Felicity Pocock of Baltimore requested a recipe for an "oyster-artichoke soup, or stew, ... which was a standard at a restaurant in New Orleans."
Michael Cheswick of Eldersburg responded. "From the Gumbo Shop in New Orleans, oyster-and-artichoke soup for Felicity in Baltimore. The Gumbo Shop on South Front Street is one of the best-kept secrets in New Orleans. During a week's stay, I must have eaten there three or four times. I have served the soup during Super Bowls and at Christmas. ... You can get the Gumbo Shop cookbook online. It has all the favorites from the shop and includes many hints on creole cooking."
4 large or 6 medium artichokes, or 1 cup drained and well-rinsed canned artichoke hearts
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup flour
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 pint oysters
Boil the artichokes for about 30 to 45 minutes until leaves pull off easily. Scrape the leaves and clean and chop the bottoms. If using canned hearts, drain, rinse them well and coarsely chop. Set aside.
In a large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven, melt the butter and add the onion, celery and green bell pepper. Saute over medium heat until the vegetables are soft but not browned.
Stir in the garlic, nutmeg, sage, thyme, black, white and cayenne pepper, and salt. Cook for 1 minute. Add the flour, mixing well to avoid any lumps. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Blend in the chicken stock, add the artichoke scrapings and bottoms (or hearts) and bring to a gentle boil.
Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the cream and milk and return to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Pour in the oysters and a little of the oyster liquor and cook just until oysters' edges are curled, about 5 minutes. Adjust the seasoning and serve.
Tester Laura Reiley's comments: "A delicious, subtly flavored soup; the herbal quality of the artichoke and bell pepper is beautifully married with the demure marine flavor of the oysters.
"I would suggest using fresh artichokes, if possible, as canned artichoke hearts don't have nearly the flavor intensity. The seasoning, [especially the cayenne,] gives the finished soup a little bit of a kick, but be judicious with the seasoning because you want to be able to taste the oysters. [Using all of the oyster liquor in the jar adds a little more briny flavor.] The heavy cream gives the soup a luxurious richness, and the flour and chicken stock thicken the broth to a nice chowderlike consistency."
Helen J. Smith of Baltimore says that she is seeking a recipe that "is called Italian Easter Pie. Please help."
Betty Kimcheloe of Kelso, Wash., wants to make some strawberry ice cream using frozen strawberries. "I certainly would appreciate that," she says.
If you are looking for a recipe or can answer a request for a hard-to-find recipe, write to Ellen Hawks, Recipe Finder, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278. If you send more than one recipe, please put each on a separate sheet of paper with your name, address and daytime phone number. Important: Names must accompany recipes for them to be published. Please list the ingredients in order of use, and note the number of servings each recipe makes. Please type or print contributions.