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Posts Tagged ‘Mussels’

The mussels are cooked in a fairly light sauce but packed with flavour. Serve with some crusty bread if you like.

Wine Suggestion: This dish demands a white with good bones, though you need to keep it fresh and savoury as well for the taste of the sea the mussels bring. We chose to good effect Quinta Soalheiro’s Alvarinho Reserva which comes from some of their oldest vineyards in the north of Portugal. Aromatically intense with a complex structure, it nonetheless also maintains a salty freshness from the grape making it a great match for mussels.

Mussels and orzo with coconut & saffron – serves 4

  • 1kg mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 80g orzo pasta
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ a small onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped into 1cm pieces
  • 1 Scotch bonnet chilli
  • 1¼ tsp fine salt
  • 150g yellow cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • ½ tsp tomato purée
  • ¾ tsp saffron threads
  • 400g tin coconut milk
  • up to 2 tsp chilli paste, we used paté bomba con peponcini piccanti (optional)
  • 1 lemon

FOR THE HERB OIL:

  • 5g chives, finely chopped
  • 5g coriander, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • a pinch of fine salt

Put the orzo into a medium-sized ball and cover with boiling water. Set aside to soak for 15 minutes, then drain and rinse.

Heat the butter and oil in a large, shallow sauté pan over a medium-low heat. Add the onion, pepper, the whole Scotch bonnet and the salt. Cook gently for about 8 minutes, or until soft but not coloured.

Add the tomatoes, tomato purée and saffron and stir-fry for 2 minutes, then stir in the coconut milk and simmer for 3 minutes.

Add the orzo, then spread the mussels out on top. Cover with a lid, turn the heat to the lowest setting and cook for 5 minutes or until the mussels have all opened.

Discard the whole chilli, you can give it a squeeze into the sauce first if you like heat. Taste the sauce and add some chilli paste if you like.

Squeeze plenty of lemon juice over the mussels, then mix all the ingredients for the herb oil together and spoon over the top.

(Original recipe from Mezcla by Ixta Belfrage, Ebury Press, 2022.)

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This is all you need with some fresh bread and butter. The simple things are the best.

Wine Suggestion: For a wine to work with this dish you need to balance a crisp, acidity to cut through the cream, body to match the depth of flavour and a minerally-savouriness to compliment the briny backbone of flavour from the mussels. If you look to a good Chablis producer or a top Muscadet then you’ll find your solution. We chose Jérémie Huchet’s lieu dit Les Montys le Parc from a very special vineyard in Muscadet that has that extra depth to match this rich, full flavoured dish.

Mussel, bacon and leek soup – serves 2

  • 750g mussels
  • 2 bay leaves
  • a small handful of parsley, leaves picked and chopped and stalks reserved
  • a knob of butter
  • 75g streaky bacon, cut into small pieces
  • ¼ tsp coriander seeds, toasted and crushed
  • 1 garlic clove, finely sliced
  • 1 leek, finely sliced
  • 250ml fish stock (or veg stock)
  • 75ml double cream
  • a small handful of chives, finely snipped

Wash the mussels in cold water and remove any beards. Give any open mussels a hard tap and discard them if they don’t close.

Put 75ml of water into a large saucepan with a tight fitting lid. Add the parsley stalks and bay leaves and bring to the boil. Add the mussels, clamp on the lid, and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the mussels have opened. Give the pan a good shake now and and then as they cook.

Tip the mussels into a colandar set over a bowl to catch all of the cooking juices, you will need the these later so don’t throw them away.

Wipe out the pan and return to the heat. Add a knob of butter, then gently fry the bacon until begining to crisp. Add the coriander seeds, garlic, and leek and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring now and then, until the leeks are nice and soft.

Add the mussel cooking liquid (watch out for the gritty bit at the bottom which you can discard) and the stock, then simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, pick the meat out of the mussels but leave about 12 in their shells to garnish.

Add the cream to the soup and bring back to a simmer. Add the mussel meat, chives and parsley and check the seasoning. Serve in warm bowls, garnished with the mussels in their shells and with bread and butter on the side.

(Original recipe from Outside by Gill Meller, Quadrille, 2022)

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You can obviously use any dry cider for this but we highly recommend the Cockagee Keeved Cider from the Cider Mill in Slane. If you can get sorrel you can use this instead of spinach. Serve with plenty of crusty bread and a glass of cold cider.

