Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Mussels in Garlic White Wine Sauce

This is a great tasting recipe that you will want bread with to sop up the great sauce.  As my wife said on her first bite: This is Super awesome!  You are definitely going to have to make this again.

Having visited my Uncle Don's cabin cruiser in Victoria, BC, when I was a boy it took me a long time to appreciate eating mussels.  Mussels were something that grew on the hull of boats and ships.  You dry docked the boat and scrapped them off and filled big garbage bags one after the other and then threw them away.  The thought of eating them was not even a remote possibility.  Oh how things change.

Living on the West Coast of BC we are blessed with fresh sea food.  I sent my agreeable wife out to pick up mussels at the Lobsterman on Granville Island during her lunch on a Friday so we could start the weekend right.  Lesli is a Registered Massage Therapist so she knows muscles (teehee).

I used this recipe I found on the web at abeautifulbite.com and didn't change a thing except halving the recipe.

Restaurant Style Mussels With Garlic Wine Sauce
Author: Melanie
Recipe type: Appetiser
Cuisine: American
Prep time:  15 mins
Cook time:  10 mins
Total time:  25 mins
Restaurant style mussels at home. All of the flavor at a fraction of the price.
  • 4 lbs mussels
  • 3 Tbsps butter
  • 3 Tbsps olive oil
  • ½ cup shallots, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced ( I used a green heirloom tomato out of our garden)
  • ½ Tbsp dried thyme
  • 1¼ cup white wine 
  • ¾ cup chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsps lemon juice
  • 2 tsps kosher salt
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • A few good cranks of fresh ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest
  1. Dump mussels into a large bowl and cover with cool water. Set aside.
  2. In a large heavy pot, heat butter and oil over medium heat. Cook shallots until translucent. About three minutes. Add garlic and cook just until fragrant. About another minute or two.
  3. Add tomatoes, thyme, white wine, broth, lemon juice, salt, red pepper and black pepper. Turn up heat to medium high and allow to come to a boil.
  4. Add mussels and cover. Cook for eight to ten minutes. Shake pan every now and again to move mussels around.
  5. Pour into bowl and garnish with parsley and lemon zest. Serve with a loaf of crusty bread to sop up garlic wine sauce.

We had a very interesting Chardonnay from Culmina Winery that blew our socks off.  Then we paired it with the Chanterelle Mushroom Risotto I made for the main.  Oooooh life is good.  

The aftermath
I can't help but think of all those mussels we threw away when I was a kid, such a shame.  I know better now though ;)

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Arugula Corn Salad

Growing up in Southern Ontario and now being close to Chilliwack, corn is something I look forward to in the summer.  Fresh sweet corn.  So much better than The Green Giant can offer.  Makes me think about parties in fields with raging fires and dozens of cobs of corn in massive pots.  Nothing tastes of summer like fresh corn.

This is a great summer salad, but I think I might try it all year.  Initially I though this is the perfect "man salad."  I know that sounds sexist but how many men do you know that get excited about salad?  Especially about making a salad? This is really limited thinking and goes back to my iceberg lettuce days as a kid.  This is a flavourful hearty salad, not to be confused with a bland weak salad.  Perfect to add to a  (Cuban) sandwich, pasta or hamburger meal that just needs good friend to lean on.


  • 3 cobs of corn husked
  • 3 bell peppers of various colours (red, orange, yellow)
  • Arugula (can use mixed greens in a pinch or to add)
  • 1/4 red onion sliced thin (less if you want, but it adds for sure)
  • Feta cheese (small container or big if you want)
  • Balsamic vinegar (drizzle over for dressing)
  • Olive oil (drizzle over for dressing and for corn and peppers)


  • Heat BBQ to medium - high heat
  • Husk the corn cobs, lightly rub in some olive oil and place on BBQ.  Turn corn every 3 minutes or so to browned in places.  This can take anywhere from 7-9 minutes depending on heat.  Take of heat, set aside to cool.  Then cut kernels off with a knife.  Put into a large serving bowl.

  • Cut peppers in half and take out the seeds.  Cover in a thin coat of olive oil.
  • Place peppers on BBQ cut side down for the first 3 minutes, then turn over for another 5-7 minutes until charred a little.  The charring is not burning; but extra flavour!
  • Cover in a bowl with plastic wrap over them to steam them - it makes the skin easier to peel off.  Wait about 10 minutes for the steam to do its job.  Now peel the skin of the peppers and chop into 1 cm squares.  Add to serving bowl.

Peeling skins

  • Add arugula - no stems
  • Add thinly sliced red onion (not a whole onion)
  • Crumble in feta cheese
  • Mix all ingredients together with your hands and refrigerate
  • Add balsamic vinegar (I used a strawberry one with surprisingly good results) and olive oil on top when ready to serve

This is a real crowd pleaser because there is so much great flavour.  I've found that people always want seconds of this salad.  That surprised me time and again!    This went excellent with my first blog post: Cuban sandwiches.  I'm also serving it with left over mushroom risotto.  Sometimes you can mix and match, just like socks ;)

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Grilled Squid

I wanted a fun fresh appy before my Paella. (Look forward to seeing this one posted in the future.)  The Mediterranean Sea was on my mind.  On a trip to Spain I had plain cuttlefish that was cook perfectly.  However; no matter how perfectly cuttlefish is cooked, 2 pounds in one sitting is too much! I remember thinking that squid would be great without a batter on it like we usually get here in Vancouver.  I kinda winged this one and and was rewarded with great success.

Serves 4


8 squid tubes and a bunch of tentacles
Romaine leaves
Sliced black olives

juice of 1 lemon
juice of 2 limes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 1/2 tbsp chili oil
1 garlic clove minced
2 tsp fresh oregano leaves chopped fine
2 tsp parsley leaves chopped fine

  • Mix all ingredients in a bowl and whisk together

  • With a sharp small knife cut open the tubes along one side. 
  • Score the inside lightly making sure to not cut all the way through the tubes
  • Marinade for at least 1 hour, better to go 2 hours
Meanwhile prepare the plates:

  • Wash and place 2 romaine heat leaves on each plate
  • Put a handful of sliced black olives onto the romaine leaves

You want the BBQ very hot.  This is going to be a fast grilling.  

Readying the squid after it has marinated you must pat it dry with paper towels.  This is very important because they won't brown and they will get rubbery and chewy.  Trust me you will be eating a Pink Pearl eraser.

  • Just before putting the squid on a very hot BBQ spray the grill with oil ( I like grape seed oil because of the high burning temperature)
  • Place the tubes across the grill and the tentacles where the grill intersections are.
  • turn after 1 minute and grill on the other side for 1 minute.  Hint: use a timer it goes fast.

Final Plating:
  • Arrange the tubes and tentacles on the romaine lettuce and drizzle with your favourite olive oil.  I used Milanese Gremolata olive oil from the Vancouver Olive Oil Company 
  • Serve 
  • You can cut it with a knife and fork or roll them up to enjoy as my brother did :)

This made a great appetizer for the Paella that was resting.  Rmember that this is an appitizer so don't make 2 pounds per person :)  3 happy campers on my brother's birthday.  I have to say this recipe made me happy for days and weeks afterwards.  I am looking forward to making it again.  It was just so fresh and fun!