Sunday, May 29, 2016

Baked Mussels with Herbed Butter

I LOVE mussels! 
Easy Midia Dolma

Midia dolma is my absolute favorite food, but I also favor a steaming bowl of mussels in a buttery sauce that cries out for crusty bread to soak-up the juices. Some folks share mussels as an appetizer; I prefer to eat them as a main course – NO sharing!

One pet peeve I have, though, is being served mussels which haven’t been de-bearded. That makes me crazy!
Note to restaurant kitchen staff: I can forgive mussels with hard-to-see, tiny beards, but for Heaven’s sake, PLEASE remove those over-sized, dangling ones! Thank you!

For results you can trust, make the mussels at home. Your best bet is to seek-out a reliable fishmonger. They’ll most-likely have scrubbed mussels, however, the general cleaning and de-bearding will still be left up to you.

The following recipe is adapted from ‘Gourmet’. I haven’t tried it yet, but as soon as I’m standing on both feet, this is on my cooking agenda.
Baked Mussels (Photo from
Baked Mussels with Herbed Butter
Yield: 2 main course - or - 4 appetizer servings
(adapted from Gourmet)

2 pounds of mussels
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 small bunch of cilantro (or parsley) leaves, roughly chopped (save some for garnish)
1 small bunch fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces (save some for garnish)
4 to 6 Tbsp. (1/2 to 3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
salt and freshly-ground pepper
½ cup white wine
1 lemon, sliced into circles


1             1.  Preheat oven to 450° F.

2       2.    Clean mussels: scrub and de-beard mussels; place mussels in a bowl of room-temperature tap water. Leave mussels in water about 5 minutes to help release excess dirt. Drain and rinse mussels. NOTE: If any of the mussels are open, give them a tap with your finger. If they don't close, discard them.

3. Spread the mussels on a large, rimmed baking pan, making sure they are in a single layer.

4. In a small saucepan, melt the butter on medium-low heat; stir in chopped herbs, garlic, salt and pepper.

5. Drizzle herbed butter and wine over the mussels. Arrange lemon slices on top.  

6. Place baking pan on center rack in the oven. Bake, uncovered, for about 15 minutes (or until the mussels open). Discard any unopened mussels. Ladle the mussels and buttery broth into individual bowls.

Garnish with remaining chopped cilantro, parsley, or basil, if desired.
Serve with crusty bread.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Visit to Armenia

It’s been a little over a year since Doug and I took our exhilarating, emotional trip to Yerevan, Armenia. We often relive memories of the people we met, places we visited, and food we sampled (a big draw for me!). We also discuss plans to (someday) return to see the things we didn’t have time for on our first, brief visit.

Maestro George Pehlivanian
A few days ago, my sister, Dawn, sent me a link for a video called ‘Laura McKenzie’s Traveler’s Tips - Armenia’. Ms. McKenzie, the host and her tour companion, international conductor, Maestro George Pehlivanian, explore Yerevan, the surrounding outskirts of the city, examine the people, history, culture and food.

Yerevan's Republic Square
Some of the program's highlights include: Etchmiadzin, the Armenian Genocide Memorial, Garni Temple, Geghard Monastery, Republic Square, shopping, the making of jingalov hatz, and so much more!

Watching this brought back such wonderful memories!

If you can spare about 40 minutes, click here to view this truly well-done travelogue. You’ll be glad you did!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Despite a few set-backs, I am on the slow road to recovery

The past two months have been very challenging for me. First, knee replacement surgery; now, recovery from surgery due to a broken ankle on the same leg! How could this be, you might wonder? Please don’t ask; it’s too painful to discuss.

I have to say, my husband, Doug, has been my rock throughout this entire ordeal. Without complaint, he’s jumped right in to take care of me, and, the entire household.
Marinated, grilled lamb chops

Luckily, Doug is an amazing cook. His mother taught him well from early on, saying that one has to be prepared how to take care of one’s self, because you just never know.

When Doug sets out to prepare a meal, he goes all-out without breaking a sweat. For instance, he’s made a delicious lasagna in under 30 minutes, and whipped-up tantalizing kebab-like loin lamb chops along with pilaf, salad and grilled vegetables in less than an hour (not including time for marinating the meat, of course).
I could go on, but you get the idea.

Hopefully, in another couple of weeks, I’ll be able to stand on my own two feet, just in time to help get ready for our daughter’s wedding this summer.

On that note, I must continue to rest.
Until then, stay tuned, my friends!