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I’ve just returned from a week of travel, and the refrigerator is a tad bare.  But I’m hungry.  And we need to eat lunch.  There’s half a shallot from last night, some feta cheese that is still good, a jar of roasted red peppers, and four eggs.  A rummage through the fruit drawer leads me to two lone grapefruits.  Ladies and gentlemen – we have a lunch!

It is very interesting how some of the most delicious things that I’ve eaten for lunch have been discovered through the use of odds and ends ingredients and the benefit of a well stocked pantry and spice cabinet.  I will never forget the day the kitchen sink eggwich changed my life… 

Anyway, as I was sauteeing the red peppers, shallots and garlic, I added a little pinch of dried basil and a little pinch of dried oregano.  Everything was smelling fragrant and delicious.  I started feeling sassy and added a splash of dry sherry to deglaze the pan and WOW.  Sherry and eggs and shallot and garlic and feta and basil and oregano and roasted red peppers equate to very, very tasty and wonderful scrambled eggs.  The salty feta is such a wonderful counterpoint to the other flavors.  I think my humble little eggs felt very fancy with the addition of that dry sherry.

Now if we ever have any fancy people show up for brunch, I’ll serve them these scrambled eggs; they’re the best I’ve ever had.  In the meantime, I plan to add this to the regular rotation, finished with two juicy little grapefruits drizzled with honey or any other fruits hanging out lonely in the fruit drawer.  A handful of lettuce tossed in vinaigrette will also make a very tasty addition. 

scrambled eggs – fancy pants style

serves two

  • two cloves of garlic, minced
  • one small shallot or half of one large shallot, chopped
  • one roasted red pepper, chopped
  • four eggs, cracked into a bowl and whisked with a splash of milk, salt and pepper
  • a pinch of dried basil
  • a pinch of dried oregano
  • about two tbsp of dry sherry
  • about 1/3 cup of crumbled feta
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • a splash of extra virgin olive oil
  1. heat a non-stick pan over medium heat and add enough olive oil to thinly coat; add the garlic, shallots and roasted red peppers, and cook until just beginning to brown – stir regularly to prevent the garlic from burning
  2. slowly pour in the sherry, stirring to coat the vegetables (you should hear the sherry sizzle in the pan)
  3. reduce the heat to low and add the eggs, stirring constantly around the edge of the pan to gently “scramble” the eggs
  4. when the eggs have reached their desired consistency, gently stir in the feta
  5. garnish with some chopped chives or parsley if you have fancy people dining with you
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A few years ago I met the most extraordinary Lebanese woman named Diana.  She was living with my in-laws while completing her Master’s Degree in Counseling.  I think she may have secretly been an angel sent straight from heaven; she taught me about Lebanese food and fed it to us in copious amounts, and she consoled our family as we helplessly waited day after day at the hospital, my father-in-law dealing with a devastating illness that nearly claimed his life.   

I relished the time we spent chatting on the sofa for so many reasons, but I found it especially interesting to discuss our different worldviews and the cultural nuances that shaped us both as young, independent, determined women.  For instance, when I hear a rumble of thunder, I think of the spectacular storms that I grew up with in Texas.  Diana wonders where the bombs are falling.  

Apparently Diana cast a spell on us with those meals, because I have been intensely passionate about Lebanese food ever since (and when I say “intensely passionate,” I really mean crazed).  She sent me home with precious little baggies of za’atar, sumac, seven spice and white pepper, but I had high hopes of discovering the exact components of seven spice to simply mix the spices myself.  No such luck.  Between my English and Diana’s mom’s Arabic, we couldn’t get it completely figured out.  Internet research will lead you down varying paths, but the mixture can vary from family to family.  I definitely know that clove, cinnamon, allspice, pepper and nutmeg are the heavy hitters; it gets tricky with the remaining two spices.  Some say ginger and fenugreek, some say caraway and cumin…  I can’t stand to waste a meal not getting it exactly right, so I buy my seven spice from the patient and diligent owner of Leon’s International Bakery and allow it to remain exotic and mysterious. 

