August 29, 2010

Flexing Mussles.

Doug was out of town in Lost Angeles (as Samantha says from Sex and the City) visiting his grandfather for his 90th birthday party celebration. I didn't go & stayed behind in Chicago to get some things done around the apartment (let's just say that I'm officially off "breaking down shipping boxes and taking them down to the garbage" duty until the age of 50). Upon his return, I wanted to cook a nice dinner. I guess that the way to my heart is through my stomach and for some reason or other, I think others feel the same way. What better to welcome someone home than nice smells from the kitchen, right? Inspired by the meal that we enjoyed at Hot Chocolate last week, I choose to make steamed mussels for the first time. They seemed very complicated, so I was a little bit nervous about how they would turn out.

Dear Tyler Florence,
I'm not crazy about you as a TV personality, but I have now revamped my perspective on your general knowledge of cooking since your mussels recipe was easy, fresh, simple and quick.
Many Mazels,



  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 leeks, white parts only, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced(I used a garlic press)
  • 1/4 bunch fresh thyme (I just pulled off the leaves and threw them into the pot)
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (don't really need this if you aren't crazy about parsley, it is only for the end where you sprinkle it on)
  • 3 Pounds Mussels (it only cost $12.00 or so at Whole Foods. Yay!)
  • Olive Oil (1 Tablespoon)

Directions: Rinse the mussels under cold running water while scrubbing with a vegetable brush. I just used a brand new textured sponge that I got in a 1 million pack while at Gary's (dad's) Mecca, Costco. Remove the stringy mussel beards with your thumb and index finger as you wash them. Discard any mussels with broken shells.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large pot over medium heat. I just used "Light" Margarine and Olive Oil based Fat Free Spray. Either works! I just didn't want them to be too greasy.

Add the leeks, garlic, and thyme and cook until the vegetables cook down to a pulp, about 5 minutes. Add the mussels and give everything a good toss. Add the white wine. Cover and steam over medium-high heat for 10 minutes, until the mussels open. Stir occasionally so that all the mussels are in contact with the heat.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and a drizzle of olive oil to the sauce remaining in the pot and swirl to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve immediately.When you serve, make sure to bring over another container to put in the shells. Some restaurants also serve with crispy bread. In my opinion, I would rather pile the leeks and tasty veggies onto the mussels while I enjoy, rather than fill up on carbohydrates.

Frisée Salad:


  • 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped up
  • About 4 slices of prosciutto, chopped into small squares
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 Teaspoon sugar (I used Splenda)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound frisée (one of those clear containers from Whole Foods)

Directions: Toast the nuts in a large, dry skillet over low heat, stirring frequently, until golden, about 5 minutes. I used walnuts. I also browned them and added prosciutto instead of what the original recipe called for (bacon). I added salt and pepper while I cooked the nuts and meat.

Whisk the oil, mustard, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Tear the frisée into small pieces and place in a serving bowl. Add the meat and nuts. Toss the salad with the dressing. Add just a pinch of extra salt.

Barley Sweet Potato Salad:


  • 12 ounces (so like 4 hand-fulls) of Barley
  • Olive Oil Spray for the pan
  • 2 Leeks (Just the white part chopped up)
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh sage, chopped
  • 2 small sweet potatoes (or a pre chopped bag from Trader Joe's!) About 1 pound of them cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese!
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions: Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring, until they begin to soften, 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and sage and cook 2 minutes. Add the sweet potato, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook, covered, stirring twice, until just tender, 6 to 8 minutes.

Stir in 1/2 cup of the Parmesan and the reserved cooking water and simmer, stirring, until the potatoes are fully tender, 2 to 4 minutes.
Add the cooked pasta and nutmeg and toss. Divide among individual bowls and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

p.s. I added in extra cheese before I served. I made this about an hour before hand, then at the last minute decided to put low skillet heat beneath a pan, re-heat and mix in more cheese. SO delish!

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