Organize your mise en place because you will be multitasking. Arrange all your cooking utensils ahead of time. Preheat your barbecue. Bring out your perforated grill basket pan and skillets and saucepan to reduce cream. If you have a fish spatula it is helpful. Use a wooden spoon when making sauces. Never use metal on metal. That could even ruin your treasured stainless steel eventually; likewise your enamelled cast iron pots.

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Shuck oysters. Save the liquid for sauce or for making broth. Pat the shucked oysters dry using a white paper towel. Using a pastry brush reserved for using with seafood, paint just a little of your refrigerated, congealed, reserved bacon fat on one side of each oyster. You could use reserved bacon fat, goose fat or duck fat.

Sprinkle with a little garlic powder or use a tiny dab of your golden oven-roasted mild garlic purée from your sterilized refrigerated glass covered jar.

No need to salt. Let the oysters rest, covered with a sheet of cling wrap while you sear fresh dry large ocean scallops that have never been frozen in sizzling unsalted butter. Arrange scallops so they don’t touch one another. You don’t want the scallops passing heat back and forth. They could overcook and be rubbery.

Sprinkle the raw scallops with just a pinch of thyme. No salt. Grate just a little nutmeg using your rasp. Scallops are very sensitive. Turn the scallops only once.

When the scallops are seared, using medium high heat on both sides, they are perfectly cooked. You just want a golden sear. Watch closely. Adjust heat if necessary. You want the butter to be only golden, not brown.

The scallops continue to cook in their own heat. Add a quarter cup of your favourite white wine to the skillet. As the wine permeates the scallops it deglazes the skillet. Perhaps Winzertanz or, everything old is new again, Black Tower. Remove the scallops. Make your sauce.

Never use flour in your sauces; only use reduced cream. Either half and half or full fat cream. I mostly use half and half reduced, letting the cream rise and fall three times. The cream will continue to thicken as it evaporates.

Add a generous handful of finely chopped fresh parsley or LiteHouse brand fresh freeze-dried. It blooms when in liquid. Add a spritz of fresh squeezed lemon and a flutter of fresh lemon zest.

If you have homemade candied citrus rind in your pantry sugar jar, mince and add just when ready to serve. Add just a few grains of the citrus sugar.

Keep the wine cream sauce warm, covered at a tilt. Add whatever other herbs and spices you enjoy. The scallops will express natural jus. Add perfectly seared scallops and their jus to the warm reduced cream sauce when ready to serve.


Now for your “fatted” oysters. Arrange them fat-side-up in your perforated grill pan. Tiny tongs or special tweezers just for kitchen use come in handy for working with small or delicate foods. Carry the perforated basket pan to the barbecue using an oven baking rimmed sheet pan to catch any drips.

Position the filled perforated basket pan on the grill and lower the barbecue lid. Turn off the flame and set your smartphone timer for five minutes. Lift the lid and using large tongs or oven gloves, remove the basket to the sheet pan. The fat drippings will have smoked in the barbecue and the resulting fragrance will call the neighbours.

Arrange the fatted oysters on grilled crostini painted with any aioli and serve alongside the creamed scallops. You might want to dip grilled bread in the scallop cream.

Seafood gourmet dipping sauce

Consider this a different sort of tartar sauce perhaps.

Stir together two generous cups of equal parts full fat sour cream and thick homemade mayonnaise. Add a half cup of citrus sugar from your pantry candied citrus rinds jar. If you have just a single citrus in your jar, that’s fine. Add a quarter cup of red wine vinegar. Stir in a quarter cup of Bacardi Lime.

Mince a quarter cup of homemade candied citrus rinds from your pantry sugar jar using your mini food processor and stir into the sauce. Add a few turns of fresh ground pink peppercorns and a bit of kosher salt or Amagansett finishing sea salt.

Using a handheld blender or a two-whisk handheld mixer, whiz just a little to marry all the ingredients well.

Refrigerate in a sterilized covered glass jar until ready to use.

Use my unique seafood gourmet dipping sauce on a fresh homemade lobster-filled roll. Or, add a few of my garlic cognac cream shrimp in a pan-fried or grilled split lobster roll bun, filled with pan-seared in unsalted butter bay scallops (that’s the little scallops), flambéed with amazing Bacardi Fiero vermouth, which has an orange citrus perfumed undertone.

Perhaps think about all the other uses for my special dipping sauce (try it on my deep-fried battered oysters).

Or, maybe drizzled over a pulled pork or pulled chicken taco filling or even over mixed raw vegetables crudités and fruit such as tomatoes and/or avocado. And also definitely good as a dip or drizzled over my deep-fried vegetables salad.

The vegetables are crunchy, barely cooked. Sort of like having been blanched except they are battered in my light Japanese tempura-like batter made with or without Belgian Stella Artois beer or Canadian Molson Export Ale, then deep-fried in 350 F Mazola Corn Oil.

Since either pairs well, if you should decide to imbibe, don’t forget that apparently real beer drinkers always put a speck of salt in their glass before pouring.

