Paul's Kitchen

Paul Hill
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Oysters on the beach

In my last column, I said we would talk about garlic toast to go with finger foods, and most pasta dishes, or just about anything, in my opinion.

Originally, garlic toast was just that. You would take some crusty bread drizzle with a little olive oil, toast and rub with fresh garlic. This made a dry but very tasty accompaniment.

In my restaurant training, my French chef taught me basic garlic butter. Take four peeled garlic cloves, one teaspoon of dried parsley, one pound of salted butter. Bring butter to room temperature, cut into cubes and place in food processor with garlic cloves and parsley. Mix till smooth, and place into serving dishes, cover and place in fridge until one hour before serving. If you do not have a food processor, we can go back farther to the way they use to do it before food processors. Soften in stainless steel bowl over double boiler (do not melt,) remove from heat and put first bowl into a second bowl with ice in it, add finely chopped garlic, dry parsley and whip till smooth, transfer to serving dish(s).

The ice trick will help prevent the butter from separating. Remember to keep it refrigerated. By whipping butter you will get better spread ability and yield, so you may want to just whip your plain butter as well. It is good practice to serve plain whipped butter alongside garlic butter.

There are store bought garlic butters, but dont be fooled by garlic spreads as these are not usually made with only butter. In my experience with different restaurants the recipe has been altered, making it a spread, and not a true butter. The usual practice was to add olive oil or margarine. It is personal taste, but I want butter only.

One more thing we can do with these instructions is make a herb butter. I use one part rosemary, one part oregano, one part celery powder and garlic powder, depending on how strong you want it. You may want to experiment with thyme.

In a good restaurant, they have a piece of equipment called a salamander oven, which will produce heats of up to 650 degrees, it is basically a large broiler, but the elements are close together. This allows you to toast really fast and not dry out the breads; our kitchen stove cannot do the same, even on broil (elements are too far apart.) But what I have found that works quite well is a toaster oven. Spread a little amount of you garlic butter on bread (too much and it will toast around the edges and not toast evenly.

Now lets talk breads, the traditional Vienna loaf, French baguette, chibatta (means slipper) or even a light rye. Dont be afraid to try other breads, but I have found doughy white breads do not work that well.

I said we were away exploring and discovering some of Nova Scotias treasures. Now I know this is not everyones cup of tea, but Ritas tea room is a wonderful place to stop and try some tea and some sweet treats. We also found a wonderful campground run by a very nice couple called Hideaway Campground and Oyster Market, where they produce Aspy Bay oysters. So after a nice light hike we came back and pick up some fresh oysters, which we had with baguettes (garlic butter of course,) old cheese and a glass of wine in the great outdoors.

Talk to you in two weeks.

Geographic location: Vienna, Aspy Bay

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