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Posts Tagged ‘Mussels’

Mussels cooking

 

Fortunately, our Union Square Green Market isn’t just vegetables and fruits – we have cheeses, meats, poultry, fish, plants, and cut flowers to complete the outdoor shopping experience.  I was looking for some inspiration on Saturday and found some merguez sausage at the Flying Pigs Farm (www.flyingpigsfarm.com) stall.  That purchase led to a couple of pounds of mussels at Seatuck Fish Company (www.seatuckfish.com) and the two of them led to dinner pulled together in my beautiful Scanpan covered chef’s pan.
Here’s how it came about:  I sautéed some onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil until just softened.  I sliced up the sausage and added it to the pan and cooked it until it had lost its color.  Then I added about 1 cup of dry white wine, brought the mix to a boil and then lowered the heat and simmered for about 4 or 5 minutes to evaporate the alcohol.  That was followed with ¾ cup of pureed fresh tomatoes, 1 cup of clam broth, and some basil and chile flakes.  I cooked the liquid for a bit to allow the flavors to blend.  Then I added the scrubbed mussels and covered the pan.  Since the lid is glass I could watch the mussels open so just as they began to open I added a big handful of yellow cherry tomatoes and another handful of sliced baby red, yellow, and orange bell peppers.  Again, I covered and watched the mussels finish popping open.  Voila! A one pot dinner came to the table, 1,2,3!

 

Mussels plated

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Cavatelli_8891

 

A few days ago my friend Linda called to see if she could come “play” in my kitchen.  I, of course, said “come on over.”  Why my kitchen instead of her far more modern one I don’t know, but over she came bringing her untried kitchen implements and lots of good ideas.  First she wanted to tackle making cavatelli using her new cavatelli maker to be followed by an introduction to her cataplana, recently purchased in Portugal.  Cavatelli I knew of, but had never heard of the cataplana so had to Google it.
I learned that a cataplana is both a pot and the dish that is cooked in it.  The clamshell-shaped pot is generally made of copper and it has hinges on one side to open and close it easily and clamps to hold it closed on the stove top.  In Portugal, it is traditionally used to make seafood stews.  I had purchased clams, mussels, and shrimp thinking we would make dinner for six.  Unfortunately when I saw the cataplana it was clearly made to prepare stew for one.  So, we tried it out for a little snack as we worked on our dinner menu.
Her cavatelli maker worked like a dream and gave us a lovely first course of cavatelli sautéed in brown butter and sage.  The ingredients for the dinner cataplana went into my big Crueset pot which worked just fine, but left us without the presentation we had planned.
Here is my recipe for pasta dough should you have a cavatelli maker at hand.  You might want to eliminate one egg to make a stiffer dough for the hand-cranked machine. 00 flour is a finely ground flour with a cottony texture that is traditionally used to make pizza and pasta dough in Italy.  Until recently it was not available in the United States.  It is very easy to work with and gives the perfect mouth-feel to these doughs once they are baked or cooked.  It is available from Italian markets and many specialty food stores.  You can also use all-purpose flour.

2¼ cups 00 flour
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon olive oil

Combine the flour and salt on a clean work surface, slightly mounding it in the center.  Then, make a well in the center.   Place the eggs and olive oil in the well and, using your fingertips, loosen the eggs and incorporate a bit of the oil into them.  Slowly pull the flour into the well, working from the inside out, moving in a circular motion.  It is easiest if you use one hand to mix and the other to move the flour into the moistened mixture.  Continue working in this manner until all of the flour has been incorporated into the dough.  At this point the dough should easily pull into a ball.
Lightly coat the work surface with flour and begin kneading the dough by flattening it out and folding over and over until the dough is smooth and elastic.  This might take about 12 minutes.
Wrap the dough in plastic film and let rest for about 30 minutes before cutting it into the desired shape, either using the pasta making attachment of a heavy-duty stand mixer, a hand-cranked machine, or, the old fashioned way, by hand.

linda

 

linda 2

 

cataplana

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We are big mussel fans – they’re cheap, meaty, filling, and fun to eat.  Distinguué French ladies usually open one and then use the half shell to gingerly lift the meat from the shell.  Trés elegant, n’est-ce pas?   Following form, I usually prepare them in the traditional white wine/shallot/parsley mix only because I really love the broth sopped up into crusty bread.  Steve prefers his over a bed of spaghetti to slurp up the broth.

But, the other night I felt the urge to try something different and since I had a fresh coconut about that I had pounded open and grated, I decided to do a take on Thai flavors.  I used “lite” coconut milk, but feel free to use the stronger stuff – it does have more flavor.  I always use chicken stock with canned clam broth as I think it balances the flavor.

For this dish, I served mine over some leftover baby spinach and Steve had a bowl of steamed jasmine rice on the side with his.  This should feed to 2 hungry eaters.

1 cup clam broth

1 cup “lite” coconut milk

1 cup chicken stock or canned nonfat, low-sodium chicken broth

1 teaspoon Thai red chili paste or to taste

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 shallot, peeled and minced

½ jalapeño chile or to taste

1 tablespoon minced lemon grass or 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

Salt to taste

2 pounds mussels, scrubbed clean with beards removed

3 tablespoons freshly grated coconut meat, optional

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Combine the clam broth, coconut milk, chicken stock, and chili paste in a large pot.  Place over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the chili paste.  Add the garlic, shallot, jalapeño, and lemon grass and bring to a boil.  Season with salt, lower the heat, and simmer for about 10 minutes or long enough for the flavors to blend.

Add the mussels, cover, and bring to a boil.  Cook, lifting the mussels up and about occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until all of the mussels have opened.

Stir in the mint and cilantro and serve.

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