Shrimp Alfredo

This has long been one of my favorite dinners. Especially in the summertime, when the shrimp are fresh and cheaper than chicken here on the Eastern Shore. It comes together quickly, taking more time to prep the shrimp than to put the dinner together – and the results are so delicious and satisfying.

I used to make this dish with lemon pepper seasoning – but, I’ve found that the use of fresh lemon, garlic, and black pepper lends such a burst of fresh flavor that I like to use that combo provided I have all the ingredients handy. Which, I almost always do…

It’s simple enough for a family dinner after a long day at the beach, but also impressive enough to be served to guests at a dinner party. I’ll usually pair with a salad or a steamed veggie like broccoli to round out the meal.

Oysters Rockefeller

Now that the Holiday season is officially in place (squeal!) we can talk about fancy appetizers. As I mentioned before, oysters are in season here on the Eastern Shore. So naturally they’re something that we always turn to, to enjoy at all those festive and special holiday gatherings!

This is my twist on Oysters Rockefeller. A plump oyster baked with a creamed garlic spinach, garlicky bread crumbs, and a pinch of Parmesan cheese. They’re a breeze to throw together once you have the oysters shucked, and are so darned impressive. I mean, how good do they look just served on a simple wooden cutting board?

The couple of batches I’ve made already this season have been gobbled up in a matter of moments! Looking forward to making these a few more times before New Years! I hope everyone is having a good time decorating, and getting ready for the holidays. We went and got our Christmas tree this past weekend, and I can’t wait to get it up and decorated. Happy Holidays, everyone! 

Oyster Stuffing

Oyster stuffing. I don’t know that you’ll find a dish more unanimously found on Thanksgiving tables here on the Eastern Shore. After a quick web search, it turns out it’s common in many other parts of the country as well – but especially down south around the Gulf, and up north around New England.

It’s basically a homemade stuffing – composed of dry bread cubes, sauteed onions and herbs, chicken stock, and fresh oysters. Some people used canned or smoked oysters – but, I can’t justify using those. Ever. Ain’t nobody got time for that! The oysters plump up in the stuffing, and release their delicious briny juices – adding a ton of flavor to the stuffing, and the bread just soaks it all right up! I loved the addition of nutmeg and clove too, it really made it taste like Thanksgiving.

This was actually my first time making this dish (hey, I am a “come here” after all!) and as I mixed it up before putting it in the casserole dish, I thought it wasn’t going to be something I enjoyed…as it wasn’t much to look at. But when it came out of the oven, and the top was nice and brown – I couldn’t wait to dig in! If you’re looking for something special to add to your Thanksgiving Day table, which is a cut above the standard cornbread stuffing (or my favorite, even though I’m ashamed to admit it – Stove Top!) get yourself a pint of oysters from the seafood market and make this stuffing. Maybe it will become a tradition for your family, as it has for so many others here on the Eastern Shore and elsewhere, on Turkey Day!

Oysters with Mignonette Sauce

There are two things that our little island of Chincoteague, off the coast of Virginia is known for…Pony Penning, and oysters. Since we are a barrier island next to Atlantic Ocean we have extremely high salinity (salt content) in our water, making for some extra-salty and delicious oysters. They ship them all over, to the fanciest restaurants and oyster bars in the country – and people pay top dollar for them. Chesapeake Bay oysters are also world-renowned, but for their sweetness from the brackish waters (part salt, part fresh) as opposed to the briny saltiness. I find it so interesting that they can taste so different, but still be so delicious in their own way…

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – I’m so thankful to call this little stretch of land between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean my home. While we have things like clams and blue crabs to look forward to in the summer months, the cooler months is the time for oysters. The rule of thumb is any month that ends in “ember” is the best time to enjoy them.

My best friends aunt has an oyster bed, and dredged up a half a bushel for me on Saturday morning. They are always covered in marsh mud, and require plenty of scrubbing – but they smell of the sea, and to me that’s one of the best smells in the world.

Now, it’s pretty much blasphemy for anything to be served with “Chincoteague Salts” – as they contain so much flavor from the salty brine found inside. But for any other oysters you’ll commonly find a mignonette sauce served with them. It’s a simple vinegar based sauce that usually includes minced shallots, black peppercorns, and fresh herbs.

It’s an extra special appetizer during the Holidays, something that’s easy (provided you have a good fishmonger or husband who is prone to shucking!) and so impressive. If you have access to fresh oysters, even if they aren’t from my neck of the woods, pick up a dozen and give them a try. And if you are lucky to have access to them in abundance (or you are more into cooked renditions of oysters), make sure you check back here in the next week – I have two other oyster recipes coming up that will knock your socks off!