My Foray Into Bi-Valves

We’ve been wanting to try cooking something with mussels for a while, and finally got a good night off that was appropriate for wine and experimentation. 

We couldn’t find the recipe that I had originally had in mind, but did find this one, for Steamed Mussels with Pernod, Celery Root, and Saffron Aioli, from Epicurus via the I-Phone while we were out and about.  It was absolutely amazing- certainly the best seafood that I have ever cooked, and probably the best shellfish I have ever had. 

I couldn’t find celery root, so just used celery, and used full-fat mayo because I couldn’t see buying the low-fat stuff.  It was easy and just took a few minutes once you sorted through the mussels.  We picked up some crusty sourdough to go along, lightly toasted, and it complemented perfectly. 

Steamed Mussels with Pernod, Celery Root and Saffron Aïoli Bon Appétit | February 1999


Offer this main course with plenty of crusty bread to soak up the delicious saffron broth. A crisp Sauvignon Blanc is good here, too.

Yield: Serves 6


For aioli
1 tablespoon hot water
Pinch of saffron threads, crumbled
2/3 cup low-fat mayonnaise
2 garlic cloves, minced

For mussels
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large celery root, peeled, finely chopped (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 large leek (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
6 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 1/2 pounds mussels, scrubbed, debearded
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1/3 cup Pernod or other anise-flavored liqueur


Make aioli:
Combine 1 tablespoon hot water and saffron in medium bowl. Let stand 5 minutes. Whisk in mayonnaise and garlic. Season to taste with salt. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Make mussels:
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add celery root, leek, carrots, chopped celery and 4 tablespoons parsley. Stir to coat. Cover pot and cook until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add mussels, wine and Pernod. Increase heat to high. Cover and cook until mussels open, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes (discard any mussels that do not open). Remove from heat. Season cooking liquid to taste with salt and pepper.

Whisk 1/2 cup cooking liquid into aioli to make thin sauce. Ladle mussels and remaining cooking liquid into 6 bowls. Drizzle each serving with some aioli. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons parsley. Serve mussels, passing re-maining aioli separately.

We halved the recipe, and had a bit leftover, so we shelled the mussels and tossed them with the broth and veggies (adding some extra leeks, celery, and carrots) and some cooked egg noodles, adding in a roux to thicken it up a little bit.  Drizzled the aioli over the top and it was still great.  (I had planned to try it with risotto instead of egg noodles, but was out.) 
Still had a bit of aioli left over, so, for breakfast, toasted a bit more of the sourdough, fried a couple of eggs on top and ate that with the aioli.  Delicious!  (Although I’ll admit that I could have done without the garlic there.) 

Gorilla Bread

Made this recipe, monkey bread from Cook’s Illustrated, to have for breakfast this morning, but with a few tweeks and twists:

from Cook’s Illustrated


4 tablespoons unsalted butter , divided, 2 tablespoons softened and 2 tablespoons melted
1 cup milk , warm (about 110 degrees)
1/3 cup water , warm (about 110 degrees)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 package rapid-rise yeast (or instant)
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour , plus extra for work surface
2 teaspoons table salt

Brown Sugar Coating
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), melted

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons milk

1. For the dough: Adjust oven rack to medium-low position and heat oven to 200 degrees. When oven reaches 200 degrees, turn it off. Butter Bundt pan with 2 tablespoons softened butter. Set aside.

2. In large measuring cup, mix together milk, water, melted butter, sugar, and yeast. Mix flour and salt in standing mixer fitted with dough hook, (see below for instructions without a mixer.) Turn machine to low and slowly add milk mixture. After dough comes together, increase speed to medium and mix until dough is shiny and smooth, 6 to 7 minutes. Turn dough onto lightly floured counter and knead briefly to form smooth, round ball. Coat large bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Place dough in bowl and coat surface of dough with cooking spray. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in warm oven until dough doubles in size, 50 to 60 minutes.
3. For the sugar coating: While dough is rising, mix brown sugar and cinnamon together in bowl. Place melted butter in second bowl. Set aside.
4. To form the bread: Gently remove dough from bowl, and pat into rough 8-inch square. Using bench scraper or knife, cut dough into 64 pieces.

5. Roll each dough piece into ball. Working one at a time, dip balls in melted butter, allowing excess butter to drip back into bowl. Roll in brown sugar mixture, then layer balls in Bundt pan, staggering seams where dough balls meet as you build layers.

