Monday, April 18, 2011

Mussels Mariniere and Homemade French Bread

I was always skeptical of mussels until I lived in Spain and ate them in paella.  A few months later, I ate them often while living in Ecuador as they are popular in soups.  If you haven't ever given them a try, you should definitely go for it.  Cook them up with parsley and white wine and they get excellent flavor.  Here's a recipe that I made based on an original one with less ingredients.

  • 4 quarts fresh mussels (I used the frozen, cooked, debearded ones.  They are ready to be thrown in a pot)
  • 1 (16 ounce) package pasta (I used penne, feel free to try others)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 Tbl dried parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 Tbl cornstarch


  1. Scrub mussels and pull off beards, cutting them at the base with a paring knife. Discard those that do not close when you handle them and any with broken shells. (Skip this step if using the frozen pre-cooked mussels) 
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and reserve.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet place 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, onion, mushrooms, and garlic.  Saute until onions and mushrooms begin to soften.  Add parsley, bay leaf, thyme, wine, and broth. Mix cornstarch with about 2 tsp. milk and mix into the pot.  Bring to a boil and lower heat; cook for 2 minutes. Add mussels; cover and cook just until they open, 3 to 4 minutes. Do not overcook..
  4. To the wine mixture, add remaining butter or margarine and heat until it melts. 
  5. Serve the mussels and sauce over pasta noodles. 

This was INCREDIBLE!  I couldn't get enough of it.  It is chalked full of flavor and goes great with french bread on the side.  Speaking of french bread, we need to talk about that... 

I told you this was a week of bread making.  I gave french bread a try and was NOT disappointed!  It was delicious!  I found the recipe on and for the first time I did not have to add any extra flour to the dough!  It was the perfect consistency and baked just as it should!  Check it out: 

INGREDIENTS (Makes 1 two pound loaf)
  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 2 - 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal
  • 1/2 egg white, beaten


  1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture with 1 cup water, 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, sugar and vegetable oil; stir well to combine. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.  (If you have a kitchen aid then save your arms and put all of the ingredients in the mixing bowl, use the dough hook and mix on low for 6 minutes.  After, brush the dough with oil and follow rising instructions).  
  3. Roll into a 9 x 12 rectangle and roll up jelly roll style, starting at long edge. Seal edges (brushing water on the edges helps to seal it) and place seam side down on a large baking sheet that has been sprinkled with cornmeal.
  4. Use a sharp knife to slash each loaf diagonally 3 times. Brush with beaten egg white (this helps the bread bake to a golden brown). Cover and allow to rise 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. 

I had no idea that you roll french bread up jelly roll style.  But that is what gives it the pull apart texture.  Look at the effects after the bread bakes, I found it pretty cool.  :)  ENJOY!! 

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