3/15/17

German Baking and Our Civic Breakdown: A Conversation with Luisa Weiss

Plus, a video of Teddy and me making her Rosinenzopf.
After the election, my friend Kara introduced me to the following words by the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu: "If there is to be peace in the world, there must be peace in the nations. If there is to be peace in the nations, there must be peace in the cities. If there is to be peace in the cities, there must be peace between neighbors. If there is to be peace between neighbors, there must be peace in the home. If there is to be peace in the home, there must be peace in the heart."

I’ve been holding tightly to this notion ever since. (I also read some more Lao-tzu.) When reading the news becomes too much, I’ve actually closed my browser and said aloud, “Peace in the home.”

Another idea I’ve been holding tightly is one I came across via an episode of On Being titled, “The Inner Life of Rebellion.” In it, activists Courtney Martin and Parker Palmer talk about the various, not necessarily straightforward ways we can rebel against injustices we see. We all have different gifts and can contribute differently. In another interview, one with the late poet and playwright, David Budbill, this idea was reaffirmed: “Not everybody should be out on the streets protesting. I have a Buddhist friend who lives near Charlottesville, Virginia. He says, ‘What I do for peace and justice is split wood.’ I respect that. To do no harm is a great service to humanity.”

Right now, for me, finding peace in my heart involves a lot of cooking. It has also made me think of homemaking differently. It’s made me think of it, to put it bluntly, as an act of rebellion.

That being said, in the wake of the women’s march, I felt invigorated. Like many people I know, I wanted to do something more. I thought of my gifts. I then thought of food and my mother—of how she and I couldn’t talk politics over Christmas but how we could talk about what we were going to eat for dinner. Lots of people talk about how divided we are as a nation, but I don’t think that’s true. At least, it’s not the whole truth.

In this new series of conversations with my fellow food writers and thinkers, I hope to highlight all of these above ideas, but mostly this idea that the truth isn’t so simple. The truth is filled with nuance.

In this first conversation, conducted over email, I’m talking with Luisa Weiss—a Berlin-born, American-Italian food writer. She is the creator of the blog, The Wednesday Chef as well as the author of My Berlin Kitchen, a food memoir, and Classic German Baking, a cookbook published in late 2016.

In My Berlin Kitchen, Weiss has a chapter titled “Eating for Heartbreak,” which immediately follows the chapter where after intense consideration and some truly meddling pigeons, she decides to break off her engagement. She writes: “…as black as your days may be—and black they are, that I’ll say—life does, amazingly, go on. As must you, one foot placed in front of the other; one tedious morning after another. And the thing is, you’ve got to eat. You can’t simply drop out of life.” She then goes on to describe a version of a Greek salad. It shouldn’t be so tantalizing and yet it is.

It’s this kind of practical magic that makes me love food. And I think that bewitches Weiss as well.

I recently heard the U.K.-born-and-based Zadie Smith talk about her latest book, the main character of which, like herself, is mixed race. She then discussed how her particular shade of skin allows people to see her how they want to—how people have begun conversations with her in Arabic, or Bengali, etc. Can you relate to this as a self-described Berlin-born, American-Italian?

Luisa Weiss: Oh, so much. On paper, I may be Caucasian, but in the flesh, I have very dark hair and eyes and the kind of skin color (olive) and features that have over the years led Arabs, Turks, Persians, Latinos, and Southeast Asians from various nations to ask me if I'm one of them. (Often in their own language and repeatedly, since they're so confident I'll be able to respond!) My mother thinks that there must be some Saracen blood in my DNA from my maternal (Italian) side and on my paternal side, the swarthiness comes from generations of Eastern European Jewry. The ethnic confusion is compounded by the fact that my parents gave me a first name that is relatively familiar in several cultures, including the German one, and an originally Hungarian last name that means "white" in German. So to Germans, I'm doubly, triply confusing—a dark-skinned polyglot with a German name who was born here and can speak the language almost perfectly, but not completely. Weird! On the inside, my identity used to be more confused than it is now. I'm a "third-culture kid" - a child born to people of a culture different than the one they live in—but I didn't discover this term until I was in my early thirties and just ending a significant romantic relationship in no small part because of our inability to bridge the geographical and cultural divide between us. I had always thought my inner turmoil about my identity and where I belonged was something I had to endure alone, but discovering the concept of being a TCK was very grounding. Today, I feel pretty solid about my mongrel (I say that lovingly) identity as an American in Europe, married to a German, living around the corner from my Italian mother, raising bi- and trilingual children.

