Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sotterley Oyster Pie

Last month I gave a talk at the Charles County Archaeological Society's meeting about James Swann and his oyster house. Afterwards, the discussion stayed focused on oysters and everyone's love and/or hate of the little creatures.

Recipes started to be discussed and Jane Keller starting telling us about an oyster pie recipe she had come across.

Here is the recipe from The Great American Seafood Cookbook and where it came from:

Sotterley Oyster Pie
"This is a traditional Maryland recipe, researched and recreated by William Taylor, a Maryland caterer and historian. Mr. Taylor relives the history of Maryland through its cuisine, catering lavish banquets usind traditional recipes, often in histoic homes such as Sotterley Mansion, for which this pie is named. Oyster pie is wonderful - it sounds unusual and it is...

Pie Pastry

2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup chillde unsalted butter
1/2 to 3/4 cup ice water

Bechamel Sauce

2 to 2 1/4 cups milk
1 bay leaf
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
Liquor reserved from oysters
salt and freshly ground white pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
generous pinch of ground mace


2 dozen small oysters, drained
3 hard boiled large eggs, peeled and thinly sliced
1 can (14 1/2 oz) white or golden hominy
salt and freshly ground white pepper


Pastry: Combine flour and salt in large bowl and shave fine slices of butter onto the flour and toss with fork to mix. Sprinkle in 1/2 cup (125 ml) of the ice water while tossing with fork until pastry is moist enough to form into a ball. Add more water if necessary. Wrap in waxed paper and chill for at least 1 hour. Roll out two thirds of the pastry, cut to 12 inch circle and line bottom of 10 inch tart pan (type with removable bottom). Roll remaining pastry into 11 inch circle for top of pie and place on baking sheet. Chill crusts for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 deg F. Cover bottom crust and top crust with foil and weigh down with baking weights or dried beans (keeps flat). Bake both crusts for 8 minutes then remove foil and weights and contine baking for 8-12 additional minutes uncovered, 'til golden brown, then cool.

Sauce: In small suacepan, scald 2 cups (475 ml) of milk with the bay leave over med heat. Let steep (off heat) for 5 minutes then discard bay leaf. Melt butter in heavy-bottomed pan over med heat being careful not to brown. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, for 3 minutes. Pour in the warm milk and continue cooking, whisking constantly until thickened. Whisk in the oyster liquor and additional milk if necessary to make a thick but pourable sauce. Season with salt, white pepper, cayenne, and mace to taste. Remove sauce from heat and add oysters, stirring gently to mix in. Cover bottom crust (still in tart pan) with egg slices. Sprinkle hominy over the eggs and season with salt and pepper. Pour in the hot oyster sauce spreading evenly to edge of pastry. Dust with additional mace. Gently set the top crust in place and set the pie on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees (200 C.) F. until pie is hot through, (12 to 15 minutes). Be careful not to brown the pastry or over-cook the oysters. Remove from oven and remove the sides of tart pan. Serve immediately.



Monday, February 1, 2010

The real LeCroy

Scott is indeed correct! Last week's mystery point was a rhyolite LeCroy point from Elizabeth Hills in St. Mary's county, though I have to admit Scott seems suspiciously knowledgeable about the site...almost as if he worked on it... Anyway, Lecroy projectile points are typically associated with Early to Middle Archaic sites, and have been found along most of the Eastern coast and into the Midwest.

For this week's mystery artifact we are diving back into historic artifacts. The one pictured below was found this past fall when we were working in the area around the Swann House foundation. This one should not be too tough, so feel free to guess!