I was thinking on Monday about what I should make for Sunday dinner. Then, Dad reminded me that Sunday was the Oscars. So, I began to think what the Oscars mean to me, ultimately it's a plate of nachos and a bag of pretzels (and maybe a salad) while sitting in front of the family TV in our living room. Almost snack food. I thought for a moment before remembering the term Le Cordon Bleu grads use for "snack food." So, I found the hors d'eouvres sections of our half-a-million cookbooks, I settled on a mussels and serrano ham recipe from Gourmet's new cookbook and my signature salad with viniagrette and garlic bread combo. So as mom turns on the Oscars, I will begin a lesson on bearding, scrubbing, and cooking mussels, dry cooking them at that.
Wow. De-bearding mussels isn't all that easy. You have to yank their beard in such a way as not to pull them against the sides of their shells and kill them yet also yank out some infamously tough micro fibers. The whole process is like a physics lesson! In addition to that you have to watch out for cracked, broken and open ones because really, really. nobody wants a bad mussel. They are now on the stove dry cooking.
Once again I am wowed. After cooking up a whirlwind, I realized I was chopping cilantro, not parsley, for the mussel's dressing! Then I was so busy adding the garlic butter to the garlic bread and stuffing the mussel's half-shell that making the apple-carrot salad was 100% up to dad. This combination of dishes was extremely complicated to make and took a lot of concentration on a night when I'd rather be watching the Academy Awards.
In the end however all the hard work and concentration paid off to create an amazing meal. Especially considering that the main ingredient of the main course was something that neither I nor my sous chef had ever worked with, mussels. It was hard work but in the end it all came down to one word. Yum.