All In The Family: A Weekend With My Culinary Idols
I come from a long line of chefs. My dad and his dad (my grandfather) are my culinary idols, with their effortless ability to transform a can of beans into a meal for six. (Okay, maybe not one can, but you get the gist.) They have the skills necessary to take a few simple ingredients and transform them into a complete, decadent meal. This weekend my dad brought home four dozen mussels and was on a mission to teach me the ropes.
Preparing seafood is new to me, especially mussels. My dad is a stickler for cleaning the shells thoroughly and checking each piece for imperfections. Out of four dozen mussels, we only had ten pieces that didn’t make the cut. After inspecting the mussels and cleaning them, he then browned a mixture of minced garlic and crushed red pepper in a large pot. He added his favorite canned crushed tomatoes, some red wine and a bit of sugar.
He waited a short while before putting the mussels in, cooking until the shells opened and the fragrant aroma of garlicky goodness filled the kitchen. Similar to my friend Jordan, my dad amazed me with his effortless ability to create a full meal out of a few, basic ingredients. We toasted some Italian bread and enjoyed an evening filled with good food, family and vino.
A few nights later, my cousin Jessica surprised me with clams. I was eager to see her recipe and preparation of the seafood, and spent the evening wine tasting in the kitchen, taking notes. Just as my father nonchalantly cleaned the shells and put them in a mix of minced garlic, she did the same. I believe she minced onion as well, but the overall process was the same.
Instead of red wine, she used white and we watched as the shells cunningly opened and steam rose from the cover-less pot. I was amazed how easy this was. An entire meal in under an hour, complete with a side of linguine and toasted bread. As my cousin’s fiance Onassis is Mexican, she tends to spice things up, this time with a spoonful of crushed red pepper. (I prefer coming to their house for dinner because I love the Latin influence that appears in many of her dishes!)
Moral of the story? Seafood is a quick and easy summer meal option that your friends and family will love. Use your personal touches, whether you want to spice things up or maybe add a touch of citrus. Play with your recipe, use fresh ingredients and enjoy. Bon Appetito!