Cooking From Memory ~ A Recipe Journal

Oyster Stew

Posted in Seafood & Fish,Soups, Stews & Gumbos by Paul Gauche on December 29, 2009

Nothing says “Christmas Eve Dinner” quite like oyster stew. At least in our home.  Well, okay, at least in the home in which I grew up. Oh, all right… probably just for my parents.

While certainly not for everyone, and certainly not for the faint of heart, the aroma of oyster stew wafting through the house, together with the fragrance of Christmas candles and a live Christmas tree, conjours up images and memories of Christmas past for many. This recipe and many like it are simply part of “The Story” of Christmas that many people share each year. Always use the freshest oysters you can find. And always use—what else: oyster crackers.


  • ¼ cup onion, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon celery salt
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, finely minced
  • Oyster juice and milk to equal one cup
  • 2 cups hot milk
  • 1 – 2 pints small or extra small oysters
  • Oyster Crackers
  • Fresh chives, minced
  • Paprika


Sauté onion in the butter until the onion is tender. Stir in the flour, salt, white pepper, celery salt and parsley. Cook until smooth–even bubbly and hot being very careful not to boil. Remove from heat. Gradually stir in the 1 cup mixture of oyster juice and milk. Stir in the remaining 2 cups hot milk. Return to heat and bring up to temperature stirring constantly. Blend in 1 – 2 pints small or extra small oysters. Heat through until oysters curl around the edges. Garnish with fresh chives and paprika. Serve hot with oyster crackers.


Fruitas del Mar

Posted in Seafood & Fish by Paul Gauche on August 26, 2009

Photo Credit: Unavailable,

Years ago, I spent some time cooking at Pablo’s Especial, a Spanish restaurant at the foot of Queen Anne Hill in Seattle.  The style of food at Pablo’s was what the owner called “Sonoran” named for the area in Mexico whose shores are washed my the Sea of Cortez in the Gulf of California which is connected to the Pacific Ocean further south.  The food we served at Pablo’s creatively combined seafood and what we would call traditional Mexican.  Among the favorites at Pablo’s were crab enchiladas and seafood burritos.  I learned to make a lot of spicy, tasty things with scallops, shrimp, crab legs and spanish rice. 

But my favorite, the ‘Fruitas del Mar’ was simply spectacular.  A pineapple was sliced lengthwise, leaves oiled to bring out their brilliant green.  A bowl was created by removing some of the pineapple and then filled with spanish rice, then topped with sautéed scallops. Freshly steamed Dungeness crab legs were placed lengthwise along the top of the pineapple and then the sautéed shrimp was ‘hooked’ over the crab legs.  The whole piece of art was then quick-steamed and presented at the table much to the amazement of—well, just about everyone.

Let’s give this a try…

Ingredients ~

  • 1 pineapple, per two people
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Scallops, 8-12 per person
  • Shrimp, 8-12 per person
  • crab legs, steamed, two per person
  • ½ cup Half & Half
  • ½ cup white wine
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Green onions, chopped

Method ~

After rinsing the pineapple well, cut the pineapple in half, lengthwise, retaining the prickly green leaves.  Hollow out the pineapple–down to about ¼ inch to create a ‘bowl’ reserving the pineapple pieces.  Set aside.

Cook the Spanish Rice as per box directions.

Prepare the crab legs as per your favorite cooking method explained below.

In a saute’ pan, saute’ garlic and onions until tender, 3-4 minutes over medium heat.

Add the shrimp and saute’ until heated through, about 2 minutes.  Add the scallops to the shrimp, garlic and onions and saute’ 2 minutes more.  Add the chopped pineapple, the wine and the Half & Half.  Season with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne to taste.

Arranging the Platter:

Arrange the pineapple on a platter (you may want to take a thin slice off the bottom of the pineapple to it will sit on a serving plate without rocking). Fill the ‘bowl’ with the spanish rice and arrange the scallops on the rice.  Place the two crab legs on top of the pineapple, lengthwise, then ‘hook’ the shrimp over the crab legs. Liberally drizzle the remaining liquid from the saute pan over the top.

Garnish with the green onions.


To steam crab legs

  1. Pour 2 cups of water in a steamer or a large pot, add 1 tablespoon of salt and bring to the boil.
  2. Add the crab legs, placing them onto a rack in the bottom of the pan or into the steaming basket.
  3. As the water starts to boil again, begin timing.
  4. Steam the crab legs for between 5 – 7 minutes, until you can begin to smell their aroma and until they are warm. Take care not to overcook the legs as they have already been cooked once.
  5. Remove from the heat.

To boil crab legs

  1. Half fill a large saucepan with cold water and add a tablespoon of sea salt seasoning if you wish.
  2. Bring the water to the boil and then drop the crab legs in.
  3. Reduce the heat slightly and allow the crab legs to simmer and heat up for 5 – 7 minutes.
  4. Remove from the water and rinse the crab legs.

To bake crab legs

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  2. Crack the whole crab legs and place them on a baking tray.
  3. Brush the crab legs with butter or oil, seasoning and lemon juice and bake in the oven for 8-9 minutes.

