Mrs. Jackson Cooks

Life through food

Cheap and easy: pasta puttanesca

IMG_5626.JPG

I’ve already blogged about puttanesca with prawns, as a good diet friendly dish, and it certainly is.  This is a slightly different version.  Cheap, just as easy, because it uses tinned sardines.

The prawn version is here https://mrsjacksoncooks.wordpress.com/2011/03/01/sweet-pepper-and-bacon-pasta-2/

I have used tinned sardines before, but I don’t like the bones in them.  Every recipe I’ve found previously always says, leave them in, they’re small and good for you, you don’t notice them.  I do.  I don’t like them!  This was the first recipe that said take them out, and said how to (although I probably could have figured it out, having something that tells you how, takes the guesswork out of it).  Most puttanesca recipes use anchovies but I’m not a fan of them, so this recipe works much better for me.

It’s a post by Jack Monroe on the Guardian.  I like Jack Monroe.  Her recipes are alwayseasy, and often use stuff that’s in the cupboard.  I met her through working for Oxfam, and like her honesty and grittiness, and of course, the easiness of her recipes.  Her recipe is here http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/apr/16/jack-monroe-spaghetti-alla-puttanesca-recipe 

As always, I’ve adapted it.  I used macaroni because that’s what I had in.  You can use whatever pasta you like.  Spaghetti is good too.  I do normally use capers, however, I had run out this last time, so added in juice of one lemon, which worked well too.

Pasta puttanesca

Serves 2

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled & crushed
  • 1 chilli, chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tin tomatoes
  • 1 tin sardines
  • 150g dried pasta of your choice
  • 1 tbsp capers, chopped, or juice 1 lemon
  • 20 large olives (I used green), pitted and sliced
  • Handful of chopped fresh basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • handful of parmesan (optional)
  1. Boil the pasta until al dente.  Remove and drain, and set aside (if the pasta is done much before the sauce, you may want to add some oil to it to stop it sticking)
  2. Meanwhile, put the oil in a pan on a medium heat.
  3. When warmed, add the onion, garlic and chilli and cook until the onion is softened.
  4. Remove the bones from the sardines by slicing down the back and opening and removing easily as they’re all in one piece.  Chop up the sardines.
  5. Add the tomatoes to the pan, breaking them up with the spatula or spoon.  Bring to the boil and then simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Add the sardines, capers or lemon juice and continue simmering until you have a good saucey consistency.
  7. Then add the olives and basil in.  Taste and add seasoning as needed.
  8. Stir through the pasta until combined.
  9. Turn into bowls and scatter parmesan over the top if using.
  10. Enjoy the healthy, easy goodness
Leave a comment »

Summer curry: Goan fish curry

IMG_5620.JPG

So, since we moved, my weight has been a bit up and down like a yoyo.  It’s all to do with finding a rhythm at the gym now, and also avoiding the biscuits at work.

This week I’m recommitting to the gym and trying to be healthier.  Many people think curries aren’t healthy, but they can be, and this is a good example of one.  Using fish as well, means it’s a lot lighter and good for summer eating.  At 238 calories per serving this is a great healthy dinner.

I do find that fish isn’t the cheapest thing to buy, but you can get good deals.  Our local co-op often has meat discounted towards the end of the day, and the haddock I got was one such example.  I also got prawns as they were reduced too, but you can leave them out as they can be expensive.

You can use any firm white fish for this – pollack or coley would work well and are often a lot cheaper.

This is a delicious curry and really simple to make.  No making pastes, and just use ground spices. I found it on trusty BBC Good Food but from a reader and not the usual chefs.  I served with boiled rice, but naan or chappatis would be good too.

