Tag Archives: dinner

Stuffed Mussels with Serrano Ham, Spinach, & Garlic Aioli



It usually takes me a week or so after Thanksgiving passes (an intermission), before I am ready to start hearing Christmas music on the radio, and get into the spirit of the season. I need the time to transition from pumpkins to holly.

I can’t just jump right in. What I can do though, is start thinking about what I want to cook during the holiday season. Menu planning is something that comes naturally for me, and it’s the getting together with family and friends over food and wine part of the season that really gets me excited about celebrating, so today I will share a recipe that I recently served as part of one of my cooking class menus. The ingredients have some Spanish influence, making them a nice addition to a tapas menu, but they also have that special holiday feel to them so sharing some of these with friends would be a very good idea.

The mussels are steamed in a wine broth,  then pulled from their shells, chopped and added to the rest of the filling ingredients: sauteed serrano ham, spinach, and béchamel sauce. Some prep work on the front end, yes. But you are able to assemble the stuffed mussels and refrigerate up to one day ahead before they are topped with garlic aioli and popped under the broiler until golden brown and bubbly.

Even the people in cooking class who thought they didn’t like mussels fell in love with these.

So as you think about inviting friends over to share a glass of wine during the weeks ahead,  I hope you will consider making these go along with your holiday cheer.

Stuffed Mussels with Serrano Ham, Spinach, & Garlic Aioli
Serves: 6
  • Aioli:
  • 10 whole cloves garlic, peeled
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup mayonaise
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • Mussels:
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • 1 small yellow onion, minced
  • 6 sprigs flat leaf parsley
  • Pinch of dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 36 mussels (3 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons minced ham (serrano, prosciutto, or black forest)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup milk
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper
  1. For Aioli: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place garlic cloves in a very small baking dish. Cover garlic with oil (add enough to completely cover garlic), cover dish with foil, and bake until garlic is soft, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove garlic cloves with a slotted spoon and transfer to a dish to cool. Place cooled garlic, mayonnaise, and vinegar in the base of a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Reserve.
  2. For mussels: Bring the white wine, half of the onion, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, and mussels to a boil in a large covered saucepan over high heat. Once mussels have been cooking 3 minutes, check to see if they have begun to open. Remove the mussels with a slotted spoon as they open and transfer to a platter. Cool the mussels. Reduce the cooking liquid down to 2 tablespoons. Strain and reserve the liquid. Remove the mussels from their shells and save ⅔ of their shells. Separate each of the reserved shells into 2 halves. Chop the mussels coarsely and place in a large bowl.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan. Cook the remaining onion until soft, 7 minutes. Add the spinach and ham to pan with onions, stirring until spinach has wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove mixture from pan and add to bowl with chopped mussels.
  4. Preheat the broiler. Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium low heat. Add the flour and cook; stirring 2 minutes. Add the milk and reserved cooking liquid and cook until smooth and very thick. Add to the mussels and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Stuff the shells with the mussel mixture. Spread the aioli on top of the mussels and place on a baking sheet. Broil until golden, 10-20 seconds. Serve immediately.
  6. servings


Turkey Roulade with Fennel, Sausage, Dried Cherries & Chanterelle Marsala Sauce Recipe

Did you notice that the very next day after Halloween the advertising world took a giant leap into Christmas? Door busters,  one- day sales, special can’t miss offers….really? Already? Do we really need to hurry up and buy those perfect gifts for everyone on our shopping list?

I love the Christmas season, don’t get me wrong, and there may only be 50 days until Christmas, but guess how many until Thanksgiving? 20!

Christmas, you will have to wait a little while for me to get into the spirit, right now I am still enjoying everything I love about fall.

The turning of the leaves, the cozy feeling of my Uggs on my feet on a crisp chilly night, and the approach of the season when we welcome friends and family into our homes to celebrate all we are thankful for.

Sorry advertisers, I’m not ready to hear Christmas music, I’d rather think about turkey.

What are you doing for Thanksgiving at your house? Do you take the traditional route? Or do you try mixing in new recipes each year?

I kind of do a little bit of both. This year, I think we will cook one turkey on our Big Green Egg (for the traditional carving of the whole turkey pic) and I am thinking of making this too: Turkey Roulade (stuffed with sauteed fennel, shallots, dried cranberries, and sausage) & Chanterelle Marsala Sauce. I made this for dinner the other night and my family agreed this one goes into the make again and again category.

You can prepare the filling and stuff the turkey breast one day ahead and keep in the fridge until you are ready to pop in the oven, which is exactly what I did after a busy day. Great as a weeknight dinner, elegant enough for dinner party fare, and would make a nice alternative to cooking a whole turkey on Thanksgiving.

