Friday, April 20, 2012

Mussels, and my kids

Kids eating mussels
April 2012

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:

Nora loves mussels / Nora armastab rannakarpe
October 2010

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

Nora & mussels, second (or third?) helpings
April 2012

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'.

Aksel & mussel / Noormees rannakarbiga
April 2012

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
(Rannakarbid basiilikukreemiga)
Serves six

Mussels with pesto cream / Rannakarbid pesto-koorekastmega

2 to 3 kg fresh/live mussels
200 ml fresh cream (single or double)
3 heaped Tbsp good-quality basil pesto
sea salt
freshly squeezed lemon juice

Mussels / Rannakarbid

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


Claudia Moser said...

What sweet pictures of your children, and they are amazing eating mussels so early!

Joanna said...

Your post made me smile today, those pictures are wonderful and well done for getting them interested in many different foods.

My first two children were good at eating most things and now eat a great variety of foods, even if they didn't really like them when they were younger. Pity I can't say the same for the youngest who is still a faddy eater. I guess you can't win them all!

Rebecca said...

We ate fresh Oban mussels and scallops last weekend, on Oban pier. We love Mussels!

Katarina said...

Quite unique that your children likes mussels, lovely pictures of them :)

Liina said...

Ei ole võimalik, Pille! Ma prindin praegu selle postituse välja ja kleebin meile koju külmkapile :)Nii armsad pildid on ka - pühendunud nägude ja väikeste sõrmedega nööbid karpe lahti nokitsemas :D

Anonymous said...

I think it really is a matter of just offering the foods: my 1.5y old son loves black olives, raw onions, parma ham, etc. He loved shellfish too but unfortunately is allergic. When we cook we give him everything to taste and it is wonderful! said...

Your kids are adorable. I hope mine is like yours. My kid is a growing up picky eater. I envy kids who are not afraid to eat foods that new to them.You have awesome kids and recipe =)

Steve Millican said...

Your kids are lucky to have such a good cook on your kitchen staff.

Gloria Baker said...

yours kids are so sweet and love how they eat mussels!

Abra said...

Pille, they're so cute! Amazing that they eat mussels, American kids never would.

Cinnamon and Thyme said...

What a lovely post :). I was smiling all the way to the end :). You have adorable kids.


Pille said...

Claudia - thank you :)

Joanna - I really hope our kids will stay adventurous eaters, though I know it can change..

Rebecca - lucky you! I miss Scotland!

Hovkonditorn - who knows, perhaps all kids would eat mussels if only parents would offer them?

Liina - on küll võimalik :)

Anon - my daughter was suspicious of olives about a year ago, but now can easily have dozen at a time. Our son isn't a fan just now - he'll chew on them and then spit out.

Raquel - have you tried BLW? Apparently it's helpful in developing adventurous eating habits..

Steve, I'm blushing :)

Gloria - thank you!

Abra - I'm sure many of them would, if only offered.

A- glad to have made you smile :)

stefafra said...

I used to love shellfish as a child (still do). And my mother was always worried that I could get food poisoning from them, or react funnily. Mussels, scallops, clams, squids, all heaven on a plate.
I just loved the stuff, I could have eaten gratinated scallops as dessert rather than ice-cream (I kept saying it ice-cream was too cold for me).

ChichaJo said...

They are so adorable I want to hug them!! And how cool that they are eating mussels and loving them! :)

Pille said...

stefafra - I guess I had heard too many scary stories about "bad" mussels, so I was slightly worried how the kids would tolerate them, but luckily they've been fine with mussels!

ChicaJo - thank you! I find these two immensely huggable as well, though they can cause a lot of havoc occasionally!!!

Gretchen said...

I know this recipe was made for kids, but now it's the only one that my HUSBAND wants me to use when it comes to mussels- he loves it that much! He says to keep it in the recipe box for after the baby comes and hopefully when it grows up a little it will love mussels as much as yours do! Thanks again:)

Pille said...

That's so cool, Gretchen! Thank you for letting me know and greetings to your husband :)