Category Archives: weeknight meals

steamed mussels in white wine sauce

As another birthday draws near, I was thinking about what I would tell my decade-younger self. One big piece of advice I would give myself is not to be afraid to fail by taking more risks. I wish I would have studied abroad and taught English in Asia before heading to graduate school. Why was I in such a rush to have my life figured out? I often tell my students that they’ll be working for the next 25+ years and delaying grad school or a ‘real job’ for a year or two won’t make significant impact in the long run. Funny how I’ve gained that perspective many years later having been in their shoes.

I can’t rewind myself back to my early 20’s, but having this food blog has challenged me to take more risks in cooking things I’m not familiar with like mussels. I was wondering the aisles of Whole Foods and came across some live mussels and thought about Chef Julie Yoon’s recipe for mussels in white wine. I was able to experiment on my lovely roommate and college friend for dinner as we were celebrating my friend’s birthday. Serve this simple, light, and satisfying dish with a toasted bagette slices or over spaghetti. Btw, Chef Julie’s how-to video was helpful in walking me through the process.

mussels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steamed Mussels in White Wine Sauce
adapted from Chef Julie Yoon’s blog
serves 4

2.5 lbs live mussels (see notes below on storing these)
3 TB unsalted butter, divided
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion or 1/2 large onion diced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 lemon
3 roma tomatoes or 2 medium tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
salt and pepper

1. Clean the mussels under cold running water in the sink. Remove beards by slicing them with a paring knife. For ones that are slightly open, gently tap the hinge of the mussel on your cutting board so they close. If it doesn’t, discard. Should take about 15 minutes.
2. In a large pot on medium heat, add 1 TB of butter. Once melted, add your onions and garlic until cooked through (about 2 minutes). Add chicken broth and wine; bring mixture to a boil and add mussels. Cover with a lid.
3. Let the mussels simmer for about 5 minutes (set a timer) and shake in the middle for even cooking. At the end of 5 minutes, check to see that the mussels have opened. Turn off the heat and add parsley, tomatoes, and remaining 2 TB of butter. Gently toss to make sure the butter melts.
4. Toss any mussels that didn’t open. Squeeze half the lemon over the mussels and serve over pasta or with crusty bread.

Note: I bought my mussels 2 days before cooking them. To keep them fresh, I kept them in the mesh bags they came in and placed them in a colander in the fridge with bags of ice. Make sure to place a Pyrex or some kind of plate to catch the melting ice. I also covered the colander with a wet paper towel and re-wet it each morning. I know it sounds complicated but I had to keep them alive before serving for optimal flavor =) I wouldn’t recommend freezing them. 

citrus arugula salad and crostini w/fig butter, brie, and prosciutto

I made this awhile ago and thought you might like to see… citrus arugula salad
serves 3-4 (as starter)
4 cups of arugula
1 orange, slices into half moons
1 ripe avocado, sliced
1/4 cups toasted walnuts
1/4 cup of olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
1 TB honey
1/4 tsp salt and pinch of pepper
Throw all ingredients up until the olive oil into a salad bowl. Make the salad dressing and individually dress each portion. Enjoy! crostini-pic3 crostini with fig butter, brie, and prosciutto
serves 4
1 bagette, 1/2 inch slices, on the diagonal
fig butter
brie cheese, 1/4 inch slices
1 package of prosciutto (about 10-12 oz)
1/4 cups olive oil
Preheat oven to 450F. Rub one side of bread slices with oil. Place oil-side down, touching the baking sheets. Spread fig butter on each slice, top with brie, then prosciutto. Bake for about 8-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Mmm… Perfect with a glass of riesling. Enjoy!

Thai yellow curry

My first memories of eating curry was what my mom would make from the Japanese blocks of dried curry paste (that comes in that gold paper — doesn’t it remind you of a chocolate bar?). That sweet, thick, and peppery aroma would fill the entire house with its distinct smells. I wasn’t introduced to Thai style curry until college but once I tried it, I was hooked! It was creamy, sweet, more soupy than the kind I was used to eating growing up.

I found this simple recipe and thought I’d give it a shot – my first Thai dish and a success! Looking forward to making more later this week to put to use my leftover ingredients.  Being cost conscious, I calculated that it cost a little more than $5 to make this dish for 4 servings (really cheap!).   Side note: I was surprised that my local Fresh & Easy carries coconut milk (is it because I live in a heavily Asian American community, or has Thai cuisine become a mainstream people are buying Asian staples like coconut milk?).

Thai yellow curry (Adapted from avocado & bravado)
1 TB vegetable oil
1 onion, finely minced
1 chicken breast, cut into 1″ pieces
1 small Thai chile, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 thumb size piece of ginger, finely minced
2 tsp curry powder
1 large red potato (or 5 small red potatoes), cut into 1″ pieces
1 large carrot, diced
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 3/4 cup chicken broth
1 – 15 oz can of chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans)
fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
salt & pepper to taste

1. Pour chickpeas into a colander. Scoop out 1/3 of the beans and mash them into a paste (with fork or some flat surface). Set aside.
2. Heat oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add onion and chicken and cook until chicken is no longer pink, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, and chili into stockpot and stir for about a minute. Add curry powder  and stir for another 30 minutes.
3. Add potatoes and carrots and make sure they’re well coated with curry powder. Stir in the chicken broth and coconut milk, chickpeas (both whole and mashed). Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 20 minutes or when potatoes and carrots are tender (seems really watery when you first put in the liquids but it’ll thicken as the potatoes cook with the mashed chickpeas).
4. Season with salt and pepper accordingly.  Pour curry into bowls and garnish with fresh cilantro. Enjoy!