Mussels with bacon, apple cider and cream… and introducing “Matty mis en place”

mussels with bacon, apple cider and cream
Just yesterday I was going to get some mussels and cook them up for dinner. Mussels with bacon, onion, cider and cream, I thought. I’ve really been feeling the mussel lately… wait, I believe even I should re-think the wording of that one…

Anyway, my mouth has been yearning for a dripping hot creamy mussel… dear good lord.

Seriously, I really shouldn’t be attempting to write any kind of story to goes with mussels for dinner. Shit, even that sounds like an all male review… I think I should just move fairly quickly to a recipe.

The thing I was going to say is that events came to pass that prevented the consumption of mussels that evening. My palate/face/head would be relegated to whatever leftovers may be hanging around in the fridge. Lucky for my face, held within the cooling grasp of the refrigerator was the remains of two cracking barbecues that were cooked on previous nights. Those leftovers consisted of smoky brisket, pork ribs, pork sausages, coleslaw, add to that a few chips that were purpose chopped and fried, and home made hot sauce and I do conclude that life does not suck.

After eating our dinner we watched a little River Cottage on the interweb, and it just happened to be a fish episode… and Hugh was cooking mussels… and those mussels were indeed cooked with bacon, spring onions, cider and cream. He was basically pointing at me and laughing in my face that I didn’t have mussels. Seriously, I’m pretty sure he gave me a little “suck shit” glance. He’s lucky I think he’s a bloody nice guy or I might have flicked him off in favour of Gray’s Anatomy, a nice hot chocolate and a couple of Iced VoVos.

Would I bollocks!

Anyway, Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall is a nice guy and I cooked those fricking mussels for dinner tonight.

A worthy mention goes to my brother Matt, who prepared the mis en place. Matt now goes by the moniker of “Matty mis en place”.

Getting geared up for the mussel fest... and not one pair of ass-less chaps in sight
Getting geared up for the mussel fest… and not one pair of ass-less chaps in sight

In with he bacon, onion and garlic
In with he bacon, onion and garlic
Deglaze with the cider
Deglaze with the cider
Get the cream in there... and please stop with the gutter mouth innuendo
Get the cream in there… and please stop with the gutter mouth innuendo

Get the mussels into your face... I need to go now
Get the mussels into your face… I need to go now

MUSSELS with BACON, APPLE CIDER AND CREAM (serves six or more with sides)

2kg live mussels, de-bearded and scrubbed (a lot of mussels will come cleaned up and ready to go these days, which makes for a truly quick and easy dining experience… no reason why we can’t your dinner to match your performance in the bedroom now, is there?)
1 onion (whatever you have), diced
4 rashers bacon, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
300ml apple cider… get a big bottle so there’s some left for you. Actually, just get a few now so you don’t need to drive up to the bottle shop later when you’ve decided another one or two might go well with dinner
300ml cream
‘A handful parsley, chopped
Grated pecorino
Pepper (you shouldn’t need salt because of the saltiness of the mussels and bacon. I hope this isn’t news to you because I have told you before. If this needs to keep happening we are not going to be able to remain friends)
15 minutes
Crusty baguette with aioli and green salad, to serve

• In a large pan that is clearly big enough to fit all of the mussels, you can heat some oil
• Sauté bacon onion and garlic until soft and fragrant
• Add cider and simmer for a minute or two
• Add mussels, cover and simmer for another 3-4 minutes
• Remove lid and gently stir through cream. Simmer for another 2 minutes or until all of the mussels are open (it is common for one or two, or even three or four, to hang on for a little longer than the rest. You can pry these open with a butter knife to get what’s yours)
• Season with a little pepper
• Sprinkle with parsley and a bit of pecorino if you feel the urge
• Serve with a little or a lot of other things

Mussels with chorizo, saffron and tomato… so very simple

spencer gulf mussels with chorizo, tomato and saffron Mussels can be simple as fuck and really impressive and sometimes, so can this ol’ blog. Watch this… Mussels are a light bulb moment. There is a picture of a bowl of mussels with a side of crusty bread in the dictionary right next to the definition of the phrase “light bulb moment” (please don’t check… I feel that may lead to me being found out for the fraudulent cad I am). They are a great call when you need something quick and easy and still impressive. There’s not a heap of meals that fall into this category, as it is not an actual category but just a damn unfortunate twist of events that we all have to deal with from time to time. In your time of need look to the mussels for the strength to go on (see what I did there? Mussels? Strength? That shit is gold). The scientific equation is thus; Cook mussels with some kind of saucy goodness, chuck an inbred rock farmer’s sized fistful of herbs in there and then serve with some crusty bread and a salad if you can be assed. I didn’t even use garlic because of the flavour hit from the sausage. Oh yes you could if you wanted to, but for the simplicity of this whole thing I just flogged the shit out of a good sausage. Oh yes.

These puppies came cryovaced and cleaned up  ready to go. It makes it a little hard to check for freshness so it's kinda nice to have a good fish monger
These puppies came cryovacced and cleaned up ready to go. It makes it a little hard to check for freshness so it’s kinda nice to have a good fish monger
Just mussels
Just mussels
...and the other stuff that went into the pot
…and the other stuff that went into the pot
Steeping saffron looks a little like this
Steeping saffron looks a little like this
Make some garlic bread, I dare you. It's childs play. It is quite literally childs play
Make some garlic bread, I dare you. It’s childs play. It is quite literally childs play
Um, garlic bread
Um, garlic bread
Looking good
Looking good
Get it on the plate with some of that
Get it on the plate with some of that
My belly is smiling at me
My belly is smiling at me

MUSSELS WITH CHORIZO, SAFFRON & TOMATO 1kg fresh mussels that, just as all seafood should, smell just like the ocean, not the toilet door in the parlor of the ladies of the night 1 small-medium onion, finely diced 1 chorizo sausage, diced pretty small but it doesn’t need to be as small as the onion A pinch of saffron, left to steep in ¼ cup warm water for 15 minutes (leave it out if you think you don’t like it. I really didn’t want you wasting this worlds saffron supply anyway) 2x 400g tins crushed tomatoes A handful of parsley and mint, chopped Whatever you think is a decent splash of olive oil Garlic bread or crusty bread to serve • Heat oil in a large pan and sauté onion and chorizo until fragrant • Add a splash of wine if using*, the saffron in it’s water and the tomatoes and simmer for exactly 10 minutes • Add mussels and cover. Simmer for another 4-5 minutes or until it looks like all of the mussels have opened, stirring gently once or twice • Add herbs and fold through • Check seasoning – it’s usually pretty good because of the salty goodness inside the mussels – and serve it up with a heap of some kind of juice mopping implement AKA. bread *If you have white wine you can chuck a splash in there, but don’t worry if you don’t. I didn’t and I can share the knowledge that these mussels were still damn good. It would be true to say that I have indeed tasted many things that are less appealing than mussels without a splash of wine.

Mussels times two… and this damn heat

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H(eat)

Day 1
Damn this heat.

I saw the sun rearing it’s head above the hills this morning and it quite literally had fire in it’s eyes.

It’s so damn hot out side right now I’m pretty sure Lucifer himself just came to my door to enquire as to whether he may be able to lease my backyard as he was looking to expand his fiery realm. I just saw a real live Arab trekking through my backyard with a camel, on his quest to the promised land. I get in the pool, which is the temperature of wee right now, and emerge fully dry from my warm bath looking like one of those Chinese terracotta soldiers they found back in ’74. I have had lava calling me trying to book a spot to recharge (yeah. I could go on for ever). It is fricking hot. And I’ve just remembered (as I seem to about this time every year) that I don’t handle the heat very well… I really hope you’re not smiling right now. Maybe you are. Maybe you’re one of those people who laugh when small children fall flat on their face when they are learning to walk. Or maybe you think its funny when the carnie in the cage gets jabbed with a red-hot poker so he does a little dance… Even the words “red hot sale” taunt me as a constant reminder of the heat that is working away at my being right now.

I have been putting beers in the freezer today, taking them out when they are nice and frosty, even when a little ice is starting to form, and then they are still warm before I can finish them. I have been sculling beers to keep them cool as I drink them… which is kind of a little counter-intuitive now that I think about it…

We ate our pet fish for dinner. Not because we had no food, but because the heat had cooked them and made the tank water into a really tasty broth.

I just opted for the cold bath scenario, like the pensioner who has neglected to pay their gas bill. It started off really good, but when I got out I was dry by the time I got to the towel rack… and we don’t have a large bathroom. It is still damn hot and it’s almost 8pm! Are you kids starting to get the picture? These are actual life events (mostly) that are happening today.

Day 2
Much of the same except I had to work in it this time (yeah, in the kitchen with three ovens, a salamander, deep frier, industrial dishwashing machine, stovetop and grill)

Day 3
Reprieve. The rains have finally come. Love this Northern Rivers. Hot as crap one day, torrential rain the next.

I realise it’s no “Out of Africa”, and I’m almost positive that you don’t read this blog for my shitty version of “Dear Diary” so I will move on.

What to cook in this heat (maybe something other than your pet fish anyway)…

Mussels! Mussels are anytime food.

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Mussels times two… does that make them a bicep? A bivalvian bicept? I doubt it, but stranger things have happened in this world we live in. Why, just the other day I passed a large metal “horse” which was, get this, motorized and carried many people inside it’s belly. It had not eaten these people, no, no, no. These people had paid an honest fare so the motorized “horse” may take them to their place of daily assignment.

Whatever. That sun has seriously screwed with my head…

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Mark I
1kg mussels
1 brown onion, sliced
200g bacon, sliced
1 cup(ish) cabbage, sliced
200ml dark beer, the rest is for you. You’re welcome
1 handful parsley (big or small depending on how much you like it), chopped
1 knob of butter or a splash of oil
• Sweat off the onions and bacon in butter/oil
• Add cabbage once they are soft, sweat off for another minute
• Add mussels and beer
• Cover and cook for another 4 minutes or until the mussels are all opened
• Scatter with parsley
• Eat like a legend

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Mark II (a little more to do with this one)
1kg mussels
2 beetroot, boiled until cooked (poke it with a knife fool. If it slides off easily like the stripper on the dancing pole, it’s done!) and then diced
1 brown onion, bruniose
¼ cup apple cider vinegar (or what ever you have lying around. Definitely not your cat though…)
2 tablespoon castor sugar
a splash of white wine, the rest of the bottle is for you. Once again, you’re welcome
a handful of fresh dill, chopped
2 tablespoons horseradish cream (it’s all I had. I have horseradish in the garden though and it should be ready for my face soon)
¼ cup sour cream (if you are not wanting it to be summery light)
• Sauté the beetroot in a little oil for exactly 3 minutes
• Add the vinegar and sugar and sauté for another 5 minutes or until the liquid has almost reduced to nothing
• Remove from heat and add horse radish cream, onion and dill (reserving a little dill for the final flourish)
• Cook mussel with a splash of wine, covered, for 4 or so minutes until all mussels are opened
• Eat like a legend

Mussel ettiquette
• Eating mussels like a legend does not include using bowls… or even cutlery
• Mussel MUST be served with some kind of bread product. We had ours with croute smeared (yeah, always wanted to use that word) with herb mayonnaise
• Do have a bowl for empty shells
• Don’t be afraid to slurp up the juices like an absolute beast
• Don’t pass the salt on mussel night as the little bivalves are filled with their own salty goodness. Tasty and self seasoning… do you really need anything more from them?

Jamie O’s Moroccan Mussels

I truly believe Jamie Oliver is a food legend. I used to think he was just an English prat on TV who likes to season his food from a height not unlike that of the empire state building, and talk a lot of English rubbish. Over the years I have come to realize he talks a lot of sense, has his heart in the right place, is trying to make a difference to the way the average family eats and likes to season food from a height not unlike that of the empire state building. I like the guy a lot. Not like, like like, but I like what he does.

And this is a recipe I saw on his 15 minute meals show which made me think (a little bit more than I usually do anyway). But I’m not sure what about…

Mussels. Cheap, quick, easy. Not unlike a Thai prostitute. Except this is about the well being of your family, not going home with a nasty disease and possibly a story to tell your mates about a girl with a penis.

I think everyone should eat mussels. Even if you don’t like them you should eat them just to show yourself you are not a bitch.

I love mussels. Not “I, love muscles”, like the movie “I, robot”. No. I LOVE MUSSELS.

So this recipe contains at least 18 (going out on a limb here) of my favorite things.
1 mussels
2 harissa
3 preserved lemon
4 mussels
5 creativity
6 coriander
7… 18 my ass. I should learn how to count

Harissa and tomato mussels
2kg fresh mussels, debearded
2 tablespoons harissa paste. Mmmm, harissa…
4 cloves garlic
1 drop rose water
1/4 preserved lemon, pith and flesh removed, diced
2 tins diced tomato
Pinch saffron
1 bunch coriander
• In a pot big enough to fit everything, cook out your harissa and garlic with a little oil
• Add everything else, except mussels and coriander, and bring to a simmer. Keep it going for a few minutes
• Now add the mussels and cover pot. Steam mussels for 5-6 minutes or until they are pretty much all open (you will always have a straggler or two), stirring or shaking the pot gently a couple of time during that process
• Stir through coriander
• As usual, mussels are to be consumed with a heap of crusty bread, wine and good company

Giddiup!