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1121651/goan-fish-curry

Goan Fish Curry

Serves 2

  • 1 tsp sunflower oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 long green chillies, deseeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 4cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 1tsp ground turmeric
  • 1tsp garam masala
  • 1tsp ground coriander
  • 1 cardamom pods, seeds only
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4-5 mushrooms, quartered (you can add whatever vegetables you like)
  • 70ml reduced fat coconut milk
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 250g skinless haddock or any firm white fish cut into chunks
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 12 raw prawns (I used cooked king prawns as couldn’t find uncooked)
  • 1tbsp fresh chopped coriander
  1. Heat the oil in a large frying or sauce pan.  Add the onions and cook until browned.
  2. Next add the chilli, garlic, ginger and dried spices, and mushrooms cooking for a further minute, until the spice aromas fill the kitchen.
  3. Add the coconut milk and tomatoes.  You may need to add some water here
  4. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer for about 5-10 minutes, or until thickened slightly.
  5. Add the fish chunks and cook for about 10 minutes until cooked through (add the prawns after 5 minutes if they’re raw)
  6. Add the cooked prawns and the coriander, and lime juice and cook through for a couple of minutes.
  7. Serve with boiled rice and enjoy the light fish with spicy flavours

IMG_5618.JPG

 

Leave a comment »

An Easter extravaganza: chargrilled squid, slow roasted lamb and st. clements pie

I’ve been debating whether to do this as separate posts or all in one, and I’m going with all in one – hope it’s not too full on!  Although having said that, it felt full on to cook it for 7 people – bit like Christmas all over again, but without the hangover….got something right at least!

But the whole thing was delicious and I did enjoy making it.  If you’re thinking of doing a dinner party there’s some great ideas here.  Not really suitable for veges though – and I was a bit relieved not to have any coming as I’d have to do something completely separate for them.  What I loved about this was all the flavours and spices in it – both the squid and lamb used quite a lot of different spices so we had quite a mix of flavours.  And the tangy lemon tart to finish was perfect after all the richness of the lamb.

The lamb, incidentally came from a farm near Hebden Bridge.  I happen to know the lady that owns the farm and she sold me a load of lamb cuts, as well as regular egg deliveries.  And I do notice the difference in the meat.  I don’t really notice it with organic meat from the supermarket or butchers but definitely with it coming fresh from this farm – and the eggs are so yellow and tasty too.  I think the lamb had a lot more flavour and was a lot more tender than supermarket versions.  But you can do it with any lamb – not only if you happen to know someone with a farm!

The squid recipe is an Ottolenghi recipe and so it’s a bit bitty and fiddly but it’s not complicated.  There’s just lots of steps – I think you could combine some of them quite easily but it’s up to you – I followed it more or less – with the exception of replacing sumac with lemon juice and zest because I didn’t have it and had no idea where to get it!  By comparison, the lamb is ridiculously simple!  And great for dinner parties because you can shove it in the oven and forget about it.  And the pudding can be made the day before if you want.

The original recipes are here – I have adapted all slightly, to reflect what I had available to me.  The shoulder of lamb served 7 very well – there wasn’t much at all left over, but if you did have fewer guests the leftovers would make very nice sandwiches for lunches in the following week.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/mar/30/squid-salad-braised-chicory-recipes

http://www.channel4.com/4food/recipes/chefs/hugh-fearnley-whittingstall/slow-roast-shoulder-of-lamb-with-merguez-spices-recipe

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2063673/st-clements-pie

Tangy squid and pitta salad

Serves 7

  • 700g cleaned and prepared baby or adult squid (adult squid cut into thin rings)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 lemons, 1 juiced and zested
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 large pitta (white or wholemeal) sliced into thin strips
  • 60g capers
  • 4 celery stalks cut thinly on the diagonal
  • large handful of celery leaves chopped or rocket (if leaves unavailable) – I used a combination as I had some leaves but not enough
  • 1 tsp all spice berries (or ground all spice), ground
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp pink or green peppercorns, crushed and ground
  • handful of chopped fresh parsley
  1. Put the squid rings in a bowl with the oil, lemon juice and zest, salt & pepper.  cover and place in the fridge until needed.
  2. Meanwhile, peel the remaining lemon and chop the segments up into small bits and place in a large serving bowl.
  3. Add the celery leaves or rocket to the lemon and the spices and parsley – mix well and set aside.
  4. Toast the pitta in some olive oil in a pan for a few minutes until crispy and starting to char in spots, remove these onto a plate to keep warm.
  5. Follow the pitta with the capers – fry until crispy and turn onto the pitta slices.
  6. Follow the capers with the celery and fry for a few minutes until softened slightly and tip onto the pitta and capers.
  7. Finally flash fry the squid with the marinade juices and zest for a minute until just cooked through.  Tip the pitta, capers and celery into the serving bowl with the lemon and leaves and stir well.  Then tip in the squid and give it another stir before serving immediately with a nice dry white wine.
  8. Enjoy all the spicy zingy flavours!

