Beer Steamed Mussels

My husband recently scrolled through my Instagram feed, just because.  He commented, “You post a lot of pictures of mussels.”  Really?!  Personally, I think I post way more pictures of cupcakes, macarons, and donuts – you know, three of the main food groups.  But I can’t deny that mussles are one of my favorite foods.  And they’re so visually stunning; I can’t help posting a picture whenever I eat them.

I always associate mussels with Belgium.  They are one of the national foods of the country, along with waffles (waffels), chocolate, and beer.  So, it made sense to me to cook them in a good Belgian brew.  The onion, bacon, and tarragon all complement the beer, and of course you need some crusty bread to sop up all the lovely juices.

original recipe

Beer Steamed Mussels

Serving Size: 4 as an appetizer, 2 as a main dish

Beer Steamed Mussels

Ingredients

2 slices bacon
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
¾ c beer
2 lbs mussels, cleaned and debearded
Chopped tarragon
Serve with
Baguette

Instructions

  1. Brown the bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Remove bacon to a paper towel lined plate. When the bacon is cool enough to handle, cut chop it into small pieces.
  2. Meanwhile, add the sliced onion to the pot. Cook until onions have begun to caramelize, stirring every few minutes. Add beer and bring to a boil. Carefully add the mussels. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and let steam until mussels have opened, about 10 minutes. Discard any mussels that haven’t opened.
  3. Sprinkle bacon bits and chopped tarragon over the mussels before serving.
http://kokocooks.com/2014/07/beer-steamed-mussels/

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Linguine With Clams

For some reason, I think pasta is a sexy food.  Especially pasta in long strands.  Maybe it’s because I’m a carbaholic.  Maybe I have “Lady and the Tramp” syndrome.  You know, that scene at the Italian restaurant, where the two share a romantic plate of spaghetti? Yeah, Disney got it right that time.

I’ve made this dish a few times recently, whenever I see live clams available at the seafood counter.  It makes the perfect romantic dinner – not too heavy, and it comes together easily so you won’t be stuck in the kitchen all evening. 😉

original recipe

Linguine With Clams

Yield: 2 servings

Linguine With Clams

Ingredients

8 oz. dried linguine
2 Tbs butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ c dry white wine
1 ½ lbs small clams (or 2 1/2 lbs medium clams)
Olive oil for drizzling
¼ tsp dried red pepper flakes
Fresh chopped parsley
Grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Cook linguine in a pot of water until al dente (about 8-9 minutes). Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the wine and clams to the pan. Cover and let steam until clams have opened up, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add pasta to the pan. Drizzle with olive oil and the red pepper flakes. Gently toss the pasta while it heats up, about 4 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and sprinkle with parsley and Parmesan cheese before serving.
http://kokocooks.com/2014/02/linguine-with-clams/

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Seafood Fettuccine

I went a different direction for Easter this year.  Usually, we either make lamb.  Sometimes we do a spring-themed menu.  Last year we did surf and turf.  This year, I went with seafood.  We had some of Hubs’ family in from out of town.  I wanted to make the meal extra special, so I made fresh pasta for the dish.  But it is just as satisfying with dried fettuccine.  I highly recommend this as a special occasion meal.  If you’re making this as a meal for two, definitely halve the recipe.

adapted from Cooking Light, January 2002

Seafood Fettuccine

Seafood Fettuccine

You may switch out with different types of seafood. I've made it also with lump crab meat and fresh clams.

Ingredients

2 Tbs butter
1 lb sea scallops
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c dry white wine
1 1/2 lbs mussels, cleaned and debearded
1 lb medium shrimp, shelled
1 1/2 c half and half
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1 lb fettuccine, cooked to al dente
3/4 c Parmesan cheese
3 Tbs chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

  1. In a large dutch oven, heat the butter over medium-high heat. Pat scallops dry with a paper towel. Sear scallops in the butter until both sides are browned, 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer scallops to a plate; cover to keep warm.
  2. Add garlic to dutch oven and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add white wine and mussels. Cover and let cook until mussels have opened, about 6-7 minutes. Transfer mussels to a bowl. Discard any unopened mussels. Cover to keep warm.
  3. Add shrimp to dutch oven (there will be some accumulated juices in the pot, that’s okay.) Cook shrimp until no longer translucent, about 5 minutes. Add half and half and black pepper. Heat until sauce is hot but not boiling. Add pasta and let cook for 5 minutes, until sauce has thickened a bit. Transfer pasta and sauce to a large bowl. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and toss. Add scallops, mussels, and parsley, and toss to combine. Serve immediately.
http://kokocooks.com/2013/04/seafood-fettuccine/

