I had all these ambitions to have a weekend full of food adventures for my blog. However, life decided that was not in the cards for me. Everything was fine, but I’ll admit that I am not the best at dealing with unexpected turns. I have improved in this to an extent, but going with the flow is just not my greatest skill.
I was on my way to my first food adventure on Saturday morning when I realized I didn’t have my wallet with me. I found this odd, because I almost never take my wallet out of my purse when I am not making a purchase, except for the occasional switch to a smaller purse or clutch when going out.
I couldn’t do what I had planned without my wallet, so I went on a giant search to find it. I drove to my office to look there first. I tried to stop by the deli I had bought lunch at the day before, but they are closed on the weekend. I went home to search, and then went back to my office again. It was nowhere to be found. At this point, I am freaking out quite a bit thinking about everything that is in my wallet that may need to be replaced: my ID, metro card, debit card, personal credit card, work credit card, store cards, insurance card, the list goes on. Needless to say, I was a bit of a wreck.
By the evening, I had rationalized that I must have left my wallet at the deli. No other option made sense. I could not find it in any of the other places I had been since then. It had also been about 24 hours since I last used it and there were no unexplained charges on the card, so I felt confident I left it there and would be able to pick it up on Monday. (For the sake of storytelling, I will jump ahead and say that is exactly where it was. I recovered it this morning.)
Even though I didn’t have any of my cards or money, I was able to follow through with one of my food plans for the weekend since Whole Foods takes Apple Pay. I had planned to make mussels for my friends from a recipe I saw Geoffrey Zakarian make on the Kitchen a few weeks back. Now, I was skeptical of this recipe. For one, I had never made mussels before. Also, this was a slow cooker recipe. I was thinking there is no way making mussels in a slow cooker was going to turn out well. However, if it is a recipe from Iron Chef GZ, I trust that it will be good.
Since this is a slow cooker recipe, it takes awhile to get a finished product, but it is rather easy to prep. Ingredients include: quartered potatoes, butter, garlic, shallots, whole grain mustard, and a wheat beer. I mean just that list of ingredients is tingling my taste buds.
One thing to note is that the recipe says to boil the potatoes beforehand, but on the show GZ said to put the potatoes in the crockpot raw. I forgot he said that and ended up cooking the potatoes for about 15 minutes before putting them in the slow cooker. In the end, I felt the texture of the potatoes was superb. I didn’t feel they were over-cooked.
While the slow cooker did it’s job, my friends and I finished off the rest of the six pack of beer they brought (since I couldn’t go buy some without my ID). After being stressed out all weekend, it was nice to just have a few hours to hang out and chat with my friends. Friends and food are two great forms of stress relief.
When we had about a half hour left on the slow cooker, we started prepping our sides. My friends made roasted asparagus with olive oil and this garlic pepper seasoning. When ready to serve, we finished it off with some freshly grated parmesan cheese.
I also made a loaf of garlic bread (and yes, the three of ate finished off the entire loaf). To make the bread, I took a stick of butter and mixed in five cloves of garlic and some Italian seasoning. I would have preferred to use fresh parsley, but I didn’t think of that at the store. We baked the bread for about 20 minutes, and then finished it off under the broiler for a couple minutes to get it nice and crispy. While the bread was in the oven with the asparagus, I put the mussels on top of the potatoes and broth to steam.
Cooking Tip: Do not put your hungry friend with little self-control in charge of monitoring the garlic bread. They will end up eating a substantial amount of the bread before the main dish is served.
The mussels took longer to open than I thought. However, when we were able to eat, we were not disappointed. This dish is seriously out of bounds. Before serving, I added a half cup of sour cream to the bottom of the crockpot and gave it a quick stir for a creamy finish, and then I sprinkled chopped scallions on top. GZ really knows how to make a good dish. I guess that is why he is an Iron Chef.
For never having made mussels before (but haven eaten plenty) I was nervous about how these would turn out. The potatoes in that creamy broth were tantalizingly good though. The mussels were cooked well and added some nice flavor to the broth…and that garlic bread. That bread dipped in the broth with some of the shallots was just the perfect bite.
We had some spritz while eating our mussels, which is now our favorite summer drink. By the end of the meal, I was in mega food coma with the added sleepiness from the alcohol. It was an amazing meal and an amazing way to finish the weekend with my friends.
What to Do with the Leftovers
I personally do not recommend keeping leftover mussels. There is not a substantial amount of meat in mussels, so I say just eat them all. If you really want, you could probably remove the meat from the mussels and pack them in the fridge. I really wouldn’t recommend trying to save the mussels in their shells.
We did eat all the mussels that opened, and I discarded the mussels that didn’t open. This is typical with cooking mussels. However, there was a good bit of broth leftover and a few potatoes. I decided to save the broth and see if I could make a nice sauce from it. I am not a fan of food waste, and I am always looking for ways to repurpose leftovers, even if it is just pieces of a dish.
I can confirm that this broth turned into an excellent sauce. I started by making a roux with melted butter and flour, whisking together until a little bubbly. I added just a couple splashes of almond milk (since I didn’t have any regular milk) and whisked until thickened. Then I plopped in the leftover broth, potatoes and all and let simmer for a few minutes.
To use this sauce, I made a cup (uncooked) of jasmine rice and cooked up some chicken breast cut into pieces in my cast iron skillet. I took some rice, added some chicken, and topped it with the sauce. It was a delicious way to repurpose that broth, and I am actually getting several servings of a whole new meal with it.
When possible, I am going to keep giving advice on what to do with leftovers, whether that be from meals I cooked or got at a restaurant. I think we can all take steps to help reduce food waste.