Category Archives: Summer

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.

Fennel & Stone Fruit Salad, Tri-tip on Coconut Corn Salad, Flourless Chocolate Cake with Creme Anglais Whipped Cream

Stone Fruit Salad with Cucumber, Bell Pepper, Peaches and Plums

tritip on coconut corn salad

quick flourless chocolate cake with creme anglaise whipped cream

For seven weeks, we’ve had family staying with us. They’re really nice people, interesting, appreciative, but man.. It was rough. I wasn’t conditioned for this. Never in my life did I think I’d have people living effectively in my house for seven weeks in a go. I’ve barely cooked for two months because of it, but the eve before their (very recent) departure (which was followed by 24 hours of blissful retreat in Calistoga), I made a seasonal and tasty multi-course dinner for us all to enjoy. Then, I made it again, a little modified, in Calistoga for our hosts.

Fennel & Stone Fruit Salad Recipe
Serves 4-5 as a starter
Very fast if you have a mandolin! See the mango version here.

1 small head fennel, sliced very thin, with a mandolin
1 white peach, sliced with a mandolin
1 red plum, sliced with a mandolin
1 black plum, sliced with a mandolin
1 large cucumber, cut in half, seeds removed, sliced with a mandolin
1 orange, yellow, or red bell pepper, diced
1 T seasoned rice vinegar
2 tsp mirin
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
raw sesame seeds to top

Mix it all together, and serve in beautiful messy lumps, like bedhead, with sesame on top.

 

Tri-tip on Coconut Corn Salad with Chard Recipe
Coconut Corn adapted from Heidi Swanson
Serves 4-5

1.5-2lb tri-tip or flank steak*
5 ears corn, kernels sliced off
2 T butter
1 T fresh thyme
1/2 C raw, soaked almonds, chopped
1 very small red onion (1/2 large)
1 C raw, dried flaked coconut (The bigger the better), toasted freshly
4 C torn chard

Sautee on the corn in the butter at high heat, giving it color but retaining crisp texture. Add chard, thyme and some salt to taste. Turn heat off, mix in onion, almonds, and coconut.

Season tri-tip with salt and pepper. Cook on low heat in a closed top grill for about 10 minutes each side. It will be medium.

*You could also choose to make a roast (5 lbs=4 hrs in oven at 250=rare, delicious roast beef) and serve that on top instead, or use flank steak, which you may want to marinade in garlic, whiskey, sesame oil and soy sauce for at least an hour or no more than overnight.

 

Quick Flourless Chocolate Cake with Creme Anglais Whipped Cream
Serves 5-6

No-Bake Chocolate Cake From Heidi Swanson

I made creme anglais the evening before with Gran Marnier Souffle (which photographs terribly!), and had some leftover. I mixed it into whipped cream; it was divine.

Raw Mango, Fennel, and Cucumber Summer Salad

raw mango, fennel, and cucumber summer salad

Raw Mango, Fennel, and Cucumber Salad Recipe
Serves 4

1 very ripe mango, cubed
1 small head fennel, sliced very thinly with a mandolin
1 large cucumber, cut in half, seeds removed, and sliced thinly with a mandolin
1 T seasoned rice vinegar
2 tsp mirin
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
raw sesame seeds to top

Mix everything together, and top with sesame seeds upon serving.

 

Magical Arugula Salad with Pistachio Dust

 

I’ve served this arugula salad with pistachios countless times over the last month. For a catering event I headed, for friends at dinner time, for family at dinnertime, for lunch with a friend, while visiting Calistoga, and others. It’s a hit 100% of the time and it’s very filling.

Arugula Salad with Pistachio Dust Recipe

For four

8-10 cups baby or wild arugula
3 oz parmigiano reggiano, freshly grated
1/2 C raw hulled pistachios, ground in coffee grinder or mashed with mallette into dust, crumbs, and chunks
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
salt
fresh cracked pepper

Whisk the lemon juice with olive oil–use 2x more olive oil than lemon juice. Add garlic, salt, and pepper. Toss arugula in the dressing. Toss arugula in parmasean, then in pistachio. Serve!