Slow roast spiced lamb shoulder

Serves 6-8 (or 4-5 with leftovers)

  • 1 shoulder of lamb
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ cinnamon stick, broken up
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Leaves from 2 large rosemary sprigs, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • Roast potatoes and veges to serve
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 22o degrees celsius.  
  2. Score the shoulder joint all over with a knife to just under the skin.  
  3. Put all the whole spices in a pan and lightly toast still the start popping.  Tip into a pestle and mortar and roughly grind.  Add the ground spices, garlic, salt and olive oil to mortar and stir well to combine to a thick paste.
  4. Using your fingers spread half the spices all over the lamb-  including sides and underneath and especially in the cuts that you’ve made.  
  5. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and turn the oven down to 120 degrees celsius
  7. spread the remaining spices over the lamb using the back of a spoon, pour a glass of water in the bottom of the roasting pan the lamb is sat in (not over it) and cover in foil.  
  8. Return to the oven for 6 hours.
  9. Remove, allow to rest for a bit and then using a carving fork, tear the lamb off the bones (it should fall off easily) and serve with the roasted vege and potatoes and the juices from the pan poured over it.  
  10. Enjoy (perhaps with some red wine this time?!).  

St. Clements Pie (orange and lemon pie)

Serves 10 ish

  • 250g digestive biscuits
  • 85g butter (unsalted)
  • 3 lemons zested and juiced
  • 2 oranges zested and juiced
  • 1 tin condensed milk
  • 1 large egg plus 4 large egg yolks
  • 150ml double cream
  • 100g greek yoghurt
  • 4 tbsp icing sugar
  • more lemon zest
  1. Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius
  2. Lightly grease an ovenproof flan dish or removable bottom cake tin
  3. Put the digestives in double bagged food bags tied tightly and bash with a rolling pin or spoon until they form crumbs.
  4. Melt the butter in a pan and remove from the heat.
  5. Add the digestive crumbs to the butter and mix well.  
  6. Tip the crumbs into the dish and spread out and pat down to form a crust along the bottom and up the sides.
  7. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes (keep an eye on this – mine did quite quickly and the first one burnt).  
  8. Remove from the oven, turning it down to 160 degrees celsius and allowing the crust to cool slightly.
  9. Meanwhile whisk the egg and yolks with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Add the condensed milk and orange & lemon zests and juices and whisk again until well combined.
  10. Pour the topping over the crust and bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes until set (not going brown though).  Again keep an eye on this so it doesn’t over cook.
  11. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  Then refrigerate for about 3-4 hours or overnight.  
  12. Just before serving, whip together the cream, yoghurt and icing sugar and dollop over the pie.  Sprinkle over the remaining zest and serve with some coffee
  13. Enjoy!  
Leave a comment »

Healthy, quick stew: creamy seafood stew

20120110-030140 PM.jpg

I was looking for inspiration the other day, and came across this recipe http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1267642/creamy-seafood-stew. As I had pretty much everything in the recipe in my cupboards, it seemed like an excellent place to start. The added bonus is its only 270 calories (plus your garlic bread) so it’s very healthy, light, tasty, warming and generally great for this time of year.

I have to say – this one did cause controversy between me and hubby. He wasn’t so keen. But then he’s not so keen on pre-cooked mixed seafood – he likes to know what he’s eating. For me, however, I thought it was pretty good. And something I’d definitely eat again. I thought it was filling but light, creamy, indulgent without being full of sugar and fats. So up to you. Personally I think it’s great. But if you’re not a seafood lover, then maybe it’s not for you. But I was thinking it would work equally well as a fish stew with some chunky white fish – maybe pollack or coley or cod and some prawns or squid rings.

I do like it with garlic bread (we had garlic pitta bread!) but you could also do some boiled new potatoes with it instead.

It’s also very quick – so word of warning – get your garlic bread in the oven first and then cook the rest of it. It doesn’t take as long as the original recipe suggests – perhaps because I cook on gas?

