Recipe: Mussels with White Wine & Tomato

~ This is Day 75 ~

I get asked how to make this quite often from friends and family so I’m just going to write this really quickly. This is my favorite way to make mussels and clams. The best part after the mussels/clams? The bread dunking into the rich broth and into your mouth part.

  • 2 lbs mussels
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 tomatoes (or substitute one 14 oz. can diced tomatoes)
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 TBS tomato paste
  • ¼ cup butter (optional)
  • ½ cup parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ lemon

Finely chop the onion and thinly slice the garlic cloves. Dice your tomatoes if using fresh ones. Finely chop your parsley, reserve some for garnish.

Scrub the mussels and toss out the dead/damaged ones. If they’re open and don’t close when you poke them, they’re bad. Remove the beards if they have them. Set aside.

In a large pot with lid, heat up enough olive oil to almost cover base of pot. Sweat onions and garlic until aromatic and tender. Add in diced tomatoes and thyme. Season a little with salt, turn heat to medium. Cook for 2 minutes, then add in the tomato paste and cook that out, 3-5 minutes. Add the butter if adding and let the butter emulsify with everything. Once butter has melted, add in the mussels. Turn heat to high, season with salt and black pepper, and add the white wine. Cover with lid, mussels are ready once they open completely, 5-7 minutes. Before you take them out and off the heat, add in most of your chopped parsley and the juice of half a lemon, stir to combine well. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Once in a bowl, add the remaining parsley on top as garnish. Serve with toasted bread. I always eat it with ciabatta. Any bread will suffice, pick your favorite!

*For clams, I like to add bacon and hot paprika to this.

Kabocha Squash & Stracciatella

I will always love burrata but for me, burrata is “over”… For the past several years, I have been all about stracciatella. Stracciatella cheese is best known to be the gooey center of burrata!!! Stracciatella means “rag,” from the Italian word “strattore” (to stretch), and describes the action to make the cheese as well as how it looks.

That same day where I had seven of the same scallop crudo, I also had roasted squash with burrata cheese. It also hit me surprisingly. But in my version, I substituted burrata for stracciatella and garnished it with toasted pumpkin seeds, reduced Pedro Ximénez vinegar, and chives.

Black Truffle Fettuccine

I’m not a truffle fanatic, I don’t go crazy for truffles. I don’t put truffles on things just for the sake of it. Sometimes when you buy truffles, they may smell like truffles but the taste isn’t there.

Anyway, the truffle in this pasta was superb. I was given a tiny knob of an already shaved truffle and was asked to make something delicious out of it. This is what I made: Housemade Fettuccine with Maitake Mushrooms in a Truffle-Thyme Cream Sauce, Shaved Black Truffle to garnish.

Recipe: Pink Peppercorn & Thyme Mignonette

Here are some Calm Cove Oysters from South Pouget Sound, WA, with a Pink Peppercorn & Thyme Mignonette.

  • 1 cup champagne vinegar
  • 4 large shallots, minced
  • ¼ cup pink peppercorns, crushed
  • Handful thyme sprigs, picked & chopped
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients together and allow to infuse for at least 30 minutes in the fridge before serving.

Recipe: Red Wine Jus

Red Wine Jus is a meat sauce that is made with reduced red wine and reduced meat stock. I prefer using duck bones instead of the usual veal bones because duck bones are more flavorful and not overpowering. And also, I’m allergic to cow.

  • 6 duck carcasses
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 TBS black peppercorns
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 bottles red wine

For the duck carcasses, add in the neck and wings too if you don’t plan on using them for other purposes. Try to trim off as much fat as possible. Roast duck carcasses with some olive oil and salt in an oven at 450°F until nice and brown. In a large stock pot, add browned bones and fill water to cover. Bring to a boil, and simmer until reduced by half.

Remove bones and continue to reduce in a clean pot until gelatinous. On average, 6 carcasses will give you 1.5-2 quarts of gelatinous reduced stock.

Peel the onions and carrots and chop into 1-inch pieces. Cut celery stalks into the same length pieces. In a clean stock pot, heat up some neutral oil and sweat the onions, carrots, and celery. Stir, once soft, add garlic, peppercorns, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves until aromatic. Add in red wine vinegar and continue stirring.

