July 5, 2015 by Joanne T Ferguson
Why Do My Mussels Say France, But My Heart Says Ole?
Seriously, is it REALLY July?
I must live in a time warp, as time seems to be whizzing by these days and I honestly cannot tell you where it goes!
You know I am always up for a fun, food challenge and Out of France via the I Heart Cooking Clubs is no exception this week!
For those who have been following my blog for some time would know, since last April through this October, Chef Jacques Pepin is our featured chef; a new chef is chosen every six months!
Within that time, our group is encouraged to cook not only the featured chef’s recipes, but through various challenges, to choose recipes from any of the featured chefs from the last 12 months!
I love that our group is so supportive of each other, the challenges are fun and everyone always looks forward to what the next person does!
Please JOIN US for these weekly and monthly challenges that are “full of flavor and versatility!”
This week’s challenge is to make any Chef Pepin’s recipe that “is not French or of French origin–American, Asian, Mexican-inspired–the world is your oyster!”
This is how my mind worked today and it was the best I could do!
When I saw the phrase “the world is your oyster,” I immediately thought of the mussels that have been in my freezer to use up and yes, I know mussels are different from oysters!
When I was little, I used to live on the beach and have many wonderful childhood memories of my dad bringing me to the beach frequently!
I used to be an explorer even then, and one of my favorite things to do was to take a bucket and pail and walk along the waters edge for “piss clams” which is a funny name for longneck clams and the reason they are called that is, if you walk too close to them, they SQUIRT up at you!
I always thought this was funny and could amuse myself literally for hours digging up piss clams!
So clams come from under the sand!
Mussels and oysters cling to rocks and other hard reef surfaces.
Did you know that mussels and clams has asymmetrical shells?
Meaning, if you held them up in front of a mirror, the shells would be exactly the same size and shape.
Oysters have a cupped bottom and a flat top!
So what does that have to do with the challenge today?
The mussels I bought are from a South Australian company who grow their mussels in the “West Coast of South Australia’s famous Eyre Peninsula” ; therefore, in my mind, the country of origin of the mussels I used was Australian.
I then located Chef Pepin’s Mussels Gratine which does “sound French” and is “a topping of bread, garlic, parsley and olive oil” that “creates a crust that flavors the mussels and makes the dish look as appetizing as it is delicious.”
When I looked in my refrigerator, I saw I had some flat leaf parsley to use up and did you know flat leaf parsley has a more robust aka stronger flavor and the curly parsley is normally used for garnish?
Seeing I use a lot of garlic in my cooking and baking, I had quite a bit of Argentinian garlic to use us, so thought it would be perfect for this recipe!
I always keep Mexican chili in the freezer, so I knew my food challenge recipe was indeed coming together!
So, while S-T-R-E-T-C-H-I-N-G the brief of this week’s Out of France food challenge, I think, while greatly inspired by Chef Pepin’s Mussels Gratine recipe, I added a small bit of creative flair and used a number of versatile and international ingredients to create a bit of ole!
- 1 kilo mussels, cleaned and debearded
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- ½ cup flat leaf parsley
- 1½ slices white bread
- Himalayan pink salt and white pepper to taste
- ½ cup grapeseed oil
- 50 grams finely grated cheese; used grana Padano
- 2 chili, optional but recommended
- zest from half a lemon (optional but recommended)
- additional oil for drizzle
- In a large pot on the stove top, over medium heat, add the mussels and cover; stir every 2 minutes until mussels slightly open; so not overcook as still needs to go under the griller aka broiler.
- Pull off the top shell, remove the mussel and clean; return to half shell.
- In a food processor or a Thermomix, add garlic and parsley; rough chop.
- Add bread and process until fluffy; remove and add to a bowl.
- Add oil and with fingers, combine and keep mixture fluffy.
- Spoon mixture onto mussel in shells; do not overload.
- Add finely grated cheese.
- Pre heat griller and grill for about 10 minutes or until lightly golden brown; do not overcook.
- Garnish with chili and lemon zest; drizzle with grapeseed oil.
Hands up, who would like to try one of these now?
Are you a fan of mussels?
Have you ever made mussels at home?
I think next time, I will finely grind the mussels and then grill with the mixture.
I can see the versatility of creating Morroccan mussels, Greek style mussels and bacon, lettuce and tomato mussels!
Does that appeal to you?
Do you now understand Why Do My Mussels Say France, But My Heart Says Ole?
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