Today marks the end of summer vacation for my family, since our oldest gets on the bus at 7:15 for his first day of Kindergarten! I am feeling really ready for fall, like so many other moms I have talked to. And I am feeling like we had a great summer! We did so much, and I don’t know how (maybe because I wasn’t moving and had 3 potty trained children to care for!) but I really feel liked we sucked the marrow out of summer.
We grew a garden….
with bounty that delighted and surprised us every day….
We had tons of fun at the beach!
Note the men digging a trench to keep the tide from getting our beach spot soaked, love this! And we also made it to the girls’ first baseball game, the Portland Sea Dogs (Red Sox training ground)….
But the essence of summer for the past few years has been when good friends (the children of our mom’s best friend, our ‘fake’ cousins, as we all refer to each other – a compliment since it means we actually do love each other and just appointed each other as members of our family) have visited with beach days, shopping, and lots of food.
Aside from fresh lobsters in Maine, this week was our food highlight of the summer, and one of the biggest events was… the Mussels from P.E.I. And how did we make these? Since there are an infinite interesting number of ways to prepare mussels?
We left it in the hands of the Masters.
We held Iron Chef Mussels 2012 between:
Mark G. – a good smart Italian foodie. Last vacation he spent his down time reading seafood cookbooks. A formidable opponent. He is in the white shirt on the left.
Eileen T. – my mom, aka Aunt Eileen. Has had 60+ years perfecting her knife skills, has Mastered the Art of French Cooking, and hasn’t met a dish she can’t recreate. Here she is in the black & white shirt.
And the winner was….
Everyone. Because we got to eat 2 of the best mussel dishes I have ever had anywhere. Restaurant quality.
Interestingly, Mark’s had an Italian flavor profile with that can’t get enough of it quality. And Eileen’s was definitely a French flavor base, with carrots, celery and onions sauteed with lots of cream and wine and was so simple yet so good!
I really couldn’t pick a winner. But it has furthered my belief that mussels are the ultimate blank canvas. If you decide to host one yourself, you may want to have more competitors, and if so, try to have everyone prep their dish ahead of time.
Since the Iron Chef’s are keeping their recipes a secret (I am still working on prying it out of them), here is a recipe I love for mussels.
Chorizo and Mussels in Tomato-Wine Broth
from Emeril Lagasse, link & printer version here.
- 8 ounces chorizo, removed from casings and chopped
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup finely chopped yellow onions
- 1 cup roughly chopped fennel
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 cup fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
- 1 cups white wine
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley leaves
- 3 pounds fresh mussels, well scrubbed and debearded
- French Bread, as an accompaniment
In a large saute pan, cook the chorizo until brown over medium-high heat, about 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Drain off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan.
Add the butter and when melted, add the onions, fennel, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring, for 4 minutes. Add the garlic and tomatoes, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the wine, cream, and parsley, and bring to a boil. Add the mussels, cover, and cook until the shells have opened, about 4 minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in the sausage. Discard any shells that do not open. Transfer to a deep bowl and serve immediately with hot French bread for dipping.