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Lemongrass Crab Cakes

 

Sometime last year, my husband planted an herb garden around our mailbox. Among the herbs, we started two stalks of lemongrass. A year and a half later, the stalks have multiplied several times over, and now the garden is teeming with lemongrass. They are easy to care for – give the stalks a haircut every so often, and clear out the dead layers on the bottom.

 

If you’re not familiar with how to prepare lemongrass, here’s a quick tutorial. They work a little like leeks – you hack off the leafy part, and peel the outer layers of the stalk. There’s usually a purple ring around the inner stalk, and I peel almost down to that. Then you slice thinly, and chop finely.

 

Lemongrass works really well in crab cakes; instead of squirting some lemon on the them, the citrus flavor is incorporated into the cakes. I’ve heard that you can also dry the leafy tops of the lemongrass and brew them for tea. In fact, a worker who cut down our dead tree took some of the leaves for just that purpose.

adapted from Cooking Light, July 2002

Lemongrass Crab Cakes

Lemongrass Crab Cakes

Ingredients

2 slices of white bread
¼ c finely chopped green onion
2 Tbs chopped cilantro
2 tsp chopped peeled lemongrass
1 Tbs rice vinegar
2 tsp fresh lime zest
½ tsp sriracha
1e egg, slightly beaten
1 lb lump crabmeat, drained
2 Tbs vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. Pulse bread in a food processor until crumbled coarsely. You should have about 1 cup of crumbs. Mix crumbs, green onion, cilantro, lemongrass, rice vinegar, lime zest, sriracha, egg, and crabmeat in a large bowl. Shape into six even patties. Place on a plate (if stacking on each other, use a sheet of wax paper between layers), cover, and chill for 1 hour.
  2. Heat 1 Tbs oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the crab cakes and cook until browned, about 4 minutes. Flip crab cakes carefully and brown on the other side. Remove crab cakes to a plate, and repeat procedure with remaining oil and crab cakes.
http://kokocooks.com/2012/08/lemongrass-crab-cakes/

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Scallops with Fennel-Orange Pasta

Ah, I’m back from our vacation from the Pacific Northwest! It was a busy week. We visited Seattle,

 

hung out at a cabin on a lake,

 

went sailing,

 

and spent quality time with family.

 

We also ate a whole bunch of this:

 

Now it’s time to eat something healthy. Something with lots of vegetables. Like some seared scallops with a fennel and orange pasta.  This dish was a surprise for us.  I was expecting to like it, but we ended up loving it.  The pancetta and orange added a salty-sweet combination to the fennel and pasta.  And other than cooking the pasta, everything is made in the saute pan, which cuts down on clean up time.

adapted from Cuisine at Home, June 2012

Scallops with Fennel-Orange Pasta

Scallops with Fennel-Orange Pasta

Ingredients

8 oz dried shaped pasta (I used orechiette)
4 oz pancetta diced
12 large sea scallops
2 Tbs olive oil
2 medium (or 1 large) fennel bulb, sliced
¼ c chopped onion
½ tsp red pepper flakes
Zest of 1 orange (use an orange from below)
½ c dry white wine
2 navel oranges, segmented

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a large saute pan, cook pancetta until browned. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Pat scallops dry with a paper towel. In the drippings, brown one side of the scallops, about 3-4 minutes. Flip scallops and cover. Lower heat to medium-low, and let the scallops finish cooking, about another 3 minutes. Transfer scallops to a plate and loosely cover with foil.
  3. Turn heat back up to medium-high; add olive oil to pan. Add the fennel, onion, and pepper flakes. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add orange zest, and season with salt and pepper. Pour white wine into the pan and cook another 8 minutes, scraping the browned bits off the bottom. Add pasta to the pan and toss until well combined. Let cook another 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in the pancetta and orange segments. Serve scallops on a bed of pasta.
http://kokocooks.com/2012/08/scallops-with-fennel-orange-pasta/

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Mussels with Parsley and Garlic

This past weekend was Belgian Independence Day!  Why am I noting this?  Because we have family who live in Belgium, and what better reason to indulge in a tasty beverage?  We indulged in the Mc Chouffe, which is technically a Dutch beer, but it was one of our favorites when we drank our way through Belgium last summer.  While it wasn’t a wheat ale, it tasted wonderful when paired with a few oranges (eaten in segments, not squeezed into the beer.)