Cook until almost dry and add in the two bottles of red wine. I prefer using deeper, drier red wines with hints of berries. Reduce until almost syrupy.

Strain red wine syrup into a clean pot, discard solids, and add in 1 cup of gelatinous reduced meat stock.

The jus should have some body to it and taste slightly acidic from the red wine. If you want more body to the jus, continue to reduce meat stock, or add some butter. Usually, you don’t need any salt but always taste to double-check.

Sample dishes:

Recipe: Corn Purée

In the culinary world, we make a lot of purées and it’s basically baby food. So why does restaurant baby food taste so good?

  • 5 ears of corn, kernels removed, cobs scraped of all “milk”
  • 2 leeks, white parts only, thinly sliced
  • 3 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup whole milk, more if needed
  • Butter, as needed
  • Salt

Sweat leeks and shallots in butter with thyme until aromatic. Add corn and cook out some of the starch. Then add the cream and milk, and cook until creamy. Season and taste. Remove thyme sprigs and blend in a VitaMix (blender).

Sample dishes:

Winter Truffle Spaghetti

I still had some winter truffles lying around in rice a few weeks ago. *Tip, storing fresh truffles in the fridge in an airtight container with rice is the best way to keep them.

This pasta was part of a multi-course starring winter truffles for the boss man. I did a winter truffle tasting for him.

This Winter Truffle Cream with Housemade Spaghetti comes with Chopped Gambas and Thyme.

Recipe: Sauce Américaine

As promised, here is my recipe for this amazing sauce.

If done right, this Sauce Américaine is one of the best things in life. Sauce Américaine is a traditional sauce in classical French cuisine, consisting of onions, tomatoes, white wine, brandy, cayenne pepper, butter, and fish velouté. In my interpretation of this sauce, I make a rich lobster stock first, reduce that down until almost syrupy, then mount in the butter, add in a touch of lemon, and et voila!

This recipe is for restaurant quantity, feel free to cut in half or by four to make for home use. Full recipe makes around two reduced quarts of stock.

  • 5 lbs lobster bodies, around 3-4 bodies per pound
  • 1 cup brandy
  • 2 Spanish onions, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 large carrots, sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 TBS black peppercorns
  • 8 thyme sprigs
  • 2 tarragon sprigs
  • 4 bay leaves
  • Handful garlic cloves
  • Handful parsley stems
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup tomato paste
  • Neutral cooking oil
  • Salt

Fresh lobster bodies are best but if you get them frozen, thaw them before use. Smashing frozen bodies is more difficult but it can still be done – it’s just tiring. Trust me. I prefer them fresh so the pounding is instantaneous.

In a rondeau (a wide, shallow pan, similar to a stock pot or a Dutch oven but not nearly as deep, the pan has straight sides), turn heat to high and heat up cooking oil. Add the lobster bodies when oil is about to smoke. Toss and turn and using a hammer or blunt instrument, crush/smash the heads until the coral comes out. Continuing tossing and turning so that it doesn’t burn. Add brandy and flambé aka light on fire. Be careful not to burn your eyebrows – because that does happen, never to me but I’ve seen the damage!

Once lobster bodies are red, add a little bit more cooking oil and add in the chopped vegetables, herbs, and spices (onions, carrots, celery, thyme, tarragon, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves, parsley stems). Sauté the veggies until soft, add a little salt to breakdown cell walls. When onions are translucent and soft, add in the dry white wine (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc) and cook off wine until almost dry.

Add in tomato paste and toss paste to spread all around everything in the pot. Cook tomato paste for 2 minutes. Next, add enough water to fill the top of lobster bodies. Cover with lid or with foil and bring to a boil. Turn heat to medium low, and simmer for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, water levels should have reduced by half. Using a slotted spoon or mesh skimmer, take solids out and discard. Then using a chinois or mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth, stain liquid into a clean new sauce/stock pot. On high heat, reduce liquid until very dark and syrupy, about four-fifths.

Store lobster stock in pint containers and place in fridge. Best used within two weeks.

Serving ratio for two people:

When serving, heat up ¼ cup of stock, do not continue reducing, add in 2 TBS melted butter. Add a few drops of lemon juice and serve with accompanying sea creatures.

Sample dishes: