OYSTER-ARTICHOKE PAN ROAST
This tasty recipe comes from a colorful, history-packed cookbook whose very name is a mouthful: "From a Lighthouse Window: Recipes and Recollections from the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum St. Michaels, Maryland" (Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, $19.95). The dish combines the subtle flavor of oysters and artichokes in a savory sauce that complements their flavors without being overwhelming.
14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
6 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped scallions
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons flour
1 quart oysters, with their liquor
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
Cover quartered artichoke hearts with water and bring to a simmer. Keep warm.
Heat 4 tablespoons of butter in a medium skillet and saute' scallions, onion and garlic until tender. Sprinkle on flour and saute' another 3 minutes.
While the onion mixture is cooking, poach oysters over low-to-medium heat in their own liquor, basting occasionally; add a little water if it seems necessary. Cook until the edges begin to curl and the oysters plump up. Drain oysters, reserving liquid.
Add 1 to 1 1/2 cups of oysters liquid to onion mixture. Add parsley, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, Tabasco sauce and salt. Simmer until thickened. Place oysters and drained artichokes in a shallow casserole (or gratin or paella dish) and cover with sauce. (Can be prepared ahead of time up to this point and refrigerated.)
Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet and toss with bread crumbs until coated. Sprinkle over contents of casserole. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees or until bread crumbs are browned and sauce is bubbly. Serve immediately along with Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco sauce for those who may wish to add more seasoning to their portions.
Per serving: 430 calories, 22 gm protein, 33 gm carbohydrates, 24 gm fat, 12 gm saturated fat, 182 mg cholesterol, 862 mg sodium.
IF YOU'RE IN BOSTON Sunday and a discussion on "We are what we eat: What the history books never taught us" interests you, head across the river to the Agassiz Theater at Harvard at 2 p.m. The Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe College has created a "friends of its culinary collection" organization to raise money and introduce the cookbooks to a broader audience and its first event is the aforementioned panel discussion by Harvey Lowenstein, Laura Shapiro, Jane and Michael Stern and moderator Nancy Harmon Jenkins. Call 617-495-8647 for information.
GEORGE BUSH ATE his words about no new taxes and Congress gnashed its teeth over some new food policy. Farm programs were slashed by 25 percent, but a number of landmark consumer, nutrition and food safety provisions were retained in the 1990 farm bill. And the 101st Congress did pass a food labeling bill, which will require mandatory nutrition information on the labels of all food packages. Here's what made it into the final farm bill and what didn't: Passed
Organic Foods Production Act: A national definition for the term "organic" will be established to bring uniformity to the marketplace. Many states have their own definitions; under this act, organic products will have to be certified according to a consistent list of specifications.
Research for low-input sustainable agriculture: A 10-fold increase in U.S. Department of Agriculture funds for research into helping farmers reduce the use of chemicals. The new funds, totaling $40 million, will help USDA move in a significantly new direction from its traditional research approach.
Research into USDA cosmetic grading standards: A total of $8 million for two studies has been appropriated to determine the extent to which cosmetic grading standards affect pesticide use. Originally, this was an amendment that would have required that USDA modify its grading standards.
Country-of-origin labeling: USDA must establish a two-year pilot program in which the country of origin of fresh fruits and vegetables must be labeled in supermarkets.
Record keeping of restricted-use pesticides: Farmers who use pesticides that are allowed only for limited purposes will be required to keep records of their usage.
Water quality: A new program has been created to help farmers prevent contamination of ground water and surface water on 10 million acres.
Hunger programs: Funding for the Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program, a program that provides government commodities to food banks and soup kitchens, had been threatened, but was increased to $220 million a year, up from $120 million. Changes in the food stamp program were made to make it easier for participants to use and enroll in the program. However, other provisions of the $650 million proposed Mickey Leland Memorial Domestic Hunger Reform Act did not materialize. Failed
Pesticide Export Reform Act: This would have banned what has been called the "Circle of Poison," or the export of pesticides that are unregistered in this country, but may come back to haunt us on imported foods. The measure was killed by lobbying from the chemical industry and the administration.
Mandatory fish inspection: This ended up as legislation separate from the farm bill, with the House and Senate passing vastly different bills. The House passed its version too late for a conference committee to rectify the differences. At issue was a turf battle over which federal agency should be responsible for administering the program and whether the existing seafood program should be expanded or a more far-reaching program implemented.
BE YOU THE SORT who looks forward to Thanksgiving all year long, or the type who wants to hide out until the cooking assignments are all divvied up, "Thanksgiving Dinner: Recipes, Techniques, and Tips for America's Favorite Celebration" by Anthony Dias Blue and Kathryn K. Blue (HarperCollins, $19.95) may be the book for you.
Every aspect of the holiday dinner is examined and menus are offered for groups of various sizes. Alternatives are given for traditional dishes along with twists on the traditions themselves. The Stuffed Acorn Squash, a relatively low-fat, low-salt side dish, tasted fresh, pure and bright. Colorful with cranberries, it would jazz up the sideboard. STUFFED ACORN SQUASH (8 servings)
4 acorn squash
Salt for water
1 pound butternut squash (about 1/2 an average-sized squash), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 cups whole cranberries
3 tablespoons lingonberry preserves (or substitute raspberry preserves)
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Cut acorn squash into halves lengthwise. With a spoon scrape out the seeds and fibers. Put halves, face up, into one or more shallow baking dishes and add 1/4 inch hot water. Bake for 30, minutes, or until tender.
Meanwhile, blanch the butternut squash in boiling salted water for 3 or 4 minutes, or until just tender. Strain and reserve. In another pot, blanch the cranberries until they start to pop, 4 to 5 minutes. Strain and combine with the butternut squash.
In a small saucepan, heat the preserves and the honey until they bubble. Then add the butter. When it melts, add the cranberry-squash mixture and stir to combine (gently, so as not to mash the berries). Spoon the filling into the cooked acorn squash halves.
Return stuffed squash to the oven for about 15 minutes to heat through. Serve immediately.
Note: Can be prepared one day ahead through the baking and blanching of the squashes. Just cover and refrigerate until needed.
Per serving: 148 calories, 2 gm protein, 31 gm carbohydrates, 3 gm fat, 2 gm saturated fat, 8 mg cholesterol, 10 mg sodium.
SaturdaySTART NOTE: Nov. 10. END NOTE: Turkish Bazaar, with gyros, stuffed grape leaves and pastries for sale, along with rugs and crafts, sponsored by the Turkish Women's Association, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thomas Pyle Intermediate School, 6311 Wilson Lane, Bethesda. For information, call 202-966-7689.