I also recently made these mussels, which reminded me of our trip last summer.  Previously, I had thought the term “Mussels(muscles) from Brussels” only referred to Jean-Claude Van Damme.  Silly me.  Once we were in Belgium, I realized that the mussels were a national specialty.  These mussels were simply prepared with butter, garlic, parsley, and a splash of white wine.  I was leery of baking them (I’m more used to steaming) but they turned out tender and perfectly cooked.  And the the best part was sopping up all the lovely juices with some crusty bread.

 

 

adapted from Gourmet, March 2000

Mussels with Parsley and Garlic

Serving Size: 4-6 as an appetizer; 2-3 as a main dish

Mussels with Parsley and Garlic

Ingredients

½ c dry white wine
2 lbs mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
½ c (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
5 cloves garlic, minced
¼ c chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
¼ tsp black pepper
French bread

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Pour wine into a 9x13” baking pan. Spread mussels in an even layer in the pan. In a small bowl, mix the butter, garlic, and parsley. Pour over the mussels. Sprinkle with black pepper. Cover baking pan with foil and seal tightly. Bake until all the mussels have opened, about 15-18 minutes. Discard any unopened mussels. Transfer mussels to a large bowl, pour liquid over them. Serve with french bread.
http://kokocooks.com/2012/07/mussels-with-parsley-and-garlic/

 

 

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Crab Cake BLTs


Bacon is one of those foods that we don’t cook often, but when we do it is completely celebrated. We munch on the extra slices while we continue to cook. We freeze the bacon fat to use in future recipes (usually for making refried beans.) It’s probably a good thing we don’t keep it in the house often.


Celebrating bacon was a part of Foodbuzz’s Tastemaker Program for the month. Their partner Denny’s is celebrating BACONALIA, and featuring lots of bacon dishes on their menu. For my part, I made these crab cake blts. I love crab cakes, and I love bacon, so why not pair the two together? Tom Douglas‘ recipe seemed the most popular, but instead of his horseradish mayo, I made an Old Bay mayo. I thought it complemented both the bacon and the crab cake.


Adapted from Tom Douglas’ recipe

Crab Cake BLTs

Crab Cake BLTs

Ingredients

Crabcakes
¼ c red bell pepper, finely diced
1 celery stalk, finely diced
2 sprigs fresh thyme, minced
2 tsp fresh parsley, minced
12 oz. lump crabmeat
¾ tsp fresh lemon zest
¼ tsp Old Bay seasoning
2 dashes Tabasco sauce
¼ c dry bread crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbs olive oil
Sandwiches
4 hamburger rolls
Tomato slices
Lettuce leaves
8 slices cooked bacon
Old Bay mayo (below)

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the red pepper, celery, thyme, parsley, crabmeat, lemon zest, Old Bay seasoning, and tabasco. Break up lumps of crabmeat as you stir. Add bread crumbs a little at a time, and stir to combine. You may not need entire amount. Divide mixture into quarters, and form into patties.
  2. Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Place crab cakes in the pan and browned, about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and let the crab cakes rest for 5 minutes. To assemble the sandwiches, layer lettuce, tomato, crab cake, and bacon on a bun. Cut bacon in half if necessary so it doesn’t hang too much over the edge of the sandwich. Top with Old Bay mayo.
http://kokocooks.com/2011/04/crab-cake-blts/

 

Old Bay Mayo

Ingredients

¼ c mayonnaise
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp salt
Black pepper

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.
http://kokocooks.com/2011/04/crab-cake-blts/

 

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Crab Bisque

 

A little while ago, and Hubs and I indulged in tasty king crab legs. There’s something about cracking open those tough shells, and pulling the meat out in one long, satisfying lump. A splash of lemon, and a quick dip in melted butter, and I was a very happy camper

I searched for a while looking for a recipe for crab bisque. This recipe seemed the least labor-intensive. I actually made this soup twice, because we ate the first batch so quickly. The first time I made it, I halved the recipe, and followed the instructions exactly. However, it seemed like a waste of all that lovely crabmeat that cooks to make the broth. It ends up getting tossed with the aromatics and the shells. The second time I made it, I reserved a bunch of the crabmeat, and the flavor didn’t suffer at all. This also meant that I didn’t have to get extra meat to use for the garnish.

