Puff pastry and oysters wrap up prize

November 04, 2001|By Rob Kasper

When Terry Ann Moore was thinking up ways to serve oysters, she thought of wrapping them in puff pastry.

"Everybody likes to eat puff pastry," Moore told me in a telephone conversation from her Oaklyn, N. J., home. So she wrapped the pastry around oysters, filled it with minced vegetables and cream cheese, and baked it.

Then she topped the pastry with an unusual pesto sauce, made with spinach, not basil. In most of the pesto sauces she tasted, the basil was too strong, she said. "I like basil, but not in that quantity, so I used spinach."

Her theories worked, as her hors d'oeuvres, Oysters Wellington With Spinach Pesto, picked up the grand prize in the National Oyster Cook-Off held two weeks ago at the St. Mary's Oyster Festival in Leonardtown. Moore, who describes herself as a "contest-type person," told me she has won a handful of other national cooking competitions. In Leonardtown, she picked up $1,000 and a silver tray.

Sally Brassfield of California, Md., won the main-dish category with crepes filled with oysters, prosciutto and sage. Dawn Brown of Baltimore won the outdoor-cooking category with her dish of oysters on the half shell filled with garlic, shallots, spinach and pine nuts topped with a bechamel sauce.

Oysters Wellington With Spinach Pesto

Serves 8

1 / 4 cup diced carrot

1 / 4 cup diced celery

1 / 4 cup diced onion

1 / 4 cup diced red bell pepper

2 ounces prosciutto, shredded

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 / 4 cup white wine

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

salt and pepper to taste

1 pint Maryland oysters

1 package puff pastry sheets

3 ounces cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces

1 egg, beaten

3 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts

PESTO

1 cup tightly packed spinach leaves, stems removed

2 tablespoons fresh chives

1/2 teaspoon lemon rind

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 clove garlic

1/3 cup walnuts

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

1 / 4 cup olive oil

RED OIL

3 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, finely diced

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Briefly saute carrots, celery, onion, bell peppers and prosciutto in oil until sizzling. Add the wine and cook until wine almost evaporates. Season with fresh cilantro, salt and pepper to taste.

Drain oysters. Roll pastry to thin and lengthen it. Cut each sheet into 8 4-inch rounds and place on cookie sheet. Place spoonful of vegetable mixture on each round, then place oysters atop the vegetables, and add the cream cheese. Brush the edges of the pastry with beaten egg, seal the pastry. Brush the top with more beaten egg, sprinkle with walnuts. Bake until pastry is puffed and golden, about 15 to 20 minutes.

To make the pesto, put all the ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor. With the machine running, pour in the oil, and mix for about a minute until smooth.

To make the red oil, combine the tomatoes, paste, pepper flakes and olive oil in a sauce pan, and cook over medium heat until the mixture reaches 180 degrees, about 5 minutes. Strain and place in clean bottle.

To serve, drizzle some of the red oil on a plate, place the oyster pastry on the plate, add a few dollops of pesto and garnish.

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