Stephanie Izard’s Steamed Mussel and Fennel Escabeche

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Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard

I am SO guilty of slacking on my recipe posting duties.

Forgive me.

I’ve come up with several really good excuses:

1) I’m still editing my cookbook. Working on my intro chapter (why is it that the intro chapter is the last chapter I wrote? Shouldn’t it be a “this !(*%&!_#@ cookbook is killin’ me!” chapter? I’m trying to be really peppy and nice in my tone, but my short attention span really doesn’t like it when I pull in something like a 18 month project. So, when you’re reading the Steamy Kitchen Cookbook and it sounds like I’m gritting my teeth while trying to be all light and happy – you know why.

2) Lots of TV segments! Each time I go on television, I have several hours of planning, prepping, shopping, cooking, driving, scripting in addition to the demo on TV. I love it! I think I was born to be on television.

3) Hosting a Food Bloggers Bash in the Bahamas with Club Med! Now that was seriously rockin’ fun.I know you’re all tired of reading about our adventure, but I will never tire of talking about my buddies David, Elise, Matt, Diane, Deb, Adam, Alex and Steve-Anna. Will I host another Bloggers Bash soon? You betcha. Though David is trying to convince us that Cannes in July is the place to be. I don’t care where…just as long as there’s a free bar. There’s even chatter that we may get together and hold a free giveaway for Club Med’s upcoming Food and Wine Festival in September at their Punta Cana (Domincan Republic) resort. And yes, for all you nosy folks, I’m Club Med North America’s freelance food writer, one of the best gigs I’ve ever had.

Enough of excuses. Let’s talk about Stephanie Izard, winner of last season’s Top Chef. Fabulouso woman indeed! Now, in the photos if it looks like I did all the cooking and she just looked pretty for the camera:

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that’s SO NOT TRUE! Stephanie gave us a private cooking lesson and I just happened to jump in at the very last minute to help plate.

Sneaky!!!

Okay, see this totally gorgeous gal? Jessie is Stephanie’s pastry chef…incredibly talented:

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The the dish that Stephanie taught us is the Steamed Mussel and Fennel Escabeche!

Stephanie Izard Mussels Escabeche

Steamed Mussel and Fennel Escabeche

Serves 4

Escabeche might be spelled or pronounced differently depending on where you find it, but whether it’s referring to Puerto Rican, Jamaican, Spanish or Provencal cuisine, it’s generally the same thing: an acidic marinade. I’ve always liked escabeche on oilier fish like mackerel or on nice plump mussels, where the acidity is a great counter balance.

Steamed mussels

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 pounds live mussels
salt and pepper, to taste
2 sprigs of thyme
3/4 cup white wine

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepot, add onion and garlic and sweat for two minutes. Add mussels, stir to coat, season with salt and pepper.

Add wine and thyme, cover and let steam until the shells just open, which should take about three to five minutes, depending on the size of the mussels.

Once they cool, pull the mussels from their shells, discarding the shells and setting the mussels aside.

Fennel Escabeche

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 red pepper, julienned
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 serrano chile, seeds removed and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon white wine
1 teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the olive oil over medium heat, add the veggies and sauté, without browning, until they’re tender, which should take about three minutes. Add balsamic, white wine, sugar and season with salt and pepper. Cook for another minute or until the liquid is reduced until almost all of the liquid has evaporated. Pour the mixture over the mussels and transfer to the refrigerator, chilling it for at least an hour and no more than overnight.

Bruschetta

12 half-inch baguette slices, cut on a bias
1 teaspoon olive oil
salt, to taste
3 large basil leaves, “chiffonade” or sliced into very thin strips.

Preheat oven to 375F.

Brush baguette slices with olive oil, sprinkle with salt then bake until just toasted. While they’re baking, pull the escabeche from the fridge to bring it up closer to room temp.

Once the bread slices are nice and toasted, place three on each plate and top with a small pile of the mussel escabeche then garnish with basil threads.

Tip of the Trade: How to Beard Mussels
Before cooking mussels, they have to be soaked, “bearded” (meaning you have to remove what’s technically called the byssal threads), and then cleaned. First, soak the mussels in clean water for about 15 minutes to loosen any sand stowaways. Next, grab hold of the beard (using a dry towel or even tweezers helps keep your grip on the slippery sucker) and give it a yank, pulling toward the hinged end of the mussel. (Pulling toward the opening end can kill the mussel.) Lastly, clean the shells and edge with an abrasive scrub pad under running water. Now you’re ready to cook.

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These photos were taken by Diane!