That’s not even to mention your identities as a mother, wife, writer, cook, daughter, etc. It’s confusing sometimes, right?

LW: I think it's more confusing when you have to explain yourself to others who want a neat and simple answer, actually. These days, it feels pretty normal to be a working mother, a woman with interests outside of the home, and a multinational family. Or at least it feels more normal to me. Thank goodness!

Your latest book, Classic German Baking, is incredibly ambitious. You essentially tackle an entire culture. (I personally felt like I learned so much about the German day-to-day and also feel like I would love to do a cookie exchange with you next holiday season.) Was the idea always this big in scope? And/or how did you come up with the idea?

LW: The idea was even bigger originally—the subject of German baking is so vast that you could, in theory, pen a "Silver Spoon" style book just on this one subject. In fact, the idea of the book terrified me precisely because of its potential size. How on earth would I ever be able to tackle such an enormous project? Luckily, my publisher gave me the freedom to narrow the selection of recipes down to a manageable number that would still ably represent the variety and scope of German baking, but wouldn't tether me to the test kitchen and my desk for the next five years.

As for how I came up with the idea: Before I moved to Berlin and became a full-time writer, I was a cookbook editor in New York. It was there that I first realized the gap in the market where a German baking book belonged. I looked high and low for the right person to write the book, but always came up empty. Life moved on and I found myself in Berlin. Years later, the publisher of Ten Speed approached me to write the book because he too had seen this gap in the market—I'm sure there were other editors too who were on the hunt!—and thought that I'd be the right person to tackle it. Once I got over my initial fears (see above), I was thrilled to be given the task of explaining German Kaffee-Kuchen culture to American readers. What an honor!

As for a cookie exchange with you: Yes please!

Part of the reason I ask is because I like the idea of an ambitious baking project. It feels both feminine and masculine. (When I think of baking, I think of women and homemaking. But at the same time, the word ambitious is often used pejoratively when describing a woman.) Do you think of baking as historically women’s work? In your research of these traditional recipes, did you rely heavily on women’s knowledge or men’s or was it a mixed bag?

LW: Such an interesting question. When I think of home baking, I do indeed see it as more of a woman's thing. Because historically (and, uh, today, still, especially in Germany), women are still largely the ones at home, doing homemaking work, even if they're also out working and getting a paycheck. They're probably the ones getting the Sunday cakes made, they're the ones decorating the gingerbread houses with the kids, and the ones figure out what birthday cake to make when. (Because baking is such a big part of German culture, men are certainly not excluded from it. Many men I know bake at Christmastime and they all have pretty strong opinions on the subject of homemade cakes and cookies.) But professional bakers are largely still men. At all of the traditional, family-run bakeries that I know well in Berlin, the employees in the "Backstube" or "baking room" are men, including the "Meisterkonditoren." The women are the ones in the front, selling the goods. Going way, way back in time to when bakers were in guilds, they were all male—women simply didn't work. So the question of whether baking is historically more male or female is more complicated than you think! At least seen from the German perspective.

You have a beautiful newborn baby at home right now. In my experience, newborns have an amazing, fascinating, and sometimes frustrating way of telling your ambition to take a chill pill. What has your experience been like?

LW: Oooh, sister, YES. It's such an incredible push-pull. On one hand, I love the crazy fog of the newborn time. I love how reduced your life becomes. How concentrated on one little thing it gets. How the days are, in their nuttiness, still predictable (feed, sleep, change, feed, sleep, change, etc etc). How easy it is to tune out everything and just go inward and focus. And because he's our second and last child, I can appreciate and savor the moments so much better than I could the first time around.

On the other hand, precisely because I spend so many weeks in such a reduced state intellectually, when that urge to create rears its head again, it does so with a vengeance. But you can't suddenly plop your kid aside and go off to write for five hours—he'll probably wake up in 23 minutes! That's when the real challenge, as I see it, begins. Learning to juggle your thirst to work and have an identity outside of being a mother with an infant's myriad and constant needs. As I'm feverishly typing the answers to these questions, my baby has been napping on the sofa. Any minute now he's going to wake up and who knows when I'll find the time to be back at the computer again. So I type, type, type like a banshee in the hopes of finishing a thought coherently before the baby cycle starts anew.