The first time I visited Leon’s I arrived armed with my tiny ziploc baggies of Diana’s spices.  I believe I made a memorable impression that day, and not just because I was caught dancing in the aisle to the Arabic music that was playing.  I called the gracious owner of Leon’s over to his spice rack and I held open each little baggie, focusing especially on the seven spice.  “Please smell this,” I said.  He raised an eyebrow and sniffed.  “Please tell me if you are selling exactly this mixture here at your store,” I said.  He assured me that it was likely to be very close.  “This is from Lebanon,” I said.  He nodded.  “I’m very intent on getting this exact mixture because I want to replicate certain dishes – please do sniff again – my bag first and then your spice mixture.”  That blessed man sniffed again, offering his sincere assurance that I would be satisfied.  As I said, “passionately intense.” 

I made my purchases that day, and needless to say, his mixture is the best I’ve tried yet.   During my last visit I was explaining this to him – that I have tried blends from other reputable providers in many U.S. cities, and that his is the absolute best.  “Because it is the original,” he says.  I continued on in my monologue, assuring him that his offerings are unmatched in taste and aroma.  This must qualify me as an expert, because he turned and asked me if I was originally from Lebanon. 

There are so many Lebanese dishes that we eat with great frequency in our home, and I want to share all of them with you.  My favorite dishes call for generous amounts of lemon and garlic and olive oil, astringent sumac for a tangy zip and lots of seven spice for depth and deliciousness.  However, they deserve to be discussed one at a time, so I’m starting with the first dish that Diana served to us – chicken and potatoes.  I haven’t found this exact recipe in the one hundred or so Lebanese cookbooks that I’ve looked through, so I assume that the combo of chicken and potatoes is one that Diana’s mom prefers.  I like that. 

Diana’s way is good enough to have Jon and I pine after it like forlorn lovers, but I recently applied that high heat, miraculous roast chicken method to the recipe, and our lives changed forever.  This post is already exceedingly long, so I’ll spare the finer points of why cooking chicken this way in the oven is really the only way to do it.  You can check the details out in chapter one and chapter two of the fabulous roast chicken saga. 

Let me instead tell you about how the potatoes and will soak up this heady blend of spices, and will cook to perfection doused in lemon and garlic.  The chicken will be succulent and juicy and flavorful and silky and fabulous.  The olive oil and spices and lemon and garlic will meld together in the baking dish to form the most glorious sauce that has ever graced a silly little potato or a humble piece of chicken.  Your house will smell glorious.  Your life will change.  You may cry tears of joy.  And while you belly dance your way through the kitchen to drink the remaining olive oil directly from the baking dish, you too can be transformed into an honorary Phoenician, changed forever by Diana’s chicken and potatoes. 

chicken and potatoes – serves four or two really hungry and over indulgent people

  • one bone in skin on chicken cut into pieces, or two bone in skin on breasts, or several bone in skin on thighs – decide based on the number of people that you are serving
  • three to six russet potatoes, peeled and cut into half inch medallions
  • four or five cloves of garlic, grated with a microplane zester or smashed to a paste in a mortar and pestle
  • two or more lemons, juiced
  • two heaping tbsps of Lebanese seven spice
  • one heaping tbsp of allspice
  • one heaping tbsp of cinnamon
  • 1/2 heaping tsp of ground white pepper
  • kosher salt to taste, about one tsp
  • a generous amount of olive oil
  1. mix all of the spices and salt together in a small bowl, and add enough olive oil so that the spices and oil together form a thick, soupy mix – you don’t really want a paste, but you also don’t want a soup – you want a well stirred homogenous mixture
  2. grate the peeled garlic into another small bowl, and juice the lemons into the same bowl – whisk together
  3. put your chicken in a large glass baking dish, cover the chicken with the spice and oil mixture – be sure and generously coat the chicken, making sure to put plenty of the mix under the skin – then, carefully spoon a small amount of the lemon and garlic mixture UNDER the chicken skin, taking care to keep any of the lemon and garlic mixture from getting on the top of the chicken skin
  4. place the chicken on the very top shelf of a five hundred degree oven, and bake for fifteen minutes
  5. meanwhile, peel the potatoes and cut them into half inch medallions
  6. cover the potatoes with cold water in a saucepan and bring to a boil – simmer for ten minutes and then drain
  7. when the chicken has baked for fifteen minutes, pull the pan out of the oven and add the potatoes, covering them generously with the remaining oil and spice mixture – give the entire pan a few extra glugs of olive oil – be generous
  8. bake the chicken and potatoes for an additional fifteen minutes
  9. pull the chicken and potatoes out and pour over the lemon and garlic mixture, and bake for five more minutes
  10. remove from the oven and serve, with the olive oil sauce poured over the chicken and potatoes

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I was recently reading an article in Saveur’s December issue.  The article is entitled, “Personal Space: an editor’s kitchen reflects a lifetime.”  The writing is about Judith Jones (an accomplished cookbook editor who published Julia Child’s first cookbook), her kitchen and recent publications, and about how one’s kitchen can be a telling reflection of the style and personality of the cook who spends time there.  This was a thoughtful article, but what struck me the most were the pictures of Judith in her little kitchen and apartment, as well as the mention of her latest cookbook, The Pleasures of Cooking for One.

