I hadn't heard of mouclade until I read The Soup Book. I love mussels and was looking forward to trying out this recipe. In her introduction, Marie-Pierre Moine describes mouclade as an "aromatic soup ... from France's Atlantic coast." The ingredients include fresh mussels (bought from the spouse's favourite fishmonger), butter, banana shallot, dry white wine, sprigs of parsley, fennel bulb, a bay leaf, cayenne, an egg yolk, soured cream or creme fraiche (we went for the latter), garlic, paprika or curry powder and saffron. You also need bread to soak up the broth. The spouse was horrified at the thought of polluting our store cupboard with curry powder, but bought some any way. In the end I used paprika, so sorry, spouse.

Minnie's mouclade
The spouse very kindly sorted out the mussels for me (scrubbing and debearding) so that I could murder them with minimal hassle. This I did by bringing them to the boil in a sauté pan with some butter, shallot, wine, water, parsley, fennel, the bay leaf and cayenne. The next step was to put the mussels into a bowl and strain the remaining liquor. Then I mixed the egg yolk and creme fraiche together, and went on to mash garlic, paprika and saffron into the remaining butter. This butter mixture was heated and the mussel liquor added to it. I had to spoon some of this into the egg and creme fraiche, whisk this new mixture together, and then tip it back into the butter and mussel liquor for more whisking and heating. I had forgotten to turn on the oven to heat the bowls, but had to serve up anyway as I didn't want the cooked mussels to dry up and the younger offspring was hungry. I divided the mussels between the three bowls, then poured over the soup mixture. We sat down to eat and were delighted. This is definitely on the list of soups to make again.

Book Buzz

Since my last blog entry, I have sped through P D James' Death Comes to Pemberley. I have been a fan of James' novels since my teens. I first heard of her from my English teacher, who included James in her list of recommended writers. Despite occasional book culls, I cannot bear to part with anything from my James collection. One of the early novels is missing: did I lend it to someone? Did I mislay it? I'll just have to replace it.  Back to Pemberley. It is set in Mr Darcy's grand home, six years after his marriage to Elizabeth Bennet. Mr Bingley refers to Pemberley's "white soup." My curiosity aroused, I discovered from the Austen Only site that it is not a fictional soup, and would have required a lot of hard work to prepare sufficient quantities for a ball.

Elsewhere in Death Comes to Pemberley, there is a reference to beeswax candles:

Now [Darcy lit the candles] and as the taper found each candle-tip the room brightened, suffusing the watching faces with a warm glow and softening even Hardcastle's strong bony features into gentleness, while each trail of smoke rose like incense, its transitory sweetness lost in the smell of beeswax. 
And later on in the novel there is a mention of "consommés prepared with the best beef and laced with sherry" among a list of foods prepared to tempt the appetite of a dying man. 

So there you have it for this week.



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