Archive for the 'seafood' Category

Grilled Mussels with Garlic, Butter and Lemon

Grilled mussels 1

Guys! I’m sitting in the airport waiting to board a plane to Italy. ITALY! While I have been traveling a lot lately, I haven’t been to Europe since I was 15 and went one summer with my parents and sisters, at which time my only goals were to 1) get a tan, 2) seek out United Colours of Benetton stores in order to source an authentic green and white rugby shirt, and 3) flirt with cute Italian boys on scooters. (Mission accomplished.) I’m ecstatic and nervous, loaded down with work and reading material and snacks for the 9 1/2 hour flight to Frankfurt, and I can’t wait to find out if the pizzas and pastas taste as ethereal as they did to my 15 year old self.

Most of my packing time was spent packing up the kitchen, because while I spend my time sitting in Italian trattorias and visiting producers of pasta, balsamic vinegar, Parmesan and ham, Mike’s to-do list includes tearing out the kitchen. The timing was fortuitous – I’m sure I’d be almost as weepy pulling out my old counters as I was kissing W goodbye outside the airport. (Almost.)

grilled mussels Collage

While my parents had long since designed and built their own house by the time they were my age, we’ve never been big on home renos. Maybe you can tell? The process has been far longer than I anticipated – even the figuring out of what we want, what needs doing, and who needs to do it. I keep running into people who excitedly ask is my kitchen done yet?? And it’s not, but it’s on its way – I figure being without a kitchen is as good motivation as any to get moving on a new one, no? And as soon as I get back from Italy (squee!) it is ON.

(I’m also doing renos here, still. For real. I know.)

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My guess is we’re going to rely heavily on the barbecue – the timing is better than that year my parents did kitchen renos in the middle of winter – and really, it’s kind of like having an oven and stovetop outside anyway. I haven’t yet attempted a pot of oatmeal on it, but I did recently discover the joy of a batch of mussels cooked in their shells directly on the grill. Toss them on, close the lid, and in five minutes you have perfectly cooked mussels, ready to toss in garlicky butter. If you toss some lemon wedges or halves on the grill too, they’ll release more of their juice more easily over your warm mussels. If you’re a fan, there are few things better to eat on the patio in flip-flops, with cold beer or Prosecco, crusty bread and a few of your favourite people. Who needs a kitchen?

Grilled Mussels with Garlic, Butter & Lemon

1 lb fresh mussels
lemon wedges or halves
olive oil, for cooking
1/4 cup butter
1 garlic clove, peeled
fresh parsley, for garnish

While you preheat your grill to medium-high, rinse your mussels, discarding any that are already open. Cut the lemons in thick wedges or in half crosswise and brush the cut sides with oil.

Scatter the mussels directly on the grill along with the lemons, cut-side down. Close the lid of the grill and cook for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the butter and garlic clove in a small saucepan or in a bowl in the microwave until the butter melts.

Remove the mussels from the grill – they should all be open; discard any that don’t. Transfer to a bowl and drizzle with the garlicky butter; toss to coat. (Alternatively, drizzle with olive oil.) Transfer to shallow bowls, scatter with parsley and serve with crusty bread and grilled lemon.

Serves 4.

(Note: I recently ran this recipe in a grilling story in the Calgary Herald – but it’s really more of a method, and people were so happy to hear they could grill fresh mussels that I thought I’d share it here, too!)

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June 07 2014 | on the grill and seafood | 14 Comments »

Shrimp & Grits with a Fried Egg

Shrimp & Grits 2

I came back home from Miami with a pound of grits in my bag, just because I could.

Shrimp & Grits 1

Grits are popular in the southern states – they’re made of cornmeal, simmered until thick, just like cream of wheat. (Did you love cream of wheat as a kid? I still do. I rarely have it, in order to preserve that taste of nostalgia.) You can simmer your grits with milk to make it creamier, and add soft roasted garlic or minced jalapenos to spice it up, or a big handful of grated aged cheddar in this case, to provide a bed for buttery, spicy shrimp.


I always forget how quickly I can cook up a pan of shrimp – with butter, garlic and a shake of dry barbecue rub, they’re done in under three minutes. How much faster can food get? And while I have a pan buttery and hot, it’s too tempting to crack in an egg to catch those flavourful bits. More drippy yolk for those cheesy grits to catch.

Shrimp & Grits 3

Shrimp & Grits with a Fried Egg

2 cups water
1 cup milk
3/4 cup grits
pinch salt
1 cup grated aged Gouda or white cheddar
2 Tbsp. butter
salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 lb. raw, peeled, tail-on shrimp
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 Tbsp. dry barbecue rub (optional)

fresh Italian parsley, torn or chopped
eggs, for frying (optional)

In a medium saucepan, bring the water and milk to a simmer. Slowly whisk in the grits and add the salt; cook, whisking often over medium heat, for 5-10 minutes, or until thickened to the consistency of cream of wheat. Stir in the grated cheese and butter and season with salt and pepper.

Set a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat and add the butter and oil. When the foam subsides, add the garlic and cook for a minute, then add the shrimp and sprinkle with barbecue rub. Cook, turning the shrimp as you need to, moving them around the pan, just until they turn opaque. Divvy the grits between shallow bowls and top them with shrimp. If you like, crack some eggs into the pan (as many as people you’re feeding) and cook them sunny side up or over easy in the spicy butter in the pan. Place them alongside the shrimp and dribble any butter left in the pan overtop. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.

Serves 4-6.

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May 21 2014 | grains and one dish and seafood | 51 Comments »

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