Sunday, 10 March 2013

moules marinieres - a tea time treat

... for a while back in our childhood my father had a terrible fear of flying... he says it came on gradually but by the early 80's it was so bad that he stopped flying altogether which meant that we did a heck of a lot of driving to mainland Europe (or simply 'the continent' as it was known back then) for our summer family holidays... not such a bad thing you may cry and no, in our very own middle-class way it was rather lovely, although try telling that to two teenage kids stuffed into the bench seat of a mercedes sports and driven all the way to southern Italy...

... what this meant for me however was a lot of holidays in beautiful France and the discovery of moules et frites or mussels and chips as we referred to them in our perfectly neglected un-spoken french... and I can tell you as a young boy, thinking he has eaten pretty much everything there was to be eaten, this was a revelation... ahhh the classic, clean sea-salt taste of the moules, bathed in their creamy herb-infused sauce... learning to be patient with the eating process and carefully using the shell of one, tweezer-like, to pluck the fleshy meat from the other and then finally to slurp up any left-over liquor with the perfectly crisp, golden french fries... and the aroma of those little restaurants as we sat on the side of a cobbled street or at the edge of a fishing port... I am quite literally dribbling over my keyboard at the memories...

the good folk at Fish is the Dish are keen to get us eating more fish... we all know that it's healthy for us, or in the words of my grandma Syliva 'if it swims, it slims'... but it's particularly the Omega 3 in fish that is of such benefit to our heart... studies by clever people in white coats have shown that by simply eating two portions of fish per week we can dramatically reduce the risk of cardiovascular incidents whilst the fatty oil that is Omega 3, higher is some fish such as makeral and salmon, can also help give us healthier skin and hair and even help with muscle repair... so we'll all be swishing our locks and smiling more with just a little more fish in our lives... I'll be adding a lot more fish to my reportoire over the next six weeks with some yummy recipes but it's also good to know that even the humble tinned fish such as tuna or salmon is also packed with goodness, so really there's no excuse not to be healthier...

moules marinieres
this is an absolute French classic and there's simply no point messing with it... so i've gone straight the the source itself with this wonderfully simple and very fast recipe from the master himself Raymond Blanc... and because it's French i'm also entering it into this month's excellent tea time treats blogger challenge hosted by Karen from Lavender and Lovage and Kate from What Kate Baked

8oz mussels
4fl oz dry white wine
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 small onion - very finely chopped
4 fresh bay leaves
8 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoons whipping cream
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

wash the mussels under cold running water and remove any beards or barnacles... discard any mussels that float or don't shut when tapped on the side of the sink

boil the wine is a small saucepan for a few seconds to remove the bitter alcohol taste and set aside

melt the butter with a little olive oil in a large lidded pan then add the onion, bay leaves and thyme, stir for 10 seconds then add the wine and bring to a boil

add the mussels, cover with a lid and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the mussels open, remembering to discard any mussels that don't open

add the whipping cream and parsley and stir well

if, like me, you're lazy and can't be bothered to make the frites simply get giant chunks of french bread to sop up all that glorious liquor...

eat and of course, enjoy!


  1. laaaaarvly, cheap, delicious and some of the best fast food around. Can't go wrong.

  2. Marvellous!
    Raymond's recipe is the best I think. I could just tuck in to a bucket full of them right now !!

  3. I'm so glad you've posted this Dom...I was recently reminiscing about Moules and frites with my husband and asked if I should have a go at making them...I don't think I ever have before. They always scared me a bit. You make it sound so easy I will give a try some time.

    Great holiday memories we still love driving through Europe...I never really feel as though I'm travelling when I just miss so many little adventures on the way.

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. C'est parfait pour Tea Time Treats et c'est formidable pour Fish is the Dish aussi!
    FABULOUS Dom and I cannot wait to get stuck in with my FAB fish delivery too!

  5. Well Dom, I thought you really had flipped when I saw you suggesting Moules as a tea-time treat! You know my views on seafood, so I think I'll Pass on the mussels and stick to scones with cream and jam!
    I don't mind if other people enjoy seafood - and I know what you mean about the sense of "ambience" that goes with the restaurant serving Moules Mariniere out of those big black pots...

  6. My very first meal in Europe, Brussels actually, was moules. I've remembered every detail of it for 45 years.

  7. A fabulous tea time treat! I also feel a little nostalgic about how we used to refer to the "Continent". Read old cookbooks from the 1920s and 30s and monied authors refer to "motoring on the Continent" . . . ah, the romance!

  8. This is one of our favorite meals, we probably have it twice a month, mussels are very inexpensive here on the East coast of the USA. I also like to serve them Greek style, by adding chopped tomatoes & feta cheese, but hubby's favorite is with spices diced tomatoes.

    Dom, I don't know if you follow this blog, but you should, he's a really good cook!


  9. I cannot tell you how much I love mussels. Just reading the words moules marinieres gets my taste buds going. I made a Jamie Oliver 'bloody mary mussels' not so long ago, trying out his 30 minute meals, and they were pretty good too, although I still think the classic is the best (although I'm also partial to cooking them in cider)

  10. I think there may be quite a few posts about mussels in the next few days/weeks. I do love them, but they are alot of work to prepare.

  11. These look delicious. I love mussels too and appreciate the classic version you served. I am spoiled with the cleaned fresh mussels I get at the market. They are all de-bearded and no sand!

  12. Ah I so love your grandmas quote of 'if it swims it slims'! Is so cute!

    Love moules frites and have happy memories of eating them in Belgian and France, though never tried to cook them..always scared me slightly I don't know why?!

  13. I have great memories of moules frites too from family camping holidays in France as a child - they were often the delicious plat du jour at the campsite cafe. Still salivate at the thought of them and yours looks wonderful.

  14. Love them ... and they are so inexpensive here! Yours is a real classic! So delish ... they may be cheap, but they taste like a million bucks!

  15. I think he was about 5 when he saw someone having moules & frites in Brittany & said he wanted that & I said I don't think you will like it but he insisted ( probably a tantrum!) & so I gave in & of course he did like it. I guess you should always let a child try something - well within reason.


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