Lots of the recipes in Classic German Baking call for a period of rest—whether it’s a few hours or a few months, like the dough for your Lebkuchen (Old-fashioned German Gingerbread). Do you think this idea applies to progress? To our 24-hour news cycle? Anything else?

LW: Yes! Most things (besides salad) benefit from at least an overnight rest, if not longer. Creative work, for sure. Lover's spats, definitely. In general, being able to take a step away from something to get fresh air and a new way of looking at it will benefit whatever you're dealing with. AS for our news cycle, it's complicated. I definitely think that a lot of the "breaking news" stories out there could have used an overnight rest and I generally think the 24-hours news cycle has contributed to our civic breakdown. On the other hand, as someone who has always been interested in the news and who follows it obsessively now (thanks to midnight feeds, the 24-ness of the news is particularly relevant), I'm also grateful for all those hardworking journalists out there who are toiling like crazy to bring us as much information as they can in this very strange new world.

I recently read the rules to a 30-day detox touted by Goop. Here are the first seven of fifteen: “1. No alcohol. 2. No caffeine. 3. No dairy. 4. No eggs. 5. No beef, no pork. 6. No shellfish, no raw fish. 7. No gluten.” What are your thoughts on detoxing? Is there a place for it in German culture like there seems to be in American culture?

LW: My thoughts on detoxing are, to paraphrase or quote Amy Poehler: "Good for her! Not for me." Everything in American culture eventually trickles down to German culture, so there are definitely detoxes in the ether here. On the whole, Europeans seem to have a slightly more balanced view on diet and nutrition than Americans. But the siren song of fitting into your bathing suit come summertime seems to be one that bewitches people across many cultures.

Do you think that in order to run for president, you should have to be able to make one really good meal from scratch? Or maybe be able to fry an egg with a runny yolk?

LW: Ooh, I don't know! I don't think that cooking well inherently makes you a good or moral person. I think a good politician probably doesn't have a lot of time to hone their cooking chops. They're too busy being good public servants, or they should be in any case? I'm old-school—I think politicians should be the ones running for president, not reality stars or even Oprah (God love her). So I guess my answer is no. I'd rather my presidential hopefuls be smart, well-educated and capable of thinking deep thoughts about economics and history and health care and global poverty and prison reform and police violence. If that means they can't even open a can of baked beans, well, so be it.

If you could cook for any politician/public servant, who would it be and what do you think you would make?

LW: I wish I could make dinner for Barack and Michelle Obama. My warm feelings for them have morphed into something far more desperate now—I adore them with a sort of trembly, feverish, terrified love, enhanced, no doubt, by the intense psychological misery that the current occupant of the White House is inflicting on us. I'd invite them to dinner at my mom's house in Italy and we'd have dinner on the patio outside, on the wood table that's water-damaged after years of being out there and under the big sun umbrella my mother put out there when we got married several years ago. There would be homemade tagliatelle with ragù, which is a specialty of the region, and grilled sausages and breadcrumb-stuffed tomatoes, and a big salad with greens from the garden and then baseball-sized peaches dripping juice all over the place and lots of wine and we'd eat and talk for hours until the sun went down and the fireflies came out and by the end, we'd be BFFs and they'd promise to come back every year.
Rosinenzopf (Sweet Raisin Bread) from Luisa Weiss's Classic German Baking

DOUGH
1 cup/240ml whole milk
4 cups, scooped and leveled/500g all-purpose flour
¼ cup/50g granulated sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon/75g unsalted high-fat, European-style butter, at room temperature
1 egg, at room temperature
½ cup/75g raisins

TOPPING
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon whole milk
1 ½ tablespoons pearl sugar (optional)
2 tablespoons blanched sliced almonds (optional)

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

To make the dough: First warm the milk slightly. Place the flour, sugar, instant yeast, and salt in a large bowl. Add the milk, butter, and egg and stir to combine. As soon as you have a slightly cohesive dough, dump it out onto a lightly floured work surface and start to knead. Knead for 10 to 15 minutes (set a timer), or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Form into a ball. Place in the mixing bowl, cover with a clean dishcloth, and place in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size. (For me, this took about an hour and a half.)