Mussels with Cider – serves 4

  • 1.75kg mussels, cleaned
  • 20g butter
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 4-5 scallions, chopped
  • a few thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 100ml dry cider
  • 120ml double cream
  • a good handful of sorrel, coarsely chopped or 200g baby spinach

Melt the butter in a large pan with a lid. Add the garlic, scallions, thyme and bay leaves, then cook until softened.

Add the mussels and cider, turn up the heat, cover and leave to steam for 3-4 minutes, shaking the pan now and then.

Add the cream and the chopped sorrel or baby spinach and remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper. Serve in warm bowls with lots of crusty bread.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein at Home, BBC Books, 2021.)

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A lovely fiskesuppe with delicate flavours and delicious chunks of seafood. You can use whatever mix of fish and shellfish you like, clams would be nice. Serve with lots of steamed potatoes.

Wine Suggestion: Fish, cream, brandy … demands a richer white with a touch of oak and Quinta Soalheiro’s Alvarinho Reserva fitted the bill. Textured and buttery, but at the same time bone dry and vibrantly fresh and full of citrus fruit and salty crisp peaches. A wine so fresh and pure, and yet round and embracing.

Norwegian Fish Chowder – serves 4

  • 100g cooked shell-on prawns
  • 1 litre fish stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a handful of flat-leaf parsley, plus a handful of parsley leaves, chopped, to serve
  • 12 peppercorns
  • 2 carrots, roughly diced
  • 2 celery sticks, roughly diced
  • 1 leek, thinly sliced
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • 50ml brandy
  • 300ml double cream
  • 100g skinless salmon fillet, cubed into 2cm pieces
  • 150g haddock fillet, cubed into 2cm pieces
  • 20 mussels, cleaned
  • steamed potatoes (to serve)

Shell the prawns and put the shells in a large saucepan with the fish stock, bay leaf, parsley, peppercorns, carrot, celery and leek. Bring to the boil and cook for 10-15 minutes. Pour in the wine and brandy and boil for another 5 minutes, then strain into a clean pan.

Add the double cream and bring back to a simmer. Add the salmon, haddock and mussels and cook for 3-4 minutes, adding the cooked prawns for just a minute to warm through at the end. Season and scatter over the chopped parsley. Serve in warm bowls and add potatoes.

(Original recipe by Signe Johansen in Olive Magazine, January 2014.)

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We’re always up for mussels, and this made good use of some leftover ‘nduja, plus we always love fennel. A nice treat for two.

Wine Suggestion: try not to fight the warm spices of the ‘nduja with a wine higher in acidity, rather look for a naturally softer grape like Grenache Blanc. From southern Catalonia in the region of Terra Alta they grow more Garnacha Blanca than anywhere else in the world: Edetaria’s “via Terra” white utulises this to great effect by harvesting in two tranches; the first to give freshness, and the second fruit and aromatics. Elegantly beautiful, with a vibrancy based not on searing acidity but a great balance. You can almost taste the ancient seabed it’s grown on and the breezes that keep the vines cool; a gem.

Mussels with ‘nduja and fennel – serves 2

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
  • 50g ‘nduja
  • 150ml white wine
  • 1kg mussels, scrubbed
  • a handful of coriander, chopped
  • toasted sourdough, to serve

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and cook the fennel for 10 minutes or until caramelised and soft. Stir in the garlic and cook for a minute before adding the fennel seeds and ‘nduja. Break the ‘nduja up with a wooden spoon.

Pour in the white wine and bring to the boil, then add the mussels and stir. Cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes, shaking occasionally, until the mussels have opened (chuck any that stay closed).

Stir really well, then add the coriander and stir again, then serve with the toasted sourdough.

(Original recipe by Adam Bush in Olive Magazine, September 2019.)

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Mussels are a Friday night staple in our house, they’re such good value and sustainable too. We find a creamy, garlicky sauce hard to resist. You will need some fries or crusty bread to go alongside.

Wine Suggestion: It’s a while since we had Muscadet but mussels cried out for some, so Domaine de la Chauviniere’s signature Muscadet sür lie Sèvre et Maine was duly opened and thoroughly enjoyed. This wine is so reliable, plus not too expensive so you won’t mind using some in the dish too much.