To microwave crab legs

  1. Wrap the crab legs in a damp paper towel and cook on high for 2 – 3 minutes.

Seafood Gumbo

Posted in Seafood & Fish,Soups, Stews & Gumbos by Paul Gauche on July 24, 2009

Seafood Gumbo 2

Ingredients ~~

  • 8 ounces Cajun or Kielbasa sausage, cut into ½ inch slices
  • ½ cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound okra, stems removed
  • 2 cups onions, diced
  • 1 cup red pepper, diced
  • 1 cup green pepper, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 3 cups canned plum tomatoes, drained, slightly crushed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne
  • ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 12 ounces scallops 
  • 1 pound shrimp, deveined
  • 12 ounces cooked lobster meat
  • 8 ounces lump crab meat
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons parsley, chopped 

Method ~

Brown the sausage in ¼ cup oil, add okra, sauté’ a bit and add onions, peppers and garlic.  Add broth and tomatoes and spices.  Simmer for 30 minutes or longer.  Sauté the seafood together in white wine and the other ¼ cup of olive oil. Add seafood to the broth and heat through. Serve with sourdough or rye bread or toast.

Oyster Bar Lobster Au Gratin

Posted in Seafood & Fish by Paul Gauche on July 5, 2009

(Photo Credit: Unavailable,

Ingredients ~

  • 4 Tbsp whole butter
  • 3 ½ ounces barely blanched broccoli
  • 3 ounces lobster meat
  • 2 T Sherry
  • 2 T Cream
  • Hollandaise

Method ~

Heat the butter, then broccoli, then lobster.  Add sherry and cream.  Arrange the broccoli with stems in and top with the lobster.  Reduce the sauce, pour over the top with the Hollandaise.  Glaze under the broiler.

 ~~ With thanks to the Oyster Bar on Chuckanut Drive, Bow, Washington

Captain Whidbey Crab Cakes

Posted in Appetizers & Hors d'œuvres,Seafood & Fish by Paul Gauche on July 5, 2009

Crab Cakes

An anniversary celebration just a handfull of years ago took us to a tiny little pub at the Captain Whidbey Inn in quiet, quaint Coupeville, Washington. After a long day of travel Nancy Lee and I sat back in a cozy booth overlooking the bay as the sun was setting. These crab cakes arrived with a bottle of champagne that my parents had arranged for–much to our pleasant surprise. One bite later the evening went from pleasant to perfect. I wrote to the chef some time later and he was most gracious to share the recipe. With another anniversary coming up this summer, it’s time to dust the recipe off for another celebration!


Ingredients ~

  • 1 pound crab meat, well drained
  • 1 small bunch each Basil and chives, diced
  • ½ each green, red, yellow pepper, diced
  • 2-3 Tbsp Asian Chili Paste (Sambai Olek)
  • mayonnaise, to bind

Method ~

Combine crab meat, basil, chives, peppers and chili paste in a bowl.  Add just enough mayo to bind.  Form into 2 ounce portions and fry in a small amount of vegetable oil.

~~With thanks to The Captain Whidbey Inn, Coupeville, Washington

Paul’s Cedar Planked Grilled Salmon

Posted in Seafood & Fish by Paul Gauche on July 5, 2009

Paul and Gene with Salmon

Yes, that’s me and yes, that’s my dad!  I learned to love this great fish and how to prepare it from this great man.

When you buy salmon, you should always buy fresh from the seafood case and try to avoid the packaged fish in the freezer section.  Ask for a ‘filet’ which is part or all of one whole side of the fish, or a buy a salmon ‘steak’ which is a slice including both sides of the fish.  When grilling a filet, plan on a piece 3- to 4- inches wide per person.  When preparing a salmon steak, plan on a piece about 2 inches wide keeping in mind that you are getting both sides of the fish. Since salmon is a rather delicate tasting fish, you don’t want to overwhelm it with too many flavors which could mask the natural flavor of the fish.  Use herbs and seasoning with care and to taste.

Ingredients ~

  • 1 Salmon fillet
  • 1 – 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
  • Various spices such as Lowry’s Seasoned Salt, sea salt, fresh ground black pepper, dill.
  • Peppers: reds, yellows and greens diced and tossed together
  • Onions: red, white or green onions, chopped and tossed together
  • Cedar plank (thoroughly soaked)

Note ~

If you want to use a cedar plank, go to Home Depot and buy a length of untreated cedar and cut it to a length that will fit your grill.  Never cook with any kind of treated wood or you can pretty much kiss goodbye the ability to have kids or even concentrate on fine motor movements.  There are those who cooked with aluminum in the 50’s and 60’s can now attest to that.  The piece of wood you cook on should measure about 14 x 7 x 1 inches.  Once again, be sure to purchase untreated planks to avoid chemical contamination of food.  You don’t have to limit yourself to cedar. Try untreated oak, maple, cherry or apple wood or alder wood planks for different flavors.

Method ~  

Soak the cedar plank from four hours to over night.  When you are ready to cook the fish, preheat the grill.  Rinse the fish and pat dry with paper towels.  Add to the fish any of the seasonings, herbs, spices and or onions and peppers that you wish.  Oil the plank with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and place the filet skin side down or the filets on the plank.  Turn the grill to ‘low’ and place the cedar plank with the fish on the grill and close the cover.  Grill, checking often until the fish is flakey, but not dry.

Variations ~

If you aren’t using a cedar plank, simply layer 4 or 5 pieces of foil on one another, oil the foil and then place the salmon filets skin side down or the steaks on the oiled foil.  Carefully roll up the edges to keep the juices from escaping into the flames of the grill.

Salmon Rub: 

Use Tom Douglas’ Salmon Rub (“Rub With Love”).  Put a couple of Tablespoons of olive oil on the fish and gently rub to cover.  Then use enough Salmon Rub to coat the filet or the steak.  Place on the plank or the foil and then on the grill until flakey, but not dry.

Butter and Dill:

Lightly salt and pepper the filet or the steak and add either fresh or dried dill and  some butter.

Maple Glaze:

Lightly salt and pepper the fish and then drizzle on pure maple syrup.  Follow with freshly squeezed lemon juice.