“Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.”
~ Guillaume Apollinaire

Ever have one of those leisurely weekends that almost feels like a vacation? They don't come around often but when they do, they sure are great aren't they? Sans kidlets this weekend, Mr. S. and I settled in at the cottage and "staycationed." We attended a Christmas party on Friday night at a friends' home (cider spiked with homemade spiced bourbon...yum!) but for the most part we just relaxed and enjoyed each other's company. We dined out, did a little shopping and caught a flick. (If you haven't caught Clooney's latest, "The Descendants"- I highly recommend it. It's excellent.) Saturday night however, we decided to cook dinner together. Since Mr. S. had never really had mussels before, I was antsy for him to try moules marinières (drool...). He debearded the lil bivalves while I scrubbed, pretty soon we had a nice little pile ready to be steamed. Now I could have went old school and just steamed them with wine and garlic but I went just a wee bit fancier by also adding some butter and a few spices. We sopped up the broth though simply with some crusty French bread...mmmm, perfect...and only one pot dirtied, gotta love that! ;)

Moules Marinières


• 3 shallots, thinly sliced or chopped

• 4-5 large garlic cloves, minced

• olive oil

• 2 pounds mussels, debearded & well scrubbed

• 1 cup dry white wine

• 6 T unsalted butter

• 1 tsp salt

• 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

• 1 T fresh parsley, roughly chopped

• 1/2 tsp thyme

• 1 tsp lemon zest

• Pinch dried red pepper flakes

• Splash of cream (optional)

• French bread or baguette


- Wash the mussels under cold running water. Discard any shells that don't close upon pressure or that are broken or cracked.

- Pull off the beards. Using a knife, scrape off the barnacles from the shells. Use a scrubber and give the shell a good brush off. Rinse.

- Heat a large pan/pot over medium heat. Coat the bottom with olive oil and butter. When it starts to shimmer, add the shallots. Sauté until they soften and become translucent. Then add the garlic. Sauté for another minute.

- Add the mussels, white wine, thyme, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and lemon zest. Cover and wait until the mussels open up- about 3 to 5 minutes. (Do not overcook or the mussels will become rubbery.) Give the pan one shake.

- Remove the mussels from the pot with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. (Discard any mussels that did not open.)

- Add a splash of cream (optional) to the broth .

- Carefully ladle the broth over the mussels. Garnish with parsley.

- Serve with crusty bread for dipping and a bowl for the empties.

** Fresh mussels can be stored in the fridge in a colander with a bowl underneath (out of the bag), covered with a damp cloth, for 1-2 days. Do not store them submerged in water or they'll drown. They need to breathe...because they're aaaaaa-live!
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