When the dough has doubled in size, gently tug it out of the bowl and onto a work surface. Knead the raisins gently into the dough, and then divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll out each piece to a 16-inch strand. Braid the strands together, tuck the ends under the loaf, and place on the prepared baking sheet. Poke any exposed raisins back into the dough or remove and tuck into the bottom of the loaf (this is to keep the raisins from burning in the oven). Cover with the dishcloth and let rise for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F/180C. After 20 minutes, remove the dishcloth and check for any additional protruding raisins. Remove them or poke them farther into the dough.

To make the topping; Beat together the egg yolk and milk, and brush the egg wash evenly over the loaf. Sprinkle the loaf evenly with the pearl sugar, the sliced almonds, or both. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. The loaf will turn a rich bronze. If your oven runs hot and you are worried about the loaf burning, you may cover it with a piece of foil after 25 minutes of baking.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let cool slightly on a rack. Transfer the loaf to the rack to cool further. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature, in thick slices. The bread is best the day it is made, but it will keep wrapped tightly in plastic wrap for another day at room temperature. (Matt and I have been eating it for a few days now.)
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2/21/17

I'm Pretty into My New Wok + Thai Herb Fried Rice

I barely read the news anymore. Not that I ever really did. If I'm being truly honest, I bet you I read 567 headlines (probably via Twitter) and maybe four or five long-form political articles in their entirety in the year leading up to the 2016 election. I still get a lot of news via Matt (and Instagram). I'm bringing this up because Matt just sent me this article, Why Facts Don't Change Our Minds, which I read in full and which, almost certainly because of confirmation bias, has led me to believe that: YES, I AM RIGHT NOT TO BE READING THE NEWS.

Another reason I feel justified in not reading the news is because I read a book about one of my favorite poets Rainer Maria Rilke and learned that when WWI broke out, he essentially had zero idea. He was just traveling around Europe, existentially struggling over his poetry and shirking all parental responsibilities. (And then he got drafted!)

Point being, I've been cooking so much and really enjoying it. I've also been writing and reading a ton. Instead of feeling resentful (a favorite pastime), I've been feeling lucky to be a woman, to be a part of this long-standing culture of taking care of the home. I read this poem last week and nearly cried.

Anyway, here's a video of me (and Teddy) seasoning and then using my new wok! The recipe is pretty time-consuming but a good one for getting rid of herbs and vegetables that are close to dying in your crisper.


Thai Herb Fried Rice with Pork adapted from Lucky Peach
Serves 4

4-5 cups of cooked long-grain rice (Leftover/cold rice works the best.)
8 oz. ground pork
1 large shallot, minced
half a head of cabbage, chopped
8 oz. mushrooms, thickly sliced
2-3 tbsp. fish sauce
2 tsp. sugar
4 tbsp. vegetable oil
4 large eggs, beaten
2 tbsp. garlic, chopped
2 tbsp. ginger, chopped
4 scallions, sliced, white and green parts separated
1 cup, chopped herbs like cilantro, mint, and/or basil
2 limes
Sriracha and salt, to serve

Break up the rice so that it’s not clumpy. Set aside.

Put the shallot and pork in a bowl. Put the cabbage and mushrooms in a bowl. And in another bowl goes the garlic, ginger, and white parts of the scallions.

Mix the fish sauce and sugar together and place in a separate bowl.

Heat about 2 tablespoons of the oil in a wok or a heavy, nonstick skillet. Pour in the eggs and cook. Fold the egg up and over itself, kind of like you’re cooking an omelet. Cook until just set but still glossy—should take about 30 seconds if your pan is hot enough. Remove the eggs to a plate and set aside.

Add 2 more tablespoons of oil to the pan, then a moment later, the garlic, ginger, and scallion whites. Fry for just a few seconds and then add the shallots and pork. Go ahead and also add the cabbage and mushrooms. Stir-fry all of this until the pork is cooked through, about 3-4 minutes.

Dump the rice into the pan and mix. You want to spread the rice out so each granule gets some time on the surface of the pan. Stir and fold once a minute for about 4 minutes. (A sturdy spatula really helps here.)

Pour the fish sauce mixture over the rice and toss to coat.

Keep cooking and tossing until the rice is evenly colored. Return the eggs to the pan, breaking them up as you go. Turn off the heat. Add the chopped herbs and scallion greens, and juice of one lime. Taste for seasoning. It will probably need a few nice pinches of salt.

Serve with additional lime. 