Creamy seafood stew

Serves 2

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 100ml white wine
  • 150ml chicken or fish stock
  • 1/2 tbsp cornflour mixed with same amount of cold water
  • 200g mixed seafood (frozen or fresh, defrosted if necessary)
  • 2.5 tbsp low fat creme fraiche (or use double cream if you don’t have, but it will increase the calories)
  • small handful of chopped fresh dill
  • salt & pepper
  1. Heat the oil in a large pan or saucepan on a medium heat. Add the onion, celery and carrot and fry until softened and translucent but not browned. Add a little bit of salt if it starts browning.
  2. Then add the garlic and fry for another minute.
  3. Add in the wine and increase the heat to high. Allow to bubble until very reduced. Then add the stock and cornflour mix.
  4. Reduce to a thick sauce consistency then add in the seafood mix, dill and crème fraiche, stirring well to combine.
  5. Cook for a few minutes until the seafood is heated through and the sauce is a thickish consistency.
  6. Serve immediately with garlic bread or new potatoes.
  7. Enjoy your healthy tasty virtuousness 🙂
Leave a comment »

Healthy and tasty: Sea bass with crushed potatoes and sauce vierge

This is one of those – looks fancy, tastes delicious but is actually very quick, simple, and low in calories. So pretty much perfect for January. It would also be good for a dinner party main if you wanted something fancy but light and didnt want to cook ahead.

I had no idea what sauce vierge was – so I sort of combined two sauce vierge recipes as they were quite different, based on what I had in the cupboards. Turns out, I did well, as since then I found this explanation on wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sauce_viergehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sauce_vierge/a which basically says its a sauce with olive oil, lemon juice, tomatoes and basil. I put all of them in mine. And I think once you have that base you can add a whole variety of other things.

To reduce calories and fat further I used low fat spread in the potatoes instead of butter, I used a little bit of oil with the fish instead of butter again and I added water to my sauce instead of extra oil to thin it out.

The original recipe is here http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/3684/grilled-sea-bass-crushed-jersey-royals-and-sauce-v/a and in searching for more about sauce vierge, I actually came across a very similar Jamie Oliver recipe. This one may actually be just about do-able in 30 minutes! Probably more realistically 40 though.

I also substituted different herbs for what I had. I used dill in the sauce and rosemary in the potatoes. It worked very well, but Im sure tarragon and chives are equally good. All those herbs and great flavours (lemons, fish) make for an extremely tasty dish that doesnt feel at all like youre on a diet but is great for both detoxes and losing weight.

If you want to know – theres 402 calories per serving in my recipe – and thats a complete meal. Which is great for dinner. The calorie counter grades it an A in terms of nutrition (the only thing higher is A+) and is high in selenium, vitamin A, vitamin B6, and vitamin C. So its packed with antioxidants, seratonin boosters and things to help ward off infections. What could be better?! And you definitely feel pleasantly full after, so no temptation to snack (put that quality street box out of eyesight!).

Sea bass with crushed potatoes and sauce vierge

Serves 2

  • 6-8 new, baby or other small potatoes (although if you have big ones, it doesnt matter, just cut them up smaller), halved or quartered if larger
  • 1 bunch of asparagus – woody ends snapped off
  • 1/2 tbsp low fat spread
  • 1 tbsp rosemary leaves, choppped
  • 5 shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 5-6 cherry tomatoes or 2-3 larger tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • handful of chopped fresh dill
  • handful of chopped fresh basil
  • salt pepper
  • 2 sea bass fillets, skin on, pin boned.
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.
  2. Boil the potatoes (skin on) until cooked – about 15-20 minutes.
  3. When the potatoes are nearly done, drop the asparagus into the water as well, to blanche. Remove when cooked and refresh under cold water.
  4. Meanwhile, put 1 tbsp of the olive oil, lemon juice, tomatoes and shallots in a pan and set over a low heat, stirring occasionally until you have a nice thickish sauce. This will take about 15 minutes.
  5. When the sauce is reduced, add some water if its too thick and add the herbs and seasoning into the sauce. Stir well, adding more water as necessary until you have a dropping consistency sauce.
  6. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a pan, on medium. Dry the sea bass with kitchen towel and season. Place skin down in the pan. Fry for 3-4 of minutes skin side down until nice and crispy, then put in the oven for a further 3-4 minutes. When its done, turn off the oven and turn the sea bass over so its skin side up. Leave in the oven until ready to serve.
  7. Drain the potatoes and lightly crush them with a fork and the margarine. Add some seasoning and the rosemary, crush a little more until you have what looks like very bad mashed potato.
  8. Place the potatoes in the centre of the plate making them flat-ish. Place the fish on top and the asparagus to the side. Drizzle over the sauce. And serve, perhaps with a lovely glass of crisp white wine – as you’ve been very good with your calories!
  9. Enjoy all the wonderful flavours 🙂
Leave a comment »

