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.) 

Creamy Peanut Butter Sauce with Chicken and Pasta

This is a great “go-to” recipe.  It’s easy, pantry friendly, can be made in the time it takes to boil noodles, and can be a full meal (veg, meat, starch) in one dish.  Plus, it’s delicious and hearty.  The peas add a wonderful sweetness, but green beans can work in place of (or in addition to) them. (You’ll want to cook them or thaw them first.) 

Approx. 4 servings

  •  1/2 Cup Peanut Butter (smooth or crunchy, your choice)
  • 1/3 Cup Chicken Broth or Stock
  • 1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tsp Asian Sesame Oil, divided
  • 2 Tsp Chili Oil, divided
  • 1.5 Tbs Sugar
  • 2 Tbs Red Wine vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup Milk
  • 1-2 Tbs Sriracha or Other Hot Sauce
  • 1/2 lb or so linguine
  • 1 large or 2 small Chicken Breasts
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Vegetable or Cooking Oil to coat pan
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbs minced or grated fresh ginger
  • Frozen Peas, optional (approx. 1/2 lb, or whatever you like)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.  Lightly salt (not as much salt as you would use for most pastas).  Add the pasta and boil until tender, approximately 9 minutes.  (Asian-style pasta dishes are generally cooked to a little more tender than an Italian-style al dente.) 

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.  Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, and saute over medium heat until lightly browned and cooked through.  Remove from pan and reduce heat to medium low.

While chicken is cooking, combine all remaining ingredients except garlic and ginger in a blender or food processor, using 1 tsp each of chili and sesame oils.  After the chicken is removed from the pan, add a small drizzle of oil and saute garlic and ginger until fragrant (approximately 1 minute).  Add peanut sauce and chicken and heat through.  Stir in peas, then stir in pasta.  Stir continuously until completely warmed, approx. 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat and drizzle in a bit of sesame and chili oil.  Serve with additional hot sauce, if desired.

This is not the best pizza crust that I have ever had

It is, however, far better than any delivery pizza that I’ve ever tried, and can be made into pizza, start to finish, in less time than it takes for the driver to get here with a pie. 

  •  1/2 Cup + 2 TBS Warm Water
  • 2 1/8 Tsp Dry Yeast
  • 1/8 Cup (2 TBS) Vegetable Oil
  • 1/8 Cup (2 TBS) Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 TBS Sugar
  • 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • Toppings of choice (I like mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce with a little sautéed garlic, red pepper, and oregano mixed in, hot Italian sausage, and pineapple best)

Pre-heat oven to 375.  Mix water and yeast in the bowl of a mixer.  Mix in the oil and sugar, then add the flour gradually.  Mix until a smooth dough is formed, adding a little more flour if the dough is sticky.  Press the dough out on a pizza stone to form a round, approximately 10-12 inches in diameter.  Bake 10 minutes or until crust is just starting to turn golden.  While it is baking, gather toppings. 

Remove from oven and raise heat to 500 degrees.  Top pizza with sauce, cheese, and desired toppings.  Return to oven for 6-8 minutes, or until crust is well browned and cheese is thoroughly melted and just starting to brown at spots.  Remove from oven and allow to rest at least 3 minutes before cutting.