Suzi's Blog

Steamed Mussels with Cream, Saffron and Mint from James Peterson


“It looks beautiful,” I said to Suzen. “The smell is great.”

“Try one,” she dared me. I passed. Allergies. My next mussel is her next inheritance.

It was Valentine’s Day and Suzen’s feast for class — Bubbles and Bites — was this marvelously rich and beautiful dish form James Peterson. The combination of mussels with saffron and mint was surprising and successful.

Suzen said it tasted as great as it looked. I took her word for it.


Steamed Mussels with Cream, Saffron, and Mint

Yield: 4 first course servings


  • 50 to 60 small cultivated mussels (about 2 pounds [900 g])
  • 1 cup [250 ml] dry white wine
  • 2 medium-size shallots, chopped fine
  • 1 small clove garlic, chopped fine, crushed to a paste with the side of a chef’s knife
  • 1 cup [250 ml] heavy cream
  • 1 pinch saffron threads, soaked for 30 minutes in
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • 25 fresh mint leaves
  • ½ teaspoon olive oil
  • Pepper
  • Crusty French bread sliced into 1 inch thick pieces



Wash and sort the mussels.

Combine the wine, shallots, and garlic in a pot twice the size of your pile of mussels, cover the pot, and simmer gently for 5 minutes to infuse the flavors into the wine. Put the mussels in the pot, cover the pot, turn the heat to high, and steam for about 4 minutes.

Holding the lid firmly on the pot with a kitchen towel while also holding the pot handles, shake the pot, moving the back side up and toward y o u so the mussels that were on the bottom of the pot are redistributed to the top. Steam for about 2 minutes more, or until all the mussels have opened. Stand back when you remove the lid and don’t put your hand in for a few seconds or the steam can burn you. Scoop the mussels into a large bowl, leaving the steaming liquid behind in the big pot, and keep them warm while you’re making the sauce.

Gently pour the mussel cooking liquid into a saucepan, leaving behind any grit or sand. Add the heavy cream and the saffron and its soaking liquid and bring to the simmer.

Take off and discard the top shell from each of the mussels and divide the mussels among 4 plates. Rub the mint leaves with the olive oil to keep the mint from turning black when you chop it, and chop it fine. Stir the mint into the sauce and season the sauce with pepper.

Ladle the sauce over the mussels in the soup plates, and serve immediately. If the mussels cooled off while they were waiting, rotate each plate of mussels (be sure the plates are ovenproof) under the broiler for 30 seconds or so.

Source: Glorious French Food by James Peterson







Super Bowl Idea: Grandma Rose’s Chocolate Layer Cookies

No Super Bowl party can conclude with a victory dessert. Long ago in Portland, Oregon, Rose Nataflin had a bakery that drew crowds out the door. Her two cookbooks, now sadly out of print, are treasures. This layered chocolate cookie from Rose is a reminder of how grand a cookie can be. A chocolate brownie cookie is baked, then topped with a mint cream which becomes the middle when chocolate glaze crowns the entire affair. These are easy to make, easier to eat, and impossible to forget. I cannot tell you how many times I have made these. Suzen suspects, but currently I am not under oath or in witness protection.

Grandma Rose’s Chocolate Layer Cookies

Yield: one 9″ square which is more than enough for … [I don't want to get personal here]

The Cookie Layer:

  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • ½ cup sweet butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup slice nuts [pecans, walnuts, or almonds -- all work but I prefer pecans now]
  • ½ cup unsifted, all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Thoroughly grease a 9” square pan.  Melt the chocolate and butter together over hot water.  In a bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar until thick.  Add nuts, flour and chocolate mixture and stir until smooth.  Pour batter into pan and bake for 25 minutes.  Let cool.

The Mint Cream Filling Layer:

  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons  softened sweet butter
  • 2 tablespoons  heavy cream
  • ¾ teaspoon peppermint flavoring

Beat together all the ingredients until smooth.  If you like, sprinkle a drop of green coloring in this mint cream.

Spread the filling evenly over the cookie layer, cover and chill until firm.  About 1 hour.

The Chocolate Glaze on Top:

  • 2 ounces  sweet chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Melt together all ingredients over hot water.

Drizzle the glaze over the mint topping.  For some added visual elegance, you can top with chopped nuts. I haven’t tried shredded coconut, but that might be a very different flavor contrast with the mint.

Cover and chill again until firm.  Cut the layer into bite-sized squares and place in paper candy cups. [Oh, to be honest, I never bothered with the cups. I just began nibbling.]

Source: Grandma Rose’s Book of Sinfully Delicious Cakes, Cookies, Pies, Cheese Cakes, Cake Rolls & Pastries by Rose Nataflin

Grandma Rose