Moules à la Crème – serves 4

  • 20g butter
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped
  • 2 shallots, very finely chopped
  • 2-3 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1kg mussels, scrubbed
  • 350ml white wine
  • 75ml double cream
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • a large handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan, then add the garlic, shallots, thyme and bay leaf and cook gently for 5-8 minutes or until softened and starting to brown.

Add the mussels and wine, then cover and cook for a couple of minutes or until the mussels have opened. Strain the mussels over a bowl to catch the cooking liquid.

Return the liquid and bay leaf to the pan, bring to the boil and reduce by half. Add the cream, lemon and plenty of black pepper, then return the mussels and shallots to the pan and add the parsley. Put the lid back on and bring up to the boil for another minute. Serve in warm bowls with fries or crusty bread.

(Original recipe from Restore by Gizzi Erskine, HQ, 2020.)

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We loved this mussel dish from Gill Meller’s book, Gather. Mussels, watercress and bacon are a truly fabulous combination, but not one we’d thought of before. Our farm shop had landcress rather than watercress available so that’s what we used, but it’s very similar, just not grown in running water. Cleaning mussels is a job I love and hate in equal measure, same with cleaning mushrooms. 

Wine Suggestion: A new find – the Quinta de Chocapalha Arinto from near Lisbon in Portugal; zesty citrus and hints of saltiness. So fresh and tasting of days at beachside restaurants eating mussels, helpful when travel is restricted.

Mussels with watercress and bacon – serves 2

  • 2-4 rashers streaky bacon
  • a small knob of butter
  • ½ a small onion, sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1kg mussels, cleaned
  • 150g watercress, plus extra to serve

Heat a splash of olive oil in a frying pan, then cook the bacon for 6-8 minutes, or until crispy. Keep warm.

Put a knob of butter and a spoon of bacon fat from the pan into a large sauce pan. Heat until bubbling, then add the onions and garlic and season with a little salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes or until the onion is soft but not coloured, then add the mussels with 2 tbsp of water. Bring to the boil, then cover the pan with a lid and shake gently. Cook the mussels for a couple of minutes or until the shells are just open. Throw away any that don’t open.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the mussels from the pan into a warm bowl, leave the onion and cooking liquor behind on the heat. Cover the mussels with a tea towel and put somewhere warm. You need to work quickly now to make the sauce while the mussels stay warm.

Put the watercress into the pan and cook for a minute or two until wilted, then tip into a  food processor and purée until smooth. This should be quite thick so if it’s too liquid, put it back into the pan and boil off the excess liquid over a high heat.

Put a generous spoon of purée on each plate with the mussels, crispy bacon and a little fresh watercress.

(Original recipe from Gather by Gill Meller, Quadrille, 2017.)

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Mussels with green pepper, Pernod, tomatoes, feta and dill. This is an Albanian recipe that we found in Venice to Istanbul by Rick Stein. We don’t agree with the seafood and cheese rule anyway and this dish proves that it can work. Serve with crusty bread.

Wine Suggestion: Match with a white with a bit of body, but no oak. We chose an underrated Sylvaner by Sipp Mack in Alsace which was fresh with stone fruits and a racy minerality in the glass

Butrint Mussels – serves 2

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, sliced
  • 1 small green pepper, sliced
  • 30ml of ouzo/Pastis (we used Pernod)
  • 600g mussels, scrubbed
  • 150ml passata
  • 75g feta cheese
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp salt
  • a small handful of dill, chopped

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat and sweat the onion, garlic and green pepper for 5 minutes.

Add the Pernod and the mussels, then cover with a lid and cook for about 5 minutes or until the mussels are starting to open.

Add the passata and feta and season with the chilli flakes, salt and some black pepper. Heat through for a minute or two, then serve scattered with the dill.

(Original recipe from Venice to Istanbul by Rick Stein, BBC Books, 2015.)

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We grew borlotti beans in our little city garden this year. We didn’t get a huge crop but satisfying nonetheless. As we had a load of things going on when we picked these, we froze them for a couple of weeks until we were ready. It made this lovely pasta and bean dish by Joe Trivelli and it felt a bit like late summer again for a moment.

