Tag Archives: seafood

Mussel-rama

23 Jan

In the past I’ve written about my serious love of mussels. I know I have at least one post on it, but I’m sure it’s been mentioned several times. Last night, we had a party that was the ultimate indulgence of mussels. A lot of our friends share in my love of this creature and we had been comparing recipes for sometime. I figured, enough talk, let’s throwdown.

It took a little finessing, but the final plan sounded like this. We would provide the mussels and everyone had to come with a sauce or ingredients to make their version of mussels with. There were no limits and no qualifications. It just had to taste good with mussels. I know there are thousands of ways to prepare these little buggers so I was pumped to see what everyone was bringing.

I made my version of moule frite. I did a quick steam in bacon fat, shallots, and prosecco and then garnished with crispy bacon, bleu cheese, and watercress. I did make french fries, complete with truffle oil but they were gone before the mussels were cooked (and that’s saying something.) Our friend Desiree went with a white wine butter sauce with red onion and parsley…

Our friends Lindsay and David went a non-traditional route and made grilled mussels with a sriracha and wine sauce. It was crazy amazing. I wanted to stop eating them, but I couldn’t.

I will apologize to our other friends who’s mussels are not pictured, but I was so busy eating my first round, I forgot to take pictures of the second round. Our friends, Vicki and Steve made the mussels from Bonefish. Not only were they fantastically full of garlic, the sauce was perfect for dipping. Greg and Margot made a Tuscan tomato based sauce that was also out of this world. I know that I’m gushing, and raving about everything, but it’s the truth. There was not a bad mussel to be had!

The best part about this party was that everyone got involved. There was some friendly competition and everyone wanted to impress. We had simple appetizers and free flowing wine and beer. There were lots of laughs and lots of eating. It’s been decided that it was so fun, that we are now going to do a monthly dinner where everyone prepares something. It never ceases to amaze me that food brings people together, and when it’s made with care and passion.

Always thinking about the next meal

Katie

Tone your Mussels

24 May

I was at the grocery store this afternoon getting mussels for dinner and this woman started talking to me. She was getting scallops but told me she had made mussels for dinner last night. She asked me how I was preparing them. Honestly I didn’t have a plan yet. I just love mussels and thought I’d figure it out with whatever I had in the produce drawer. I felt like I couldn’t answer her question with that though. So I said I usually prepare them with sautéed fennel and white wine (which is true.) She gave me a terrified look and turned back toward the seafood counter. This was not the reaction that I was expecting. Surely if she was looking to share a successful menu with a fellow seafood lover, dinner must have been great. Did she think fennel was gross or maybe she didn’t know what fennel was. In any case, I decided that I should ask her how she prepared hers. This was a mistake. She turned around quickly and very stiffly said spaghetti sauce and wine and turned back around. Immediately I regretted saying anything. I was handed my mussels and told her to enjoy her scallops.

This awkward conversation started me thinking. Has our culture of convenience brought us to thinking that something in a jar that is labeled “spaghetti sauce” means that is good to use in anything we deem to be “Italian.” There’s nothing wrong with the quickie dinner that you are too busy to think about. A box of pasta and a jar of sauce and bada bing dinner. I have been known to have the occasional emergency meal. I guess the real question is why would you take something as delicious as a mussel and smother it in a sauce that’s been sitting on a grocery shelf for an unknown amount of time. I’m all for mussels marinara, but jarred spaghetti sauce just won’t cut it for me.

I wanted to shed the “usual” mussel preparation and try something new. After a quick internet search (as you may be doing right now) I decided to just wing it with the ingredients I had on hand. Here’s what I came up with…

Mussels a la minute
serves 2 for appies or 1 for dinner

1.25 pound mussels, cleaned and debearded
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup sweet onion, small dice
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
zest of 1/2 a lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup red or white wine (whatever is open)
2 tablespoons olive tapenade
1/4 cup shredded cheese (I used an Italian blend)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon butter
salt and pepper to taste

In a hot pan add the oil garlic and onions. Sauté until the onions are soft. Add in the the mussels and wine and cover the pan to create steam. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the mussels are just open. Add in the butter and swirl the pan. Add in the lemon juice, zest, parsley, and cheese. Season and put in a serving dish and garnish with toasted ciabatta bread.

This was great. It was fresh and light and perfect for the time of year.

Always thinking of the next meal

-Katie

Sweet Scallops

28 Oct

IMG_0913Tonight’s dinner was suppose to be potato leek soup, but plans changed. Have you ever been walking through the grocery store and had a list? You know exactly what you are getting. You know what is on the menu for dinner. But, just when you least expect it, you see something out of the corner of your eye.

This is not diamonds or gold but sweet, succulent seafood. The little gems that tempted me today were scallops. Typically you have your choice of large diver scallops or tiny bay scallops. Each is wonderful in it’s own right, but my favorite are the divers. These sweet little bivalves provide a blank palette for a multitude of flavoring. You can wrap them in bacon, grill them glazed with hoisin sauce, or my favorite, seared perfectly with just a little salt and pepper.

Scallops can be served accompanied by lots of things. The sides should compliment the sweetness of the scallops, so avoid anything too spicy or too acidic. When I was working at the restaurant, we served our seared scallops over wild mushroom risotto. They are also great over rice, polenta, or a salad. Tonight, I decided a warm lentil salad sounded like the best bet. Here’s the recipe:

Seared Scallops Over Warm Lentil Salad

5 medium or 3 large scallops
1/2 cup lentils, cooked
1/8 cup corn
1/4 cup tomatoes, small dice
2 tablespoons basil, chiffonade
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients except for the scallops. Season and set aside. Heat a sauté pan and add 1 tablespoon of the oil. Pat the scallops dry and season. When oil is hot, add the scallops to the pan and DO NOT move. If you move the scallops around while they are cooking, they will not get the beautiful brown sear on the outside. Cook the scallops for about 1 minute on each side. You can tell they are ready to flip when you see that the edges are turning light brown and the sides are starting to look opaque. While the scallops are cooking, heat the salad in the microwave for 1 minute. It’s only going to be warm when you serve it, but yo can heat it all the way through if you want to. Just make sure to leave the basil out until the end if you choose to do this.

Always thinking of the next meal

-Katie