with red wine added.

Sauce Tomate -  This is basically a roux-thickened tomato sauce.

Béchamel Sauce - It's a white roux made with milk, a creamy sauce, seasoned with salt and pepper and sometimes nutmeg, used as a thickener in soups, used as a basis for soufflés, used as the creamy binder thingie that isn't cheese in classic lasagnas.

Velouté Sauce -  It's a pale roux made with white stock cooked into a glossy emulsion. It's a velvety sauce, whereas a béchamel is creamy.  And it's a basis for other sauces, ravigote, with shallots, and suprême, which adds cream.

Hollandaise Sauce -  This is a combination of egg yolks and lemon juice whisked vigorously in a double boiler over simmering water.  Cold butter pats are whisked in until you have a shiny, frothy emulsion, then the mixture is seasoned with kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, and cayenne, if you like a bit of heat.  Hollandaise is the sauce on Eggs Benedict, the ultimate egg-on-egg preparation.  By adding tarragon and shallots to your basic Hollandaise, you have a Bérnaise Sauce.

A Bérnaise Sauce.  We're back to where I started.  Oysters with a Bérnaise Sauce.

 Rosie's Bernaise Sauce
1 egg yolk
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
2 TB minced Vidalia onion
1/2 stick cold unsalted Plugra butter cut into small 1/4" dices
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
1 TB each chopped fresh tarragon and chives 
grated Gruyère cheese
panko breadcrumbs

Beginners should probably use a double boiler and whisk the ingredients over simmering water until you have more control and know what you're doing.  I just hover my pan over very low heat, whisking constantly, and watching the yolks for the change in color and wisps of steam.  Ease off the heat then.

In a small sauce pan, vigorously whisk egg yolk, rice vinegar, and lemon juice, hovering the pan over extremely low heat.  When the yolk turns a lighter color and you see a wisp of steam, take away from heat and add in a tablespoon of the Vidalia onion.  Normally, a Bérnaise calls for shallots, but I have Vidalias, so Vidalia it is.  Return to hover position and whisk in a dice of butter until it's absorbed into the yolk.  Add one dice of butter at a time, whisking so that you have a lovely emulsion.  Season with salt and pepper.

Nap each oyster (2 dozen) with some of the Bérnaise, then top with tarragon, chives, a light sprinkling of Gruyère, and the panko.  About 7 minutes under a 450° broiler until lightly browned


You're in for a treat!

Bon appétit!
Even my oyster is smiling.

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