Wine Suggestion: A crisp, dry White or Rosé would be our first choice with a seafood pasta like this. As it’s full flavoured we avoided a lighter style and went for Graziano Pra’s Soave “Otto”, vibrantly full of crisp apples and pears, impressive length and a nutty, saline finish

Pasta with Beans & Mussels – serves 4

  • 1kg mussels
  • 300g fresh borlotti beans
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 celery stick, peeled and cut into pieces
  • 1 ripe tomato, halved
  • 75ml dry white wine
  • a small bunch of parsley, chopped
  • 1 dried chilli
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 200g tubetti pasta

Put the beans into a large pan with 4 of the garlic cloves, the celery and tomato. Cover with 6cm of water and a splash of olive oil, then bring to the boil. Simmer until cooked, about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a large pan until hot, then add the mussels with a tablespoon of oil and the wine. Cover and keep over a hight heat, shaking, until the mussels have just opened. then drain into a colander over a bowl to catch the juice. Don’t be tempted to cook them for any longer. Pick the mussels from the shells.

When the beans are cooked, chop the last clove of garlic. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large saucepan, then add the garlic, most of the parsley and the chilli and fry for  a minute before adding the anchovies. As soon as they have melted, pour over the mussel juice (leave any grit behind) and bring to the boil. Add the borlotti beans with their liquid and the pasta.

Cook until the pasta is al dente, stirring often so the pasta doesn’t stick. You can add more hot water if you need. When the pasta is cooked, turn off the heat, add the rest of the parsley, the mussels and seasoning. Cover and leave to sit off the heat for 5 minutes before serving.

(Original recipe from The Modern Italian Cook by Joe Trivelli, Seven Dials, 2018.)

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Mouclade

Not our first mouclade, as we’ve made many variations over the years, but we particularly liked this one by Diana Henry as the saffron gives the sauce a fantastic colour. A very popular summer lunch dish. You will need some bread for mopping up the sauce.

Wine Suggestion: we went Spanish today and paired this with a wine made predominantly of Treixadura but with small amounts of Godello, Albariño and Loureiro too. Made by Pazo Casanova in the DO Ribeiro which is on the Spanish section of the Minho River this is fresh and citrussy with hints of white flowers and stone fruit on the nose and a mid-weight, textured finish. While we don’t drink much Treixadura we were tempted by the addition of the other grapes which we knew would work with the dish and we can now add this rarer, indigenous Spanish variety to our repetoire of seafood loving wines.

Mouclade – serves 4

  • a good pinch of saffron threads
  • 2kg mussels
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ¾ tsp medium curry powder
  • 4 tbsp brandy
  • 2 tsp plain flour
  • 200ml dry white wine
  • 200ml double cream
  • generous handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Put the saffron in a cup with 5 tbsp of boiling water, then leave aside for 30 minutes.

Wash the mussels, remove any beards and crusty bits and throw away open mussels that don’t closed when given a sharp tap on the side of the sink.

Melt the butter in a pan and gently sauté the onion until soft but not coloured. Add the garlic and curry powder and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the brandy and boil until reduced to a couple of tablespoons. Reduce the heat, then stir in the flour and mix well until smooth. Cook for  a minute, then take the pan off the heat and gradually stir in the saffron water. Set aside.

Put the wine and mussels into a large sauce and cover. Bring the boil and cook over a med-high heat for about 4 minutes, shaking now and then, until the mussels have opened. Strain the mussels in a colander, over a bowl to collect the cooking liquid. Cover the mussels to keep warm while you finish the sauce.

Strain the mussel cooking liquid through a J-cloth, then gently reheat the saffron sauce. Gradually stir in the mussel liquid, then bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes. Add the cream and simmer for 4 minutes or until reduced and a little thicker. Season to taste and stir through the parsley.

Put the mussels into a large serving bowl, pour over the sauce and serve.

(Original recipe from How to Eat a Peach by Diana Henry, Mitchell Beazley, 2018.)

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Paella Mixta

This is not an authentic paella recipe but we guarantee it will remind you of days in the sun. It’s made in the oven from start to finish and all you have to do is add the ingredients in the correct order.

Wine Suggestion: Spanish influenced wine it has to be. If it’s baking hot try a dry, Garnacha Rosé, though for us tonight it had to be red as it was cool and wet. The choice was a little left-field as it was from Teruel, an old, abandoned wine region (caused by the de-population of country areas during their civil war) being rehabilitated by a couple of young winemakers making their own way. The Bodegas Jesus Romero Quercus is garnacha, tempranillo, syrah and a little cabernet franc planted in poor, stony soils with excellent drainage and elevation near Valencia. We are really impressed each time we taste this, and a good match for the dish too!

