COLUMN: The Eating Tree - ‘Moules Mariniere is the perfect summer dish’
The weather has been a bit of a roller coaster lately with blue skied sunny days interspersed with rain showers and chilly winds.
Deciding what to eat has been rather like deciding what to wear. With a few warm sunny days in a row it is tempting to put all the winter woollies away and get out the summer t-shirts, only to be caught out when the weather changes for the worse again.
However, as winter has now undoubtedly gone, I will probably not be making any more big hearty stews until the autumn, but for me it is still not warm enough to be eating salads every night. This dish of Moules Mariniere somehow fits nicely in between, being served hot but still light and fresh.
Traditionally served with crusty bread or, as the mussel loving Belgians do, with a bowl of thin chips to soak up the creamy juices, this delightfully easy dish is reminiscent of holidays in sunny climes, accompanied by good friends and a bottle of chilled, citrus-y Muscadet.
It used to be said that mussels are only in season when there is an ‘R’ in the month, but they are now available all year round.
One of the best things about this dish is, once the mussels have been prepared, it takes less than ten minutes to cook, making it a superb midweek supper. There is something special about the combination of wine and cream and this is certainly wonderful enough to be served as a celebratory meal.
The alcohol in the wine is boiled away before serving so this is not just a dish for adults. My ten year old devours mussels at lightening speed and, like most children, he thinks it is great fun using an empty shell as a pincer to pick the mussels from the shell.
My family and I are all great fans of seafood and it features heavily in my kitchen in the summer months. You will certainly find us up at the Cromer and Sheringham Crab and Lobster Festival on 15th -17th May where we will be sampling some of the the best seafood the area has to offer as well as joining in the fun.
Dish serves 2-3 people
* 1 shallot or small leek, finely chopped
* Knob of butter
* 1kg live mussels, cleaned, de-bearded, rinsed and drained
* 150ml white wine
* 100ml double cream
* Handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
In a large pan with a lid, melt the knob of butter and gently fry the leek or shallot for 3-4 minutes until soft. Do not brown.
Turn up the heat, add the wine and let it boil for a couple of minutes. Add the mussels, put on lid and give the pan a good shake. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the shells have opened, shaking the pan occasionally,
Add the cream and parsley, give one more shake, cook for a further minute. Discard any shells that have not opened then serve.
n You can learn about more recipes by paying a visit to Lindsey’s blog, found at www.theeatingtree.com
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