6. Cover Bundt pan tightly with plastic wrap and place in turned-off oven until dough balls are puffy and have risen 1 to 2 inches from top of pan, 50 to 70 minutes.

7. Remove pan from oven and heat oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap pan and bake until top is deep brown and caramel begins to bubble around edges, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then turn out on platter and allow to cool slightly, about 10 minutes.

8. For the glaze: While bread cools, whisk confectioners’ sugar and milk in small bowl until lumps are gone. Using whisk, drizzle glaze over warm monkey bread, letting it run over top and sides of bread. Serve warm.

Note: The dough should be sticky, but if you find it’s too wet and not coming together in the mixer, add 2 tablespoons more flour and mix until the dough forms a cohesive mass. Make sure to use light brown sugar in the sugar mix; dark brown sugar has a stronger molasses flavor that can be overwhelming. After baking, don’t let the bread cool in the pan for more than 5 minutes or it will stick to the pan and come out in pieces. Monkey bread is at its best when served warm.

The Picky Cook has some really fantastic pictures at the link. 

Now the alterations:

  1. It was only for my husband and me, so I halved the recipe, which worked fine.  We still only ate about 3/4 of it. 
  2. There are a lot of versions of this recipe that use canned biscuit dough or frozen rolls.  These are fine, but the way I figure it, if you are going to eat something this rich and unhealthy, you might as well make it the most delicious version possible.  This really requires a yeast dough. 
  3. The recipe warns against using dark brown sugar because the molasses taste will be overwhelming.  I love dark brown sugar, and find that light brown tends to clump up badly, so I don’t bother with it.  I used half dark brown sugar and half white granulated sugar instead of the light brown. 
  4. I just used 3 TBS of butter to dip (3/4 of the halved recipe) and still had a bit leftover.  I also had a lot of cinnamon/brown sugar leftover, so feel free to reduce these to avoid waste. 
  5. I added some almond and vanilla extracts to the glaze. 
  6. In order to have it at breakfast, I made it the night before, allowing the second rise to go 50 minutes long.  Then I covered it and refrigerated it overnight.  Next morning, took it out for about 10-15 minutes, then turned on the oven and put it right in (without allowing it to preheat first, hoping that that would help bring it up to temp before the real cooking set in).  From putting it in the oven to finish was about 35 minutes (and I might go 2-3 minutes less next time).  I checked it with an instant read thermometer and it was about 205 degrees in the middle (this was great, but I’m thinking 195 would probably be the complete ideal).
  7. Now the big one- I converted it from “monkey bread” to “gorilla bread.”  As far as I can tell, this is just an idea that Paula Deen came up with, but it’s a good one.    (I give less approval to her use of canned biscuits over a yeast dough, though.)  While forming the balls, simply take a small nub of cream cheese (about the size of a fingertip) and fold the balls around it, making sure to seal the edges well. 

 Sweet, chewy, sugar and cinnamon coated balls, and a little hit of creamy cheese in the middle- unbelievable!

A good incentive to learn how to make your own damn waffles

Kellogg’s warns of a nation-wide Eggo shortage.

Kellogg Co. says there will be a nationwide shortage of its popular Eggo frozen waffles until next summer because of interruptions in production at two of the four plants that make them.
The company’s Atlanta plant was shut down for an undisclosed period by a September storm that dumped historic amounts of rain in the area. Meanwhile, several production lines at its largest bakery in Rossville, Tenn., are closed indefinitely for repairs, company spokeswoman Kris Charles said in an e-mail.
It will take until the middle of 2010 before shelves around the country are stocked at pre-shutdown levels, Charles said.
Already customers are noticing near-empty Eggo shelves on the freezer aisle at many grocery stores.
Stay-at-home mom Joey Resciniti says she bought one of the last two boxes of Eggos at a Walmart in Cranberry Township, Pa., on Monday. The frozen waffles are a favorite of her 4-year-old daughter, Julia.
“We have eight of them, and if we ration those — maybe have half an Eggo in one sitting — then it’ll last longer,” said Resciniti, who blogs about being a mother. “I told my husband that maybe I need to put them on eBay.”
Meanwhile, this recipe take 5 minutes to mix (the night before), costs basically nothing in ingredients, and makes Eggos taste like syrup drenched cardboard.

Can’t plan ahead: here’s our backup go-to waffle recipe.   But seriously, ANY waffles you make are going to be much, much better than frozen Eggos. 

(By the way, ask for this waffle maker for Christmas; it’s fantastic.  Clean up is a bitch, but the waffles are well-worth it.)