Paella Mixta – serves 4

  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 600ml chicken stock
  • 1 heaped tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 pinches of saffron
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 300g paella rice
  • 4 chicken thigh fillets, trimmed and cut in half
  • 200g chorizo, sliced
  • 85g frozen peas
  • 150g raw king prawns
  • 250g mussels, cleaned and throw away those that won’t close when tapped
  • lemon wedges, to serve
  • a small handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley, to serve

Heat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7.

Put the onion and garlic into the base of a large, shallow, ovenproof pan. Drizzle with the olive oil, then toss to coat. Put into the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the onion has started to brown. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t overdo.

Meanwhile, put the tin of tomatoes, the chicken stock, the smoked paprika and saffron into a saucepan and heat until piping hot.

Remove the onions from the oven and stir in the rice, chicken, chorizo and hot stock mixture. Season and return to the oven for 20 minutes (uncovered).

Gently stir through the peas and arrange the mussels and prawns on the top. The mussel hinges should be facing downwards. Arrange the lemon wedges around the edge and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes or until the mussels have opened and everything else is cooked. Throw away any mussels that haven’t opened. Scatter over the parsley and serve. Finger bowls and napkins essential!

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

 

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Mussels with Ditalini & Tomatoes

We love mussels on a Friday, so cheap and quick to cook, but still so special and luxurious. We halved the pasta to serve 2 but kept everything else the same – a feast!

Wine Suggestion: Digging into the lockdown cellar again and the Sugrue, Trouble with Dreams 2014 came to hand. A beautifully precise and focussed sparkling from the South Downs in England. If this isn’t to hand a good traditional method, double fermented sparkling would be a good choice too.

Mussels with Ditalini & Tomatoes – serves 4

  • 1kg mussels, scrubbed, remove any beards and throw away any that are open and don’t close when tapped
  • 250g ditalini pasta
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 200g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • ¼ tsp dried chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp sea salt flakes
  • 80ml red vermouth, we used Martini Rosso
  • 4 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Cook the pasta according to the time on the pack in lots of very salty water.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a wide pan that has a lid. Add the tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes to soften, over a medium-high heat.

Add the garlic, chilli and sea salt, then keep stirring until the tomatoes start to melt and make a juice. Add the vermouth and bubble up to get rid of the alcohol, then stir.

Add mussels and cover with the lid. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes or until the mussels have opened, give the pan a good shake now and then. Throw away any mussels that haven’t opened.

Drain the pasta and reserve a little cooking water. Add the pasta to the mussel pan with 2 tbsp of the pasta water. Stir everything together, put the lid back on and leave for a minute or two off the heat. Stir in most of the parsley, then scatter the rest on top.

(Original recipe from At My Table by Nigella Lawson, Chatto & Windus, 2017.)

Mussels with ditalini & tomatoes

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Pan-fried Salmon with Curried Mussels

How disappointed we were when we left it too late to get mussels from our local fish shop last Saturday. So this ended up being dinner on Thursday – a bit fancier than what we usually serve on a weeknight but to be honest we’ve lost track of what day it is anyway! Plenty of pans needed for this dish but it’s worth it.

Wine Suggestion: this needs a white to match that can stand up to a rich, creamy base. Sometimes it also necessary to choose not only a type of wine but also a producer … we suggest cultivating a good wine shop to help with this. Tonight we had a Txakoli, a local wine from near San Sebastion in Spain made from Hondarrabi Zuri. Normally very light and with a spritz-freshness and great with lighter seafood dishes and other tapas. The Astobiza Txakoli we had was fuller bodied while still maintaining the texture, saltiness and freshness of a more typical wine of the region and thus able to step up to the rich creaminess of the food.

As Txakoli isn’t as easy to find we’d also suggest a fuller, textural Albarino as an option.

Pan-fried salmon with curried mussels – serves 4

  • 4 salmon fillets with the skin on, about 120g each
  • vegetable oil

FOR THE MUSSELS:

  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • a handful of parsley, chopped
  • 1kg mussels, scrub them clean, rip off any beards and chuck any that don’t close when you tap them
  • 225ml white wine

FOR THE SAUCE:

  • 50g butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 celery stick, diced
  • 1 tsp medium curry powder
  • 150ml double cream
  • 100g potatoes, peeled and cut into small dice
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives
  • lemon

Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.

