Friday, April 20, 2012
Mussels, and my kids
Our daughter is 3 years and 2 months now, our son 1 year and 3 months. They both adore mussels. We discovered our daughter's love for the shellfish back in October 2010, when testing recipes for my first cookbook. She was 1 year and 8 months at the time - way too early for enjoying mussels, I thought for some reason. We gave her one, just for fun, and she was immediately taken:
She had 35 mussels in one go that night. I know, we counted them, amazed. She would have had more, if we had let her, but as we could visibly see her tiny belly filling up, we simply said stop at one point.
September 2011, France
Let me just say that choosing a place for lunch on our last trip to France (we went to Normandie and Bretagne in September 2011) was easy - we just had to go for a place that served mussels. She had mussels for lunch on pretty much every day :D
Few weeks ago I saw some nice-looking mussels in my local supermarket, and decided to cook them for dinner. Nora was extremely pleased - she immediately recognised what's in the bag (well, net actually) and was clapping her hands in excitement. I made a quick mussel dish (recipe below), and when ready to serve, I also offered our son some. He loved them, too, just like his big sis'.
I must have obviously done something right in introducing solid foods to my kids (I used the approach called baby-led weaning with both of them, and very succesfully), as there are both very keen to try new foods and I'd have to think very hard to come up with something that our daughter doesn't like, or would at least refuse to try.
The recipe below - Steamed Mussels with Basil Cream - is adapted from one of Rachel Allen's books (Rachel's favourite food for friends), and apparently it's the way mussels are prepared in a Fishy Fishy Café in Kinsale, Ireland. It's one of the quickest and easiest ways to prepare mussels and our family loves this.
Mussels in a creamy pesto sauce
2 to 3 kg fresh/live mussels
200 ml fresh cream (single or double)
3 heaped Tbsp good-quality basil pesto
freshly squeezed lemon juice
Scrub the mussels very well and discard any that are not open and do not close when tapped.
Place the cream and the pesto in a large saucepan on the heat and bring to the boil. Taste the sauce - add some salt and lemon juice to get the taste just right.
Add the prepared mussels, cover with a lid and place on a medium heat. Cook the mussels in the pesto cream for about 5-8 minutes, or until all the mussels are completely open (discard any that do not open).
To serve, pour the mussels and the sauce into a big bowl. Serve with some crusty white bread on the side.
Remember to place another big bowl on the table for empty shells, and some finger bowls and plenty of napkins!
More lovely recipes using mussels:
Mussels in apple cider @ Nami-Nami
Memento mussel soup @ Lobstersquad
Potato and mussel stew @ Lobstersquad
Saffron tomato mussels @ The Passionate Cook
Curry mussels @ The Passionate Cook
Champagne and saffron mussels @ Chocolate & Zucchini
Coconut curry mussels @ Simply Recipes
Thai green curry mussels @ CookSister