To see the actual recipe follow this link. findityourself.whatamIyourmother.com

It’s all about the rock n roll babee.

Jennee’s taking over… accidental mussels with fennel and orange

The apparition… cooks.

As I said in my previous post (I am basically just gonna take this shit over!!) I spent the weekend at my sisters… yes the same sister that set the spam challenge oh so many months ago when the blog was just a fledgling learning how to fly… when no one would have expected the dizzying heights of super stardom it would reach… But I digress, lets get back to the subject at hand, my sister. Or more to the point, my sisters husband. He comes in many forms, whether it be the solid mass style, coherent and solid in his virtues and stances, or as the apparition that appears usually after midnight and usually not so solid in his virtues or stance for that matter (the star of previous blogs). The boy can cook though (not sure about the apparition, I have only woken to the remains of what looked like a cook up by the strange being!)

This particular moment in culinary history was to take place at a little place I like to call my “holiday home” . Palm trees dotted the horizon and boats were a plenty – and that’s in their backyard. Barney called the shots and made the decision to cook paella, I thought I had better do my bit and said I would roast fennel and oranges as a side dish (An idea I got from eavesdropping a conversation between Gray and Gitana a week ago!) – in the words of Picasso- “good artists copy, great artists steal”.

The paella was coming along swimmingly until it got time to add the mussels and the seemingly giant paella pan suddenly looked like a dolls tea set with no room for the mussels? So we turned the fennel and orange roast into a sauce with white wine and my dish became, mussels in a white wine fennel and orange sauce…. Both were spectacular, sadly the apparition did not show up that night, and I had my night vision video camera ready and waiting too…

Mise en place that would make gray proud….

 

Nozza’s midnight mussel extravaganza

Nozza’s Midnight Mussel Extravaganza… sounds like a late night all male review.

No. Portarlington mussels were our choice. Fresh from the market and cooked at midnight by an Aussie rapper with a brim full of beer and cider, just to show you how easy this actually is.

*As for right now, it is the next day and I have a fuzzy brain. But I know for a fact that I had a damn good time last night. And for that I shall have to pay. This is not a “put it on the card” type of thing. The only way I know to fix the bill after a night like that is to offer the gods a sacrificial virgin maiden. But if the virgin is unattainable, and let’s face it there is slim chance of your dopey old ass being able to find a virgin, try these easy steps.
1. Lay on the couch.

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2. Eat scrambled eggs with truffle and speck.

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3. Eat smoked sausage, cheese, dill pickles and mustard on awesome bread.
4. Drink juice for vitamins, coffee for brain stimulation and neurofen to relieve the stabbing pain behind your eyes.
5. Eat some more. Lot’s more.
6.If all else fails sangria’s seem to be working quite well for me.

Due to this cook up being conducted at midnight details are sketchy. But I do know I laughed so much my face almost fell off, and my good friend Nozza did the cooking.

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NOZZA’S CREAMY MUSSEL (he would have wanted it this way)

Like hyenas with a zebra carcass we gave way to our primitive instincts and got our faces messy. We didn’t use bowls, our bread was torn and hacked apart with our hands, mussels were sucked and slurped (hehe) and we left a huge effing mess. It seems the vikings had been, feasted on our food and our women and quite possibly had their way with out goats, and then disappeared into the dark chill of another cold Melbourne night… poetry…

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2kg mussels, debearded
2 leeks, sliced
100g speck, sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 handful parsley
1 handful spinach just because it was in the fridge and the stupid thing doesn’t seem to be working to well so we thought we’d better use everything before it goes to shit
250ml thickened cream
1 stubby apple cider, and choose cider that tastes like cider, not a mix of cheap cask wine, lemonade and apple juice
No seasoning because the mussel will release their salty goodness into the broth when they open

Sauté the leek, speck and onion. When it’s soft add the mussels and cook, covered, for 5-ish minutes. Add everything else and simmer for another minute or until it looks like all of the mussels are open. Eat with a big fat loaf of some kind of awesome bread, boozy friends, and total disregard for table manners… just tonight though, OK.

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… and probably again. Mussels are damn good. Simple to cook – and cooked simply is when they’re at their very best. Especially at 12:30 in the morning.