Friday, September 25, 2009


I get inspiration for my cooking everywhere, ranging from magazines to restaurants to general chit chat with friends. I love it when I go to restaurants and enjoy a delicious meal. If I am really impressed I  always try to recreate the dish at home. I have done this on several occasions and more often than not it has turned out pretty well. When I was living in London my friend and I fell in love with a Belgian restaurant in Covent garden, we couldn't get enough of it. We must have tasted every Belgian beer at some point and every mussel dish going. Huge pots of mussels were served with vast baskets of fries and a side order of rye bread smeared with mayonnaise. Oh how I wish I could go back there now. Anyway, we had a mussel dish that consisted of steamed mussels on the half shell that were coated in this fantastic spinach creamy sauce with melted stringy cheese. It was devine. Well I tried this dish at home and it was perfect. I had invited my friend over and we stuffed our faces with the mussels and dipped bread into the sauce, this washed down with a nice fragrant Belgian beer took us right back to the restaurant in Covent garden. I am inputting a mussel dish into the book but it is more traditional so I will give you the recipe for the creamy spinach mussel dish.

Holidays also have given me ideas, Egypt gave me homemade flat breads with a homemade chilli and oil dip, Italy gave me home made Raviolli and tomato salad and Barcelona gave me potato bravas with chorizo, the list is endless and I could just keep going. If you like a dish and are not too sure what ingredients are needed just look at a couple of recipes and adapt them to how you remember the dish tasting. The key point is to keep tasting the dish as your creating it, that is the best way.

Creamy Spinach Mussels

Mussels (enough for 2 people)
1 Cup Chicken stock/ WhiteWine
1 Large Bag of baby spinach
1 Small onion
2 Medium cloves of garlic
1/2 Block of cream cheese
1 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp All purpose four
Light Cream
Salt & Pepper
Gruyere Cheese

Soak the mussels in cold water for an hour, drain and then de-beard.

Dice the onions and garlic up finely and fry in a large frying pan with a pinch of salt , when soft add the spinach and wilt. When wilted drain the spinach mixture into a colander and press out the remaining water then blend this until smooth and set aside. In the same frying pan add the butter and when melted stir in the flour to make a rue. Add the cream slowly until the sauce is thick and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Now add the cream cheese and stir in until smooth. Add a pinch of salt, pepper and nutmeg and the blended spinach mix. Stir in until incorporated. Taste and add more seasoning if required along with a squeeze of lemon juice (usually just a 1/4 lemon works). If the sauce is a little to thick add more cream.

Meanwhile throw away any mussels that are open. In a medium pan add the chicken stock or wine and bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and add the mussels and cover. Allow to steam for approx 5 minutes until mussel shells have opened, shake the pan half way through. (Once opened they are ready) Drain and throw away any mussels that have not opened. Remove one half of the shell and lay mussels in a grill proof dish. Pour over the spinach sauce and sprinkle with grated Gruy√®re cheese. Place under the grill until cheese turns golden brown. Serve in dish with fresh bread for dipping. Et voila.

Let me know how it turns out.

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