Judith talks lovingly about the design of her kitchen and living space, thoughtfully created and conceived by her and her beloved husband.  Every detail held special meaning to them, even down to the accidental garde-manger they created during renovation, reminding them nostalgically of the years they lived in Paris.  The pictures in the magazine spread show a tiny and elegant woman.  She stands in her kitchen, carefully cutting chicken; she sits alone in her cherished dining space, her beautifully lined face illuminated by candle light, gourmet meal before her (silver platter included) and a glass of red wine in hand.  Her smile conveys the anticipation of sharing her personal space with such an audience and a youthful giddiness radiates through her expression.  So much like me, she is surrounded by books in every room.  As I continue to read, I think, “Where is this husband of hers?”  My eyes read ahead to the title of her cookbook and I realized with sadness that he, of course, had passed away in 1996. 

I know that the author probably intended for me to be impressed with Judith’s quaint and thoughtful kitchen, to consider what message that my own kitchen may send to its guests, but instead I was instantly struck with the sadness of Judith’s solitude at her dinner table.   My mind wandered through a multitude of memories that are filled with laughter, love, memorable meals and even more memorable people.  I have shared countless days and evenings eating the best meals of my life with people that I love indescribably.  I pictured Judith’s life similar to my own, filled with these same common experiences.  Just like she and her husband lovingly created their perfect environment, so have Jon and I spent time sharing our dreams and hopes with one another.  Perhaps her kitchen and her home itself remain unchanged and are host to many lively dinners with friends, but some things in her life have definitely changed.  The realization that everyone will not always sit at the table and stand in my kitchen hit me with immediate force; it literally brought me to tears.  I cannot imagine not sharing my kitchen, my cooking, the experience of eating, the joy of a lazy evening, with the people that are dear to me.  Not one single person could go missing without drastically altering the fabric of my life; especially my husband – my one true love.  To me, the table is such a sacramental place.  How enormously blessed am I that I don’t have to sit at it alone? 

One of the most memorable (albeit simple) moments of my life was a time when Jon and I had just finished a delightful, weeknight meal; our home smelled delicious, candles were lit, music drifted through the house, my belly was full, and I was sitting next to the man I feel honored to share life with.  I specifically remember that my feet were stretched out and resting on the empty chair that sits across from me at our table, glass in hand, mind at rest.    I was struck, at that moment, with the sheer joy of being exactly where I was.  (A very rare moment for me and my chaotic mind!)

Since reading about Judith, I have considered in depth that these meals and experiences are even more of a treasure than I realized.  Of course they are some of the best times of my life, but also ones that are not always guaranteed.  I’ve experienced the truth of this in the painful knowledge that I will never eat another meal at 421 South Euclid Street, surrounded by my Grandma and Grandpa in what was one of my favorite kitchens.  I will never be able to pick another avocado or lemon out of their backyard.  Reading about Judith and her kitchen has caused me to realize the fleeting nature of our lives with a more poignant immediacy. 

That being said, I would like to thank everyone who shares these times with me, everyone who allows me to cook for them, everyone who has fed me well, everyone that sits around the table with me and hangs out in my kitchen, everyone that has shed a tear with me across the table, everyone that has squealed with delight over the perfect bite, everyone that has poured me a drink and danced with me while we cooked, everyone that has allowed me to gracefully unbutton my pants due to an overstuffed belly, everyone that has shared their dreams and listened to mine as we rested from our dining.  These are the best times and you all are a gift and a blessing to me, a beautiful part of my life that I cherish and appreciate.  And even though I am nearly one hundred percent certain that she will never see this, I would also like to thank Judith.  She’s helped me to think about how blessed we are to share these times with one another.  I hope she really has found pleasure in cooking for one, and that her kitchen is still crowded at times with friends and loved ones that fill her heart with joy.  And most of all, I am so thankful for Jon, who shares the table with me night after night and graciously receives my successes and failures in the kitchen.  While my love of food has been with me since childhood, he was part and parcel to the beginning of my culinary exploration in the kitchen.  I hope I never have to sit at the table without him. 