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2/3/17

Video: Onigiri

Matt and I were stressing about how to get ourselves plus Teddy and Isaac to the L.A. women’s march in downtown Los Angeles. Should we risk the metro crowds and potential wait times with two small children and all of their gear? What about the bus? In the end, we decided to drive. (#LosAngeles) Our hope was to park somewhere nearby and then to walk the rest of the way.

The closer we got to downtown, the more energy we felt. People in small groups with signs were walking on the sidewalks. The cars next to us weren’t manned by a single driver but filled to capacity with people.

As it happened, we lucked out and found a $9 parking spot at the music center. We got the kids, the stroller, all their accouterments, and our signs and made our way to the street. We saw more people, more signs. The energy grew. We headed toward City Hall. We walked one block east and then, just as we reached the corner, down First Street, we saw a mass of people. I can safely say that I’ve never seen anything like it.

My eyes filled with tears. It was ten in the morning and all these people were already there. It was such an amazing, uplifting afternoon. None of us are alone in this fight! And I’m so glad that mom.me allowed us to include the short bit of footage that I think captures some of the emotion.

One of the saddest things and the thing that’s possibly the hardest for me to deal with in this Trumpian era is the way facts have been so thoroughly and effortlessly dismissed and disregarded. Oftentimes these “facts” that are being casually brushed aside are people’s realities, people’s history.

That Saturday afternoon, I felt heard and understood—maybe not by many of the politicians who are in office right now, but by my fellow Angelenos. It was so beautiful.

These past three months, I’ve been driving around with my Hillary bumper sticker still on. I’d considered making a few more stickers to add to it. Something like, “I’m still with her!” followed by another one: “And her: [image of planet earth].” But the other day, I had a moment of clarity, coming to a succinct conclusion I think many of us have come to: Hillary was never going to be able to save us. Only we can save us.

I’ve got a few ideas for ways to resist. I’ll keep you updated with them as they become more solidified.

All the best and with so much love,
Amelia
Onigiri adapted from Lucky Peach
Makes 6

2 cups short-grain white rice
sea salt
One 5 oz. can of wild, pole-caught tuna
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
sesame seeds, furikake (Japanese rice seasoning) or nori cut into two-inch strips

Rinse your rice. (This is one of those tasks that as a beginner cook I skipped but that I never ignore now, as I know it leads to better, clearer-textured rice.) Put the rice in a bowl and cover with cold water. Swish it around a bit and then, using your fingers as a dam, pour out just the water and repeat two more times.

If you have a rice-cooker, cook your rice in that. If you don’t, follow the package directions. Try to time this so that when the rice is done cooking, you are ready to assemble the onigiri. You want your rice to be hot.

While the rice is cooking, mix the can of tuna with the mayonnaise. Taste it. If it needs salt, add salt.

To assemble the onigiri: Arrange the pot of cooked rice next to a bowl with salt, the bowl with the tuna filling, and a bowl with a bit of water. Grab a ramekin or teacup and plastic wrap.

Line the ramekin or teacup with a sheet of saran wrap. Sprinkle in a bit of water and then dump out any excess. Next sprinkle in a few pinches of salt.

Fluff the rice with a fork. If you want to season the rice with furikake or some sesame seeds, go ahead and add a few tablespoons now. If you are moving forward with plain rice, just be sure to season it at the end or right before eating it.

Scoop a large spoonful of the hot rice into the plastic-lined ramekin. Press it into the mold and then make a little well for the filling.

Place 1 tablespoon of the tuna mixture into the hollow, then scoop another spoonful of the rice on top. Press it down with the plastic wrap that’s hanging over the edge. Once you feel like it’s nice and compact, pull it out by lifting up on the plastic wrap. Continue molding it, trying to get it into a nice little 1-inch-thick triangle. Don’t worry if your first one is a bit wonky. They’ll get better as you go. Leave them wrapped in the plastic wrapper until you’ve formed all the onigiri. [If you want to wrap these in strips of nori, you’ll have to unwrap them from the plastic wrap in order to do so.] Enjoy at room temperature, either right away or put them in the fridge to enjoy the following day—if you can, bring them to room temp before eating
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1/10/17

Video: Teddy, Ages 2-3 & Isaac, Ages 0-1

Well, it's early January, which in my house equals birthday season. If you remember, Isaac was born just a handful of days before Teddy's birthday. Not only does this make for perfect-sized hand-me-downs, it's also worked quite nicely for Matt's annual video project.

