Friday, May 1, 2009

White Wine and Cream Steamed Mussels

Don’t these look amazing, well they taste amazing and are extremely simple to make.

I want to start off by saying that these are my favourite mussels and even though I order them in restaurants any chance I get, nothing tastes as good as these. Plus, if you have ever read Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, as I am now, you will know that mussels in a restaurant are not always kept in the most sanitary of conditions.

On that note, it turns out that mussels in an un-named fish store near my apartment are not being kept in the most sanitary of conditions either. Yesterday I wanted mussels, and seeing as I have hardly cooked anything in close to a month thanks to school, I was hoping for a nice quiet night. Me, Ian, some CSI, and a plate of mussels for two was all I was really asking for. Thanks to the store downstairs this did NOT happen.
I started the wine and cream sauce and wonderful smells wafted through the apartment. Then, I added the mussels and to everyone’s surprise the place filled with the most horrid stench you could ever imagine. Pardon my French, I promise I have never and will never swear on this blog again, but the smell was an exact match to someone taking a S*!T in the pot. It was so bad my roommate locked his door and didn't come out for five hours. We threw it straight into a garbage bag and I walked down the street to get sushi instead. The worst part was that my stove top fan pumps all the air out onto the street and Ian and I could smell that horrible 'merde' a block and a half away. If you were on Monkland yesterday... I am truly truly sorry, it was not me.

I have made these mussels a million times before, doubled, even tripled this recipe, and have never come across bad mussels. Usually I buy them from the grocery store, not the fish store, and so today, refusing to give in to defeat, I went back to the good old grocery store and bought the mussels flown in from PEI for 3.99/2 pounds.
They came out FANTASTIC! Just as they always do. I don’t want to turn anyone off of making their own mussels because they are so easy and never really give you problems. On the contrary, I wanted to post these because it is one of my favourite all time recipes, that’s why I went at it again today, just to prove that yesterday’s batch was a fluke, a one time problem.

I guess the moral of the story is that you should always buy any type of perishable from a place that you know has a large turnover and everything will turn out great.
(Sorry again for the swearing)

White Wine and Cream Steamed Mussels
adapted from Jen's Step-Mom's Recipe

2 pounds of mussels (1 bag)
1 tbsp. butter
1 cup 10% cream
2/3 cup dry white wine
2 tbsp. vermouth
1 tomato
1 package white button mushrooms, sliced
½ an onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tbsp. chives, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper

Place mussels in cold water and discard any that will not close when you knock the shell on the counter a couple times. Melt butter over medium to high heat in a large stock pot. Cook onions and garlic for 2 min., then add mushrooms and cook until browned, about 8 minutes. Deglaze with wine and vermouth for 3 minutes, and then add the salt, pepper and cream. Bring to a light boil, strain the mussels and add them to the simmering ingredients. Cook uncovered for 5-8 minutes, or when all have opened up. Add the chives to the mussels and discard any mussels that do not open during cooking.


Junglefrog said...

O haha.... sorry to laugh but that is just too funny... Sorry to hear your mussels didn't... well... turn out nicely. I guess you have to be glad that the smell warned you of things to come as I have heard stories of perfectly good smelling mussels that weren't so good after all. Now, me, I don't like mussels. I simply cannot eat something that appears to be lurking in it's shell with something resembling teeth and looking at me. But then again.... if you try a whole fish from the market I will promise to eat mussels! How's that for a cultural exchange of sorts?

The photos are beautiful although a tiny bit more light in the shells itself would have made the food come out even better (maybe a tiny mirror to reflect some light back?)

La Marquise des anges said...

OMG this is one of my favorite mussels recipe ever .. I used to prepare this dish when i was little with my beloved grand ma madeleine in Normandy (where we use lots of butter and cream)... quite the same recipe; except we use a little bit of cider and calvados instead of vermouth..

but you know what really amazed me : I told my husband yesterday evening I would love having some moules à la crème !!!!

thanks for sharing ... may I join you next time ?

Coco Bean said...

Simone: OK, seriously this week I am going to try to cook a whole fish... I think... Ian can get his hands on some great fish, what would you recommend as a starter fish? I want to do the whole salt shell also. Oh, and the trick with the mirror is great, I have a bunch of small ones lying around that I can hand off to Ian.

Sabine: I can't belive that! this was one of the first things I learned how to cook and it was handed down to me from my old roomates step-mother. I have never really seen it anywhere else, I guess it is a genuine french recipe then! Calvados sounds great, I will try that next time, and yes, you are always welcome to moules a la creme at our table!

bess said...

this recipe looks amazing! i'm not the chef in the family but this will definitely end up in my boyfriend's inbox! the pictures are so great too - what kind of camera are you using. we just bought a nikon d40 and love it. i want to get a tripod though for shooting my products inside. any tips? bess

Chocolate Shavings said...

Your post made me laugh...! maybe because the same kind of things has happened to me before ?! Where did you get the bad mussels from? You must tell a fellow Montrealer!

Junglefrog said...

