Thursday, November 20, 2014

Discovering Catholic Foodie, enjoying Casamento’s Oyster Soup

            The beauty of social media is you find so many interesting people following the interesting people you follow. Do you follow?
            Take Jeff Young, for instance, I stumbled upon his book signing announcement through a friend’s Twitter and just had to know more about “The Catholic Foodie.” Young, a former seminarian and educator, lives in New Orleans and writes a blog and podcast called “The Catholic Foodie” and is author of “Around the Table with The Catholic Foodie: Middle Eastern Cuisine.” The book includes stories from his visits to the Holy Land, as well as 70-plus recipes.
            As if that’s not enough, Young will be leading a pilgrimage to the Holy Land from Feb. 26 to March 8, 2015 with Chef Matt Murphy, owner and operator of The Irish House in New Orleans and winner of Food Network’s Chopped in 2012, and Fr. Kyle Sanders, a priest of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.
            You have to check out his blog and view his recipe for Pan-Fried Trout with Pistachio and Dill — with mouth-watering photos. I'm so ready to see what else The Catholic Foodies has in store. 
             The weather has been nippy way down South, so here’s something to warm your heart and soul, Casamento’s oyster soup from the cookbook, “New Orleans Classic Creole Recipes.” Oysters grow plump in cool waters so let’s hope those Gulf beauties are enjoying this rare November cold snap.

CJ Gerdes, Casamento’s "Oyster Soup"
3 1/2 cups water
2 dozen freshly shucked oysters, drained
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

             Directions: In a medium saucepan bring the water to a boil. Add the oysters and cook for 3 minutes. Remove oysters with a slotted spoon and reserve 3 cups of liquid. In a Dutch oven over medium heat, cook celery and onions in 1 tablespoon of butter, stirring constantly until tender. Stir in 2 1/2 cups of the reserved liquid, garlic, thyme, red pepper and bay leaf; bring to a boil. Stir in the cream. Reduce the heat and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in the milk and return to a simmer. Once the milk is added, never heat the soup past a simmer. Melt the remaining butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the flour, stirring until smooth. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly, then cook for about 3 more minutes until smooth (the mixture will be very thick). Gradually add the flour mixture to the saucepan, stirring with a wire whisk until blended. Add oysters, salt and white pepper. Cook until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat, discard bay leaf and serve immediately.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “ExploringCajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.