P.S.  And thanks to Becky  – who conspires with me about a full life and continues to encourage me to blog!

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Dear Mr. Townsend,

I have written a letter to you over and over again in my head ever since hearing the devastating news that the revered and beautiful Gourmet magazine was cancelled.  I believe that it has taken this long for me to write the letter because I’ve simply not been able to come to terms with this news.  I am astounded.  Grieved.  Disturbed.  Angry.  Disgusted.  Every time I look at my teetering stack of precious Gourmet’s, I feel the wind knocked out of me again. 

You see, the cancellation of Gourmet is tragic not only because this magazine was singularly unique amongst food publications, but also because I believe it represents a greater loss and a disturbing downward direction in our culture. 

Gourmet magazine stood to me as the darling of food publications.  Saturated with gorgeous photos, riveting food journalism and delectable recipes, Gourmet was the embodiment of all that is beautiful and sacramental about eating.  Gourmet took us to new places, introduced us to new foods, challenged us to understand the meaning behind what we eat and where it comes from, inspired us to cook and to serve, to cook and eat with imagination.  How incredible that a seventy year old publication could still stand as a smart and sexy educator and authority to a multi-generational audience.  I believe this is because Gourmet elevated and honored the things that are important: food, beauty, truth, meaning. 

Gourmet was the anthem and banner for food being more than just nourishment for our bodies, but also nourishment for our souls. Even more amazing is that this publication embodied these principles not in some irrelevant and dowdy manner, but with elegance, glamour and sophistication.  Gourmet holistically supported and propagated the ideals of artful living and eating.  Cancelling a publication this revered and established, a publication that has educated and inspired some of the greatest chefs of the last century, all due to a year of bad ad sales in a poor economy is egregious – outrageous!  You have closed the Lourve.  Sold Monet’s paintings at a garage sale.  Bulldozed central park for an office park development.  Cancelled your Roman holiday in favor of a weekend in Branson.  Replaced Grace Kelly with Brittney Spears.  Graffitied Michaelangelo’s DavidYou’ve taken your family to McDonald’s for Thanksgiving.   Do I sound dramatic?  I feel VERY DRAMATIC.  Absolutely furious.

I subscribe to multiple food publications because I am an avid cook and have passionate interest in food and eating, but Gourmet is by far my favorite.  The blend of inventive recipes, captivating essays and cultural savvy is unmatched in culinary publication.  I’ve been left with Bon Appetit, which I subscribe to because I can’t help myself.  Sure, Bon Appetit has its merits and strong points, but I believe its audience subscribes for different reasons.  Instead of discovering new little items and delectable treats and nibbles in a section labeled, “Obsessions,” I’ll have to look in Bon Appetit under “What to Buy Now.”  I believe this succinctly summarizes the vast difference between these sister publications.   I do not want to be told what to buy now; I want to be wooed and seduced, enticed because I trust so much the passion and credibility of the source. 

I find it utterly disturbing that one (or even a few) bad years can ruin a publication that is as old or older than our beloved grandmothers.  What is this short-sightedness that continues to surface in a country that is founded on perseverance, dedication, resourcefulness?  It seems that panic has swept the American business community, and I find myself bewildered time and time again as a consumer.  Certainly a giant such as Conde Nast would see that nearly one million customers, disgruntled (at best) and outraged (at worst) costs much more than a year of slow ad sales.  In terms of the transition from print to web, the Gourmet website is a recent award winner; a representation that the Gourmet brand is not only relevant, but strong.  This is especially impressive seeing as how the audience that reads this magazine is most likely one that honors and values a sensory experience, which is much more difficult to have by clicking through a website. 

For me, the website is an interesting supplement to the magazine that I anxiously await each month.  The experience of holding and turning pages in my hands, the smell of a brand new magazine, the glossiness of an undisturbed cover, the knowledge of new things to be discovered with the simple turn of a page, the portability of a tangible publication- these things cannot be replaced by the internet.  The pages of my magazines are crinkled from water and olive oil, my cherished issues having been present next to a hot sauté pan or with me in my nightly bath, delightfully enjoyed alongside a little glass of red wine.  Gourmet magazine has been with me as I have learned to cook, has transported me when I needed to dream and discover new things in the hardest of times, has inspired me to stretch and grow myself as a home cook and food lover.  How many times have I run to the mailbox the moment I hear the postman drive away, anticipating this monthly pleasure that will act as my muse in the kitchen?