If you're new to the blog, here are the prequel videos to this one:
Teddy, Ages 0-1
Teddy, Ages 1-2

This past year was a hard one for many people, including us. But this video is a great reminder that some good things happened too. It's easy (almost second-nature!) for me to dwell on the bad. Three cheers for Matt and people like him, who typically do the opposite.

Sending much love and a wee bit of positivity to you and yours,
Amelia
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12/16/16

Holiday Oysters and Grief Rituals

We're packing up to spend a few days in Palm Springs with my mom, step-dad, and uncle. And while Teddy is at pre-school and Isaac at daycare (He started a few weeks ago, three times a week. More on that later maybe.), I wanted to pack up a few things I didn't want the kids to get into. I started with the stuff I'm going to need for the grief ritual I'm planning on leading.

If you follow this blog with any regularity, talking about grief rituals is clearly where I was headed, right? If you follow this blog, or read my book, you may also remember that I lost my grandma and my dad within weeks of each other in November of 2013. This November, we lost my Aunt Martha. At first I was planning the grief ritual solely for Martha, since I couldn't make it to her memorial service. But then I realized that I wasn't able to make it to my grandma's memorial service either. My dad's death kind of lives in my mind with my grandma's, so naturally he got pulled into it too.

I've never participated in a non-funeral grief ritual before let alone led one. I'm a WASP from a long line of WASPs. We don't excel at talking about our feelings. We don't excel at showing our feelings. We are stoic strivers! So, obviously, I am following the guidelines of a grief ritual as explained to me by Francis Weller in his book, say it with me now: The Wild Edge of Sorrow.

I think part of the reason I'm telling you all of this is to keep me to my word. I'm afraid to lead a grief ritual! I'm afraid to be vulnerable in front of my family!

The ritual itself is very simple. It involves a shrine, a bowl of water, and some stones. Weller uses the word "shrine" in passing, therefore, leaving it open to interpretation. I've decided some photos will work. I went through my wedding album and pulled ones of my grandma, my dad, and Martha. I'm also bringing David Whyte's book of poetry, Everything is Waiting for You, in case I want to read a poem. I’m going to play it by ear. In short: Look out, Palm Springs. Here we come!

I think the other reason I'm telling you all of this is because I want to remind myself to: Arrive curious, without the armor / of certainty. Those lines are from a poem by Rebecca del Rio called "Prescription for the Disillusioned." Ever since the election (and, sure, since well before then), I think I've been afraid to let go of my anger. If I let go of my anger, how will people (read: my mom) know that I'm not accepting the things I don’t accept, like the misogyny and hate that the results of this election represent to me? But then, as I was packing these things up, I came across these lines from T.W.E.O.S.: "Letting go is not a passive state of acceptance but a recognition of the brevity of all things. This realization invites us to love fully now, in this moment, when what we love is here." This is one of those things that is easier said than done. But I will try. (I will also forgive myself if I fail!)

And now it's time to go pick up Isaac from daycare.

All our love and grief and everything in between,
Amelia, Matt, Isaac, and Teddy

p.s. Happy holidays! Here's a video of me and Teddy making oysters.

p.p.s. Here are a couple of links to combat hopelessness!
1. "It's Easier Than We Think: Ralph Nader on How We Can Change Society"
2. This song, on repeat, really loud, while dancing: "Rough Going (I Won't Let Up)
3. This song, preferably while driving, maybe on a highway.


Holiday Oysters (with a Lemon-Parsley-Shallot Butter)
serves 2-4, depending on how much you love oysters

18 oysters
kosher salt or rock salt
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup well-chopped parsley
1 shallot, minced
1 lemon, both the zest and juice
pinch of salt

Get a large, broiler-safe (not glass or ceramic!) pan and fill the bottom with a layer of the kosher salt or rock salt. (If you don’t have a big enough pan to fit all 18 oysters, you can do them in batches, which is what I did.)

Mix together the butter, parsley, shallot, lemon zest, and pinch of salt. Set aside.

Shuck the oysters, removing the top shell and leaving them in their bottom shell along with their liquor and then place them in the pan atop the salt, one by one, as you go.

Preheat the broiler.

Place a nice dab (about a half teaspoon or a bit more) of the butter mixture on top of each oyster. Broil about 3-4 minutes. Serve on the half shell with lemon wedges.
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