Friday, October 17, 2008

A Fun Week with the Blogosphere; Saffron Soup with Mussels

Even though work has been on the brutal side this week, we've had some great interactions with the food blogosphere. So first of all, thank you again to all who submitted to Low and Slow. I hope to get the posts up today or tomorrow.

On Wednesday night, Lisl and I went out for dinner in New York City with Stacey from Stacey's Snacks, a favorite blog of ours, and her supermodel husband Henry. It was a great dinner with lively conversation, and Henry showed wonderful forbearance as we geeked out for a bit on food blogs, photography, etc. Perhaps patience is a bit of requirement when it comes to food blogger spouses since the most common phrase heard by us all, after "this is delicious!", is probably "take the picture already!"

jugalbandi photosSpeaking of photographs, I received a wonderful treat in the mail yesterday from Bee and Jai over at Jugalbandi, another one of my favorite blogs. I've been in love with their photography for a while now, and they were kind enough to send me two prints that in short order will be framed and hung in our house. I love great art on the walls, particularly when there is a personal connection, so to say I am gleeful is putting it mildly.

Lastly, on Monday, Constables' Larder was a guest poster on The Haphazard Gourmet Girls blog, as part of their censored literature series. HGG is an interesting food activist blog. Readers know that we're not highly activist on this blog, but I really like strong, intelligent voices that are trying to make a difference. That fits HGG in spades, and Eddie, I hope we get a chance to meet you in person as well one of these days, maybe up on that old whaling island we both like to go to.

The full post is here (link), where we paired a dish with Kate Chopin's novel, The Awakening. I am not going to duplicate the full post and description, but I am going to re-post the recipe here, which I adapted from Simon Hopkinson's Roast Chicken and Other Stories.

saffron soup with mussels

Saffron Soup with Mussels, adapted from Simon Hopkinson

Serves 4

1/2 cup butter
2 large spanish or sweet onions, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp Pernod
1/2 bottle of dry white wine
Leaves of 2 tarragon sprigs, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
Pinch of dried thyme
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 to 3 lbs mussels, de-bearded and washed
2 medium red potatoes, cut into 1/4 to 1/3 inch dice
1 tsp saffron threads
1/2 cup half and half or light cream
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 lemon
salt and pepper

In a large soup pot, melt the butter on low heat and cook the onion and garlic until translucent. Turn up the heat to medium, add the Pernod, and after 30 seconds or so, add the white wine. Add the chopped tarragon, thyme, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes before adding the chicken stock and bringing the soup back up to a heavier simmer.

Hopkinson calls for putting the mussels in a large pot and straining the soup over them. I think it is easier to place a collander in a large bowl, and pour the soup into the collander thus separating the onions and herbs from the liquid. Toss the bay leaf and put the contents of the collander back in the soup pot, and pour the liquid in the bowl over the mussels in your second large pot. Bring that to a boil , cover, and cook until the mussels are just opening. To prevent burning yourself with splatter, remove the mussels to a bowl with a slotted spoon, then pour the remaining liquid through a fine sieve (or cheesecloth) back into the main soup pot.

Add the potatoes, saffron, and a few grindings of salt and pepper. Tread carefully with the salt - this soup does not need much. Bring the soup back to a boil and then simmer until the potato is tender. (Note: if you are in a hurry, you can partially boil or steam the potatoes earlier in the process). Turn off the heat, stir in the cream and the juice of half a lemon. Add salt, pepper, lemon juice to taste. Garnish with a few sprigs of tarragon and serve with some slices of a really good baguette and a medium-bodied red, like a young Rioja (nothing too fruity or too strong).

mussel shell

mussels

7 comments:

lisaiscooking said...

This soup looks absolutely delicious! The mussels are plump and amazing, and the color is so pretty.

kat said...

wow, what amazing color in that soup!

paoix said...

wow this looks very decadent. i love mussels. i think this gets put on the must try list :)

Stacey Snacks said...

Giff,
These mussels pics are fantastic!

I think you need to be over 18 to view them. Food porn at its best!

Henry is a super model, isn't he?
Looking forward to our next foodie adventure!
Stacey

Peter M said...

The soup looks stunning, love what saffron does to food.

FOODalogue: Meandering Meals and Travels said...

This is an elegant dinner party soup! Really different and beautiful -- and I can just smell the saffron.

Rico said...

this soup looks amazing the photo too excellent recipe...great ....saw you on foodbuzz :)