Category Archives: mussels

Mussels Normandy

IMG_4126

It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

Hands down the best part of the winter season in Belgium is the abundance of fresh mussels. This time of year they are highlighted on just about every restaurant menu but personally I love to make them at home because they are so easy. This recipe was inspired by our trip to Normandy France. In Normandy,  the apple cider (the hard kind), crisp, light and refreshing, seems to be the regional drink. People drink and cook with it and while I enjoyed drinking it, I loved what it did to the food it was added to. When it was used as the broth for steamed mussels I thought I had died and gone to heaven. It was that good. So naturally I’ve been replicating this dish at home.

I prefer to use a dry apple cider for this dish since sweeter ones over power the delicate flavor of the mussels. And while I initially eschewed the idea of cream being added to the mix I’m now a convert. Be sure to serve these mussels with a good crusty French bread so you can sop up all of the delicious sauce.

MUSSELS NORMANDY

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 shallot, minced

3 cups hard apple cider

4 pounds fresh mussels, cleaned

1/2 cup heavy cream

 

  • Rinse and clean mussels, discarding any that will not close. Set aside.
  • Heat the butter in a large pot set over medium-high heat.
  • When the butter is melted, add the shallot and saute until soft, 4-5 minutes.
  • Raise the temperature to high, add the cider and bring to a simmer.
  • When the cider simmers, reduce the temperature to medium high then add the rinsed mussels to the pot, cover and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, shaking occasionally, until the mussels open.
  • Discard any mussels that don’t open.
  • Pour the cream over the mussels allowing it to drip down to the bottom of the pot.
  • Use a large spoon and divide the mussels between four shallow serving bowls.
  • Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Mussels Normandy

IMG_4126

It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

Hands down the best part of the winter season in Belgium is the abundance of fresh mussels. This time of year they are highlighted on just about every restaurant menu but personally I love to make them at home because they are so easy. This recipe was inspired by our trip to Normandy France. In Normandy,  the apple cider (the hard kind), crisp, light and refreshing, seems to be the regional drink. People drink and cook with it and while I enjoyed drinking it, I loved what it did to the food it was added to. When it was used as the broth for steamed mussels I thought I had died and gone to heaven. It was that good. So naturally I’ve been replicating this dish at home.

I prefer to use a dry apple cider for this dish since sweeter ones over power the delicate flavor of the mussels. And while I initially eschewed the idea of cream being added to the mix I’m now a convert. Be sure to serve these mussels with a good crusty French bread so you can sop up all of the delicious sauce.

MUSSELS NORMANDY

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 shallot, minced

3 cups hard apple cider

4 pounds fresh mussels, cleaned

1/2 cup heavy cream

 

  • Rinse and clean mussels, discarding any that will not close. Set aside.
  • Heat the butter in a large pot set over medium-high heat.
  • When the butter is melted, add the shallot and saute until soft, 4-5 minutes.
  • Raise the temperature to high, add the cider and bring to a simmer.
  • When the cider simmers, reduce the temperature to medium high then add the rinsed mussels to the pot, cover and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, shaking occasionally, until the mussels open.
  • Discard any mussels that don’t open.
  • Pour the cream over the mussels allowing it to drip down to the bottom of the pot.
  • Use a large spoon and divide the mussels between four shallow serving bowls.
  • Serve immediately.

Serves 4

 

 

Mussels Sarande

photo 1-297

It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

I for one, am so excited that it is once again mussel season here in Belgium. I never realized that mussels have a “season” since I had always found them year around in American grocery stores. Here in Belgium, however, they are virtually impossible to find during the summer months. They may still appear on menus but in most restaurants you will be told that they aren’t available or aren’t any good during the summer months. But once late August rolls around, they are back and readily available.

Belgians love their mussels. Just about every restaurant menu features mussels and there are entire restaurants dedicated to serving nothing but mussels (and the requisite fried potatoes a.k.a. French fries of course). Mussels may be steamed in wine or beer–with vegetables or without and smothered in tomato, cheese, cream sauce or none at all. These are all nice of course but by far, my favorite version is one I first ate while traveling in southern Albania. Steamed in a mixture of white wine, fennel, onions and chopped tomatoes, the mussels always appeared on the menu as “mussels Sarande”, named after the largest port city in southern Albania. They are so good that I ordered them whenever they appeared on the menu. And now, living in a country that is renowned for their mussels, I find myself craving this Albanian version. So I now cook up pots of these tasty mussels myself. My version is a bit spicier than the traditional Albanian one but each time I sit down to eat them I am reminded of those hot and lazy summer evenings sitting on the shores of the Ionian Sea.

