Monday, December 10, 2018

Mussel Soup with Cranberry Beans, Celery and Basil

I've been making this dish for years now, when I discovered fresh cranberry beans in their pods at the farmer's market and started searching for cranberry bean recipes. Thankfully this one came up! I've found more over the years but this is still my favorite and once more, I can make the soup ahead of time!

Thank-you Marcella Hazan!


1 1/2 lbs cranberry beans, fresh in their pods, if you can't find fresh then use dried, you can find dried at health food stores. 

2/3 cup dried. Also some Latin grocery stores carry them. 

3 lbs live mussels

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup finely chopped onion

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

1 cup canned Italian plum tomatoes with juice

dried red chili pepper flakes to your taste, I use about 1/4 tsp

1 loosely packed cup chopped celery leaves

Salt and black pepper ground fresh

12 large basil leaves, cut into narrow strips

(Serves 4)

After taking the cranberry beans out of their pods, put them in a pan  add water enough to cover 2 inches. Cover with a lid, bring to a simmer over medium to low heat, until tender, fresh would be about 20 minutes, dried depends on how old they are, up to an hour or more, keep checking. Drain the beans but save  the liquid.

Clean the mussels, getting rid of the beard if there is any and scraping off some grime. Throw away any that are opened. 

Put the mussels in a pan that will hold the mussels in one layer, otherwise, do it in batches. Cover the pan, turn the heat to high, shaking the pan occasionally, once the shells open, remove them with a slotted spoon, pour the liquid into a bowl.  Remove the shells from the meat, discard the shells, 

Using a pan with a fitted lid that will accommodate the mussels and beans, and the liquid. Put in all the oil and the onions, without covering the pan, cook the onions over high heat, stirring from time to time, until the onions are a nice golden brown. 

Add the garlic, stirring for about a minute, until the garlic is a golden color.

Add the tomatoes, breaking them up as you drop them in the pan, along with the  juices, cook over high heat, stirring for about 10 minutes. 

Add the chili pepper flakes and the celery leaves, turning everything over every couple of minutes.

Add the mussels to the pot, stirring gently, a couple of times.

Add the beans, stirring gently a few times.

Add the mussel liquid leaving behind any dirt that's left in the bottom of the bowl. Stir gently a few times.

Add the bean cooking liquid, just enough to have a soupy consistency. Stir, turn the heat down to low, taste and add salt if needed, freshly ground black pepper and simmer gently for about 10 minutes.  This can be made ahead a few hours. When you are ready to serve, bring to a gentle simmer, until heated through, add the basil.  I bring the whole pot to the table, or put into individual bowls. 


Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Prawns, Scallops & Clams with Tomato Sauce & Feta Cheese

This recipe is my most recent discovery, I love it so much that I try to incorporate it
in most of my dinner parties. It's great if you need a fish dish to offer as well as meat.
Our friends are always asking me for the recipe, it's very unusual and so delicious!
On the plus side, you can make most of it in advance. Sometimes I'll omit the clams since 
not everyone likes clams and also they are not always available.
I've served this dish with quinoa, pasta, or couscous and of course good bread. 

I found this recipe in Yotam Ottolenghi's Cook Book.  Thank you for another favorite!
Serves 4
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 1/2 lbs clams scrubbed 
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cups canned Italian plum tomatoes chopped, with some of the liquid
  • pinch of sugar
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lb tiger prawns, peeled and de-veined 
  • 1 lb large scallops
  • 6 oz feta cheese, broken into chunks
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

This is the part you can make ahead, if you like. Preheat your oven to 475 F. 
In a medium saucepan bring the wine to a boil until reduced, about 5 min.
Add the clams, cover the pan with a lid, shaking it at times until the clams open.
Put the clams in a fine sieve to drain and save the cooking juices in a bowl. 
When cool enough to handle, take the clams out of their shells. Chill if using them later.

Also, you can chose not to use the clams, just add the wine the after cooking the garlic, reduce and then continue as follows.

In a large frying pan that will hold all the sauce and all the seafood and is oven proof, cook the garlic in
the oil over medium/high heat till golden. 
Add the tomatoes, clam liquid, sugar, oregano and some salt and pepper.
With a peeler or a sharp knife, shave off thin strips of lemon, the whole lemon. Add
them to the pan, stir and let simmer gently for about 25 minutes, or until the sauce thickens.

Add the prawns and scallops, stir gently, cook for just a minute. Fold in the clams, sink
the feta chunks into the sauce and sprinkle with the green onion. Place in a casserole dish then in the oven for about 5 minutes or until the top brown. I like to put the broiler for the last part, get the
fish nice and brown, making sure not to over cook the seafood. 
And serve!  
Make sure everyone gets pieces of the lemon strips, the warm lemon strips tastes fabulous!