Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Mandarin and Moules with a little snow

Well our toenails are clipped, our stomachs are full of Chinese food and our cupboards are full of groceries.

Mandarin was packed to the gills today, never seen it so busy. So much so, we were almost rushed out of the door. I know it's Christmas but we come every year at this date because it is our friend's birthday and normally, even this close to Christmas, it isn't that full. It was pretty full the day we went with ladydog too. Maybe more people have found the place or something. Having watched a kids' programme on TV the other day where they took one boy out to lobster pots and another girl to mussel beds, they showed them how to cook their hauls and also explained how exceptionally healthy mussels are. They are loaded to the gills with all kinds of vitamins such as B12 and A and they are high in protein and low in fat. They are also good for the brain. So, needless to say, I had a load of them at Mandarin today and plan on making them a regular part of our menu at home. I love Moules Marinière, I remember first coming across them in the coastal ports of either France or Belgium, I am not sure which, but I recall being served large steaming bowls of mussels in the most fragrant juices with mounds of crusty French bread to dip in the "soup". This wouldn't have been very long after World War II and in England we hadn't seen food like this in my lifetime and I took to French and Belgian food like a duck to water. I am not sure how old I was, but rationing in England didn't cease until 1954. London stores had already started selling  more exotic items like bananas and pineapples, even garlic, but in the provinces we didn't see such things for quite a while after that. Of course I remember my mother cooking mussels many times after that and it was usually my job to de-beard them. Yuck. Actually I don't think they used to de-beard them in France but I couldn't swear to it. I see a note in the recipe below saying we can now buy them already "bearded".

It was snowing a lot today, not constant, but enough to turn all the grassy areas white but not the paved areas. Coming back from the restaurant the snow was driving heavily at the windshield and my wipers were working overtime when suddenly, it stopped, just as if someone had turned off a tap. I was being picked up to go collect my groceries today and shortly after we got back I got a call from today's driver who said he could be there early. Checked with the store, they were OK with it having already picked my order, so off we went. Yet another driver who cooks. Nice to  be able to talk food with people. Except these days I bore people to death with talk of my Instant Pot LOL.

We ended up with a bowl of soup and a mince pie for supper. We were quite full enough.

Obviously after all that discussion I am posting a recipe for Moules.

MOULES MARINIÈRE   A classic all year round

The good thing about mussels is you can eat them all year round! We French have many uses for
This picture makes me drool!!
them – gratin, omelette, stuffed, in soups, casseroles, in salads – but my favourite is the most traditional use of them: moules marinière. This Normandy classic is simple to cook at home, especially as you can now easily buy mussels that have already been cleaned and de-bearded.

1.8 kg very fresh good-quality mussels
100 ml dry white wine
20 g unsalted butter
1 small white onion, peeled and very finely chopped
4 bay leaves
8 thyme sprigs
2 Tbs whipping cream
3 Tbs roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Wash the mussels thoroughly in a bowl under cold running water, removing any barnacles and beards that are still present.

2. Discard any mussels that float, including those that are closed.

3. Drain the mussels in a colander.

4. Meanwhile, boil the wine in a small pan for 30 seconds.

5. Add the onion, bay leaves and thyme, stir and then add the wine after 10 seconds.

6. Bring to the boil, add the mussels and cover with the tight-fitting lid.

7. Cook for 2–3 minutes until the mussels open.

8. Stir in the cream and chopped parsley.

9. To serve the mussels, tip into a large dish or divide among warmed soup plates.

10. Provide your guests with finger bowls and serve with lots of good French bread to mop up the wonderful juices.

Servings: 4

"The secret, as ever, is in the freshness of the mussels. A fresh mussel is shiny, closed and heavy with seawater, with no ‘fishy’ smell."

"For an Indian twist, add a generous pinch of Madras curry powder to the onion and finish the dish with lemon juice and freshly chopped coriander."

"For a Thai flavour, add some chopped fresh chilli, garlic, lemongrass and a kaffir lime leaf; replace the cream with creamed coconut or coconut milk."

Author: Raymond Blanc

Have a great day


  1. It sounds like an excellent, productive and delicious day. Excellent company can only have made it better.

  2. Hi Jo - productive day by the sound of it ... and good to have a meal you enjoy. Love moules ... and oddly I had a few yesterday in a seafood risotto ... take care and hope that snow doesn't get worse. Cheers Hilary

    1. Yes Hilary, it was. Coincidence about the moules. Still snowing, but still not sitting on the roads.

  3. I've never had mussels; I didn't realize how good they were for one's health. Maybe I'll have to remedy that in the new year!


    1. I love them Betty, The Olive Garden do them, you could try them there first. Unfortunately we don't have an Olive Garden up here.

  4. Haven't had mussels in quite some time. I do enjoy them. We are on a snow alert today - we could get up to one-half inch of snow!!! Oh no! These weather alerts are a joke. It's not like I live in Florida.

  5. Well, when I make it up there, I want to go to the Mandarin restaurant. Maybe you're giving the place business!

    I don't care for mussels or driving in snow. One is too squishy and the other is too slippery.