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Oyster Loaves

Whitstable in Essex was once renowned for its oysters, although the beds are no longer farmed extensively. This recipe dates back to when oysters were exceedingly cheap. For a budget version, substitute mussels or lightly cooked baby scallops or clams, with a drop offish stock in place of the oyster juices.

ingredients

2 miniature brioches, baby cottage loaves or other small rolls
50 g (2 oz) butter, melted
6 large oysters
60 ml (4 tbsp) fresh soured cream
cayenne pepper and white pepper
finely grated lemon rind and parsley sprigs, to garnish

method

1. Remove the top knobs from the brioches, loaves or rolls. Carefully scoop out all the inside, leaving just a wall of crust and taking care not to pierce the crust.

2. Brush the crust shells, inside and out, with half of the melted butter, place on a baking sheet and bake at 220°C (425°F) mark 7 for 5 - 10 minutes, until they are crisp.

3. Meanwhile, scrub the oysters, then, holding each one in a cloth, flat side uppermost, prise open the shells at the hinge. Loosen the oysters, reserving their liquor for the sauce.

4. Add the liquor to the remaining melted butter in a small saucepan, bring to the boil and boil for a few minutes to reduce the liquid.

5. Stir in the cream and heat gently. Do not boil or the mixture will curdle. Season to taste with cayenne and white pepper.

6. Put the oysters into the crust shells and spoon over the sauce. Garnish with lemon rind and parsley. Accompany with a green salad.

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