Monthly Archives: September 2013

Gorgonzola Steamed Mussels and Traditional Mussels

2 pounds of mussels, 2 recipes, 2 very satisfied people. 

Before this, I had never made mussels before.  The past three years have been spent exploring cooking but I wasn’t yet ready to tackle the shell fish department yet.  How do you open the shells? Where do you get them? Can they bite? All are questions I faced before being served Mussels in a creamy gorgonzola sauce at La Cupola in Litchfield, CT.  To be honest, gorgonzola and mussels sounded like a combination I wanted to stay away from.  But I was wrong….so wrong.  My brother and I set off to take on the challenge of this recipe.  Being my first time with mussels, I also opted to make the traditional steamed mussels. I’m aware these recipes are almost identical in their methods and ingredients however the gorgonzola makes them taste so different. 

Gorgonzola Mussels


1 pound fresh mussels (washed)

2 cups heavy cream (yes I know…but so so good, it’s worth it)

3 tbsp butter (this is getting good)

6 oz of a Guinness beer (oh did I not mention that…whoops)

1 shallot minced

6 cloves of garlic

1/3 pound gorgonzola 

2 tbsp red pepper flakes


Melt 2 tbsp butter in a pan large enough to fit the mussels.  Sauté shallots and garlic for five minutes until tender and fragrant.  Add cream, beer, and red pepper.  Bring the mixture to a boil and lower the heat to medium.  Stir in the gorgonzola slowly saving roughly 1/4 cup.  Add the mussels and cook with a lid on the pot until the shells open.  Note: any shells that do not open are dead and not suitable for eating.   Remove the mussels with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl.  Pour the broth over the mussels and stir in the extra 1/4 cup of gorgonzola. 


Traditional Steamed Mussels (these are exceptional by the way)


1 shallot minced

6 cloves of garlic

2 tbsp butter

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 cup dry white wine

2 tsp dried basil

2 tsp tarragon

2 tsp red pepper flakes

salt and pepper 


Melt 2tbsp of butter in a pot or pan large enough to fit the mussels.  Once butter is melted sauté garlic and shallots for about five minutes until fragrant and soft.   Add the wine, cream, and spices and keep the mixture on constant high heat for five minutes.  Add the mussels and cover with a lid.  When the mussels open, they are done.  Note: Any closed mussels are dead and not suitable to eat.  Remove the shells with a slotted spoon and place into a bowl.  Pour the broth over the shells and eat immediately. 


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Flatbread Company — Canton, CT

“Better Ingredients, Better Pizza, Papa Johns.” Don’t ask me why that motto always sticks with me since I’ve never purchased Papa Johns in my life.  I’m actually quite a pizza snob.  My standards were exceeded by the quality and ingredients at Flatbread Company in Canton, CT.   The menu features four standard options of white pizzas and four red pizzas.  However the pizzas are 100% customizable with an extremely agreeable staff.   You can basically create whatever you would like with the copious available ingredients. 


The Punctuated Equilibrium

Imported Kalamata olives, Fresh organic rosemary, organic red onions, Griffin Farm goat cheese and fire-roasted sweet red peppers, premium whole milk mozzarella baked on organic bread dough with homemade organic garlic oil and our own blend of organic herbs. (I added their house maple sausage to my selection). 


Not only is the pizza outstanding but the interior set up of the restaurant is unique and exciting.  The entirety of the restaurant faces a giant brick oven. 


ImageThere is my pizza cooking! 



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Sun-dried Tomato and Mozzarella Stuffed Mushrooms

This recipe is inspired by Pioneer Woman and I have to say it is pretty stellar.  I don’t think I have ever used stellar in my vocabulary but these mushrooms were so cute and easy to make I thought the adjective was fitting.  I kid you not, these are the cutest little shrooms I have ever created.  They scream appetizer and are fairly easy to make.  I want to host a dinner party solely so I can serve these little buttons.


Don’t you want to just pinch its cheek.


1 package of white button mushrooms

1/2 cup kalamata olive diced

1/4 cup pine nuts

6 sun-dried tomatoes

1/4 cup fresh basil chopped finely

1/4 cup parsley

16 oz mozzarella

2 tbsp olive oil

4  cloves of garlic

splash of dry white wine



To begin I preheated the oven to 350 and I washed and removed the stems of the mushrooms.  Removing the stems was a little tricky for me but that may be largely due to the fact that I am highly uncoordinated.  Roughly 4 mushrooms sacrificed their lives while I tried to carefully tear off the stems.


I then threw the mushrooms into a skillet with 2 tbsp of olive oil.  I tossed them around for about two minutes until they were browned on all sides.  Once completed remove the mushrooms and place into a baking dish.


Next, chop up the kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes and parsley and put them into the same skillet.  Once heated, add a splash of white wine to the mixture.  Cook for 1 to 2 minutes and then stir in the pine nuts.  Cook the mixture for 5 minutes stirring occasionally to avoid burning the pine nuts.


Remove the mixture from the heat and chop up the mozzarella.  I bought the mini balls of mozzarella and simply sliced them in half.  Stuff each slice of cheese into the mushroom.


ImageThen take the tomato mixture and simply just pour it over the mushrooms.  Easy as that.  No need to worry about individually stuffing them.  Just make sure the mixture coats every mushroom.


Bake the mushrooms in an oven for 15 minutes making sure the cheese has completely melted.  When removed, top with chopped fresh basil.


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Red Wine Braised Beef






Since summer is over it is officially acceptable to begin stewing up the comfort foods.  Red wine braised beef is bursting with flavor and a great simple alternative to a traditional beef stew.  I love to incorporate wine into my meals….especially recipes that call for an entire bottle.  Well, an entire bottle minus a small glass to sip on while its cooking. 



3 pounds stewing beef

salt and pepper

3 tbsp olive oil

2 onions diced

3 whole carrots peeled and diced

1 pint whole button mushrooms

1 tbsp tomato paste

1 750 ml bottle red wine

Fresh parsley

Fresh oregano


3 gloves garlic

2 bay leaves

4 cups beef stock 

2tbsp flour


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Season the stewing meat heavily with salt and pepper and brown the meat in a large pot with olive oil for roughly 8 minutes.  Work in batches making sure that all sides of the meat have been browned.  Remove the meat from the pot and add diced onions and carrots.  Cook until onions and carrots are soft, about 10 minutes.  Add the flour and the tomato paste and stir until the mixture is combined fully.  

Now for the fun part…stir in the wine and drink some too! 



Bring the mixture to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer until wine is reduced, about 25 minutes.  Add the fresh herbs to the stew, mushrooms, and the beef stock.  Once the mixture is boiling lower the heat and place the pot into the oven preheated at 350 for 2 to 2.5 hours.  When finished, the meat should fall apart and be very tender.  I served mine over mashed potatoes however you can be creative and use any pasta, rice, etc. 



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