csi amsterdam.

We generally eat pretty well around here. But, gross photography notwithstanding, the last two days have included a couple of the best meals we've made in a long time (luckily there was an external witness that can verify this). Of course: we didn't write down anything we did, so what follows here is strictly a dramatization.

Mara wanted something along the lines of "those red chile mussels you made that one time". Scouring my memory banks revealed that this was based on a Mark Miller recipe for clams, my major modification being the addition of a significant quantity of butter and hard cider. I've tried reducing the butter and it's just not as good, which is probably not shocking news.


mussels in chipotle-orange broth.

2 kg mussels
1 liter water or vegetable broth
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup Strongbow or other British cider, or French cidre
zest from 1 orange, minced
100gr butter
6 shallots, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 chipotle chiles, pureed
3 tbsp new mexican chile puree
1 can tomatoes, crushed
1 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

In general, the goal is to get your broth tasting heavenly via 30 minutes or so of reduction, and then add the mussels.

Specifically, ehm...you can start out by sauteeing the shallot and then the garlic in some of the butter, etc. But basically yeah just combine everything but the mussels and the fresh herbs in a big big pot and simmer for 30 minutes or so. Salt to taste, a little bit on the undersalted side, then add mussels and herbs. Cover the pot and simmer for 8-12 minutes or so. Serve with bread and butter.


squash ravioli in brown butter and sage.
mozzarella and parmesan ravioli with tomato-basil sauce.


Then, the next night. We still had squash leftover from Sunday's lameness, and since we've made squash ravioli quite a few times in the past, and Mara felt like she needed some Dough Therapy, yis: homemade pasta. It's really a perfect activity for a gunmetal-gray winter day where the temperature is hovering just above freezing, there's a serious drizzle outside, and essentially no motivation whatsoever for you to leave your cosy apartment.

In the past we've always made our squash ravioli with some amaretti cookies crumbled into the filling, but this time Miss M lobbied for an "unsweet" filling. So this is just roasted squash (roasted for an hour at 175C cut side down in a 1/2 inch of water), Parmesan, salt and pepper I think. 

Since the filling is so simple, your brown butter sauce needs to be pretty rocking, and this was pretty perfect if I don't mind saying so myself. Basically take 10 fresh, plump sage leaves and a stick of butter and put on medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes. CRITICAL DETAIL: Watch your sauce very closely after the first 5 minutes, and keep scraping the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon so you can see how brown your solids are getting.

cook eat FRET has an excellent description of how to brown butter here. A notable difference is that I leave my sage leaves in for the whole browning process, resulting in crispy fried sage leaves at the end and a distinctly sage-y butter (but mellowed by having been cooked).



cook eat FRET said...

hiya - may i just add that re: the squash raviolis with br butter and sage? next time grate a fine coating of a very good 70% chocolate on top.


i blogged about it awhile back when no one was reading me and i should mention it again. it is crazy good.

MEM said...

hey there...thanks for stopping by...

yes, in fact, while looking for filling porportions i saw a michael chiarello recipe that suggested this as well.

and i could see trying it next time for sure...but we had a special request this time for a "non-sweet" squash ravioli. and these were pretty perfect (the photo doesn't really do justice to their wonderfulness)...

Klary Koopmans said...

another great addition (either in the filling or grated on top: nutmeg.

MEM said...

I think our old recipe normally had nutmeg in it as well...this time we put a little nutmeg in the ricotta/mozzarella ones instead...also supremely delicious. It's easy to forget just how light and superdelicious freshly-made pasta is.