Saturday, January 24, 2009

Clams and Mussels and Steaks, Oh My!

Last weekend we had 24 hours without kids and what do you think we did? Well yes, that too of course, but first we cooked together, creating a meal one course at a time with little tidbits of exquisite bites every couple of hours, paired with martinis and wine.

It was kind of an accidental thing, but maybe that's what made it so nice. No pressure or expectation because we didn’t have time to think about it. After church we went to Ring Bros. Marketplace and walked around looking at all the interesting food there. The original plan was to make a whole bunch of appetizers instead of dinner.

When we got home I decided to make the Kicked Up Cream of Tomato Soup I posted last Sunday. The Kitchen Genius watched football and I wrote for a while and then settled in to read.

At 5:00, KG made Clams Casino (pictured above) and I made Cheddar Horseradish Spread with garlic crustini.

Two hours later, when KG picked up our son Tommy at his friend's house and dropped him off at my Mom's, my step-father gave him some scallops with lemon caper sauce left over from their dinner.

KG came home and put them into little casseroles and topped them with buttered bread crumbs and baked them. We ate them with beach plum lemoncello martinis.

Later I made mussels in a Dijon wine broth that we paired with Sauvignon Blanc. This was my favorite dish of the day. I started with Anthony Bourdain’s basic recipe for Moules Marinieres in his Les Halles Cookbook
and added garlic, herbs de province and Dijon mustard. The broth was so tasty, I could have poured it in a glass and drank it. Instead, I ate way too much bread, sopping it up.

A couple of hours later, we finished with small well seasoned steaks, roasted yellow beets and a salad with gorgonzola, toasted pecans and apples. And of course a bottle of cabernet.

I can’t imagine what it would cost to order such a feast in a restaurant, but that’s one of the things I love best about cooking at home. You can have yummy and decadent food at a fairly affordable price.

This meal was, in fact, ridiculously cheap. The mussels only cost $1.99 and the steaks were part of the Omaha Steaks meat package my dad gave us for Christmas, so they were free. The clams cost $3 and the scallops were free. The beach plum lemoncello was a gift from one of KG’s friends and the wine was a Christmas gift from our daughter, Jess, and her boyfriend, Scott. They bought us a case of wine that we are still thoroughly enjoying.

I spent about $5 on the beets and salad fixings, so the total cost of the feast was only $9.99. Now that's a bargain!

The Recipes:

Clams Casino
Serves 2

12 littleneck clams
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup onion, very finely chopped
2 tablespoons red pepper very finely chopped
2 tablespoons celery very finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 piece of soft oatmeal bread
2 tablespoons fresh grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter
2 slices of bacon, cut in half, fried until 3/4 done, and then cut in thirds.

Open clams, discard top shell. Place butter and olive oil in skillet and sauté onion, pepper, celery and garlic over medium heat stirring occasionally, until tender, about five minutes. Divide sautéed veggies among the clams.

Break bread into pieces and place in mini food processor. Pulse lightly until crumbs. Add parmesan cheese and butter and pulse once or twice to blend. Add a teaspoon of bread crumb topping to each. Top with piece of bacon. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.

For a printable recipe click here

Cheddar Horseradish Spread

1 – 8 ounce package Neufchatel cheese
1/2 cup sharp cheddar, finely grated
1/4 cup Romano cheese, finely grated
3 tablespoons horseradish
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Mix all ingredient well and serve with crackers or *Crustini.

*Crustini: 1 petite French baguette, sliced into 1/2 inch slices. Rub top of each slice with a fresh garlic clove. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Bake at 400 degrees for five minutes.

For a printable recipe click here

Dijon Mussels
Serves 2 as an appetizer or 1 as a meal

1 pound mussels, scrubbed
4 tablespoons butter
2 large shallots, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup white wine
1 teaspoon county Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon Herbs de province
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Melt butter in 5 quart Dutch oven. Add shallots and garlic and sauté for 3 minutes. Add wine, mustard, herbs, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil for two minutes. Add mussels and cover. Cook for 8 – 10 minutes on medium high heat. Serve with crusty bread for dipping.

For a printable recipe click here


vanillasugarblog said...

what a feast! I love, and haven't had for a while, oysters rockerfellar.

Anonymous said...

OMG what a night! That is some romantic food there, how nice that you did this together and no kiddies! Yahoo!

Unknown said...

OMG I so would have loved to be at your house for this dinner...mmmm...

The Diva on a Diet said...

What a delicious and magical night! Love it. I think I just may have to steal this idea for our next date night ... and I know I'll be preparing that cheddar horseradish spread soon. Love that combo.

Laurie said...

It was a magical night, but how funny is it that the original intent was to create some Super Bowl food for Noble Pig's contest?

As soon as we learned that we were kid free, all thoughts turned to romance, not food contests, and I forgot all about that until now.

Now if I want to enter that contest, I'm once again going to just manage to squeeze it in under the deadline (midnight, January 26). Um, that's tomorrow. I wish I didn't have to work for a living...

Katherine Roberts Aucoin said...

It's wonderful to get a night off from the kiddos. All of this food looks fantastic especially when you share it with the one you love.

Alicia Foodycat said...

That sounds like such a cozy, romantic way to spend a day! Lovely.

Dharm said...

What a lovely way to spend the day!! The feast sounds so lovely and decadent too.

Jersey Girl Cooks said...

I want your dinner! And what a great price.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a *perfect* day! Really great photos, too! Love your blog!

Alison said...

I love the new look of your blog. Kaela did a fantastic job! :)

Alison said...

Laurie...the clams look so delicious (how can anything topped with a slab of bacon be bad?) I miss Ring Bros and cannot wait to get back to the Cape....and the clams....and the ocean. Sigh.

Rachel said...

Fab feast for your romantic child-free 24 hours! Mussels sound great, you've inspired me to shop for some.

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