Tuesday, April 27, 2010

New Zealand Greenshell Mussels

Casa Bella Bed and Breakfast is finally open and guests are enjoying our spacious, modern rooms.

Many of the furnishings were purchased locally but we still had to make semi-frequent trips to Piedmont Street in Atlanta for lamps and other small accessories.

We also enjoyed the trip for a nearby Chinese buffet that has really delicious seafood on the menu-including an Asian fried Tilapia that is so crispy and flavorful. Paired with their spicy mussels and sushi I'm a "happy camper".

Unfortunately, we've run out of excuses to hit our favorite buffet so I just had to break down and cook the mussels myself. For me, this is an enjoyable process but requires a little extra knowledge to create the deep, rich broth that flavors the meaty mussels. I buy the mussels at my local Asian mart and keep the in the freezer to enjoy when the mood strikes. A box on the half-shell is plenty for two or three people and also yields the pretty green shells which I saved for an upcoming episode on seafood. I plan to use them for Clams Casino.

Learning a good Asian-inspired broth is worth the effort if only to have it in the refrigerator for use as the base of a thickened sauce for other dishes that require a seafood flavor. I'm thinking a pan-fried shrimp over brown rice. YUM! So here's my recipe for the broth.

Seafood Broth

King crab shells, shrimp shells or other hard shell crustaceans (a handful)
2 cups water
1 tbsp dark miso
1 tbsp black bean curd
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce
3 dried red pepper pieces
3 cloves fresh garlic (whole)
1 tbsp chopped green onion

Bring ingredients to a soft boil for ten minutes. Remove shells and allow to simmer.

Adjust broth with 2 tsp of sugar and 2 tsp of fresh squeezed lime juice. I added 2 tsp of diet coke to extend the sweet flavor I wanted.

Add a pinch or piece of the following spices:

star anise (small piece left whole)
small pinch of five spice
grating of nutmeg
small pinch of ginger powder
pinch of red pepper seeds
mint and basil leaves (1 each)

Once my flavoring was to my taste I brought the broth to a gentle boil, added my mussles and turned them gently in my pan for 4 -5 minutes. I added 1 tbsp of additional chopped green onion and turned them one last time. The mussels were served with a small amount of broth ladled over the mussels to keep them warm.

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Moroccan Nights in Newnan, Georgia

Another stunning star-studded evening unfolded in the back gardens of Something Special Event Center as guests sampled and were invited to offer their opinions of new menu offerings from owner Mike Meyer and Chef Carol, a recent Johnson and Wales graduate.

Moroccan Nights was a gathering of old friends coming full circle over the past fourteen years and reconnecting under the stars! Dancing candlelight laced the pretty branches of a large oak that is the remarkable centerpiece of the Mike's pretty courtyard. 

A nice sampling of cheeses-complimented by Medjool dates, almonds,olives and moist apricots awaited us as we entered the gardens and reconnected at our jewel-lit tables. A simple course of hummus, yogurt with scallions followed before a dinner course of spicy lamb and Moroccan chicken, beautiful pomegranate-glazed carrots, and couscous studded with golden raisins. 

A creamy apricot and toasted almond-laced custard was the perfect finish to a beautiful evening with friends under the stars! 

Something Special is available for dinners, weddings, private and special events. Check them out online at www.SSpecial.net
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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Spring Taste Of Newnan

Spectacular weather and great crowds made for a lively Spring Taste Of Newnan.

Dale Arrowood (Birds of Prey) fascinated crowds with a beautiful Great Horned Owl with its' spectacular talons.
Belly Dancers and crowd-pleasing bands performed along the venues and kept the mood lively!

It was easy to enjoy a full meal with vendors offering entrees including Ten East Washington's flavorful Vodka Penne Pasta, Dynasty's Chinese Wings and Skewered Chicken, a local club offfering smoked Brats, and seafood by Red Lobster.

The sweet smell of funnel cakes and powdered sugar drifted through the crowds-occasionally interrupted by the buttery smell of kettle corn and chocolates from "Let Them Eat Toffee". Desserts included homemade cakes and pastries, ice-cream from Brusters as well as flavored coffee drinks from Octane Cocktails and Coffee-opening soon on Bullsboro Drive in Newnan.
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Friday, April 2, 2010

Spinach Artichoke Chicken

I don't know where to begin about the ease and delicious-ness of this simple grilled meal.

Our lives have become too complicated for me to cook for hours every night . . .so I depend on my knowledge of classic ingredients and a great glass of wine (!)

This is a classic "oysters rockefeller" stuffing with the addition of artichoke hearts and a small amount of mixed cheeses-in this case parmesan-reggiano, Colby and American cheese.

I started the topping by dicing a smoky bacon, lightly sauteeing the first batch, adding a second batch and cooking it a little more tenderly. Next, I added creamed spinach and quartered artichoke hearts. A little freshly squeezed lemon juice was added to brighten the ingredients before adding freshly minced garlic, homemade sourdough breadcrumbs. Everything was sauteed on low heat-making incorporated all the ingredients well. Finally, I added the cheeses in stages and reduced the heat.

The chicken breasts were pounded flat, coated with olive oil and grilled very quickly. A small 1/4 cup of the stuffing was mounded on top with the addition of a small amount of bread crumbs before placing my pan in a pre-heated broiler!
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