Hungry yet? Here’s the recipe:

Turkey Roulade with Fennel, Sausage, Dried Cherries, and Chanterelle Marsala Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons minced shallots

1 small fennel bulb, finely chopped (should have 1 cup)

3/4 pound mild Italian sausage (removed from casing, crumbled)

1/2 cup dried cherries

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 cup toasted bread crumbs (from a few slices of French bread)

One 3-pound boneless, skinless turkey breast

Olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

3/4 cup chicken broth

Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add shallots, fennel, and sausage and cook; stirring frequently, until vegetables have softened, and sausage has browned, about 5-7 minutes. Add dried cherries, chicken broth, salt, and pepper; simmer 2 minutes.

Transfer mixture to a large bowl; add toasted bread crumbs and toss well to combine and absorb liquid.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butterfly the breast and lay flat open, pounding with a meat mallet to create even thickness throughout. You should have somewhat of a rectangular shape. Spread the filling over the butterflied turkey breast, leaving a 1/2 -inch border on all sides. Roll up tightly and secure with butcher’s twine in 1 1/2-inch intervals.

Combine thyme leaves, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Drizzle turkey roulade with olive oil and sprinkle the spice mixture evenly over all sides of roast.

Place in a small roasting pan and roast, basting with chicken broth every 15 minutes or so, and until the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees. Rest 10 minutes before slicing into 1-inch slices. Serve with Chanterelle Marsala Sauce (recipe follows)

6 servings

Chanterelle Marsala Sauce

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound fresh chanterelle mushrooms, brushed clean, end trimmed

2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/3 cup marsala

1/3 cup chicken broth

1 cup heavy cream

Heat a large skillet over high heat until hot. Add the olive oil, mushrooms, and shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are golden brown (about 7 minutes). Reduce the heat to medium high and add the shallots, garlic, salt, and pepper; cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute more. Add the marsala and simmer until mixture is reduced by half. Add the stock and cream and simmer until thickened, 3-4 minutes more.  Adjust seasoning.


Pan Seared Black Grouper with Meyer Lemon Mojo Sauce

Just a short time ago, trying to find a Meyer lemon in Richmond would be pretty tricky, if not impossible.

Thankfully times have changed around here, and you can even find them at our local Costco, who sells them in bulk, at a very attractive price, making them irresistible to me as I walk through the produce section of the store.

Also irresistible to me, is the complex flavor and aromatic hints of sweet lime, lemon and mandarin you find in a Meyer lemon; truly a unique flavor.

When they are in season (November through late March/early April), I grab them up and make all kinds of things: preserved Meyer lemons, Meyer lemon vinaigrette, Meyer lemon dust as used in this house favorite Pan Seared Scallops with Meyer Lemon Dust and Chipotle Beurre Blanc .

This year, in addition to my past Meyer lemon recipes, I came across a recipe for a Meyer Lemon Drop Martini from @BunkyCooks, that is really fantastic.

I also got to thinking about using the Meyer lemons in a Cuban mojo sauce, which turned out to be a really good idea.

Begin by assembling your ingredients. You’ll want them all ready to go when it’s time to put the mojo sauce together.

Garlic is gently cooked in olive oil until just golden brown. Then you add the remaining sauce ingredients, including a little soy sauce. (I like the umami flavor the soy brings to the sauce.) Bring the sauce to a boil and finish with fresh cilantro.

I like to use the mojo  within a few hours of making to truly enjoy the fresh flavors as a sauce.   As a marinade, the mojo will keep in the fridge for about 4 days and makes an excellent grilling marinade for poultry and shrimp.

I used the Meyer lemon mojo with some really beautiful black grouper that I picked up from my favorite local fish shop Yellow Umbrella Seafood. The mild and delicate flavor of of group is similar to what you would find in halibut or sea bass, which would make good substitutes for this dish if black grouper were unavailable.

After pan searing the black grouper, I finished it in the oven. I drizzled some of the freshly made Meyer lemon mojo over the top of the fish. The mojo was really nicely balanced and added a wonderful accent to the fresh fish, without being too heavy or overpowering.

So if you have any Meyer lemons at home and are wondering what to do with them, I hope you will give this one a try. We enjoyed the bright, citrusy flavors in this light entree, and hope you will too.

Pan Seared Black Grouper with Meyer Lemon Mojo Sauce

Meyer Lemon Mojo Sauce:

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic

Juice of 1 grapefruit

Juice of 2 oranges

Zest and juice of 3 Meyer lemons

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons ground cumin

3/4 cup chopped cilantro

Make the mojo:

Heat olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add garlic, and cook until garlic begins to turn golden brown. Add grapefruit juice and next 5 ingredients to pan (be careful, mixture may splatter); increase heat to medium high; bring to boil. When mixture comes to a boil, turn off heat and stir in cilantro.

Makes 2 cups

4 6-ounce black grouper (other other firm white fish) fillets, skinned

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Season the fillets with the salt and pepper. In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over a high flame, not quite to smoking point. Add in the butter, then quickly, just as the butter begins to melt and bubble,  place the fillets in the hot oil. Allow the fish to brown well before turning it over, about 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the fillets and brown the other side. Once the fish is browned, place the pan in the oven to finish cooking,  about 3 to 4 more minutes.

Transfer fish to plates and drizzle with Meyer Lemon Mojo Sauce.

4 servings