Any way you enjoy my seafood gourmet dipping sauce, it’s one delicious sauce. The sauce keeps well, refrigerated, for a few days. If you are serving on the deck or patio, keep anything made with mayonnaise out of the sun. Perhaps keep a cooler, with frozen gel bags in a separate container, on your patio or deck where you can hide and protect the sauce.

Gourmet sardines crostini

Sardines in recent years have become a gourmet treat, offered at big prices in upscale restaurants, as starters.

You can make your own treat by simply popping the pull to release the lid. Grocery stores and specialty shops sell tins preserved in tomato sauce, plain oil and occasionally in a creamy aioli sauce.

You can eat them straight from the tin using a small fish fork. Save the sauce to dip garlic toasted baguette in.

Slice any baguette on the diagonal and grill the slices. Top with mashed sardines mixed with my special homemade tzatziki and grate homemade candied rind from your pantry sugar jar.

You might enjoy minced raw onion and black olives stirred into the coarsely mashed tinned sardines. Spritz with fresh squeezed lemon.

If you save oyster or mussel clam shells, they come in handy to serve a formal table, resting on a bed of rock salt to stabilize. Plate with tiny two-prong fish forks if you have them and tiny espresso spoons alongside my plantain crackers or parmesan tuiles.

Martini and Rossi vermouth pairs well, as does my favourite Noilly Prat if you have access.

© Lady Ralston’s Canadian Contessa Amuse Bouche Hors D’Oeuvres Collection ~ a Bite of this and a Nibble of that… © Spirits in My Kitchen: Lady Ralston – Canadian Cooking with Bouquets and Aromas – Good Food Made Better Adding Spirits © Taste the Sea ~ Seafood from Lady Ralston’s Canadian Contessa Kitchen: Crustaceans, Fish ~ lobster, shrimp, crab, mussels, clams, oysters, scallops, salmon, sea salt and more… Fruits de Mer: Jewels of the Sea

The working title for Carolyne’s Gourmet Recipes cookbook is From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks. This kitchen-friendly doyenne has been honoured and referred to as the grande dame of executive real estate in her market area during her 35-year career. She taught gourmet cooking in the mid-70s and wrote a weekly newspaper cooking column, long before gourmet was popular as it is today. Her ebook, Gourmet Cooking - at Home with Carolyne is available here for $5.99 US. Email Carolyne. Scroll down to the comments at each recipe column. Carolyne often adds complimentary "From Lady Ralston's Kitchen" additional recipes in the Recipes for Realtors Comments section at REM.


  1. “Grilled Oyster Kabobs”

    Shuck oysters breaking both bivalve connectors, using tiny tongs remove the flesh from its shell and keep the oysters cold but not on ice.

    Preheat your bbq grill. Brush clean racks or rub with clean bar cloth soaked in Mazola Corn oil.

    Load kabob skewers with fresh shucked oysters puncturing each oyster through the thick centre. Between each oyster load a piece of marinated but not macerated black mission fig. Marinate the oyster load for just seconds in my cognac brandy soaked black mission fig jus along with the oyster liquor. Save the marinade.

    Cover the end of each kabob skewer with tinfoil to use as a handle for tongs. Rest the kabob skewers on the preheated bbq grill. Turn once after a count to ten. Count to ten again for the opposite side and serve immediately, dusted with just a little flitter of sumac (a light lemon flavour enhancer).

    This is a perfect appetizer, a little bigger than an amuse bouche. Prepare two kabob skewers per person, with eight or ten oysters per person. Arrange the kabobs on a bed of frisée lettuce or fresh basil leaves on a clear glass platter or as individual servings. Flitter with crunchy sea salt finishing salt, ideally from the east coast Atlantic Ocean. Perhaps you have a flavoured sea salt collection.

    Now for the dip or drizzle. To the marinade add a cup of St-Germain Elderflower liqueur and on low heat reduce by half and let congeal. Cool to room temperature. Let a compound butter coin or two from your frozen reserve float on top of the sauce. Do not stir just swirl the pan.

    Using a small gravy boat and its ladle pour the sauce over the kabobs. Or set up individual tasting dishes of the sauce as a dipper so there is no double dipping.

    You might enjoy larger mussels prepared the same way, as kabobs. Poach them first only briefly in white wine, just until the shells open, then using a spider remove them quickly to a cold bowl and proceed loading as kabobs for the grill.

    © Lady Ralston’s Canadian Contessa Kitchen gets Saucy ~ Sauces, Aolies, Dressings, Drizzles, Drops, and Puddles

  2. “How to Eat Raw Oysters in Public with Confidence | Food & Wine”

    I came across this article and thought it worth sharing. A famous tv chef recently let it be known she hates working with oysters and immediately tried to retract her comment.

    This article is worth the read particularly if oysters are new to your palate. ENJOY!

    Carolyne L

    Sent from my iPhone

    • Google says:
      “Chew, chew, chew
      An oyster is meant to be savored. Rather than swallowing whole, I recommend biting into the oyster so the full flavor profile can be experienced. Also, when consuming an oyster in the shell, remember the ‘oyster liquor’ is there to be enjoyed.”


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