Greetings, Mystic Meows!
Just stopping by to drop off a few pics and write a bit about these epic mussels that I made using my own brand of Mystic Seasonings spice blends in the Sicilian Magick flavor! It’s a wonderful medley of toasted fennel seed, sun-dried tomatoes, orange peel, basil, thyme, oregano, onion, roasted garlic, and a few other herbs and aromatics! I wanted to create a blend that would literally knock that drab old Italian Seasoning off the shelf! But I was inspired to create this dish in honor of a very special Chef and meow who inspired a legion of people to travel the world in search of the flavors and experiences that only hurling ourselves into the parts unknown can bring.
I found some gorgeous looking mussels at the market and couldn’t resist buying them. Mussels are indeed an acquired taste for some, but I absolutely love them! They remind me of Summer on the East Coast and fond memories of going to City Island in The Bronx or up to Cape Cod to enjoy the Atlantic Ocean and it’s bounty from the sea! Yeah, I know… I’m waxing poetic a bit, but the purchase of these mussels also reminded me of the very first time I dined at a little place in NYC where one Mr. Anthony Bourdain used to helm the ship… Brasserie Le Halles. Bourdain had long since departed from his tenure there by the time I went, but nevertheless, the experience was still epic and legendary. It was a gang of us that dined together, and it was an endless onslaught of food that was beyond delicious. We ordered some mussels off of the menu not realizing that they were going to be served in the most massive of portions in these large, domed silver bowls. Now, to be fair, you do need a rather large amount of mussels to feed a crowd, but for one or two people, I’d say a pound and a half is a decent portion to start with. Especially if you’re serving them with toasted bread, like I did which I HIGHLY recommend to soak up all of the yummy sauce that the mussels are bathed in. What I remember most about the Le Halles Mussel dish was the flavor explosion from the sauce the little buggers were cooked in. White wine, onion, tomatoes, garlic, herbs, and the most delicious andouille sausages!!!
To replicate the dish, I used a pound of mussels, which you can also find pre cooked and frozen at a decent supermarket to make things quicker and easier, and one of my favorite white wines, a rather yummy Sauvignon Blanc by a brand called Oyster Bay. I diced one andouille sausage into bite sized pieces, 1 small onion into slices, two cloves of minced garlic, and sautéed them in a mixture of butter and olive oil until the onions just barely started to caramelize. I added in 1 fresh diced tomato, a tablespoon of tomato paste, a heaping spoon of Rao’s Marinara, and 2 Tbls. of the Mystic Seasonings Sicilian Magick. You’d think I would use the Magick Bayou and take this to more of a cajun flavored place with that andouille, but the combination of the orange and fennel mixed in with the rest of those flavors just created something magickal that really captured that Le Halles experience I was looking for. I added in the mussels and deglazed the pan with about 3/4 cup of the white wine, covered them and let them simmer until all of the mussels opened, removing any of the ones that didn’t open, of course. I let the sauce reduce just a bit to give it some body, adjusted the seasonings, and let them rest while I made some thick slices of pan toasted Italian bread using butter that was mixed with more of the Sicilian Magick to reinforce the flavor, along with more olive oil. I went with pan toasting cause I was feeling fancy… 😜 But seriously I went that route because I wanted the bread to be crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy in the middle to add some texture and crunch to each bite so it could stand up to all of that tasty as hell sauce we just made. Right before serving I sprinkled some fresh chopped parsley and basil to the mussels, tossed lightly and served in a nice deep dish with plenty of bread and a glass of that Sauvignon Blanc. Chefs kiss!
Anthony Bourdain’s legacy and contributions to the culinary world… Well. There just aren’t enough words, are there? He was a rock star. A living legend. A culinary Jedi who blew the refrigerator doors off of the industry by telling it like it T I IS! He shook things up and kept it real and 100% raw and authentic. And that’s how cooking should be. Authentic. No matter what it is you decide to make. Cook from your heart and make the foods you want to eat. And share them with the meows that mean something to you! This mussel dish really was an enlightening moment for me. Perhaps it was being in the same place that Bourdain had once been in, touching the same walls, and eating a signature recipe that was still being served long after he’d moved on. But there are certain meals that we have that become a part of the flavor memories of ones life, and this is one of them for me. So it’s my ode to Chef Bourdain, Les Halles, and my beloved New York City, with the added twist of using my own brand of spices to enhance the nuances of a dish that will always evoke memories of a certain time and place with beloved friends. I hope you meows try your hand at making this dish and enjoy them on a sunny afternoon or a warm summer night. Until we eat again, dear meows… Bone Appetite 😜 and Happy Cooking!
Cheers, hugs, and meows,
Xo Nikki 🖤✨🔮😻
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