Prawn and butternut squash curry

20111219-083250 PM.jpg

I do apologise. I’ve been very absent. I’ve been feeling it too, but life just got away with me! I’ll make up for it now and post regularly I promise. And I’ve got a load of things I’ve cooked recently that were very yummy. So rather than do them in chronological order, I think I might do them in yumminess order, although that’s hard as they were all very good.

This one was an easy contender for number one yummy spot though and a brilliant crowd (or even just husband) pleaser. It’s pretty easy to make and is a good midweek meal. What I did was shove the butternut squash in the oven when I got home from the gym and then went and had a shower. When I got down, it was done and I carried on with the rest of it.

It’s also pretty cheap if you get your prawns frozen from the Chinese supermarket like I do! Butternut squashes are everywhere and very cheap at the moment. The rest is mostly store cupboard/whatever is in your fridge stuff. You could even leave it vege and just have the butternut squash – it’s very good on its own, and that would even keep any vegans happy (that’s for you Alan!).

The recipe came from here http://cinnamonbums.wordpress.com/2011/11/26/butternut-squash-shrimp-thai-curry/ and not from BBC good food as it usually does! I adapted it slightly (not least because I don’t measure in US cups!), but not by much.

Prawn and butternut squash curry

Serves 4

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into cubes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped (de seed if you don’t want too spicy. You could also use a large chilli sliced into rounds and just added at the end)
  • knob of root ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 tbsp thai red curry paste (err on the side of caution especially if using ‘authentic’ stuff – it’ll blow your head off!)
  • Veges eg. peppers, chopped, carrots,mange tout, baby sweetcorn etc
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 250ml chicken or vegetable stock (I used chicken)
  • 1 400ml tin coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 24-30 raw king prawns, shelled
  • handful of chopped fresh coriander
  1. Heat the oven to 230 degrees celsius. Place the butternut sqush in a roasting pan with 1 tbsp of the olive oil and some salt and pepper to taste. Roast until cooked – about 20 minutes.
  2. Heat the remaining oil in a pan or wok. Add the onions, garli, chilli & ginger. Fry until the onion starts to brown. Then add the curry paste and cook out until it softens somewhat.
  3. Add any other veges that you’re using. Fry for a few minutes until they start to soften.
  4. Add the tomato and butternut squash to the pan. Cook for a few minutes until the tomatoes start to break down.
  5. Pour in the stock, coconut milk and fish sauce.
  6. Bring to a simmer and gently cook for about 30 -40 minutes. The gentler and longer you cook this the more the butternut squash flavours will infuse the curry (to be honest, I was hungry and did it for about 25 minutes!).
  7. About 5 minutes before serving, add the prawns and coriander. Stir well and continue to cook until the prawns go opaque and pink.
  8. Serve immediately on a bed of rice and a cold Tiger beer.
  9. Enjoy 🙂
1 Comment »

Food favourite: Moules Frites (or mussels & chips)

20111128-031515 PM.jpg

I absolutely adore Moules Frites, and given an opportunity, I’ll order it at pretty much any restaurant I go to. Probably the best place I’ve had them was in France (big surprise there!) on the Ile de Re. I think the mussels had been caught earlier that day, as they were unbelievably fresh.

I’ve never actually cooked mussels from fresh (or alive!) before. But the fishmonger was selling them at £3 a kilo – which is just pennies really. I’m always impressed with the quality at the fishmonger (well it is in Chorlton and does have a tendency to win awards, as does the butchers, the deli and the co-op grocers, I am pretty much in foodie heaven where I live!) so I thought I’d give them a go. They didn’t dissapoint – most were still alive (and reminded me by the odd squeaking and creaking they’d make when I was preparing them! Don’t let this put you off, its more disconcerting than worrying), pretty much cleaned and almost none cracked. There were fewer to be removed than in most restaurant servings. They’d come from Cornwall, by the way. And I’d left them in my fridge for a day (in the bottom wrapped in newspaper , removed from plastic bags, as recommended by the fishmonger).