Start with the mussels. Heat a tbsp of olive oil in a large, heavy pan, with a lid. Add the onions and parsley and cook gently until soft. Add the mussels, salt and pepper and wine. Bring to the boil, then cover and give the pan a shake. Cook for a few minutes or until the mussels have opened (throw away any that don’t open).

Strain the mussels but keep the cooking liquid. Pour the liquid through a fine sieve to get rid of any grit. Remove the mussels from the shells and set aside.

To make the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan, add the onion, carrot and celery and sweat over a low heat, with the lid on, until softened, about 10-15 minutes. Stir in the curry powder and cook for another few minutes. Stir in 150ml of the mussel cooking liquid and cook for another minute. You can turn the heat off now and leave the sauce aside while you cook the salmon.

Dry the salmon well with kitchen paper, then slash the skin diagonally a few times with a sharp knife. Season well.

Heat a non-stick, oven-proof frying pan over a medium heat, the add 2 tbsp of vegetable oil. Cook the salmon, skin-side down for 4-5 minutes or until the skin is crispy. Don’t be tempted to move it around. Turn the salmon fillets over and put the pan in the oven for another few minutes to finish cooking.

Stir the double cream into the sauce and bring back to the boil, add the potato and cook until softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the mussels to the sauce and warm through briefly. Add the chives and a squeeze of lemon to the sauce and taste for seasoning. Serve the sauce with the salmon on top.

(Original recipe by Bryn Williams in Olive Magazine, April 2011.)

 

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Spicy fish soup

We often have fish on Fridays. It’s quick to cook and light enough that we’ve room for cheese afterwards. Mussels are a favourite too and they’re fantastic value. This soup by Nigel Slater is crammed with them, and full of flavour.

Wine suggestion:  an old favourite white wine, the always versatile ALLO by Quinta Soalheiro. Light bodied so it doesn’t overwhelm the delicate play of flavours in the dish, but textured and concentrated at the same time. A wine that is the sommeliers’ secret weapon for matching.

Spiced fish soup – serves 2

  • 1kg mussels, scrubbed, de-bearded, chuck any with broken shells or that don’t close when you give them a sharp tap
  • 2 large banana shallots, peeled and separated into layers
  • a splash of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 250g white fish fillet – we used hake – cut into 4 pieces
  • a handful of chopped coriander

Put the cleaned mussels into a large pan and add 500ml of water. Cover with a lid, bring to the boil and cook until the mussels have opened (a couple of minutes).

Remove the mussels from the liquid but keep the cooking water, you need to strain this through a fine sieve. Remove the mussels from the shells and set aside.

Heat a splash of oil in a deep frying pan, then fry the shallots over a gentle heat until softened. Add the mustard seeds, chilli powder and turmeric, and continue cooking for another few minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes.

Pour in the reserved mussel stock, bring to the boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Lay the pieces of fish in the liquid and cook briefly until opaque (just a couple of minutes should do it). Return the mussels to the pan, season to taste with salt, and stir in the coriander.

(Original recipe from Eat by Nigel Slater, Fourth Estate, 2013.)

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Spicy Dalboka Mussels

We cooked these mussels on Friday night form Caroline Eden’s ‘Black Sea’. A book that is as good to read as to look at. The recipe is Bulgarian with the mussels cooked in a spicy tomato soup. You will need lots of crusty white bread to go with.

Wine Suggestion: This pairs superbly with a good new world Pinot Noir, ideally from a producer that values freshness. If you can push the boat out a bit we’d suggest a Felton Road from Central Otago or a Tyler from Santa Barbera but tonight it was Newton Johnson’s Felicite from Hermanus to equally good effect.

Spicy Dalboka Mussels – serves 2 as a main or 4 as a starter

  • 500g mussels, scrubbed and beards and barnacles removed (chuck any that don’t close tightly when tapped)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, finely sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp chilli powder/pul biber (Turkish pepper flakes)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 10 pink peppercorns, crushed
  • 300ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • a decent handful of spinach (or lovage when it’s around)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • small bunch of dill, chopped
  • small bunch of parsley, chopped

Warm the olive oil in a large heavy-based casserole, then sauté the onion until translucent. Add the garlic, chilli, paprika and peppercorns, then the stock, vinegar and tomatoes – simmer for 15 minutes.

Turn the heat up to hight and add the mussels, spinach and salt. Cover and steam for a few minutes or until the mussels have opened (don’t eat any that haven’t opened).

