The smoked tuna dip and mussels were new recipes and both were great. Here’s a couple Xmas Eve photos and recipe for the mussels – great because you can make them totally ahead, pop them under the broiler when ready to serve and they’re super tasty.
Mussels Stuffed with Spinach and Parmesan
Fine Cooking Issue 14
1 cup dry white wine
4 Tbs. finely chopped shallots
1 tsp. cracked black pepper
4 sprigs parsley
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme (omit if fresh isn’t available)
28 medium mussels (about 2 lb.), sorted and cleaned
for the stuffing:
2 Tbs. butter or olive oil
2 cups lightly packed, washed, stemmed, and chopped fresh spinach
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 Tbs. chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Combine the wine, 2 Tbs. of the shallots, pepper, parsley sprigs, bay leaf, and thyme in a pot (with a lid) large enough to accommodate the mussels when their shells have opened. Bring to a boil, add the mussels, cover, and steam until just opened, 2 to 3 minutes. Try not to steam the mussels longer than necessary, because they’ll be cooked again later. Remove the mussels with a slotted spoon and set aside. Strain the cooking liquid through a strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth and reserve.
For the stuffing—Heat the butter in a heavy-based pan. Add the remaining shallots and cook until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the spinach, cover, and cook briefly until the spinach wilts. Uncover and cook until the liquid from the spinach evaporates, another 3 to 4 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the strained mussel liquid and cook until the mixture is almost dry, about 5 minutes. Add the cream and again cook until the mixture is almost dry, about 10 minutes. Add the chopped parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper; the mixture should be quite peppery.
Heat the broiler. Remove the mussels from their shells. Make a bed of rock salt or crumpled foil on a baking sheet (to steady the shells) and arrange as many half shells as you have mussel meats. Put a mussel meat on each half shell and spoon a teaspoonful of the spinach mixture over each. Top with the grated cheese and broil until golden and bubbly, 4 to 6 minutes. Serve with small forks and bread to soak up the rich juices
12/2017 note: I made a double batch – with about 4 lbs of smallish mussels – way over 100 – and two reg bags of fresh spinach. I ran out of spinach for the last bit so would make more spinach next time.
I have made this several times over the past years from the always reliable The New Basics. It’s a nice main dish for a crowd that you can make ahead of time. Our Christmas Eve theme was “stuffed” so this was perfect.
Italian Stuffed Flank Steak
The New Basics Cookbook, Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins
8 ounces fresh spinach, trimmed and well rinsed
1/c cup dried bread crumbs
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
3 red bell peppers, roasted
1 flank steak (about 1 ½ pounds), butterflied
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
1 fresh hot cherry pepper, cored, seeded, and minced
1. Preheat the over to 350°F.
2. Place the spinach in a saucepan with just the water that clings to the leaves. Cover, and cook over medium heat until wilted, 5 minutes. Drain in a colander, and press out the excess moisture with the back of a spoon.
3. Combine spinach, bread crumbs, Parmesan, olive oil, and garlic in a food processor and puree until thick and smooth. Transfer to a bowl.
4. Peel, core, and carefully seed the roasted peppers. Cut them in half.
5. Open the steak on a work surface, and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the prosciutto in one layer on the steak. Top with a layer of the roasted peppers. Then spread the spinach mixture over them, and sprinkle with the minced cherry pepper.
6. Starting with a long side, roll the steak up jelly-roll style. Tie it with string at 2-inch intervals, and brush with a little olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place steak in a shallow baking pan.
7. Bake 40 minutes for medium-rare. Cool slightly, or to room temperature, before slicing and serving.
4 to 6 portions
For Christmas Eve we also had stuffed shells, little twice baked potatoes, stuffed cabbage, roasted vegetables. Of course we had to have hanky pankies, made a nice smoked salmon spread, cheese and crackers and Sean made some nice bacon wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese. Kirsten made cream puffs for dessert and Sophia dazzled all with her spectacular macarons that no one can get enough of.
½ lb. spinach, washed well and chopped (about 2 cups)
½ t. low salt alternative
16 oz. (2 cups) low-fat cottage cheese
4 oz. part-skim mozzarella, shredded (about 1 cup)
3 T. grated Parmesan
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley or 1 T. dried
¼ t. freshly ground black pepper
¼ t. salt, if desired
3 cups tomato sauce (homemade or canned)
8 oz. lasagna noodles, cooked al dente
In a large skillet, sauté the onion, garlic, and mushrooms in sherry and butter until the vegetables are soft.
Add the chopped broccoli, spinach, and salt. Stir to combine the ingredients, reduce the heat, cover the skillet, and simmer the mixture for about 5 minutes or until the broccoli is tender-crisp.
In a medium bowl, combine the cottage cheese, mozzarella, Parmesan, parsley, eggs, pepper, and salt.
In a baking pan approximately 13 x 9 x 2 inches, spread ½ cup of tomato sauce on bottom. Layer the lasagna ingredients as follows: Arrange three strips of lasagna noodles on the bottom. Spread half of the cheese mixture on noodles, then half of the vegetable mixture, and 1 cup of the tomato sauce. Repeat, starting from the noodles. End with a layer of noodles topped with the remaining ½ cup of tomato sauce. Sprinkle the top of the lasagna with additional Parmesan, if desired.
Bake the lasagna at 375 for 25 minutes. Let it stand for about 10 minutes before serving it.
Cook shells according to package directions. Mix the cheeses and spinach together and stuff the shells. Arrange in an oiled baking dish; pour Ragu over noodles. Bake at 350 for ½ hour.
2 boxes frozen spinach
½ cup butter
2 T. flour
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pint heavy cream
salt and pepper
Cook spinach and drain VERY well. Melt butter in frying pan and sauté garlic. Stir in flour, add spinach and gradually add cream. Cook over low heat for approximately 10 minutes, stirring often. Season to taste.
Sauté onion and garlic in small amount of oil in large pot. Add spinach and cook down with the onion and garlic for a few minutes. Add the broth, salt, pepper, seasoned salt etc.. (Season well – yogurt will neutralize flavor). Add rice. Simmer for 20 minutes or until rice and spinach are tender. Turn off heat and let soup cool down to almost room temperature. Whisk the yogurt for a minute or two and slowly pour and mix into the soup. Reheat the soup slowly at low heat as the yogurt will curdle if brought to the boiling point. (If the yogurt does curdle, the soup is still good). Can also be eaten cold or at room temperature.