Category Archives: lunch

Mussels & Clams Pastis

mussels pastis

BiRite Market opened up a location a short bike ride from my house, and I’ve made it an excuse to shop in smaller quantities and incorporate the exercise of going to the store as an excuse to make even fresher meals. These beautiful PEI mussels were filled to the edge of their shells with meat, the freshest I’ve seen in a long while and exceptionally tender.

When shopping for shellfish, always make sure your shells are not broken (throw the mussel out if it is!), that they close when you agitate them, are free of debris on the outside (scrub them with cold water), and that you toss any that don’t open after cooking (though a small crack open is perfectly fine!).

In case you have not cleaned or bought bivalves before, here’s what I do to clean them up and inspect them:

How to Clean Mussels and Clams

1) Bring them home immediately, and if you aren’t using them in the next hour, open up their bag and put them in the refrigerator so they can breathe, or set them on ice and leave them out, as they do in the store. Always buy them the same day you intend to cook them.

2) 30 minutes to 1 hour before cooking, place them in very cold fresh water and leave them unagitated for at least 10 minutes. They will relax, open up, and use the fresh water, thus rinsing out any sediment, sand, etc from the inside of their shells.

3) Before removing them from the water, inspect each mussel or clam for any missing chunks, major cracks, etc. If it has an imperfection, throw it out. If it does not close when you handle it, throw it out. Even when buying from a quality fishmonger, you’ll likely have 1-2 that get thrown out before cooking.

4) Next, if especially dirty, replace the cleaning water and recover in very cold water. Remove any “beards” or seaweed looking bits that are hanging out the side of the mussels shells. Do this with a quick jerking action down towards the thickest side of the mussel. It will take a little effort, especially if they are very fresh. Strain them and cook them within 20 minutes or so!

Mussels & Clams Pastis Recipe

Serves 2

1.5-2lb of mussels and clams
2 T olive oil
1 large shallot, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 C white wine
1 C Pernod or other anise liquor
2 T fresh parsley, roughly chopped
salt & pepper

In a large pan that will fit all of the mussels and clams, add the olive oil and heat to medium. Add the garlic and shallot, cooking until nearly translucent or beginning to be translucent, but not caramelized or browned. Add some salt, the white wine and pernod, and reduce slightly, raising heat immediately to high or medium high.

Add the mussels and/or clams and cover, cooking about 2 minutes before checking. Cover again if they are not all or mostly opened. When all are opened, remove lid and stir well, adding fresh cracked pepper. Remove the mussels and clams and set aside in a warm spot or in a heated bowl (or place into heated individual serving bowls). Change heat to high and reduce liquid by 1/2, then add the parsley and serve over the mussels and clams.

Serve with french fries or bread with butter.

Shrimp Stuffed Poblano Peppers with Tomato-Red Pepper Sauce

A new favorite, this can be prepared ahead and cooked on a weeknight, it’s healthy and chock-full of vegetables and lean protein. I clearly was lazy in peeling my peppers, but we didn’t mind a bit of charred skin here and there.

Shrimp Stuffed Poblano Peppers with Tomato-Red Pepper Sauce Recipe
Serves two for main course

The Peppers & Filling
4 poblano peppers, charred over a flame and peeled or cooked at 400 degrees for 15 minutes and peeled
3/4 lb shrimp, peeled and chopped roughly
2 cloves garlic, minced finely or mashed
2 T fresh cilantro and/or basil, chopped
1/4 red bell pepper, chopped finely
1/2 tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp sea salt

Combine all but the peppers in a bowl, and stuff the peppers with the mixture, closing them again as best you can. Bake in oven at 350 for 8-11 minutes, depending on size of the peppers. Shrimp will be completely white and pink when done.

For the Tomato-Red Pepper Sauce
1 large red bell pepper, roasted at 400 degrees, peeled, seeds removed and tossed into a blender
2 ripe, never refrigerated roma tomatoes or one small can peeled roma tomatoes or chopped tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp chili flakes or equivilent
4 small-medium shallots, chopped finely
2 tsp coconut oil or other cooking oil

In a sauce pan, warm the coconut oil and add the shallots and chili flakes, cooking until shallots begin to go limp. Add the garlic and chili flakes, followed immediately by the tomatoes–slice thinly the tomatoes and add to the pan, cooking at medium heat until they are falling apart, about 20 minutes. Add it all to the blender with the roasted pepper and puree. It will likely be thicker than soup; you can thin it with vegetable or chicken stock, or serve it thick under the cooked peppers.