Take the pan off the heat and add the lemon juice and herbs. Serve in bowls with lots of crusty white bread.

(Original recipe from Black Sea by Caroline Eden, Quadrille, 2018.)

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Mussels & cockles with garlic breadcrumbs

This is a great starter from Polpo that tastes similar to stuffed mussels but is nowhere near as fiddly to prepare. We used cockles instead of clams as that is what we could get the day we cooked this.

Wine Suggestion: we’d suggest a white from central or sourther Italy for this dish. Tonight it was a Verdicchio from the Marches, the Tralivio by the Sartarelli family which combines citrus, apricots and wild herbs with texture, body and hints of a bitter almond on the finish. Very attractive, refreshing and a perfect food wine.

Mussels & Clams with Garlic Breadcrumbs – serves 4 – 6 as a starter

  • 100g old bread
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • a small handful of flat parsley leaves, chopped
  • a large pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 1 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • flaky sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 kg mussels
  • 1kg clams
  • 100ml white wine
  • bread, to serve

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/Gas 4.

Tear the old bread into pieces, then scatter over a baking tray and pour over plenty of olive oil over them. Put the tray into the oven for 5 minutes or until the bread is crisp and golden, then set aside.

When the bread has cooled blitz it in food processor with the chopped parsley, half the dried chilli, half the garlic and some seasoning. When the bread has turned to fine crumbs, taste some and adjust the seasoning and add some more oil if they are too dry.

Clean the mussels and clams in cold running water and discard any that are damaged or that stay open when tapped.

Heat a large pan and add some olive oil. Throw in the mussels and clams with the rest of the chilli and garlic and stir until the shells start to open. As they do, pour in the white wine and cover the pan with a lid. The shells should all have opened after a couple of minutes, throw away any that haven’t opened.

Add a handful of breadcrumbs to the pan to thicken the sauce. Spoon the mussels and clams into shallow bowls and sprinkle with the rest of the crumbs. Serve immediately with crusty bread if you like.

(Original recipe from Polpo by Russel Norman, Bloomsbury, 2012.)

 

 

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Mussels with red onions, cider and creme fraiche

We associate mussels with cold weather and cook them often in the darker months. Makes no sense really when we’ve no issue eating buckets of them in the sunshine on holidays. We loved the creamy sauce on these – crusty bread essential!

Wine Suggestion: it feels natural to use the cider you cook with as the accompaniment. Our choice was the artisanale and organic Cidrerie le Maitre, a very new, young producer in Brittany we stumbled upon by following little signs off the main roads into a winding, forgotten lane in the middle of the French countryside. Daniel le Maitre uses 12 ancient local varieties of apples and the result is dry, very fruity and appley but with a wonderful texture of apple skins and a great depth of flavour which makes it a great food match. A happy discovery, and their Cider Vinegar is also a good addition to our cupboard too.

Mussels with Red Onion, Cider & Crème Fraîche – serves 2

  • 1kg mussels
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 2 small red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 150ml dry cider
  • 2 tsp finely chopped sage
  • 150ml crème fraîche

Scrub the mussels, and discard if open and they won’t close when you give them a sharp tap.

Melt the butter in a large pan, cook the onions for a few minutes, then add the garlic. Pour the cider over and add the sage, then bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook until reduced by half.

Add the mussels, then cover and cook over a medium heat (shaking the pan occasionally) for 3-4 mins or until they have opened. Lift the mussels into a bowl and keep warm.

Bubble the cooking liquid in the pan for a couple of minutes, then gradually blend in the crème fraîche. Heat the sauce through and pour over the mussels to serve.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Mouclade

We mainly eat mussels in the colder months – something to do with months with an r in the them, but also they just seem like cold weather food to us. They’re so cheap and yet such a treat. This is typical Friday night food in our house, served with crusty bread or fries. La Mouclade is a French recipe from Rick Stein’s French Odyssey and includes a creamy curry sauce – delicious!

Wine Suggestion: As this dish comes from the Charentes region of France, we sipped some chilled Pineau des Charentes as an aperitif and then a glass of Bordeaux Blanc. While we would have loved to have found some Right Bank Bordeaux Ch Monbousquet or Valandraud Blanc we had some Chateau Bouscaut Blanc from the Graves instead. A Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon blend with some barrel aging after fermentation in stainless steel. Great with seafood and able to stand up to the curry and saffron.

