Sunday, February 28, 2010
When you buy mussels, they are alive. Just like clams, oysters, and lobsters, mussels must be cooked while they are still alive. They should be sold in mesh bags or loose in a water trough. If mussels are packaged any other way, you should walk the other way because those mussels aren't fresh and most likely many of them are already dead.
Mussel shells should be tightly closed. If they are open slightly, they should close if you tap on the shell. If it doesn’t close, throw it away. Never use mussels that are cracked, chipped or broken.
To err on the side of caution, purchase mussels the day you are going to eat them. I wouldn't purchase them more than 2 days ahead. The fresher, the better. And speaking of ER--An old wives' tales says, mussels (well, shellfish in general) are the best during months that end in -ER (October, November, December...) That is true AND untrue.
During those -ER months, red tides (poisonous algal blooms) that occur in the ocean during the hot months affects the toxicity of shellfish, because shellfish filter water through their two shells (bivalves) and feed on the algae and plankton they find in it. The toxins from the algae are responsible for shellfish poisoning.
That being said, if you buy from a reputable fishmonger or a restaurant, the shellfish are required by law to be held in a place where the water is purified and zapped with an ultraviolet light to aid in the destruction of impurities. Bottom line: your shellfish are safe year round. If someone you know has gotten sick form eating shellfish, they got (un)lucky.
When you get your mussels home, they're going to be thirsty. They're going to be hungry. Your hunger trumps theirs so, soak them in cool fresh water mixed with some (1/2 cup or so) flour or cornmeal for a minimum of 30 minutes before cooking. The mussels will spit out the sand they have inside as they “eat” the flour/cornmeal you put in the water. The mussels will also plump up. I usually leave the mussels in the water for about a day.
Next, clean the mussels with a brush or your hands under running water. Some mussels may have a beard (a web that helps the mussel cling to rocks and their sand beds). Grip it and giving it good tug towards the hinge of the shell. Don't be scared to use a pair of kitchen scissors to cut it off.
Now... you're ready to cook.
Thai Herbed Mussels
2 ¼ lb mussels, cleaned and beard removed
2 stalks lemongrass, finely chopped
4 shallots (1 1/2 cups), chopped
6 kaffir lime leaves, torn
2 red chillies, sliced
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
2 green onions, chopped
Place all ingredients except for the green onions and cilantro in a large saucepan and stir thoroughly.
Cover and steam for 5-7 minutes, shaking the saucepan occasionally, until the mussels open. Discard any unopened mussels.
Transfer mussels to a serving dish and garnish with green onion, cilantro leaves, and serve immediately.
The mussels release lots of water, and there will be a considerable amount of broth in your pot. I call this potlikker (pot liquor). Do us all a favor and get yourself a hunk of bread and sop this up while you eat your mussels. You'll have a finger-lickin' good time. Trust me.
French bread rubbed with garlic and chopped cilantro
Monday, February 8, 2010
First, all of the diets listed are not new. They've been out for years.
Taco Bell has has the "fresco" option on the menu since at least 2006. I used to eat at Taco Bell nearly every night and as tasty as the replacement salsa is, it always made my tacos soggy and fall apart. Just give me sauce and cheese on my tacos, okthanksbye.
And it took Christine way too long to lose weight by eating just Taco Bell. She should have been eating some Special K, doing yoga, or maybe even packing her lunch. Let me not pass judgement. I just think it's silly this lady gets to be on tv because she lost weight. Wait until I lose 100 lbs...
Next, if you only eat 800 calories a day, of COURSE you're going to lose weight!
Dr. Siegel from South Florida made his Hollywood Cookie Diet (click here) popular and the expensive snacks are available for a mere $60 for 42 cookies. You're supposed to eat 4 a day. The only meal you're allowed to have is dinner and it has to be 300 calories, high in carbs and no fat. I'm not a math major but damn. :(
In this 2009 interview, he talks about the diet, it's popularity and says you can't have alcohol if you're on this diet. I refuse to give up my Yuengling and Blue Moon, so I won't be trying this one.
Thirdly, is the Cabbage Soup Diet.
I don't have much to say about this fad diet except it's low in nutrients, protein, and omega-3s. The recipe calls for an onion soup mix packet and a few boullion cubes and that cries out for kidney failure due to all of the salt involved.
Let's about how this diet gives you loads of gas.
Let's talk about dehydration from the diarrhea you'll have from eating all of that fruit.
Let's talk about this temporary fix may get you into that dress for Saturday night, but is it worth having mud butt all week?
Last, but not least is the Master Cleanse Diet.
Yeah, if all you consume is lemonade sweetened with maple syrup spiced with cayenne pepper, for TWO WEEKS--of course you're going to lose weight!
It's rumored that Gweneth Paltrow and Beyonce have used this diet to detox and lose weight.
I'll admit it, I thought about doing the Cleanse. Someone gave me Stanley Burroughs' book (not as a joke or because they thought I'd like to read it) as a resource to steer others away from this "diet".
I'll let you read the facts, details and purported benefits for yourself. It all sounds so crazy, my fingers refuse to type it out.
In conclusion, demystifying a diet includes discussing it and highlighting certain details while informing the public. Diet is a four-letter word that shouldn't be used in mixed company. If you want to lose weight, it's simple: burn more calories than you take in. The end.
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