November 24, 2009
I listen to Riviera Radio from Monaco via my computer almost every day. I like the music. It is English speaking and their features interest me. Which brings me to something I heard today that I thought was worth sharing. They have a wine appreciation course sponsored by antiquewine.com. Each segment is just 2 minutes, which you can listen to immediately or download....your choice. I was particularly grabbed by #10....'How to Tell if Wine is Corked'.....It is information that every person who drinks wine should understand. AND, it is the #1 reason for sending a wine back or taking wine back to a store. This podcast affirms the information I have been trying to share for years... So if you are ever at a table that the person tasting the wine says it is corked......PLEASE, take a sniff or a small taste so that you will know what all the fuss is about.
November 15, 2009
Moules et Frites have to be one of my very favorite dishes. In France, we always wait for the bouchots to come in...usually we see them the beginning of June. Well, we don't have those here in the USA but all is not lost. I was shopping Costco last week and found beautiful mussels from Canada. They weren't too big and were very fresh.....always check the date. There is a tag that tells you when they came out of the water but retailers repackage things and it is impossible to see this tag most of the time. SO....I always make sure that there are at least 5-6 days before they hit the expiration date. One of the bags from Costco will feed 5-6 reasonable people. I say that because I know that myself and many of my friends don't understand reasonable when it comes to mussels......Here is the recipe......
3 KG (6 LBS OR SO) MUSSELS
3-4 TABLESPOONS BUTTER
3/4-1 CUP SHALLOTS, MINCED
3 LARGE CLOVES GARLIC, MINCED
1 BAY LEAF
1 1/2 TABLESPOONS FLOUR
1 CUP WHITE WINE ++
1/2 CUP CREAM
1/2-3/4 CUP FRESH PARSLEY, MINCED
Rinse mussels quickly in 2 changes of water. Do NOT leave in water. Trim off barnacles and beards. Discard those that are open and won't close when squeezed.
In a large wok with lid, saute shallots in butter. Add pressed garlic, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. When shallots are translucent, sprinkle on flour. Stir to combine. Add white wine, cream and parsley. Whisk. Cover. You do not want the liquid to evaporate. Cook gently for 5 minutes or so...add another 2-3 Tablespoons white wine. Cook again, covered, for 5 minutes or so. Add a small squeeze of lemon juice. Stir.
Add mussels to sauce. Cover and steam just until open. The sauce is somewhat thick when the mussels are added but the juice from the mussels thins it to the right consistency.
Remove from heat and serve! Discard those that did not open. Don't leave on the heat ....they will overcook. Reheat to serve a second round.
So now you ask about the 'frites'. Well, many of you know of our quest for the right potato for French fries here in the States. Xavier and I have searched and searched but they are just not the same. In France, we buy Mona Lisas and Xavier likes to be sure that they have never been refrigerated....and prefers to see the dirt still clinging to the potato. We have yet to find any like them here.....So with that said I will tell you how we cook them.....
The oil we use is a non-hydrogenated palm oil. The closest thing that we have to this fat in the US is the organic all vegetable shortening from Spectrum. It is available everywhere.
Wash, peel and cut potatoes. Now to explain blanch frying....heat oil to 325 degrees. Add potatoes and fry at this low temperature just until they are cooked....they won't be brown or crisp at this point. Remove and drain. Set aside until ready to serve. When ready to serve, increase heat to 375. Add fries and cook until brown and crisp.
L to R: Cut potatoes, Blanching, After blanching, Finished product!