But wait…there’s more…

You must read David’s hilarious post-Club Med post, Matt’s awesome “tan and happy” photoshoot, Deb’s amazing photo collage, Diane’s recipe for Club Med’s Green Flash Cocktail and also Stephanie Izard’s blog post on the trip!

Comments 24

  1. Phoo-D

    Love the combination of mussels and fennel. Hang in there with your intro – the end is near! Maybe you just need one introductory sentence: “Read this book because I’m wonderful and everything I make is delicious!” =)

  2. bb

    Let’s see, excuses for not writing intro:
    -TV? It’ll only sell more cookbooks so you gotta do it!
    -Going to Club Med in the Bahamas to eat and drink for several days? Do you even need to rationalize that??!

    J, as long as you post recipe that sound as nice as those mussels, we’ll wait for you! And shouldn’t your intro be along the lines of “Thanks for buying this *%&!_#@ cookbook that almost killed me. Enjoy, and please tell 20 of your friends where to get theirs!”

  3. Kate

    How fun! I just love Stephanie Izard — she’s by far my favorite top chef contestant, and she seems so cool and down to earth.

  4. Paula Maack

    No apologies necessary, Jaden. I mean, really… You just took us all on a vicarious Club Med vacation, and included some of our favorite food bloggers in the process.

    I have had so much fun enjoying ALL of your posts this last week.

    THANK YOU!!!

    And, by the way… I agree that you were born to be on television. You are so freaking photogenic – it’s a crime. I will definitely put you on my show when we air!

    Cheers,

    ~ Paula

  5. Leah Greenstein

    Sounds like a great trip and a lot of great excuses, Jaden. I love fennel (and mussels, of course) and am really looking forward to trying this recipe out.

  6. Laura [What I Like]

    I will never tire of reading about this fabulous vacation you all went on…the colors in the photos alone are enough to make me envious, especially as New York has been quite grey recently. Excellent idea on the marinade for the mussels! I am a bit more basic when I make them for myself and just steam them with aromatics and soak up the broth with bread. I’ll have to give this a try!

  7. Gourmet Traveller

    Hi Jaden, what a life! Your Bahamas trip was so much much! It was very entertaining when reading the post from the other bloggers, esp. David’s one! And yes, you have a camera face : )

  8. Toni

    It’s a rough life, Jaden, but someone has to live it! Wow! Love the dish, of course, and the photos were a mini vacation. Thanks!

  9. Ramiro Valdez

    Hi Jaden, great site! I need your help…do you know the spanish traduction of the newly popular ‘flat iron steak’? I want to try some grilling on it…but I don´t how it’s called here in Mexico…Thanks in advance…

    PS. What is your opinion about the Flat Iron cut?

    Tricky question – I’ve asked the Twitterverse and got a variety of answers, because in Mexico, they carve the cow a bit differently. Here’s what people have answered on Twitter:

    paleta, saltado, sabana, falda, milanesa, brochette de carne a la plancha, asada, teres major, hierro plano
    http://www.saltshaker.net/20080904/any-way-you-slice-it-2

    I looove the flat iron cut. It’s so flavorful! ~jaden

  10. Jennifer Le

    I LOVE YOUR BLOG! THERE IS NOTHING ON HERE THAT DOESN’T INSPIRE ME TO GET INTO THAT KITCHEN AND COOK SOMETHING. JUST THE RANDOM BASIC THINGS AROUND THE PANTRY OR FRIDGE THAT MAKES ME GET COOKING. PLUS THE NEXT WEEK MENU FOR THE WEEK. SINCE NOW AND DAYS THEY ASK YOU TO SAVE MORE BY MAKING A GROCERY LIST INSTEAD OF BUYING THE RANDOM UNNECESSARY NEED TO YOUR CART! YOU HAVE ALSO INSPIRED ME TO TRAVEL MORE AND ENJOY LIFE WITH GREAT FOOD AND FRIEND AND ADD ADDITIONAL FRIENDS TO MY LIFE! THANK YOU – JEN -

  11. Denene@MyBrownBaby

    Okay, how ADORABLE are you and how fly is this blog? My goodness you are SO bookmarked… that mussels dish looks delicious, and you’re right: You ARE made for T.V.

    Thanks for stopping by today…

    D.

  12. Jude

    Wow. Thanks for sharing this recipe. Haven’t had anything escabeche in a while and it’s about time.

  13. dirtykitchensecrets

    Now that’s what im talking about! I absolutely love mussels and always make them mariniere… but this is new and i can’t wait to give it a shot! Thanks for the share!

  14. Simply...Gluten-free

    Sounds like you had a fabulous time. If you ever need to invite a gluten-free blogger for the non-wheat-eatting prespective I am YOUR GAL! (hint hint hint)

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