La Mouclade – serves 4

  • a good pinch of saffron threads
  • 1.75 kg mussels, cleaned
  • 120ml dry white wine
  • 25g butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp good-quality medium curry powder
  • 2 tbsp cognac
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 200ml crème fraîche
  • 3 tbsp chopped parsley

Put the saffron into a small bowl with a tablespoon of warm water.

Put the mussels and wine into a large saucepan, cover and cook over a hight heat for 3-4 minutes, shaking occasionally, until the mussels have opened. Tip them into a colander over a bowl to catch the liquid. Transfer the mussels to a large serving bowl and keep warm.

Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the onion, garlic and curry powder and cook gently for a few minutes. Add the cognac and cook until almost evaporated, then stir in the flour and cook for a minute. Gradually stir in the saffron liquid and the mussel liquid (leave the very last gritty bit behind). Bring to a simmer and cook for a few minutes. Add the crème fraîche and simmer for another few minutes, until slightly reduced. Season to taste, stir in the parsley and pour the sauce over the mussels .

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s French Odyssey, BBC Books, 2005.)

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Mussels cooked in cider

There’s been a bottle of Normandy Cider in our fridge door and we’ve been saving it for a dish like this. Fabulous and fresh for a Friday night with lots of crusty baguette. Serve with a generous glass of cider.

Mussels cooked in Cider – serves 4

  • 2.5kg mussels
  • 15g butter
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely grated or crushed
  • 6 rashers of rindless streaky bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 400ml dry cider
  • 100ml double cream
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped chives

Scrub the mussels and remove any barnacles and beards. Throw away any open shells that don’t close when you tap them on the edge of the sink.

Put a large saucepan over a medium heat. Melt the butter in the warm pan, then add the onion, garlic & bacon and cook gently for about 6 minutes or until the onion is softened.

Pour in the cider, bring to a simmer and simmer for a minute before adding the mussels and covering with a tight-fitting lids. Turn the heat up hight and cook for 3-4 minutes until the mussels have opened, giving the pan a shake occasionally. Throw away any mussels that haven’t opened.

Drain the mussels in a colander over a bowl to catch the cooking liquid, then return to the pot to keep warm. Pour the cooking juices through a sieve into a pan, add the cream and herbs and bring to the boil, seasoning with salt & pepper.

Divide the mussels between 4 bowls and pour over the hot sauce, then serve with crusty bread.

(Original recipe from Rachel’s Everyday Kitchen by Rachel Allen, Harper Collins, 2013.)

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Mussel & fennel risottoWe really liked this tasty risotto made with delicious stock from the mussels. Jules bought half the quantity of mussels (in error!) but it was no worse for it. The sort of thing we like to eat on a Friday night with a glass of something bubbly.

Wine Suggestion: As we have a few bottles of Sparkling Saumur lying around after our summer holiday to the Loire this year, we automatically gravitated to this and found it a good match. This time we opened the Bouvet-Ladubay Trésor blanc, a blend of mostly Chenin Blanc with some Chardonnay. Fresh and vibrant but with the quality of fruit to stand up to the food. Cost aside, we don’t know why more sparkling wines aren’t matched with food.

Mussel & fennel risotto – serves 4

  • 1.75kg mussels, cleaned thoroughly (discard any that don’t close when you hit them off the side of the sink)
  • 250ml dry white wine
  • a few parsley stalks
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ½ fennel bulb, trimmed & diced
  • 300g risotto rice
  • 50ml dry vermouth
  • 4 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • a squeeze of lemon juice

Put the mussels into a large saucepan over a medium heat with the white wine, parsley stalks and peppercorns. Cover and cook for 4 to 6 minutes or until opened. Shake the pan a couple of times as they cook.

Strain over a bowl to catch the cooking liquor and remove the mussels from their shells. Throw away any that haven’t opened.

Strain the liquor through a sieve lined with muslin to catch any grit, then heat until simmering gently.

Heat 5 tbsp olive oil in a heavy pan and sauté the onion, garlic and fennel over a medium heat until the onion is soft but not coloured. Stir in the risotto rice. Pour on the vermouth, then add the mussel liquor a ladleful at a time, stirring continuously. The rice should be cooked after about 20 minutes. Add some water if you run out of mussel liquor.

Stir in the mussels, parsley, lemon juice and seasoning to taste.

(Original recipe from Food from Plenty by Diana Henry, Mitchell Beazley, 2010.)

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