There is a reason that history is upheld and protected.  There is a reason that in the midst of exploding social media and an overworked A-D-D society, there are movements to return to simplicity, quality of life, community, and appreciation of the traditions that worked for our grandmothers and grandfathers.  I realize that I’m delving into some wider issues, but for some reason the cut of this senior publication in the midst of a great food revolution just reeks of the brokenness that I observe in crumbling systems and lifestyles that the enlightened seek to overcome.  What are we becoming culturally when we are okay with slashing these beautiful and treasured things in favor of a few more dollars?  Where is the reverence for that which transcends the whim of trends, for the things that are worth preserving because they unite us generationally?  What else should I expect to disappear and fall apart?  I find myself more and more disillusioned in this culture that surrounds me.  I liked knowing that I was connected to and a part of a community that had existed for decades.  There is beauty in the old and the established.  Have you missed this entire revolution and return to quality, even at a greater cost?  I’m convinced that the future sees us returning to this mindset.  This counterculture will become the mainstream.  We have no choice.  The Europeans understand this best (which is why we love their wines, cheeses, foods, museums so much).  Americans, sadly, still continue to lack this vision and sophistication.  I expected more from Conde Nast.  I expected more from a company that published these ideals.   

I will continue to mourn the loss of this lovely and beautiful magazine.  I am truly heart broken.  I still just can’t believe it.  I can’t believe it.

Most sincerely,

Amanda Hindson

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summer on a plate

summer on a plate

Summer is almost over, my friends.  It’s going to be hard for me to say goodbye to the berries, the peaches, the summer squash – all of the beautiful produce that is overflowing at the market right now.  I’m clinging to this food season with every meal, and tonight was quintessential summer. 

Roasted baby tomatoes and a fresh and lively vinaigrette go perfectly with simple pan sauteed chicken; shallots and the sweetness of the tomatoes add a mellow balance to the assertive flavors of dill, mustard and champagne vinegar.    We ate this with fresh yellow corn on the cob, slathered in butter and seasoned simply with salt and pepper.  The corn is really so delicious that it doesn’t need anything, but I look for any excuse to eat a little melted butter. 

Even though it’s been raining for at least five days straight in Atlanta, I felt so summery while we ate dinner… I gnawed (literally) on my tender little corn and imagined that I was sitting at a picnic table somewhere outside near some tall, climbing trees, a canopy of twilight stars over my head, warm summer breeze on my face and a show of fireflies twinkling through the trees… I could almost smell freshly mown grass and honeysuckle… Yes – buttery, perfectly in-season corn can cause me to wax poetic; I might have even burst out with a rendition of Billie Holiday’s Summertime if a pitcher of homemade lemonade had graced our table.  Jon broke up my mental reverie by announcing that our dinner made him nostalgic for the summers of his childhood when he and his family would pick corn from a neighbor’s field.  I love food that is so firmly planted in a season or a memory that each bite, each taste, transports you to a cherished place or time. 

I should also mention that his warm and fuzzy recollection was followed by a comment that corn on the cob is really better eaten at home than in public.  I chose not to ask about the inspiration for this proclamation, but instead to wipe the butter and corn from my chin and cheeks. 

This was ready and on the table in less than thirty minutes; it would be a tragedy for others that I know and love to not share in the final stages of summertime deliciousness by eating this fantastic meal.  The original recipe came from Gourmet and can be found here; the recipe below is with my modifications. 

As for my bizarre three week absence from the blog, I have no explanation.  All I can say is that I’m back!  Thanks to those of you who encouraged me to get writing again.