I cooked them in a very simple white wine and cream sauce and they were utterly delicious, exceedingly fresh and I don’t think I found any that hadn’t opened on cooking. They also take about 5 minutes to cook (and about 15-20 mins to prep – so be warned) so it’s a very simple, very delicious, very cheap and very healthy diner.

As for the frites, well, I’ve never cooked proper french fries before. I do baked wedges on a regular basis, but fries are something different. And you can’t have moules frites with wedges! So, I did a bit of googling and found this blog on how to make the perfect fries http://stickycrows.blogspot.com/2006/04/how-to-make-perfect-french-fries.html

I followed it pretty much to the letter (as I didn’t know what I was doing), and they were delicious – and just as they said – crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. Wonderful. I did a large baking potato per person and this was just the right amount.

The mussels recipe was actually adapted from the one in the Twelve Days of Christmas cookbook by the Hairy Bikers. I didn’t bother with the brandy – and just kept it simple with white wine and single cream.

One word of warning – I used my largest saucepan and only just fit in the kilo of mussels, and struggled in mixing them properly. It can be done, but you may want to mix as much as you can, then fish out the mussels into a serving bowl and add the parsley and cream to the juices at the bottom before pouring the sauce over the mussels.

You can, of course, serve with baguettes instead of fries to soak up the juices. 1 kilo is good for 2 people for a main course. If doing as a starter – I’d suggest 4 people per kilo. I worked out, it cost about £5.50 in total for the both of us. Very bargainous! Maybe bump it up to £6 if you have to buy the herbs – mine are in my garden.

Moules Frites

Serves 2

  • 1 kg fresh mussels in their shells
  • 2 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into thin sticks (see blog link for sizes) a la mcdonalds
  • Approx 300ml oil (I used a mix of olive and rapeseed – but anything really – nothing too strong like sesame or flavoured oils).
  • 25g butter
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • handful of fresh thyme, leaves only, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • handful of chopped fresh parsley
  • 30ml white wine
  • pepper
  • 30ml single (or double if you prefer) cream
  1. First clean the mussels by rinsing under cold water to remove seaweed, mud and anything else. If it’s stubborn use a blunt knife or scrubbing brush. Discard any that are broken or cracked. Any that are open – if they don’t close with a sharp tap, discard them too. Remove the ‘beards’ or bits of stringy stuff hanging off them – just pull it out, you’ll need to be forceful. Or if it really won’t come out, snip off as close to the shell as possible, with scissors.
  2. Next, put the oil in a flat broad based frying pan (see the blog link for a photo of one). You want about 1/2inch to 1inch of oil in the pan. I started with 1/2 inch. Do not turn on the heat. Put the potatoes in the cold oil and turn the heat up the medium-high (my hob is gas and has, low, medium and high settings – I put it between the medium and highest setting on the dial). Leave them and get on with cooking the mussels – it will take a good 10 minutes for them to cook. But hold your nerve, they’re worth it.
  3. Heat the butter in a large saucepan (the largest you have), on a medium heat. When it’s bubbling, add the shallots and garlic and fry until softened but not browned. Then add the wine, thyme, bay leaf, half the parsley, and a good amount of pepper (the mussels are salty enough, you don’t need salt). Bring to the boil for a minute or two.
  4. Then add in the mussels and cover with a lid. Steam for about two minutes. Then take a very large spatula or slotted spoon and carefully stir the mussels, bringing the bottom ones to the top and vice versa. Replace the lid and steam for a further 3 minutes or until the mussels are fully open.
  5. Remove the mussels from the pan with a slotted spoon and place in a large bowl.
  6. Add the cream and remaining parsley to the juices and stir well, continue to heat if it needs thickening a bit but don’t boil if it’s single cream.
  7. By this time your chips should be looking golden and crispy on the outside. Remove them from the oil onto some kitchen towel to drain.
  8. Pour the sauce over the mussels and serve it all immediately with a glass of crisp white wine.
  9. Enjoy 🙂

20111128-031509 PM.jpg

1 Comment »

%d bloggers like this: