I love mussels – they’re a great quick dinner, especially since most supermarkets now carry well-cleaned and de-bearded shellfish. My old books tell you to clean mussels for ages, but these days Whole Foods usually does it for you. All you have to do is toss those babies in a pot and steam them for ten minutes. Almost every one of my “big books” (the doorstops: Gourmet, Mrs. Beeton, the Gold Cook Book) had a recipe for Moules Mariniere , but I was looking for something different…and I found Mussels Apicella in Gourmet. I’ve tried without luck to figure out by Googling what “Apicella” refers to – let me know if you turn anything up!
Mussels Apicella (Serves 2)
2 lbs. mussels, cleaned
2 whole cloves garlic
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. water
6 sprigs parsley, plus some leaves for serving
1. Toss the raw mussels in oil with the garlic, sprigs of parsley, salt, and red pepper. Place over medium flame, add water, and steam for 10 minutes – until the mussels open of their own accord.
2. Sprinkle with reserved raw parsley and serve with bread to mop up mussel juices. So easy!
Note on mussels (and shellfish in general): I hate to break it to you, but mussels are alive when you buy them – or they should be. If a few haven’t opened when the others have, don’t try to open them: it usually means they were DOA and are not safe to eat.
“There is no substitute for butter in important food elements, notwithstanding statements to the contrary. Butter should on no account be dispensed with in an economy diet.” – The Gold Cook Book, by Master Chef Louis P. De Gouy
Master Chef De Gouy’s 1947 classic cookbook is, as you might expect, quite liberal in mandates for use of butter. De Gouy was a French-trained chef who practiced his art mainly in mid-century grand hotels (the preface to the 15th anniversary edition I have was penned by Oscar of the Waldorf).
Many of the books I collect reflect the growing influence of [highly butter-based] French cuisine in American kitchens. The books which fill the rest of my shelves – baking books – are obviously equally fat-centric. Very often, I give up on fat amounts entirely and just focus on going from lard to butter.
Equally often, however, I just give in and use whatever the recipe calls for. I have friends who cut butter in cakes and cookies with wonderful results – but I like my sweets and cooking adventures to be treats – exceptional, not-every-day. So, you may have noticed I keep my baking to once a week or so (and give away many of the products) and that I try healthier main course recipes more often than I do full-cream, roux-based, pork-filled concoctions. However alluring those dishes might be. I try to keep things to 21st century health levels most of the time…so when I go to the other extreme I go all the way. On that note…I’m going to go look through the Gold Cook Book’s sauce section…and pick out the next in line.