At cooking class we also did a seabass under the saltcrust which might be a good fish to start with. I would have them clean the insides at the fishstall so you don't have to do all that too. If you put the fish under the saltcrust you can leave the scales on and remove them with the skin once the fish is done. That is easier and I think it makes the fish less salty. If you also want to use the eggwhites; 4-5 eggwhites should give you plenty to work with. Salt it generously and I mean very generously as it is still supposed to be a saltcrust. I am not sure why but we were tought to leave the head and the tail sticking out of the crust. Possibly so you can see how the fish is doing... I am not sure! Good luck! I can't wait to see the results.

But ohoh... does that mean I will have to do the mussels now too, right?

Coco Bean said...

Bess: a D40, that's the one Ian gave me when he got his D80 a month ago, but sadly I suck at photography. It is a great camera though! I'm glad you liked the recipe. Ian will be getting back to you on the photography though, because I have no clue how he does it!

Chocolate Shavings: It's on Monkland in NDG called Fish & Seafood Market Chasse-Marée. Are you going to the photography show next weekend... I don't know the specific's of it but Ian is excited to get a new flash.

Simone: Ok ok ok, I think I can do this. Thanks for the suggestion, I'm sure I will be bugging you throughout the week about the details. And yes, you have to make the mussels if I go through (successfully) with the fish (hehe)

Georgia said...

Thanks for the comment! I too have had such experiences with mussels. Last year I bought a pound or two from my favorite grocery store, brought them home and ugh....gross...Your blog is great! I'm drooling over the maple syrup post. I grew up in New England and never even tried any of that corn syrup stuff until college. What are people thinking?

Valérie said...

Yikes! Scary story! But your pictures of the successful recipe are mouth-watering! The Belgian in me is getting a craving...

I've never made mussels at home, for fear of freshness issues - I ate a bad one at my grandmother's house once, and suffered the consequences for days. But maybe it's time I got over my fear. There's nothing like a pot of mussels marinière!

Ian said...

Oooohhh thats a great idea Simone, I had thought of lighting the inside of the shells with a silver reflector, but I decided that the inside of a mussel, although delicious, wasnt that appealing to look at hahahah, so I focused on what could be seen as well as the texture of the sheels.

Apologies for the lateness of my response, Christie keeps reminding me, and I keep forgetting.
I currently use a Nikon D80, although I still own and use a D40. A tripod helps to get those "tack sharp" imeges we all want to acheive so badly. I worked with my Nikon D40 for quite some time, and am very familiar with the camera, you can get some stunning photos, and off camera lighting, whether it be flash or lamps is totally possible with it. If you ever need any advice on your camera feel free to email me and I would be happ to help out :D

kate said...

these look fab! i'm glad you told us about the mishap. it makes me feel LESS afraid to do them at home (which i never have). but i totally should. cause they are yummy!

Junglefrog said...

Uhuh... scared about the mussels now... :)

Ian, I can imagine why you didn't want the scary looking inside of the mussels to be visible, but.... a tiny bit would make some people drool I am sure (not me, not me!!) I love the detail in the shells though!

CookiePie said...

That looks great! We're having mussels tonight, in a beer-tomato-garlic broth. You've put me in the mood!

Hilary said...

Hehe, oh dear that sounds nasty. The second batch looks so yummy, though.

And can I just say... we're in, we're in, we're IN!!! (Well I assume we're in anyway - I just emailed TWD so haven't heard back yet.)

Chocolate Shavings said...

I don't think I've heard of the show...can you fill me in on the details? It sounds like something I would definitely be interested in!

Ian said...

Simone, you are totally right, I should have lit the inside of the shells a touch more, that would have lent more depth and pushed the photo that bit more. It was a good lesson though, learning everytime :D

Chocolate Shavings, I found out about the show by complete random coincidence, I took a look at the L L Lozeau website for a diffuser, and there was an advertisement for the salon. I really think there should have been more advertisement about this, but hey, maybe that will mean better deals from distributors for us at the show. Im including a link to the show website below..

Coco Bean said...

Georgia: I know eh, what are people thinking. I understand if you can't get your hands on any maple syrup, but even then I wouldn't eat the corn syrup stuff. I guess I'm just a maple syrup snob. Oh well. I'm glad you love it also!

Valerie: That stinks! I hope you get over your mussel tragidy! Just check the date on the mussels and throw away any that don't close.

Kate: thanks! I'm glad that the misshap is doing some good because they really are simple.

Simone: Don't go out and buy them just yet, I haven't secured a fish!

Cookie Pie: Umm, I think you already know how you inspired me! mmm pancakes, they were so good.

Hilary: Yeah I haven't heard back, do we make the cake or not?? I already bought the mascarpone so I guess maybe I will make it anyways.

Junglefrog said...

I will be patiently waiting.. (and secretly hoping you do not buy the fish, so I do not have to buy the mussels..)

Chocolate Shavings said...

Thanks for the info! I'm definitely going to try and stop by. Are you guys going?

Ian said...

I definately want to go Sunday