Heat Up Valentine’s Day Dinner with Oyster Stew
Someone asked me recently if I celebrate Valentine’s Day and I said I didn’t—I’m always working, so Steve and I don’t go out to dinner. But later, when I thought about it, I realized I celebrate in other ways: I decorate my window with hearts, make Valentine treat bags for some of my neighbors and even create a special aphrodisiac menu for The Farmhouse.
This year we’re doing Bibb lettuce with sherry honey vinaigrette, beef tenderloin with toasted almonds and garlic pureed potatoes and steamed lobster with roasted asparagus. Honey and almonds have been associated with fertility for centuries, garlic is known to increase sex drive and asparagus … well, I think seeing is believing there.
I’m also making my mother’s oyster stew. It was one of my father’s favorite soups and she’d make it for him all the time. Oysters are one of the most popular aphrodisiacs around, but I doubt that’s why he liked it. Probably had more to do with the slight bite of Tabasco in the warm cream.
Makes 5 servings
1 pint fresh oysters, shucked
½ cup butter
1 quart milk
1 pint cream
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Several dashes Tabasco sauce
Paprika for sprinkling, if desired
Drain the oysters over a bowl, reserve liquid and set aside. Melt the butter in a heave two-quart saucepan. When it bubbles, add the drained oysters. Cook and stir over low heat for about 10 minutes, until oysters are well done.
Add the drained liquid from the oysters, plus the milk, cream, salt, white pepper, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco. Taste and season.
Sprinkle lightly with paprika, if you wish, and serve with oyster crackers, dropping several into each bowl as a garnish just before serving.