Patti Constantin is the secret weapon in the arsenal of many an Uptown hostess. Patti is renowned for her fresh, delicious flavors presented in innovative ways. Her close friendship with CCFM vendors guarantees Patti the finest of every season’s harvest. In her typical New Orleanian way, Patti refers to the precious oyster liquor in this recipe as “holy water.” It’s just that sacred to us in our culturally Catholic kitchens! Patti created this beautifully presented appetizer during a Valentine’s Day cooking demonstration at the market. She guarantees it to be an aphrodisiac because everyone knows what they say about the power of oysters!
To prepare Roasted Red Pepper Purée: Roast peppers by holding them over a gas burner with tongs or other appropriate utensil. (You can also roast the peppers on a grill or in the oven. When roasted in the oven, the skin of the peppers will not turn black but it will get very wrinkly. Roasted over a gas burner or on a grill, the skin will turn totally black.) Place roasted peppers in a brown paper bag and close the top of the bag. Let sit for about 10 minutes, then peel peppers and remove seeds. In blender container, combine roasted peppers, garlic, lemon juice, onion, salt, and cayenne pepper; purée, then set aside.
To prepare Oysters: Drain oysters, reserving the liquor. Boil liquor and strain; set aside. Sauté garlic, celery, fennel, leek, and onion in butter. Add Herbsaint or Pernod, then oyster liquor. Bring mixture to a good boil and cook until liquid is reduced by half. “Whisk in Neufchâtel cheese, a tablespoon at a time. This will thicken the sauce to a creamy consistency. Add oysters, green onions, parsley, salt, and pepper. Cook just until the edges of the oysters begin to curl.
To assemble, remove top knot from brioche, add a tablespoon of sautéed spinach if desired, top with oyster mixture and garnish with pepper puree. Serve at once..,
Sautéed spinach goes nicely on the brioche before spooning the oysters on hearts.
Recipe compliments of Chef Patti Constantin, Designs in Catering
Market Umbrella is an independent nonprofit 501(c)(3), based in New Orleans, whose mission is to cultivate the field of public markets for public good. Market Umbrella has operated the Crescent City Farmers Markets (CCFM) since 1995.
The Crescent City Farmers Market operates weekly year-round in four New Orleans neighborhoods. The CCFM hosts nearly 80 local small farmers, fishers and food producers, and more than 100,000 shoppers annually.