Mussels, without a shadow of a doubt – are my absolute favourite seafood.
They are full of glorious, meaty flavour. I love how they sound as you swish them around in a pan, the clickity clack as the shells hit the edges.
They look wonderful too – the shells all black and shiny. And amazingly, in Australia anyway, they are super cheap!!!
However, mussels aren’t all fun and games.
The reality is, it takes a fair bit of work to prepare them, and sometimes the rules surrounding whether a mussel is safe to eat or not, can be really confusing.
But, don’t be afraid! Once you get a hang of how to prepare them, cooking is a breeze. The best news is …. Mussels are sooooo worth the effort!
So, here are a few tips to help you prepare mussels.
- Buy them from reputable fish monger.
- Once you get your mussels home, you really need to use them that day for the best results. This is one thing that shouldn’t be stored too long. However, if you can’t prepare them right away – pop them in the fridge. Just make sure you don’t leave them wrapped in plastic – they should be kept in a container and covered lightly with a tea towel, to let them breathe.
- As you are going through your mussels, some of them may be slightly open. Give them a sharp tap on the side of your kitchen sink. If they close tightly, they are fine cook. However – if they don’t – you must throw them away. They are dead and no good to eat.
- To prepare the mussels, give the shells a good scrub to remove any barnacles – I use a rough cleaning pad to do this (a fresh one out of the packet, not one I have used to scrub pots and pans … eewww!).
- Remove the beard (that’s the fibrous thing sticking out of the mussel) – give it a good, strong pull and it should come off.
That’s just about it – now it’s time to cook them and I have a really beautiful recipe that can be used as either a starter or a main. This one is a perfect dish to make your significant other for a romantic dinner – clean the mussels, cut up all the ingredients and cook immediately before serving. You’ll impress your significant other with your cooking skills, but the dish won’t take too long to get on the table. Perfect!
Mussels in white wine, chilli and tomatoes
- 500gm of mussels, cleaned and sorted
- 3 tbs olive oil
- 3 rashers of bacon, cut into strips
- 1 red onion, finely diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
- 1 red chilli, finely sliced (or you can add more, if you like it really hot)
- 1 cup of white wine
- 1 400gm can of chopped tomatoes
- 1 handful of basil, roughly torn
Heat the olive oil in the bottom of a large, heavy-based pan.
Cook the bacon, until it’s getting slightly crisp – then add the onion, garlic and chilli and season with salt and pepper. Cook over a medium heat until onion is soft.
Turn up the heat and add the wine, allowing it to simmer briskly for a minute or two.
Add the canned tomatoes and once they start to simmer. Add the mussels.
Cover and cook for a minute or two, or until the mussels have opened (it doesn’t take long – and this is how you tell they are ready). Add the fresh basil and serve.
Important: As you serve the dish into bowls, ensure that you discard any unopened mussels. If they are closed, then they are no good.
If you are cooking this as a main course, toss through some freshly cooked pasta at the end. If not, just serve the mussels as they are, with some fresh sourdough bread to mop up all those awesome juices.
A romantic dish deserves a matching song with it. This song is by an Australian artist called Sia and featured on the Twilight Saga Eclipse soundtrack. It’s the song playing in the background when Edward asks Bella to marry him. A little corny, I know – but a very romantic moment and a truly amazing song. Google Sia and check out the rest of her music, she has an amazing voice.
Sia – My Love
If you have any questions, please feel free to post them in the comments section below. Also, if you have any other tips for cooking mussels or seafood in general – I’d love to hear from you!
Are you superstitious? I have to admit, I am. I won’t walk under ladders, and I’ll never own a completely black cat … after all, the superstitions attached could be true, and, call me crazy, but I just don’t think the possible consequences are worth the risk!
As far as being a romantic – well that’s me down to a tea too. I’m the kind of girl who always wanted to find the kind of love you read about in fiction or see in romantic movies – the kind of love where you can’t imagine a life without the person who makes up your other half. I know, it’s a cringe-worthy ideal for the non-romantic. But for me, it’s been a goal in life.
So when I read a blog about a very yummy sounding cake, with a very sweet story behind it, I thought I’d give it a try. I published the recipe for said cake during my last blog post, and what can I say, I have been a very busy girl since!!! hence my lack of posting over the last two weeks or so.
The original cake was called Apple, Pecan and Date cake – but that name is no longer appropriate. It’s now called The Love Cake – and this is why.
I was blog surfing one day and came across the awesome blog called Root&Blossom, written by a lovely lady called Lena. She posted the recipe for this amazing cake, which I decided to try, and adapt slightly. This is what she wrote about this apple cake:
“It’s been over two years since I’ve made this cake! The last time I made this I gave it to a boy for his birthday. That boy then proceeded to ask me out and then later married me. I always gave my mom a hard time about how this old family recipe ends with saying, “your hubby will love it!” But I guess I don’t have room to talk anymore, but I’m okay with that!” – Lena at Root&Blossom
Being both a romantic and lover of food – and knowing that my nearest and dearest has a sweet tooth and would love the caramel-like icing that covers this delicious dessert, I knew it was perfect! So, I made it – and said boyfriend couldn’t get enough of it!!
Something else totally amazing happened too …
Now I’m not saying the proposal was all down to the cake … but I’m sure it didn’t hinder the situation either!
Lena asked me in the comments section when I posted the recipe whether my boy liked it … I’d have to say YES!!!!!
P.S For those of you who have been wondering about our My Kitchen Rules pursuit following the making of our audition video in March – we have some very exciting news. Ruza and I both got calls yesterday and are still being considered for the show! For confidentiality reasons, we aren’t allowed to say too much more – but we are super excited and just have to hope we make it further into the process and hopefully get picked!!! Wish us luck and thanks for all your support to date 🙂