Appetizers were not served in Colonial America as they are today. Chef Walter Staib, author of the ‘City Tavern Cookbook- 200 years of Classic Recipes From America’s First Gourmet Restaurant,’ explains that meals were organized as “first plates” and “second plates.” First plates included appetizers, salads and soups. The ‘first plate’ foods were carried to the table in bowls and platters simultaneously and served family-style. The mouthwatering recipe for Cornmeal Fried Oysters with Pickapeppa Remoulade would make a tasty appetizer during the holiday season. Stay warm with a mug of the brandy-laced Hot Cider. Don’t forget Santa! He might like some with a slice of the moist, delicious Chocolate-Almond Swirl Bread.
Cornmeal Fried Oysters with Pickapeppa Remoulade ~
Fried Oysters (serves 4 to 6)
1-1/2 cups yellow cornmeal, 1/2 cup all purpose flour, 4 eggs – lightly beaten, 24 extra-large Bluepoint oysters – shucked, 4 cups (1-quart) vegetable oil for frying
Pickapeppa Remoulade (2 cups sauce)
Pickapeppa is made from a variety of tropical fruits and spices from all over the world. It is a commercially prepared West Indies condiment, aged in oak barrels one year.
1/4 cup chopped kosher dill pickles, 1/4 cup chopped yellow onions, 1-3/4 cups homemade mayonnaise (or quality store-bought mayonnaise), 1 tablespoon Pickapeppa Sauce, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh dill, 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, 2 lemons – each cut into 4 or 6 wedges, for garnish
1. Prepare Fried Oysters. Place the cornmeal, flour and eggs in separate dishes. Dip each oyster, first into the flour, then the egg, then the cornmeal to evenly coat.
2. Place the coated oysters on a baking sheet and refrigerate until ready to fry.
3. Pour the oil into a deep-fat fryer or 4-quart heavy saucepan. Heat the oil over high heat to 350 degrees F (if you drop a small amount of the cornmeal mixture into the oil and it sizzles, it’s hot enough.) To prevent the coated oysters from sticking together, carefully drop them into the heated oil one at a time.
4. Fry the oysters, a few at a time, for 2 minutes, until golden. Using a slotted spoon, remove the oysters from the oil and place on a baking sheet lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil.
5. Prepare the Pickapeppa Remoulade: In a food processor bowl, puree the pickles and onions.
6. Transfer the puree to a medium mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients. Mix well.
7. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour. Will keep for up to 3 days.
8. To serve, arrange oysters on individual plates and serve with the sauce. 9. Garnish with lemon wedges.
During my visit to the Tavern, I tasted many special brews as prepared by our Founding Fathers. One was the Tavern’s 1774 Beer based on a recipe penned by Thomas Jefferson at Monticello. Another was the City Tavern’s George Washington Ale based on the President’s own personal recipe for beer. Madeira was a top favorite at City Tavern along with Jamaican rum, French brandy and English whiskey. Fresh apple cider was often married to West Indian spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. Hot Cider was a popular beverage in the wintertime, also valued for its ability to warm one’s hands while holding the cup.
Hot Cider ( Makes 18 ounces or 2 servings)
2 cups fresh apple cider, 2 sticks cinnamon, 1/4 cup applejack brandy or Jamaican rum
1. In a medium saucepan, bring cider to a simmer over high heat.
2. Add the cinnamon sticks and simmer about 5 minutes to infuse the flavor on cinnamon into the liquid. Remove from heat.
3. Stir in brandy or rum.
4. Serve hot in cups or mugs.
Chocolate-Almond Swirl Bread~
Thomas Jefferson developed a passion for chocolate. He cultivated a taste for it in Europe where it had become fashionable as early as 1657. As stated in Chocolate: An Illustrated History, Jefferson predicted in the late 1750’s that “the superiority of chocolate, both for health and nourishment, will soon give it the same preference over tea and coffee in America which it has in Spain.” Jefferson was wise beyond his time!
3 ounces semisweet chocolate pieces (1/2 cup), 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter – at room temperature, 1 cup homemade almond paste OR 10-1/2 ounces purchased almond paste,* 6 large eggs, 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 1/2 cup all purpose flour, sifted
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat one 8-1/2 by 4 1/2 by 2-1/2 inch loaf pan with vegetable cooking spray.
2. In a small dry bowl set over barely simmering water, melt the chocolate. Reserve.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and almond paste on medium, until light and fluffy.
4. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until combined.
5. Add the flour and stir just until moistened.
6. Fold about 1/3 of the batter into the melted chocolate.
7. Pour the plain batter into the prepared pan. Spoon the chocolate batter over the top. Gently swirl the batter to marble.
8. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until the loaf is firm on top and pulls away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
9. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. To remove bread, flip pan on its side and gently pull out bread. Slice and serve. Makes one 8-inch loaf *
The recipe calls for homemade almond paste but also recommends using purchased almond paste. To read about the City Tavern and Chef Walter Staib, read the post, Philadelphia Feast: Dining at America’s First Gourmet Restaurant.
Photos (C.) Susan Fuller Slack ]]>
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