Cilantro Lime Moules Frites
Whoa. Somehow this happened: I’ve reached my 100th post!
I have a hard time believing it; I still feel like a food blog newbie.
Constantly torn between spending time creating this blog (fun) and my dissertation (real life), it seems I can never devote quite enough time for either one to really make something of itself… but here’s my little blog– almost a year and a half old, and already boasting 100 Allison-approved recipes.
Despite the typical stresses of (carpal tunnel and) time constraints, the feedback I’ve gotten on this blog has been tremendous and energizing.
Maybe I just happen to find myself in the rare circle of friends that has only one food blogger (although of course I can think of a few specific friends who would make excellent food bloggers themselves– you know who you are!), because I’ve started to notice that wherever I go, people talk to me about food.
They want to tell me what they’re cooking, or ask me what I’m cooking, or talk recipe talk. And I like it.
(Don’t get me wrong, this probably happened before I started the blog too… Wild guess: 80% of my conversations result in me nerding out over either language-learning or edibles.)
I appreciate these interactions; they’ve been a motivating force in keeping this blog alive and cared for. I’m also grateful to everyone who reads my blog– whether you comment all the time, or just swing by to look at the photos (in which case, I guess you’re not even reading this!). It’s gratifying to see my recipes shared all over Facebook, or– better still– to hear that one of you cooked something I’ve posted. When you can’t share food with everyone from afar, the next best thing to share is a recipe, right?
I thought a Belgian fries and mussels throwback to the amazing dinner prepared for us by friends in Antwerp last summer would be a nice celebratory recipe for my 100th post.
Also, don’t laugh: the real impetus for this dinner was an imminently expiring Groupon for a seafood market. The timing just worked out nicely that way.
I’ve lived in Santa Barbara over five years now, and have purchased and cooked with fresh shellfish only a handful of times. This steamed mussel feast reminded me how lucky I am to have easy access to local, sustainable seafood. I should take advantage of that a little more often, while I’m still living here.
It also reminded me that mussels are incredibly simple (and speedy!) to prepare. The easy Oven Fries took longer to cook than the mussels did. Cilantro, lime, and beer made for a lovely flavor combination, and resulted in a rich, tasty broth, perfect for slurping up with mussel shells or sopping up with bread. We didn’t even bother with a Belgian-inspired dipping sauce for the mussels (just one for the fries).
Steamed Mussels with Cilantro and Lime
~ 2½ pounds mussels
~ 2-3 Tbsp. butter (I used frozen cubes of my homemade chive butter)
~ ⅓ onion, diced
~ 2 cloves garlic, minced
~ 1 bottle of beer
~ salt and pepper to taste
~ small handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
~ fresh lime juice to taste
(or use the more traditional white wine, parsley, & lemon combination, instead of beer, cilantro, & lime)
How to make it:
1. Rinse and scrub the mussels well, and de-beard the mussels. You should only use the mussels that remain tightly closed. If any of them pop open a bit, try giving them a few firm taps on your countertop then wait a minute and see if they close up; discard any that remain open after that.
2. In a large stockpot with a lid, melt the butter then saute the onions over medium heat until soft (5-10 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.
3. Then add the mussels, and pour in the beer. Give it a good stir, then place the lid on the pot and lower the heat a bit. Steam the mussels until they’ve opened up (3-5 minutes). Then season with salt, pepper, and fresh cilantro.
4. Serve immediately with lime wedges (and fries!).
~ 1 large russet potato
~ olive oil
~ freshly ground sea salt and pepper
How to make it:
1. Peel (or not) and slice the potato into long, ¼-½”-thick sticks. Soak the sliced fries in a bowl of cold water for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. Drain the sliced potatoes and toss them in a glug or two of olive oil. Arrange them in a large cast iron pan, spread as far apart from each other as possible. Sprinkle them with a few twists of sea salt and black pepper.
3. Bake the fries for about 1 hour, reaching in with a spatula to stir and turn them every 10-15 minutes.
4. Serve warm with homemade mayonnaise for a dipping sauce.