Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Delicious Summer Dinner in Less Than 15 Minutes? You Got It!

The House of Sea and Sun is a delightful bed and breakfast that we've stayed at more than a few times for our anniversary. (Yes, I know, it's just a hop, skip and a jump from where we live in Vilano Beach, but hey, sometimes you don't have to go far to truly get away, eh?). Rooms are cozy and well-appointed and the breakfasts are simple, yet delicious.

On our first we were relaxing at dusk in the big common room that overlooks the beach chatting with the winsome owner, Patty. Soon folks began wandering in with bottles of wine, cheese, smoked meats, and other pre-dinner items. One guy even brought in a pail of fresh mussels (which Patty immediately threw into a big pot with some white wine and garlic.) As conversation and laughter filled the room, I turned to my wife and whispered, "All these people can't be staying here. It's not that big." A man sitting near us replied, "Oh, we don't stay here. We just drop in on the weekends with food and wine."

Yep, it's that kinda place.

This is similar to the dish we had that evening. I prepare it often. Once you try it, I'm sure you will as well. This will serve two hungry diners. All you will need to add is a small tossed salad and lots of French bread to soak up the sauce. Oh, and don't forget the white wine. Lots of it!

Since more and more supermarkets and fish markets are selling cultivated mussels they're generally de-bearded and free of barnacles. This is a good thing for the home cook because a significant amount of time could be spent removing them from the shells.

(Mussels in White Wine)

PREP: 10 minutes            COOK: 5 minutes


2 pounds mussels, cleaned and de-bearded (if necessary*)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, divided
1/2 bay leaf
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup dry white wine (I prefer Sauvignon Blanc)
2 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1. Rinse mussels under cold water. If necessary, remove "the beard" (see below).

2. Combine onion, garlic, 2 tablespoons parsley, bay leaf, thyme, wine, 1 tablespoon butter and pepper in dutch oven with a lid. Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Lower heat, and sauté for 2 minutes.

3. Add mussels, and cover. Cook just until shells open, about 5 to 6 minutes. Do not overcook. Remove mussels from sauce, discarding any that have not opened, and place in bowls. Add remaining butter and parsley. Heat until butter melts. Pour over mussels.

*De-bearding mussels: The beard is the small, stringy tuft coming out between the two shells of wild mussels. To remove the beard, grab it and give it a firm pull. The beard should come right off. If not, use a sharp knife or scissors to cut the beard away from the shell.

PS. I'm getting ready to launch the Kickstarter Campaign for my next book, Table for Two - Back for Seconds. Fasten your seatbelt. :-)

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