I spent my Labor Day weekend this year at my parents’ new house – townhouse, specifically (four months ago they downsized from the house I spent my last two high school years in). Like every other stay with my folks, the days were crammed with too many tasks and places to go, but we always take time to enjoy three delicious meals and a cocktail hour. And coffee – loads and loads of coffee! But that addiction is a story for another time.
But back to the food: let’s just say I never leave home hungry. It’s not even that the meals themselves are both comforting and exciting, but there is simply a plethora of food in the pantry, on the counter, in the fruit basket…. It’s actually a family “joke” that the first thing my sister does when she comes home for Christmas is check out what’s new in the pantry! Needless to say, my stomach looks forward to the family cooking; I swear it rumbles in anticipation when my car approaches a 10-mile radius of the place.
This weekend the star was paella – try #2 of a mostly successful recipe I made for the Spanish-themed girls’ cooking night I hosted two weeks ago. That dish was spectacular – thanks to the best chorizo I’ve ever eaten and succulent clams, mussels, haddock, shrimp, and scallops – and the double bonus was the extra clams and mussels that didn’t fit into the paella pan. So, the next night we steamed them as hors d’oeuvres during cocktail hour. I’d never steamed any shellfish before, but my dad has – and since he is The True Chef Of The Family, I trusted his skills. The simple dish he put together was so delicious, it even turned me into a fan of mussels! It was gently flavored with garlic, scallions, and of course butter. The freshness of the seafood shined through perfectly. Honestly, I would have been happy to eat another bowl – or two – for dinner and leave the meal at that. Thanks, dad!
Steamed mussels and clams
- 1 dozen each clams and mussels, scrubbed and allowed to sit in salted or floured water for 15 minutes a few times
- 2 scallions, sliced
- 1 large or two small cloves garlic, sliced or roughly chopped
- 1 Tbsp butter, or more if you like
Melt the butter in a medium or large pot. Sauté the garlic and scallions until soft, about 2-3 minutes. Add about 1/2 cup water and raise heat to medium-high. Add the shellfish, cover the pot, and let the little guys steam for 12-15 minutes. Be sure not to open the lid during the cooking process, or they won’t open!! Remove the shellfish with tongs or a slotted spoon, trying to catch the scallions and garlic, too. We served ours with a little melted butter for dipping, but that was largely superfluous (although delicious!). Enjoy, either way you serve them.