Roasted Spring Root Vegetables

Roasted Spring Root Vegetables: Baby Carrots, Turnips, Easter Egg Radishes, Golden Beets, Rutabaga

Roasted Spring Root Vegetables: Baby Carrots, Turnips, Easter Egg Radishes, Golden Beets, Rutabaga

A beautiful and simple lunch or light dinner, these roasted spring root vegetables are pleasing to the eye and are the perfect summary of the spring bounty that is now my CSA/farm shipment.

Simply find the best spring veggies you can, cut them in fairly even sizes, toss them in olive oil, salt, and pepper (or add some herbs de provence if you like), and roast them 25-40 minutes at 400 degrees on some foil (for easy clean up). Save them cold to toss into salads for the coming days or feast on them then; serve them as an appetizer with friends over on a large platter and cocktail forks. It’s a pleaser.

Use things like: Baby Carrots, Turnips, Easter Egg Radishes, Golden Beets, Chiogga Beets, Rutabaga, Celery Root

Leave the stems on (they are edible! and save those radish & turnip greens for a sautee, a quiche, or a pesto) but trim off any broken or decrepit parts of the stem and use a vegetable sponge to scrub the dirt from the tops and sides. Don’t peel the carrots, just scrub the dirt off. You can also roast everything whole and slice them in half afterwards for brighter centers, but you may need to separate a few trays by size of the objects to ensure even cooking.

Easy Weeknight Rack of Lamb Recipe

Weeknight Rack of Lamb

This is painfully easy; it’s shamelessly stolen from artist Joanne Ruggles who treated a whole gaggle of us to it on New Years Eve this year. I’ve been making it every few weeks since–I even took a cooler pack of lamb with the ingredients up to Orr Hot Springs and made lunch out of it on a weekday–after which several people who saw me preparing it in their wonderful kitchen asked me for the recipe. Yeah, that good!

Easy Weeknight Rack of Lamb Recipe

Rack of Lamb, however much you want, trimmed of fat (this is important! slice that stuff off or you’ll be gnawing on it)
Sweet Mustard
Montreal Steak Seasoning shamelessly purchased from Costco (Yeah, I know. This is a serious tangent from this blog).

Oven, 400 degrees. Slather that trimmed lamb with mustard, even the bones. Generously coat it in the steak seasoning. Throw it on some foil and put it in the oven for about 20-35 minutes, until medium or medium rare. If you like your lamb more cooked than that then you don’t deserve to make this.

Serve it with anything! A big salad, some couscous, zucchini, asparagus, sauteed chard or spinach..Whatever!

Ginger-Miso Soba Noodles with Crisp Tofu & Red Cabbage Recipe

Ginger-Miso Soba Noodles with Crisp Tofu & Red Cabbage

A recipe for a quick and healthy weeknight meal; this is versatile, feel free to swap scallions for chives or spring onions, tofu for a tablespoon or two of raw cashews, red cabbage for arugula, napa cabbage, spinach, turnip greens or any other thing you’ve got hanging around.

Ginger-Miso Soba Noodles with Crisp Tofu & Red Cabbage Recipe
Serves 2

2 rolls dry soba noodles (pre-bundled by most manufacturers)
1/2 pack tofu (enough for two people), cubed
1/4 head red cabbage, shredded thinly
2 scallions (green onions), sliced thinly on the diagnoal
2 T golden or light miso (just not the really really dark mugi type stuff)
1 T fresh grated ginger
2 tsp mirin
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil or toasted sesame oil
sesame seeds
olive oil

In a skillet, heat olive oil to medium high heat. Press dry your tofu and cube it, fry it in the oil turning every minute or two until golden all around. Set side if you’re done with it ahead of time.

Bring a big pot of water to boil, add a tablespoon of salt and boil the soba. Plunge them into a bowl of room temp water when they’re cooked to rinse.  It’s important to rinse the starchy coating off soba.

Whisk together the miso, mirin, soy sauce, ginger and sesame oil until smooth. Add a touch of salt if needed.

Add the soba to the fried tofu pan (while it’s still hot or you bring it back up to temperature), tossing. Add the sauce and toss until warm, in the hot pan over a medium flame, mixing in half the cabbage. Separate two servings into bowls, top with remaining cabbage and scallions, and a touch of sesame seeds.