Friday, January 19, 2007

Mussels steamed with fennel and creme fraiche

Three months ago, Simon tasted (and liked!) his first mussel, tested in Jamie's recipe for spaghetti with mussels and basil oil. Thankfully he wasn't scared off and has turned himself into a guinea pig par excellence for seafood. I love mussels and would take up any excuse to eat them, except that I do find cleaning and debearding them a bit tiresome. Mussels I buy seem to be very hairy and I wouldn't like to taste a strand of mussel beard in the scrumptious white wine and cream sauces that invariably accompany them. Yesterday I made it to the fishmongers after work (late night shopping on Thursday) and we could therefore have mussels for dinner. It is no surprise by now that there is fennel in this dish - Jamie's favourite ingredient, or so it would seem. There is also creme fraiche and white wine, which are two of my favourite ingredients, particularly together...

To make this dish: for four people, chop half a fennel bulb and an onion. Sweat them with 4 chopped cloves of garlic, leaves of 2 sprigs of fresh thyme and 1-2 crumbled dried red chilli, until soft. Turn up the heat and add 1 kg mussels, 340 ml creme fraiche and 1 large glass white wine. Mix together vigorously, put the lid on, let it cook for a couple of minutes, check it, shake the pan, wait until mussels open and then lift them into bowls with a slotted spoon. Season with salt and pepper. Check the sauce; if it needs thickening put it back on the heat, season and then pour over the mussels. Sprinkle with fennel tops plus the other half of the fennel used earlier, shaved finely, and some drizzled olive oil. Serve with warm crusty bread and white wine.

Mussels don't look as good as they taste, do they? They were delicious though - the sauce was divine. I loved the aniseedy sourness of the creamy sauce; it was perfect. We ate it with crusty bread and scooped up the sauce left once the mussels had gone with hunks of the bread. I am now, predictably, fantasizing about a trip to France for moules-frites (amongst other things).


Writing At The Kitchen Table said...

Hi Kathryn! After watching the debacle that is Big Brother (sorry but I can't resist it!), I've just checked the email...thanks for your comments on Pauls new site. They are what one might call constructive criticism and Paul has taken them on board and will work on them this weekend!
The mussels looks awesome! I love mussels and, having discovered my new love for fennel, would try to recreate this recipe!
Have a fab weekend!
Freya xxxx
p.s. Are we still on for the cake swap?

Kathryn said...

Definitely on for the cake swap! I'll email.

I really liked Paul's site. I knew he wanted critical as well as positive points so I was 100% honest and more nitpicky than usual.

I watched that debacle too. Hmm. If we get the television we deserve, what does that say about us?

Kathryn x