Cook in the Moment: Mussels with Tomato-Saffron Broth

Saffron and mussels are old friends. Traditionally this combo is found in Bouillabaisse, a Provencal seafood stew. For today’s recipe I wanted to keep things simple and quick- just stick with mussels. I love cooking mussels for the briny, savory broth these mollusks release. Often you’ll come across mussels served with linguine or frites, but I’m a big fan of boiled potatoes for soaking up broth. At the Boulder Farmers Market I picked up little new potatoes and plump grape tomatoes. Mussels with Tomato-Saffron Broth served over boiled new potatoes is a comforting and satisfying meal. Keeping things simple is a great way to experiment with adding saffron to the mix. Use a frugal hand when sprinkling in the brick red threads- too much saffron will leave a bitter taste in your mouth, seriously. I started with 10 strands saffron. After stirring and tasting the broth I carefully added 5 more strands. Seek balance- you don’t want to taste saffron. Your seasonings should be in harmony so no one spice stands out. The goal is an intriguing broth with a subtle heat. Give this dish a try and you’ll see what I mean.

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10 Ways Tuesday: Saffron

Saffron (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

I’ve come up with 10 ways to use saffron in your summer pantry:

1.  The Simplest Way is the Best

Lidia Bastianich shares a simple recipe for Saffron Infused Olive Oil tossed with pasta in Lidia Cooks From the Heart of Italy. The saffron threads are toasted, ground into a powder, and stirred into the olive oil. This is a great way to appreciate the flavor of saffron on its own. Risotto Milanese is another classic way to enjoy the flavor of saffron. According to Elizabeth David’s book, Italian Food, the original Risotto Milanese is made by flavoring chicken broth with saffron and using this base to cook the arborio (risotto rice). At the end of cooking, butter and Parmesan are stirred in. Simple but oh so delicious.

2.  Saffron & Vegetables

In A Platter of Figs, David Tanis writes, “It’s amazing how a little saffron and garlic can transform ordinary carrots into something sublime.” He suggests sautéing carrot coins with butter , chopped garlic, and crumbled saffron then adding a bit of water as well as lemon zest and simmering the carrots until tender. Experiment using saffron with summer squash and zucchini.

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Ingredient Of The Week : Saffron

This week at La Domestique we’re exploring the exotic spice, saffron. Check out the video above, announcing saffron as the ingredient of the week. Here in the U.S., it seems many of us are intimidated to cook with spices we’re unfamiliar with. It’s time to try something new and get to know saffron. I invite you to cook in the moment with me, at LaDomestique.com!

Do you cook with saffron? Tell me about it in the comments section. Click here.

 

This Past Week at La Domestique: Couscous

Couscous (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

Last week at La Domestique was all about couscous! Perfect for summer, couscous cooks in less than 10 minutes and readily absorbs vinaigrette for salads and savory pan juices of meats. I hope couscous week inspires you to wake up your palate with exotic north African flavors and try something new.

Just in case you missed anything, I’ve got a recap for you!

  • Monday:  Announcing couscous as the ingredient of the week on our videocast.
  • Tuesday:  10 Ways Tuesday! Creative ideas for cooking with couscous during summer.
  • Wednesday:  Cook in the moment with a simple weeknight couscous supper. Also learn about preserved lemons, a Moroccan staple.
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Summer Couscous with Chicken & Apricots

Happy Friday! I’m so excited to share this Moroccan inspired summer couscous recipe with you! When I set out to develop a couscous recipe I wanted something summery and light but still satisfying. Many of the Middle Eastern braised meat recipes I came across used lamb and seemed too filling and spicy- more suited to autumn and winter. Morocco is famous for dishes that are more delicate and floral in aroma, unlike fiery Tunisian cuisine. The flavors of my Summer Couscous with Chicken & Apricots are sweet, floral, and fruity. I decided to use chicken thighs because they aren’t as heavy as lamb or beef, but still provide a savory sauce for the couscous. While wandering through the Boulder Farmers Market, the apricots at Morton’s Orchard stand caught my eye. The season for stone fruits is just really getting going here in Colorado, and I can’t resist the allure of blushing pink apricots. I add the apricots at the end of the cooking so they don’t break down into mush. The apricots only need be warmed through, still juicy and firm when the meal is served. I also picked up some Cinnamon Cap mushrooms from the Hazel Dell farmstand. It was their rusty yellow/brown color and shape that inspired me. You could substitute any sturdy mushroom for the cinnamon caps in this recipe.

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