Mussels and Mayo

steamed mussels

A little bit of saffron goes a long way.  We just discovered this perfect combination of cooked and chilled mussels served with threads of saffron in a mayonnaise-based sauce a few weeks ago in Rouen.  It is a wonderful appetizer served on a bed of ice or rock salt.

  • 2 pounds of fresh mussels (about sixty)
  • 1 cup of your favorite dry, white wine
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 pinch of saffron thread
  • 1/3 cup of roasted red peppers, well-drained
  • 1 large garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • 1 half cup of home-made mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • Smoked paprika to taste

Bring onion and wine to a boil, add mussels and cook, covered, for about three minutes.  Cool and remove top shells,  separate each mussel and return to its bottom shell.  Place the shells on an ice or rock salt-filled tray and chill.  In a food processor, add the next seven ingredients and blend well.  Put a generous dollop of the saffron mayo on each mussel and sprinkle with paprika before serving.



Southern Summer Squash Spread

Sometimes abundance is the mother of invention, which explains this original and delicious take on hummus.  Our friend Bob kept us over-supplied all summer with tender, baby, yellow squash with nary a wart upon them.  This was one result of his largesse.

  • Three cups of summer squash, roughly chopped
  • Four tablespoons of crunchy peanut butter
  • Two tablespoons of peanut oil
  • Three tablespoons of lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • One teaspoon of dried red chile flakes
  • One half teaspoon of sea salt
  • Two cloves of garlic, chopped
  • One teaspoon of dried dill

Put squash in a covered glass container and microwave on high for three minutes. Drain squash and place in a food processor along with the remaining ingredients.  Process until the mixture is smooth and spreadable.  Chill before serving with melba toast.

Chesapeake Cheddar Clam Toasts

I think you will enjoy this dish from an earlier era spent with a rowdy crowd of young naval officers at Virginia Beach.  We usually used canned clams but freshly shucked, sauteed in butter, and chopped is always better.  Must be served with very cold beer!

  • 1 pound of white cheddar, grated
  • 1 six ounce can of baby clams, drained
  • 1 quarter cup of mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons of parsley
  • 2 tablespoons of chives, minced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 egg, well-beaten
  • Black pepper to taste, freshly ground
  • Red pepper sauce to taste
  • 8 slices of dark bread like pumpernickel, crust removed

Combine all ingredients and spread generously on bread slices.  Place on a cookie sheet and put under a hot broiler until puffed, brown and bubbly…about 6 minutes.  Cut each toast into four squares and serve.


Point Clear Shrimp Cocktail Fritters

Stir up these delicious fritters when you have a crowd gathered in the kitchen at the beach.  They simply must be served hot so they are only appropriate for an informal gathering or when you have a dedicated cook.  Make plenty!

  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon of parsley
  • 1 pound of fresh shrimp, chopped

Stir all together and drop by the teaspoonful into hot peanut oil.  Fry until golden and serve with picks.


A Marvelous Mushroom Tapenade

We gathered a mixture of exotic mushrooms on a trip to the Farmers’ Market in Atlanta and added some local shitaki to make this earthy puree which is delightful on a baked potato, spread as a bruschetta topping, or just spooned onto a chunk of rustic bread and enjoyed with a glass of wine after a long afternoon nap.  This recipe makes about two cups.

  • 1/4 cup of good olive oil
  • 1 and 1/2 pounds of mixed mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary and oregano, mixed and minced
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup of red wine
  • 2 tablespoons of capers, drained and minced
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • 4 anchovy filets, drained and pressed with a paper towel

Saute the mushrooms in half the oil with the herbs and garlic, adding sea salt and ground black pepper to taste.  After six minutes, add the wine and lower the heat, cooking, uncovered, for about six more minutes or until the juices are evaporated.  Cool and add the last four ingredients to the mushrooms in the bowl of a food processor.  Chop the mushrooms and slowly add the rest of the olive oil, thickening the mixture.  Don’t over process, leaving some texture.  Chill in the refrigerator overnight to blend but let it come to room temperature before serving.

Crunchy DIY Mozzarella Cheese Sticks

We’ve all had those soggy cheese sticks at franchise fern bars and vowed never to touch them again…but the concept is great and if you will give this recipe a chance, you will have your faith restored, at least in HOMEMADE Mozzarella Cheese Sticks.

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • 1 cup of bread crumbs
  • 3 teaspoons of Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 dozen cheese sticks, four inches by 1/2 inch
  • 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon of melted butter

Beat eggs with water in a small bowl.  Put next four ingredients in a large zip-lock bag…Roll cheese sticks in flour, dip in egg wash, then in bread crumb mixture.  Repeat with egg wash and bread crumbs and place on a baking sheet to chill for at least four hours.  When ready to cook, bake in a 400 degree oven for about 8 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.  Any Italian red sauce will be a delicious dip for the cheese sticks.

Silver Queen Corn and Bacon Dip


What a great time to try out this creamy corn and bacon dip!  Silver Queen and other varieties of tender, succulent, early June corn make it a very toothsome experience…or if it is the dead of winter, feel free to utilize frozen creamed corn or well-drained canned niblets.

  • 8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
  • 8 ounces of sour cream
  • 1/2 cup of homemade mayonnaise
  • 3 large green onions, sliced thinly
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups of corn, freshly grated off the cob
  • 1/4 stick of butter
  • 1 dozen strips of smoked bacon, cooked and crumbled

Combine first three ingredients in a mixing bowl and set aside.  In a microwave-proof pan, combine onions, garlic, pepper, corn, and butter.  Cover and microwave on high for three minutes.  Stir in cream cheese mixture, add bacon, and microwave for two minutes.  Remove and mix well.  Cover and cook for an additional minute or two until heated through.  Great with corn chips!

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