Puff Pastry Cases Filled with Oysters and Green Peppercorns

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This delicate and exciting dish requires very little cooking; once the pastry is made, the rest is easy. The addition of the vegetables gives the dish a little ‘crunch’.

Ingredients

  • 24 oysters
  • 1 carrot
  • ½ small leek
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 350 g/12 oz puff pastry
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 300 ml/½ pint fish stock
  • 120 ml/4 fl oz double cream
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 225 g/8 oz butter
  • 2 tsp green peppercorns
  • 115 g/4 oz cooked leaf spinach
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas Mark 7.

Cut the carrot, leek and celery into fine julienne about 5 cm/2 inches long. Roll out the puff pastry to a thickness of 5 mm/¼ inch. Using a small, sharp knife, cut out 4 oval shapes, about 10 x 7.5 cm/4 x 3 inches. Lay these on a baking sheet and brush with the egg yolk mixed with the milk. Lightly mark a line 5 mm/¼ inch in from the edge all the way round for the lid. Leave in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to rest, then bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. When cooked, cut along the line you marked in the pastry and remove the lids. Keep the cases warm.

Carefully open the oysters over a bowl to catch any juice. Strain the juice through muslin into a saucepan and add the fish stock. Reduce over a high heat until syrupy. Add the cream and the lemon juice, return to the boil, then reduce the heat to very low and gradually add the butter, saving about 10 g/¼ oz to heat the spinach. Whisk continuously until all the butter has melted. Stir in the vegetables, oysters and green peppercorns and soak these in the sauce for a minute over a very low heat; do not allow the sauce to boil or even simmer.

To Serve

Reheat the cases in the oven for 30 seconds. Melt the remaining butter in a frying pan and add the spinach, lightly season with salt and pepper and toss in the butter until hot.

Place a little spinach in the bottom of each case. Spoon 3 oysters into each case on top of the spinach and spoon 3 more onto the plate next to the case. Top both the oysters in the cases and the oysters on the plates with a few vegetables, pour the sauce around the plate, put the lids in place and serve quickly.