chicken paillards with tangy tomato-dill relish and tender buttered corn

  • four skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped dill
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped shallot
  • 1 tbsp grainy mustard
  • 1 tbsp champagne or white wine vinegar (or red wine, if you don’t have either of those two)
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved (I like to scoop out the seeds with my finger)
  • fresh corn on the cob, shucked
  • butter, salt and pepper to taste
  1. preheat oven to 425 degrees and set a large pot of water to boil
  2. pound the chicken breasts to 1/4 of an inch thickness between two sheets of plastic wrap with a meat mallet or rolling pin
  3. whisk together oil, dill, shallot, mustard and vinegar in a large bowl
  4. toss the halved tomatoes with a few spoonfuls of the vinaigrette mixture and roast in the oven for seven to ten minutes
  5. meanwhile, season the chicken breasts with a little kosher salt and pepper and spoon some of the vinaigrette over one side of each breast
  6. add chicken breasts to a skillet heated over medium heat, vinaigrette side down; spoon more vinaigrette over the unseasoned sides of the chicken in the pan; cook chicken three to four minutes per side, adding the remaining vinaigrette at the end of cooking
  7. while chicken is cooking, add corn to boiling water and cook for five to six minutes
  8. serve the chicken with the roasted tomatoes scattered on top – buttery corn on the side – prepare to reminisce in happiness

This recipe serves four, but I made the full amount of vinaigrette for our two pieces of chicken because I like things saucy and extra flavorful; if serving four you may want to make some extra vinaigrette.

I generally use this method for cooking chicken; splitting a chicken breast between two people is actually an appropriate portion size, saving money and extra calories.  Pounding the chicken flat allows for quicker, more even cooking and a seemingly larger size.  This is a great, everyday method.

 

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you be the chef

 

The sky is the limit.

Money is no object.

Add anything you like.

Use all of these ingredients.

What is your creation?

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tastes as beautiful as it looks

tastes as beautiful as it looks

If you want to sing because you have just eaten something delectable – if you want to feel like you are dining in the manner of aristocrats – if you want an absolute slurpy flavor explosion with each little bite of food, then you need to prepare and eat the mussels that I just had for lunch.  Seriously.  I’m getting really passionate again about my lunch but it’s completely valid. 

Mussels are so good and easy to make.  The strangest thing is trying to guard their little lives so much from store to home, then confirm that they’re all healthy and thriving, only to quickly extinguish those little lives in a steaming pot.  I would be kind of sad about it if they weren’t so extravagantly delicious. 

I have been craving mussels and a  smattering of left over ingredients from the week came together very quickly to make an absolutely glorious broth that obviously gets me very excited.  A pinch of saffron and the addition of a tiny anchovy filet (both pantry staples in my house) added an extra layer of flavor to ingredients that are already outstanding.   Imagine this bite: one tender little mussel swimming in a fragrant broth that tastes of wine and lemon and garlic and fresh parsley and summer with a hint of thyme and saffron.  I realize that I sound a bit over dramatic sometimes when I talk about some of these things, but when food tastes this good it makes me want write poetry.  And love letters.  Food love letters, if you will. 

We ate these mussels with some toasted slices of french baguette, rubbed with a clove of raw garlic and drizzled with olive oil and salt and pepper.  If you haven’t eaten bread this way, you are missing out on one of life’s great and simple pleasures.   

The recipe below serves two and the entire meal took about twenty minutes to prepare; there really isn’t any excuse for you to not share in this experience with me.  I want everyone to experience these little tastes of the good life – together.  Let’s start with these mussels. 

tender mussels in fragrant wine broth

  • a pound and a half of mussels, scrubbed and debearded if necessary
  • a cup and a half of white wine
  • three cloves of garlic, chopped
  • a quarter of an onion or a couple of shallots, chopped
  • a generous handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • four or five sprigs of thyme, leaves removed and stems discarded
  • half of a lemon (meyer is best)
  • one little anchovy fillet
  • a pinch of saffron (maybe five or six small threads)
  • one tbsp of butter
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • about one tsp of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. add the saffron to the wine and let soak while you begin cooking
  2. heat the butter and olive oil in an appropriately sized sauce pan over medium heat, and add the chopped onions, salt and pepper and stir frequently for about two minutes
  3. add the garlic, anchovy and thyme and cook for a minute or two more, stirring frequently
  4. add the wine (with saffron) and about two thirds of the fresh parsley and bring to a boil
  5. gently add the mussels, cover and reduce to medium, cooking for six to seven minutes (all mussels should be open – discard any that do not open)
  6. ladle the mussels and plenty of the broth into wide bowls and garnish with the rest of the fresh parsley; serve with crusty garlic bread

All mussels should be scrubbed and inspected before cooking; discard any mussels that have cracked or broken shells.  If a mussel is open, gently tap it on the shell; if it doesn’t close it should also be discarded. 

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