It’s that time of year again. The light is slowly returning.
And even if we didn’t have much of a winter here in the western parts of Sweden it is starting to feel a bit like spring. It’s getting lighter each day and on my morning jogs lately I’ve been hearing the birds sing. And another sure sign that spring is on its way is the awakening of overwintered pelargoniums.
I know, it is still winter. Even if many of us (including me) are eager for spring.
But the signs are there. Little by little every day.
This is also the best time of year to eat mussels. Many people think of mussels and other shellfish as summer food, but in fact they are at its very best from december-april. In Scandinavia anyway.
So we’ve had mussels. And I’ve been pruning pelargoniums.
Mussels are wonderful paired with Jerusalem artichokes – also called sun chokes (in Swedish jordärtskocka) – and I often make this smooth soup with Jerusalem artichokes and a hint of white wine to go with steamed mussels. It’s delicious. You should try!
Need I say this is perfect for a friday night?
What’s your favorite way to eat mussels?
Steamed blue mussels
2 pounds (about 1 kg) blue mussels
2 2/3 cup (400 ml) water
1) First prepare the mussels. Scrub each mussel individually and check to make sure their shells are tightly closed. Discard mussels with cracked shells. If any mussels are open, tap them gently against the counter and discard any mussels that don’t close up within a few minutes. Debeard the mussels by pinching the “beard” between your thumb and first finger. Use a side to side motion and firmly tug the beard out. The beard isn’t harmful or inedible so don’t worry if there are a few little threads left that you can’t grasp.
2) In a large pot bring the water to a boil and then gently add the mussels. Cover and cook over medium high heat until the mussels open, about 5 minutes. Reserve the liquid and keep the mussels in the pot with lid on.
Jerusalem artichoke soup
1 pound (about 500 g) Jerusalem artichokes
1 small leek
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp butter + 1 tbsp olive oil
reserved liquid from mussels + 2 cups (about 500 ml) vegetable stock
6 tbsp white wine
6 tbsp cream
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
sea salt & white pepper to taste
1) Peel the Jerusalem artichokes and cut them into smaller chunks. To prevent from darkening drop the pieces into lemon- or vinegar water while peeling the remaining Jerusalem artichokes. Peel and chop the onion, leek and garlic clove finely.
2) In a medium pot, melt the butter/olive oil over medium heat. Add the jerusalem artichokes, onion, leek and garlic. Cook on medium low heat for about 5-7 minutes until slightly softened (do not brown). Add the reserved mussel liquid, vegetable stock and wine. Bring to a boil, cover the pot and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the cream and simmer for 5 more minutes.
3) Add the balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and puree the soup in a blender.
Serve the Jerusalem artichoke soup with the mussels and sprinkle with fresh thyme.