laure's steamed mussels

Happy Wednesday everyone! Today's guest post is coming to us from Los Angeles, home of blogger Laure Joliet. I first met Laure after she told me that she would be posting about my Chocolate Root Beer Bundt Cake on the Apartment Therapy food site The Kitchn. Laure not only writes for The Kitchn but also her own blog, At Home At Home and Apartment Therapy. In addition, she's an amazing photographer. Isn't this place stunning? Her work has been featured in magazines like Living Etc. and Dwell and recently the inaugural issue of Rue Magazine chose her photograph for the cover. If that isn't enough to knock your socks off she also just started work on a new TV home makeover show in the art department! This is one talented woman.

It's no wonder that when I asked her to write a guest post she said she was really busy but would try. Of course, she came through with a stellar idea and an amazing photograph. I agreed to help her flesh it out a bit and add my two cents. The resulting guest post is a collaboration between Laure and I. Hopefully, not the last! I hope you're hungry because today we're going to be talking about mussels.

Laure writes: this image is from one of the best meals I've had at Gjelina in Venice, California. The weather has been turning here in Los Angeles (today was rainy and dramatic and great) and I love a steaming bowl of mussels. Gjelina makes theirs with Chorizo and lots and lots of garlic. The extra spice of the chorizo adds a nice amount of heat and it's served with perfectly grilled toast instead of fries.

Intrigued, I did a little research on the restaurant Gjelina and came across these stunning images. Looks like the food is not unmatched by the interior! Check out that chandelier made of an vintage oval pot rack and exposed bulbs, the industrial chairs, black walls, and rough wood. Beautiful!

If you're feeling inspired to try your hand at some mussels check out the recipe Laure has included below. It's from the indomitable master chef Julia Child. As Laure writes, " It's a different recipe from the one Gjelina's uses but still a simple way to ease your way into mussels (I add the garlic, Julia doesn't call for any!) Experiment with chorizo and spices for fun!

Moules

2 cups light, dry white win or 1 cup dry white vermouth

An 8- to 10-quart enameled kettle with cover, though I’ve made this in many other pots successfully

1/2 cup minced shallots, or green onions, or very finely minced onions

8 parsley sprigs

1/2 bay leaf

1/4 teaspoon thyme

1/8 teaspoon pepper

6 tablespoons butter

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

6 quarts scrubbed, soaked mussels

1/2 cup roughly chopped parsley

 

Bring all but the last two ingredients to boil in the kettle. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes to evaporate its alcohol and to reduce its volume slightly.

 

Add the mussels to the kettle. Cover tightly and boil quickly over high heat. Frequently grasp the kettle with both hands, your thumbs clamped to the cover, and toss the mussels in the kettle and an up and down slightly jerky motion so the mussels will change levels and cook evenly. In about 5 minutes, the shells will swing open and the mussels are done.

 

With a big skimmer, dip the mussels into wide soup places. Allow the cooking liquid to settle for a moment so any sand will sink to the bottom. Then ladle the liquid over the mussels, sprinkle with the parsley and serve immediately.

 

what's for dinner?

I can't remember exactly when we started doing this but it was definitely a few years ago. It's a system that really works for us. Every Saturday, I sit down for about thirty minutes and I write up a menu for the week. I start by looking through cookbooks, culinary magazines or food websites.

When Gourmet was still in print it was my go to source for almost all my menus. Their Gourmet Everyday section was so inspiring. I literally wanted to make every recipe I saw. These days I find a lot of my recipes on Martha Stewart's website, Epicurious, or blogs like The Kitchn. Usually, I try out two to three new recipes each week with the others made up of long time favourites.

After reading a couple of Michael Pollan's book and Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals, our dining habits changed. Those books really made us aware of how cruel and destructive the industrial food chain is. While both Myles and I have been vegetarians in the past we now choose to eat meat in limited quantities and only from local sources that are antibiotic and hormone free and conscientiously raised. We also try to eat only locally grown, organic vegetables that are in season. That means no strawberries or asparagus for us in December! Have you read these books? Did you find they changed the way you eat?

Once I've drawn up the menu I create a shopping list that tells us exactly what to buy. This helps us purchase only the food we need and cuts down on waste.

Then it all gets written up on the chalkboard so I don't have to think about what I'm making for dinner when I get home from work. Last night, ratatouille was on the menu. I tend to think of this as a winter stew but actually zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes and peppers are in season right now.

I got to work chopping right away and about thirty minutes later our meal was ready.

I like to have a little protein with every meal so I usually add a little cheese to our ratatouille. We had some leftover goat cheese from the homemade pizza we made the previous night so I used that. I have to admit it was pretty delicious.

How do you tackle weekday meals? Any places you go for inspiration?

in the kitchn

One of the lovely editors over at The Kitchn, Laure Joliet, happened across my recent Chocolate Root Beer Bundt Cake experiment and gave it a try. Her conclusion - surprisingly quick, easy, impressive and delicious. I couldn't agree more!

Laure went out of her way to find a root beer that was made with sugar and not corn syrup. She used a brand called Trader Joes's that I haven't seen in Canada. I wonder if Stewart's Root Beer would work? I imagine the flavor is much purer and more intense. She also suggested that the frosting could easily be made by hand eliminating the need for a food processor (which certainly helps come clean up time).

As anyone else given this recipe a try?

I also liked Laure's suggestions of trying the same recipe with Cream Soda. How delicious would that be?

(All images Laure Joliet)