Next time, I’m going to try using basmati rice, for a slightly nutty flavor.


Adapted from Gourmet
December 2007

Crab Bisque

Crab Bisque

Ingredients

2 ½ lbs crab legs, cooked
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
carrot, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs fresh thyme
¼ tsp ground clove
½ c cognac or brandy
1/2 c dry white whine
2 c chicken stock
3 c water
¼ c uncooked white rice
½ tsp finely chopped tarragon
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
Dash cayenne pepper (optional)

Instructions

  1. Separate crabmeat from shells. Break the shells into pieces (if they aren’t already.) Reserve about 2/3 c of the meat and keep cool in the refrigerator.
  2. Heat oil in a stock pot over medium-high heat. Cook onion, carrot, celery, and garlic until softened, about 5 minutes. Add bay leaf, thyme, clove. Season with salt and pepper. Add cognac, wine, crushed crab shells and the rest of the crabmeat. Bring to a boil. Add broth and water and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and skim any foam off the top. Cover and simmer for about 1 hour, stirring and skimming occasionally.
  3. Place a colander on top of a large bowl. Drain the crab broth. Discard the solids. Place 1 c of the broth in a medium saucepan. Add the rice, and simmer, covered, until the rice is fully cooked, about 20-25 minutes. Not all the liquid will be absorbed. Blend the rice and remaining liquid with another 1 c of the broth until smooth. Return mixture to the saucepan, along with the rest of the broth. Heat until the bisque is hot. Right before serving, stir in the tarragon, lemon juice, and cayenne (if using). Garnish with some of the reserved crabmeat.
http://kokocooks.com/2011/03/crab-bisque/

 

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Fried Seafood Po’ Boys

 

Mardi Gras season is here! Unfortunately, I won’t be making the trek to New Orleans this season. But, I can still get my fix of cajun food.


The very next night after making these po’ boys, we stayed at the Port Orleans resort. The resort is beautiful – like a cleaner, idealistic, more compact version of the real place.


A plain po’ boy is just the meat and bread. A fully dressed po’boy includes the lettuce, tomato, pickle, and mayo. I used remoulade sauce in place of the mayo for a little something extra. And even though the seafood was deep fried, we loved that the sandwiches weren’t overly greasy tasting (one of the benefits of home-frying).

Fried Seafood Po’ Boys

Fried Seafood Po’ Boys

Ingredients

1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 lb fresh oysters
4 egg whites, lightly beaten
1 package of fish fry
Oil for frying
Black pepper
French bread
Shredded lettuce
Tomato slices
Dill pickle slices
Remoulade Sauce (recipe follows)

Instructions

  1. Pat shrimp and oysters dry with paper towels. Place egg whites in a shallow dish; place fish fry mixture in another shallow dish. Dip all the seafood in the egg, and then dredge in the fish fry, coating completely. Place coated seafood in a baking pan.
  2. Pour enough oil in a fryer or Dutch oven to reach a 2-3 inch depth. Heat to 350˚F. Fry seafood in batches for 1 minute. Remove to another baking dish. Season lightly with black pepper.
  3. To prepare the po’boys, divide bread into sandwich-sized portions. Slice bread open, and stuff with seafood, lettuce, tomato, pickle, and some remoulade sauce.
http://kokocooks.com/2011/03/fried-seafood-po-boys/

Remoulade Sauce

Remoulade Sauce

adapted from Chef John Besh

Ingredients

1 c mayonnaise
3 Tbs Dijon mustard
2 Tbs prepared horseradish
1 Tbs finely chopped parsley
1 small (or ½ a large) shallot, finely minced
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
1 Tbs white vinegar
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp tabasco sauce
½ tsp paprika
Dash of cayenne pepper
¼ tsp garlic powder
Dash of salt

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
http://kokocooks.com/2011/03/fried-seafood-po-boys/

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

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