Monthly Archives: January 2014
We are no strangers to mussels at our house. We eat them a few times a year and always enjoy them. When I saw that this week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie was Moules Marinière, I knew we’d be having at least one simple dinner this week. I’ve been thinking about it, and I don’t typically put mussels on the grocery list. I’m usually out shopping, see them, and bring them home for dinner. I’m not sure why I don’t plan to eat them more often because they are always surprisingly quick, easy, and satisfying.
The name marinière reminds me of marinara sauce. However, marinara sauce is always a tomato sauce and the marinière had none. Marinière is more of a white wine based sauce. According to Wikipedia, the origins of the names are the same, “Mariner’s Style”. I suppose Italian and French seamen have different cooking tricks up their sleeves.
For moules marinière, onion, shallot, and garlic are sautéed in butter. White wine is added along with herbs and some lemon peel, and a speck of chicken bouillon cube (Dorie’s secret ingredient). The mussels are added to the pot and cooked for just a few minutes, until they open. With some crusty bread, this makes a hearty meal. Reasonably priced, too, at least where I live. I paid $6 for a two pound bag of mussels from Maine. Not bad for a seafood dinner for two.
As I said, I can’t remember meeting a version of steamed mussels that I didn’t like. Moules Marinière was no exception. We both enjoyed this version.
I made my own no-knead bread in the bread dome my sister gave me for the holidays. It was crusty and airy and perfect with the mussels. I hope to share my results in more detail soon. The second loaf is rising on the counter as we speak.
As I said, I used half the mussels called for, though I made the full broth recipe. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any leftovers. When we do have leftover mussels, I enjoy using them to make something like linguine with clam sauce. I pick the mussels from the shells and save the leftover broth (along with any aromatic vegetables). The next night, I cook a box of linguine, gently reheat the mussels in the liquid and pour it over the cooked pasta. All this dish needs is a little fresh chopped parsley to finish it off. I think leftover moules marinière would work well with pasta too.
I’m looking forward to reading about what my fellow FFwD bloggers thought about this week’s recipe. Check out their links at here. We don’t post the recipes, but consider getting your own copy of the book, Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table. It is well worth it.
Of course, there have been specific recipes in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table that have become favorites. Lazy People’s Chicken is at the top of that list. However, more than the recipes, it’s the techniques and “formulas” that I’ve learned and added to my repertoire that make this book such a treasure.
This week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie was one of these non-recipe formulas. Christine’s Simple Party Soups was this week’s challenge. Dorie offers a trio of soups: red pepper, asparagus, and broccoli. The recipes were as simple as you can imagine. Basically, the ingredient list includes just two things: the featured vegetable and some stock. Hmmpf! How could that be tasty?
Most soups I make, and I make a lot of soups, start with sautéed onions in butter and oil and maybe some carrots, celery, and garlic before adding the main vegetable. For this soup, there’s none of that. You add chopped vegetables to boiling stock and simmer until the vegetables are cooked, then puree in the blender. That’s it. That’s all.
The end result should be called Essence of Vegetable Soup. The flavor of the featured vegetable comes through loud and clear. And, it’s January, so vegetables aren’t even at their peak. (I used frozen asparagus, fresh red peppers and broccoli).
To top the soups, Dorie offers instructions for spiced whipped cream. I’m not a huge fan of whipped cream, so, instead, I used dollops of Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of the recommended spice, a different one for each soup. That would be red pepper flakes (I used Aleppo) for the red pepper soup, cardamom for the asparagus, and curry powder for the curry. I loved the light touch of spice with each soup. I’m wondering how it would be to add the spice to the soup as it simmers, but I’m worried that the pure vegetable essence that I also loved would be lost.
Each soup was distinct and delicious. Though I reduced the liquid by two-thirds because I like my soup thicker than Dorie does, the red pepper was still very thin compared with the others. My favorite is either the asparagus or the broccoli. It’s hard to choose. Howard was away most of the week, but liked the red pepper soup as a starter for last night’s dinner. He brought asparagus soup for lunch today, but I haven’t gotten a report yet.
My mind is running through the roster of other vegetables that could be used. I’m hoping this will be equally successful with winter’s root vegetables, like carrots, squash, or rutabaga. I’ll be giving it a try.