Monday, March 31, 2014

Scooter Learns to Cook Oysters in New Orleans

This is one of the delicious dishes I had during my trip to New Orleans for the Isidore Newman school reunion. Jane Casbarian, owner of Arnaud's Restaurant, threw a classy reunion party and we all had so much fun. Jane showed Scooter, Boots, and me how to make Oysters Bienville from her Arnaud's cookbook. Here's the recipe!

Oysters Bienville
Serves 8 to 10

            1 tablespoon vegetable oil
            2/3 cup finely chopped white mushrooms
            4 tablespoons (2 ounces, ½ stick) unsalted butter
            1-1/2 teaspoons very finely chopped garlic
            4 large shallots, finely chopped
            ½ lb cooked shrimp, finely diced
            1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
            ½ cup brandy
            ½ cup heavy cream
            1 teaspoon ground white pepper
            6 tablespoons grated Romano cheese
            4 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
            ¼ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
            1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
            Freshly ground black pepper
            ½ teaspoon Cayenne pepper
            2 dozen plump, salty, oysters, freshly shucked and the flat sides of the shells reserved
            About 2 lbs rock salt (optional)
            Lemon wedges wrapped in muslin sleeves, for serving

In a large, heavy saucepan, warm the vegetable oil and sauté the chopped mushrooms for about 4 minutes, stirring. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon, press with another spoon to remove excess liquid and set aside. In the same pan, melt the butter over low heat and sauté the garlic and shallots for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened.

Add the diced shrimp and stir to mix, then sprinkle evenly with the flour. Stir together, add the reserved mushrooms and increase heat to medium.

Stirring constantly, deglaze the pan with the brandy. Stir in the cream and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until smooth. Stir in the Romano, dry breadcrumbs, parsley, salt, a touch of black pepper and the Cayenne to a soft moundable consistency. Add a small amount of milk if the mixture is too thick.

Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the mixture to a glass or ceramic bowl. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for about 1-1/2 hours, or until thoroughly chilled.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash the oyster shells well and pat dry. Drain the oysters and place one in each of the 24 shells, or use two smaller oysters per shell if necessary.

Place the shells in a large, heavy roasting pan lined with a ½-inch layer of rock salt, or place six filled oyster shells in each of four pie pans lined with salt (the salt keeps the shells upright during cooking and stops the delicious juices from escaping).

Top each oyster with on generous tablespoon of the Bienville mix and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until nicely browned.

Garnish with a wrapped lemon wedge and serve immediately.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Going Public: Scooter Discovers Asheville Chef Cecilia Marchesini

 Scooter Cooks at Cecilia’s Kitchen

If you’ve been following this blog, you know that Scooter is quite human in his basic desires. Like all people, he and his pal Boots have simple needs: food, shelter and love. They dream of ways to get adopted so that a forever family may provide for their wellbeing. These essential needs apply equally to animals and humans. Scooter wants to be Superman so someone will respect him. Who doesn't?

Have you noticed that animal lovers react the same to dogs, cats and children? The human emotion is to reach out and hug, cuddle, talk to and nurture. Giving a child a cookie is like giving a dog a treat. Those are the kind of people that gravitate to Scooter and innately understand that this dog (puppet?) is hungry for food and love.

The three chefs in the first BrokenHeart Pets video cooking series share this kind of love for the basics.  Like Scooter and Boots, each has faced difficult challenges and found special community acceptance in their love of food and animals. Laurey Masterton battled cancer with all she had but her dog Tye fought with her every step of the way. Chris Kobler lost his eye as a soldier in Vietnam but is as handsome, smart and talented as his partner Brigid Burns. For both of them, food and travel has reached an art form of epic proportion. Cecilia Marchesini, from a privileged background and loving family in Argentina, used her love of cooking to raise her son Matias as a single mom, to get her business degree, attend law school and to gain the respect from the Asheville community for her generosity and sheer grit. In America, she was on her own and without substantial means.

Born in the small town of La Carlota, Cecilia’s family name is Magellan (Yes! The original conquerors of Argentina) and her grandmother came from Macerata in northern Italy. Cooking is in her “blood.” Her former husband was French, so all together, you can understand why her empanadas, crepes and tamales are authentic and fully reminiscent of home cooking from afar.

She has worked with determination from a two-year stint at restaurant Le Sole (now Bouchon on Lex) to making crepes at festivals to building a business with her food truck, “Lola,” the first food truck in Asheville. “I named my truck Lola because Frieda Kahlo seemed overused. Never the less, Lola Flores was an Andalusian icon of gypsy culture and a flamenco dancer, another powerful woman… and I wanted to adopt her determination to help achieve my business success.” “Lola” and Cecilia are pals, and have traveled life’s roads together like Scooter and Boots!

Cecilia found her tired, used truck and did an “extreme makeover” into a kitchen space that travels to markets and festivals all over the region. Weekly, she and “Lola” serve up delicious crepes, empanadas and tamales at the North Asheville and Montford tailgate markets and she then brings her specialties to the Wedge in the RAD. She started her restaurant last year with just $300 and has built her business to five employees and no debt. As of now, Cecilia’s Kitchen on north Merrimon brings home 30% of her business income, the truck is 40% and the rest comes in from catering. It looks like Cecilia’s business degree has really paid off!

Scooter and Boots are just as determined as their pal Cecilia to find food, shelter and someone to love them. Scooter has learned that cooking good food means more than simply feeding one’s stomach. Like Laurey, Chris, Scooter and Cecilia, it will also feed their souls.

Learn to make empanadas and crepes at:

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Scooter Cooks with Laurey Masterton

Laurey Masterton’s
Beef Ribs with Honey

1 cup                  tamari
1/2 cup                honey (sage, if available)
4                         garlic cloves
2 lbs                        beef ribs
1 lemon            Small (Meyer lemon if available)

1.     Preheat oven to 325 degrees
2.     Combine tamari, honey and garlic in a saucepan. Bring to boil and turn to dimmer. Cook 5 minutes on low. Watch to make sure sauce doesn’t burn. Remove from stove and let it cool to room temperature.
3.     Meanwhile, place ribs in a deep baking pan. Add 1cup water or just enough to cover bottom of pan. Cover pan with foil and bake ribs for 45 minutes.
4.     Drain water from pan and brush marinade on the ribs. Baste frequently. Bake for 30 minutes uncovered or longer until cooked.
5.     Squeeze lemon over ribs just before serving.

Save leftovers for next recipe!

Beef Sliders

1.     Take leftover ribs from refrigerator and cut meat from bones.
2.     Drip pan juices on small slider buns.
3.     Place chopped beef on bun.

Recipes from Laurey Masterton
The Fresh Honey CookbookI            ©2013 by Laurey Masterton
Laurey’s Comfort Food and Catering in Asheville, NC
Special thanks to Lisa Ekus, Heather and Lucinda Masterton

Scooter Talks to Laurey Masterton About Cooking Videos

 Going Public: How to Launch a Fan Following 
on Social Media
Part 2 of a Series from Daryl Slaton + Louise Glickman

In March, The BrokenHeart Pets will launch their very own FAN CLUB starring Scooter and Boots, our lovable dog and cat characters that are looking for food, shelter and someone to love them. Their humorous and touching escapades bring joy to their hardscrabble lives… and ours!  Homelessness does not mean heartlessness for these two pals, proving that compassion comes from sharing with, caring for and loving animals.

Right now, we are focusing content on six short videos that will launch on YouTube about Scooter’s quest to find food. He visits local chefs here in Asheville to find out what they do with leftovers. One of these chefs, Laurey Masterton of Laurey’s Comfort Food in downtown Asheville and the author of  “The Fresh Honey Cookbook: 84 Recipes from a Beekeeper’s Kitchen,” was recently interviewed about her experiences taping with Scooter.

Q:  Laurey, when it comes to food, you and Scooter appear to be soul mates! How do you like working with Scooter in the BrokenHeart Pets videos on how to use leftovers?

A: (Laurey) I love puppets and like playing with them, especially Scooter.  He is so full of life and joy and is an eager fellow.  I am not used to making videos, however, and one of the most challenging things for me was doing shots over and over again - and trying to remember what I had said or done in the previous take.  It certainly teaches patience!!
Q: These videos are meant to reveal the relationship that Scooter has with his cat pal Boots. In the first BrokenHeart Pets book, Scooter and Boots are looking for food. They find leftover scraps and “pool” their “food finds” to feed each other and their friends. At the same time, each of your videos will also highlight your interests as a chef and beekeeper. How does the BrokenHeart Pets story “feed” into your love of food and bees?

A: (Laurey) My main message is that we need to take care of bees or we will not have any food to eat.  Bee colony collapse threatens food development all over the world. Hopefully this message will come across in the videos.  Cooking with honey helps sustain bee life and is easy for anyone to do. In that way, we can all help the bees.

Q: Is Honey good for pets?
Hmm.  I don't know - I DO know it is great for people!

Editor’s Note: Check out this article and others about the benefits of honey for animals:

Q) What do you do with leftovers on any given day at Laurey's? Are there lots of ways to transform recipes from one day to the next? How can Scooter best use his "Doggie Bag" to feed his pal Boots and their many friends?

A: (Laurey) If we do have leftovers, we make them into something else, just like in the video.  Vegetables scraps are saved for soup stocks.  Leftover soup can become gravy or part of a casserole.  And if we actually throw anything out, it goes into the compost.  Nothing is wasted in this way.  It is how we "take care of the Earth" which is an important part of our Vision at Laurey’s:  “Run a profitable business that makes and serves delicious foods.  We take care of each other, our customers, and The Earth.”

Editor: Recipes used in the videos with Laurey and Scooter may be downloaded from

The Fresh Honey Cookbook is available online and at independent booksellers. Copyright 2013 by Laurey Masterton. Special thanks to Lisa Ekus of The Lisa Ekus Group.

Laurey says Goodbye to Scooter.
We say Goodbye to Laurey, our dear friend. 
We will always remember your special talents, 
love of life 
and remarkable gifts.