For our Artist's Palate back page in the March issue of Wallpaper (W*120), April Bloomfield from The John Dory, New York cooks us a dish inspired by Manet’s 1862 still life, Oysters.
The great impressionist was leaning towards realism when he painted it, in the traditional colours of 17th-century Dutch still life. But close study revealed his oysters to be little more than a few impressionist strokes of heavy paint.
The recipe below is equally classic-with-a-twist. It is creamy, but piquant; soothing but with a bite.
Tarragon butter
100g butter, at room temperature
1 cup fresh tarragon, finely chopped
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, ground
lemon juice to taste
salt to taste
Oyster roast
24 plump, briny oysters (such as Wellfleet or Island Creek)
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 Spanish onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
10ml dry vermouth
1 litre fish stock (made with bones of sweet fish, such as snapper, black bass or blackfish)
1 litre thickened cream
lemon juice to taste
salt to taste
Garlic crostini
1 baguette, cut diagonally into thick slices
olive oil, to lightly drizzle
salt to taste
1 garlic clove, halved
To make the tarragon butter, mix together the butter, tarragon and cayenne pepper. Add lemon juice to taste and season with salt (the butter should be a little tangy and spicy). Set aside.
Shuck the oysters, reserving the liquor.
To make the garlic crostini, preheat oven to 350°C. Line a baking tray with baking parchment. Place the bread on tray, drizzle with oil and season with salt. Bake until the bread is golden brown and crisp. Gently rub the centre of each slice with the cut side of the garlic clove.
To make the oyster roast, heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan, add the Spanish onion and cook until softened.
Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is well cooked.
Add vermouth and cook for 3 minutes or until onion is slightly dry. Add fish stock and cook for 4 minutes or until the liquid reduces by one-third.
Add the cream and cook, stirring constantly, for 3-4 minutes or until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Add oysters and their liquor and cook for 1-2 minutes until the oysters slightly curl. Add lemon juice to taste and season with salt.
Spread each crostini with tarragon butter, or add tarragon butter to the roast. Serve oyster roast with garlic crostini.