Oysters & Champagne

Kumamoto Oysters with Jeweled Vegetable Mignonette on Shiso Leaves

Kumamoto Oysters with Jeweled Vegetable Mignonette on Shiso Leaves

Kumamoto Oysters with Jeweled Vegetable Mignonette on Shiso Leaves

For Valentine’s Day this year, let’s start off with savory, salty, plump and juicy Kumamoto oysters and refreshingly bubbly champagne, before indulging in all of that ubiquitous chocolate. Not that there is anything wrong with chocolate as your encore. This oyster appetizer is a delicious and healthfully balancing way to prime the body’s digestive pump with some blood sugar stabilizing seafood protein and crunchy vegetables.


You will be amazed at the difference the type of oyster can make. I never really liked oysters until I tasted Kumamotos from the Pacific North West. I had only had the East Coast variety - flat, slimy, briny. They are actually a different genus than the Pacific North-West. Kumamotos are the perfect bite size, pink rather than grey, plump rather than flat, sweet and creamy, with gorgeously ruffled shells that can double as ornaments. And no cocktail sauce shall ever clutter the sweetness of these precious gems for me - only mignonette; Moscatel or sherry vinegar with minced shallot and pepper.


When I prepare Oysters Mignonette for myself or loved ones, I add another level of visual, textural, flavorful and nourishing panache: a little smorgasbord of toppings for the chooser’s whim. Finely minced cucumber, radish, chives, and celery freshen the experience and add a pleasing crunch to augment all that creaminess. Of course the crisp splash of champagne, in between bites, lends the perfect exuberance to this elegant repast.



 Kumamoto Oysters with Mignonette Sauce

 Mignonette Recipe


  • Moscatel or Sherry Wine Vinegar (or any wine vinegar you like)

  • Minced Shallot

  • Optional minced vegetables and herbs – cucumber, radish, celery, chive


  1. Mix the ingredients together in the proportion that tastes and looks good to you.

  2. Add a dash of black, white or red ground pepper if you like.

  3. Drizzle sauce over fresh oysters and enjoy with Champagne.

Red Radishes

Red Radishes

Persian (Mini) Cucumbers

Persian (Mini) Cucumbers



A Festive Fall Fare

Chicken Liver Paté with Caramelized Apples & Onions

Happy Hour with Style

Happy Hour with Style

If you think you don’t like chicken livers then you probably have not had them prepared well. When buying chicken livers, be sure to go for the freshest, firm, boldly colored lobes. I prefer local free-range farmed chickens from a reputable purveyor. Over cooking chicken livers turns them bitter, chalky, dry and rubbery, spoiling their naturally juicy sweet flavor. I use a blend of plu gras butter or Ghee, mixed with olive oil for the apple onion sauté and the liver sear. The oil/butter mix must be hot enough to make a brown sear while leaving the inside pink. Adding bit of freshly ground nutmeg and finely ground white pepper to the apples and onions while they sauté, adds an earthy aroma and depth of flavor to the mélange. After all of the ingredients are cooked to perfection, I add a generous dash of cognac to the processor to accompany the seared livers with the caramelized spiced apples and onions, using all of the buttery oil from the pan.

Plu gras literally means more fat. European butter has more fat than American butter. It is far better for baking and cooking than the American butter, which has considerably more water content. Ghee can be purchased or made by reducing butter as directed by experts.


For my recipe:

Paté Ingredients

  • I pint of fresh plump chicken livers, trimmed of any stringy white bits

  • 1 cup of Vidalia onions, shallots or whatever onions you have on hand - chopped

  • 1 half of a Fuji, Gala, Braeburn, or Honey Crisp apple – chopped

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon of plu gras butter or Ghee

  • ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg

  • ¼ teaspoon of finely ground white pepper

  • 2 ounces cognac of French brandy

  • Salt to taste

2 Tablespoon of plu gras butter or Ghee for sealing the paté – melted

Paté Directions

  1. Trim the liver pieces of any white stringy bits. Cut the lobes into evenly sized pieces for even cooking.

  2. In a large skillet on medium low heat, slowly sauté the onions and apples with the oil and butter and a pinch of salt. About 15 minutes.

  3. Remove the apples and onions with a slotted spoon, leaving behind as much of the oil and butter as possible. Add them to the food processor bowl.

  4. Turn the heat up to medium high heat to sear the livers.

  5. Add the pan contents of livers and fat, along with the cognac, to the apple onion mix in the processor.

  6. Pulse the ingredients, scraping down the bowl occasionally.

  7. Finish processing the mixture until puréed.

  8. Taste the mixture for seasoning, adding more salt, pepper or nutmeg if needed. Give the mix another whirr if you have adjusted the seasoning.

  9. In a small saucepan, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter for sealing the paté.

  10. Pour half of the melted butter into the bottom of a 32 ounce loaf pan, or split it up into smaller containers.

  11. Spoon the paté over the butter. Level the paté.

  12. Evenly cover the paté with the other half of the melted butter, sealing it to preserve the color and flavor.

Food Styling Tip: When I approached this shoot I was showcasing my newest paté recipe. Because of the caramelized apple inclusion in this version, I decided on the fruit and bread crisps to underline and augment the visual flavors. The presentation is my vision of how I would serve it to honored and beloved guests. The table cloth and dish choices were an instinctive decision based on the predominant colors of the fruit and flavors. The bread texture and color seemed to work naturally with the scheme of the whole. The bottle of honey and Mandarine orange are accent touches for balance and interest.

Apple and leaf smaller.jpg