Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Highs and lows

I blogged Friday about how I was going to make a special dinner at home for me and the mister. We started off the meal with some yummy La Farm bread, asiago fresco cheese and a variety of olives. Delicious!

Then, on to the main course - my Mussels South of the Border. The end

What was NOT shown in this picture was how horribly inedible they were. I had never made mussels before - so I did my time researching ahead of time how to clean, store and cook them properly. I was ready to roll. I stopped by Whole Foods Friday, and whadayaknow... they had no fresh
mussels in stock... only frozen. However, the seafood counter guy walked me over to the frozen mussels, handed me a box and told me that they'd defrost in 20 minutes easy when sitting in a bowl of ice water. (Works for shrimp, so I figured why not.)

I get home, open the box to defrost my mussels... and I find out they're on the half-shell. How the heck will I be able to tell if they're cooked properly if I can't gauge it by when the shell opens. However, I read the back of the box and it suggests 5 minutes for thawed mussels, 7-8 minutes for f
rozen. I wait for nearly 45 minutes and my mussels STILL have ice on some of them. Some are thawed, but many are not. At this point, I'm certain this is going to be an epic failure. But I proceed with making my stock (which by the way, was delicious), and throw in my half-thawed mussels... and proceed to check on them every few mussels. After 6 minutes, there is still ice on the mussels and my cooking liquid has completely stopped simmering. I crank up the heat a bit, say a quick prayer, and give them a couple additional minutes.

The mussels are still barely warm to the touch, but I was scared to cook them even longer -so I pulled the pot off the stove. The pot smelled delicious - so I was hopeful. Unfortunately the mussels, like I figured, had at some point gone from raw to complete rubber. So Chad and I pulled all the mussels out of the pot and straight into the trash. So then we gorged ourselves on olives, cheese, and bread dipped in the cooking stock - which was very yummy... it had a lot of the mussel flavor (just no mussels.)

Oh well. I'm sure I would have been able to make them just fine if they weren't frozen/on a half-shell... so I might attempt again at a later date.

Soooooo... after that disaster, I was scared to attempt another new recipe... ch
icken and dumplings ---- from scratch. I was planning on making a big pot to take over to our friends Jerod and Angela who recently had baby Jacob (that I also blogged about last week.) It's one thing to try a new recipe out on yourself... it's another to be banking on serving it to a friend. Chad ALMOST convinced me to chicken out and just make chicken pastry using pre-made frozen pastry. But Sunday morning I woke up with a new resolve - I wasn't going to let a frozen mussel massacre bring me down.

So Sunday night/Monday morning I tackled chicken and dumplings. It was quite time consuming... and I was worried how my homemade dumplings would fare. I didn't want them t
o taste pasty or dry. The recipe I used also didn't mention how big to make the dumplings... but Chad mentioned he hates big ol' dumplings, so I made mine a little smaller than a ping-pong ball.

Here they are --- the cute little dumplings... with a little thyme an
d parsley. Ready for their bath!

The delicious stock - full of chicken (I forced myself to leave the dark meat in... though I don't usually like it, I know the fattiness was needed), onions, carrots, celery and fresh herbs.

The final product:
And if I do say so myself- it was ahhhhhhmazzzzzzzzzinggggggggg. Comfort food at it's finest. I dropped a small bowl off at my mama's (because what girl doesn't want her mama's approval on her cooking --- especially when said mom is an amazing cook) for her to bring for lunch today. She actually just got on gchat to tell me that she's adding it to her list of "the best things I ever ate." I'll take it! ;)

So don't let a bad turn at the stove get you down, dear readers... a masterpiece might be right around the corner!


  1. The chicken & dumplings look amazing! Definitely a comfort food. I've only had it once or twice, but I crave it way more often!

  2. Now I know who to call when I am sicky this winter...