MUSSELS w/ FENNEL & SAUSAGE

2 pounds fresh wild mussels

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large fennel bulb, sliced thin, fronds reserved

1 large onion, sliced thin

6 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups dry white wine

1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered

  • Rinse and clean mussels, discarding any that will not close.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large pot set over medium-high heat.
  • When the oil shimmers, add the fennel, onion and garlic and saute until soft, 4-5 minutes.
  • Raise the temperature to high, add the white wine and bring to a simmer.
  • When the wine simmers stir in the tomatoes and cook for an additional minute.
  • Reduce the temperature to medium high then add the rinsed mussels to the pot, cover and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, shaking occasionally, until the mussels open.
  • Discard any mussels that don’t open, sprinkle with the reserved fennel fronds and serve immediately.
Serves 2-4

Mussels w/ Fennel & Sausage

photo 1-171

I’m living in Belgium and when it comes to Belgian food the first thing I think of is mussels. Here in Belgium there are restaurants in every city and town that sell mussels. Sometimes they are simply steamed while other times they are come to the table dripping in sauces of all imaginable flavors. As more than one person has told me, even those people who don’t like mussels grow to love them during their stay here since you can always find a sauce that is pleasing to your taste buds. Personally, I’ve always loved mussels. Growing up I remember pulling them from the rocks during low tide at Pemaquid Point, Maine. Once home we’d scrub them then steam them up in huge pots. When Glenn was deployed one of my favorite dinners was a platter of mussels that had been steamed in garlic and white wine. I’d sit in the living room watching “chick flicks” , eating my mussels and washing it all down with the leftover wine. And one of my favorite meals in Albania was mussels steamed with tomatoes and herbs eaten alongside slabs of peasant bread. Like most shellfish, eating them requires a bit of work but the effort is worth it.

This recipe is an adaption of one published in Food 52. I love all of the components but I jumped on this recipe as an enticement to introduce the wonders of mussels to my family. The sausage and fennel were hits and the mussels received mixed reviews from the littlest family member. Personally I loved them and can’t wait make this dish again. Serve the mussels with a loaf of crusty bread to soak up the juices and enjoy.

MUSSELS w/ FENNEL & SAUSAGE

2 pounds fresh wild mussels

1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage

2 large fennel bulbs, sliced thin, fronds reserved

1 large shallot, sliced thin

3 cloves garlic, sliced thin

3/4 cup Pernod

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 cup half & half cream

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 pinch saffron, dissolved in 2 tablespoons of warm water

  • Rinse and clean mussels, discarding any that will not close.
  • Remove the sausage from its casings. Place one tablespoon of olive oil in a lidded pot large enough to hold the mussels. Set the pot over medium heat and add the sausage. Cook, crumbling until browned, 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Set the sausage aside, leaving the fat in the pot. Add another tablespoon of olive oil.
  • Add the fennel and the shallots and saute over medium heat until the fennel softens and begins to  caramelize.
  • Remove the fennel and shallots and set aside with the sausage.
  • Add the remaining olive oil to the pot with the garlic, red pepper flakes, and saffron. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add the Pernod and bring to a boil.
  • Add the rinsed mussels to the pot, cover and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, shaking occasionally, until the mussels open.
  • Add the half & half, sausage and fennel to the pot. Cook an additional 3 minutes, shaking the pot a few more times.
  • To serve, sprinkle the mussels with the reserved fennel fronds.
Serves 2-4
Making Here Home

Expat life, travel...and books

One Real Peach.

reflections on the heartbreak and hilarity of mothering, writing, and living authentically

Wine and Cheese (Doodles)

Salty observations about life, love, and living abroad

Sprouted Kitchen

The food that accompanies my adventures!

Not Without Salt

Delicious Recipes and Food Photography by Ashley Rodriguez.

101 Cookbooks

The food that accompanies my adventures!

Local Milk Blog

The food that accompanies my adventures!

Spoon & Shutter

In and out of the kitchen with Susan and Ted Axelrod

Plating Up

The food that accompanies my adventures!

A Life of Spice

Food, Culture and Lifestyle with Monica Bhide

The Blueberry Files

The food that accompanies my adventures!

Zosia Cooks

The food that accompanies my adventures!

Yummy Supper

The food that accompanies my adventures!

What Julie Ate

It's a delicious life, but somebody has to live it.

United Noshes

The food that accompanies my adventures!

The Bitten Word

The food that accompanies my adventures!

Hip Foodie Mom

The food that accompanies my adventures!

From Away

Cooking and Eating in Maine

Always Order Dessert

The food that accompanies my adventures!

Yankee Kitchen Ninja

The food that accompanies my adventures!

%d bloggers like this: