My Atlanta inland home at dinner time regularly had fresh seafood on the table. My father worked on weekends for a fish monger whose store had counters of red snapper, grouper, flounder, mackerel and mullet resting on ice. Mounds of live oysters covered a floor in the rear. Coolers were packed with shrimp. It was a popular place on payday.
My seafood palate was in place when I had my first bowl of gumbo or bit into a fried grouper sandwich and finished everything with a dozen plump oysters on ice. The first Po’ Boy was devoured in the Florida Panhandle fishing village of Carabelle. I was introduced to Crab Bisque in Beaufort, South Carolina.
Pineapple Upside Down Cake is one of those desserts that survived the passage of time. Country music superstar Trisha Yearwood, is a Georgia girl and celebrity chef. Her recipe mirrors the best from great Southern kitchens.
Low Country Crab Bisque
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 white onion (small finely chopped)
6 celery ribs (finely chopped)
6 scallions (thinly sliced)
2 bay leaves
¼ cup all-purpose flour
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons minced roasted garlic
3 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon tomato paste
¼ teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
? teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pinch of ground cloves
1 pinch of ground mace
1 pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup heavy cream
½ tablespoon Tabasco
Freshly ground pepper
2 pounds lump crabmeat
In a large soup pot, melt the butter. Add the onion, celery, scallions and bay leaves and cook over moderate heat until softened, 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the broth is thickened and the vegetables are very tender, 15 minutes.
Add the roasted garlic and milk; bring to a simmer. Stir in the sherry, ketchup, tomato paste, paprika, cayenne, cloves, mace, nutmeg, cream and Tabasco and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper, then add the crab; simmer until hot. Discard the bay leaves. Serve the bisque with oyster crackers.
Panhandle Oyster Po’ Boy
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon cayenne
18 small shucked oysters
vegetable oil for frying
Cuban, French or Italian bread
1 cup thinly sliced iceberg lettuce
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
While that’s warming up, whisk together the egg, milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper in a bowl. In a shallow dish, combine the flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the rest of the black pepper. In a second shallow dish, whisk together the cornmeal, remaining salt, and the cayenne.
Drag each oyster first through the flour, then the milk, and finally in the cornmeal. Place coated oysters on a wire rack and repeat until all are finished.
Pour enough oil to come about 3 inches high in a heavy bottomed pot. Turn the heat to medium-high, and bring the temperature to 375°F. Adjust the temperature to maintain this temperature.
While the oil is warming up, slice the bread in half crosswise, and then horizontally, so you’ll have two five-inch sandwich segments. Place the tops back on the bottoms and then stick these in the oven until warm, about 5 minutes. When done, remove and set aside.
Cook the oysters in batches for 45 seconds to 1 minute. Drain on paper towels.
Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on to the cut sides of the bread, top with lettuce, and then some of the oysters. Serve.
Trisha Yearwood’s Georgia Pineapple Upside Down Cake
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
9 slices canned pineapple in juice, drained
5 maraschino cherries
1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup solid vegetable shortening
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup milk
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the butter in an 8-by-8-by-2-inch square baking pan and set it over low heat to melt. When melted, sprinkle the brown sugar over the butter. Arrange the pineapple rings in a single layer on top of the sugar, making 3 rows. Cut the maraschino cherries in half, and place one half, cut-side up, in the center of each pineapple ring. Set the pan aside.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt, then sift once more. Set aside. Using an electric mixer, mix together the shortening, granulated sugar, egg and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with flour. Stir only enough after each addition to combine.
Pour the batter carefully into the pineapple-lined baking pan and bake for 40 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center or pressing the cake lightly with a fingertip; if the impression springs back, the cake is done. Run a knife around the edges of the pan and place a serving dish on top. Invert the cake onto the serving dish. Leave the pan inverted over the cake for several moments to allow the syrup to soak into the cake.
Sir Verde’s Wine Suggestions: Dry Creek Vineyard’s 2019 Chardonnay Block 10 is a refreshing beverage with these seafood standards. Dessert? A delicious Tawny Port, gently chilled.
Be happy. Bonne dégustation. Love one another.