Mussels in a Fennel Cream Sauce

There is just something special about tiny French bistros.  You know the one where you can get lost in hours of good conversation with a close friend while savoring every morsel of delicious food placed before you.  Maybe it’s the wine, or maybe the warm ambiance of the dimly lit dining room.  Perhaps a little bit of both.  Or maybe it’s the soul comforting food these french bistros usually produce.

These mussels, smothered in a silky, smooth sauce spiked with fragrant fennel would feel right at home on any of those bistro menus.  Served with a crusty french baguette or a side of thin cut fries, these mussels are perfect to enjoy on a cool, crisp fall night with your favorite company.

 

Mussels in a Fennel Cream Sauce

(serves 4)

Printable Version

2 pounds mussels, cleaned
1/2 large Vidalia Onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 large fennel bulb, sliced (about 2 cups)
1 pint light cream
1 1/2 cups white wine
1 1/2 cups water
Salt
Pepper
1 Bayleaf
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp butter

In a large saucepan or pot over medium heat, warm 1 tsp olive oil and saute the onions for 2-3 minutes or until softened. Add garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.

Add butter and remaining tsp olive oil to the pan before stirring in the sliced fennel. Cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The fennel should be soft and the onions starting to caramelize. Pour in white wine, scraping the bottom of the pan before adding the water. Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir in the bayleaf. Place a cover and let cook 8-10 minutes.

Remove bayleaf.  Either using a standing blender* or immersion blender, puree mixture until almost smooth. Place sauce in pan back over low heat. Stir in the cream. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if necessary.

Turn the heat up to medium-low and add in mussels. Cover the pan and let cook 6-8 minutes or until all of the mussels have opened**. Stir in chopped flat leaf parsley.

Serve mussels either over pasta, rice or with a crunchy baguette.

* If using a standing blender, make sure sauce is cool before placing in the blender.
** If mussel does not open, discard & do not eat.

Jalapeno-Cheddar Scones = Best Breakfast Sandwich Ever

The holidays are here again and just as they bring added joy to our everyday routines, they seem to bring a similar sweetness to the things we eat.  Pies,  yule logs, ginger snaps & cheesecakes are lurking around every corner.  And then there are holiday cookies, which are not just everywhere but seem to be the perfect homemade holiday gift. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  I’ll take a luscious cheesecake or chewy snickerdoodle cookie any day, but what about everything else?

Not surprisingly when our office decided to hold a holiday pot luck last week, the sign up list was filled up with all things sugar.  As I perused the list, contemplating what to make I noticed the discrimination and concluded that I would be playing on behalf of Team Savory.   My holiday cookie recipes & gingerbread house would just have to wait their turn.

Ironically enough, my final contribution was a variation on a typically sweet item – the scone.  Except this one was speckled throughout with pockets of melted cheddar cheese and bits of spicy jalapeno.  It was creamy & moist and the consistency was so perfect you felt like a scone scientist looking at all of the different layers after you broke it in half.

I found the recipe from Smitten Kitchen who states the recipe is adapted from Peter Oleyer at Calexico Carne Asada in Brooklyn, via NY Mag.  With little to no recipe tweaks on my end except a little extra cheddar and jalapeno for good measure, this recipe is incredible.  If my description above isn’t enough to convince you, please I beg, just make the darn scones for yourself.

Jalapeno-Cheddar Scones from Smitten Kitchen, adapted from Peter Oleyer at Calexico Carne Asada in Brooklyn, via NY Mag

makes 8 large scones

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick or 4 ounces) cold butter, diced
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 eggs, divided
1/4 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, diced
2 small jalapeños pepper, minced (I wimped out and used only one only to find my scones entirely heat-free)

Preheat oven to 400°F. In a small skillet, melt 1/2 tablespoon of butter and sauté the jalapeños in it until soft, about two minutes. Let them cool, then place them in a small bowl with the cheddar cheese and coat them with one tablespoon of the flour. Combine the remaining flour with the baking powder and salt. Cut in the remaining butter with a pastry blender, fork or two knives, until the butter bits are pea sized.

Lightly whip two of the eggs and cream and add to the flour-butter mixture. Using a wooden spoon, fold mixture until it begins to come together. Add the cheddar-jalapeño mixture to the dough and mix until everything is incorporated.

Turn out the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead gently for less than one minute. Pat dough out to a 3/4- to 1-inch thickness and either cut into 8 triangles or the shape of your choice with a biscuit cutter. Make an egg wash by beating the remaining egg with a teaspoon of water. Brush the scones with egg wash and place on a parchment-lined (or well-oiled) baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Jalapeno-Cheddar Scones, Part II:  How to make an AWESOME breakfast sandwich

The holiday potluck turned out fantastic and to my surprise, the dessert table was not the largest spread there!  Take that sugar (I’ll see you again soon I’m sure, however).  The scones were also a big hit and at the end there were only a few leftover.  Now, usually scones are best to be eaten on the day they are made.  These bad boys however were quite moist and given the proper attention, I was positive they could be re-purposed over the weekend.

Sunday was the perfect day to find out.  A gloomy and lazy day from the start, brunch on the couch with a large pot of coffee seemed quite fitting.  I checked out the scones waiting patiently in my fridge and once I deemed them fit for service, came up with these Bacon, Egg and Cheese sandwiches on Jalapeno-Cheddar Scones.  And the surprise,  I paid homage to the season as well as the scone’s sweet roots by adding a bit of honey.  Sweet & savory, now that is truly the best of both worlds!

Bacon, Egg & Cheese Sandwich on Jalapeno-Cheddar Scones

2 eggs
4 slices bacon
Cheddar Cheese (or whatever you have on hand)
2 Jalapeno-Cheddar Scones (I made mine smaller than it says in the recipe above)
Honey
Butter

Slice scones, place in low oven until just toasted.  Cook bacon in a skillet until done to your liking.  Remove grease and melt butter over low-medium heat.  Fry eggs in skillet 2 minutes until just set.  Flip over and place cheddar cheese on top, cover with lid.  Cook another 2 minutes until cheese is soft and melted.

Spread bottom of scone with honey, place egg & cheese down and top with bacon and the scone top.

Enjoy!

And yes, this was deemed as the best breakfast sandwich ever as one happy guest stated.

The second sandwich was already eaten so pardon the crumbs!