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Recipe for success . . . . .

Moules MariniereAfter forty weeks together, my students have now all completed their first year studies. Friday; their last day, was spent catering for an exhibition showcasing the talents and work of the students on our Jade Carving programme (the only one of its kind in the world).

However they do have to return on Monday morning for their International City & Guilds exam and then its their graduation ceremony on Tuesday morning. After that I am very happy and pleased to report that every, single one of them is graduating to leave to go straight into positions. Every year our graduants seem to get snapped up by the industry. To add icing on the cake, the programme for next year is already full and applications are still flooding in, it’s a pity we can only take twenty each year. A very successful year it has been then. So its all up to you now . . . remember, now is the time that you will really start to learn. After twenty years plus I am still learning and I hope you will too . . . bon chance et bon voyage mes amis.

I am heading off to a friends for lunch today, ten to twenty of us get together once a month for lunch picking a country for a theme for the food . . . and today it is La Francaise! I am thinking something simple, like moules Mariniere, baguette and the tart Tatin that I featured a few weeks back <click here>

Many of you will have had mussels Mariniere (Mariner style) when you have gone out to your local restaurant, so this week I am going to tell you how to prepare them yourself at home. Some of you, like me, love to walk the shores and collect your own mussels, those of you not so fortunate will have to rely on your local fishmonger or supermarket. European black mussels are fine but far too small for my liking. All the better of course if you can find the New Zealand Greenlip mussels; they are huge, very tasty and readily available world-wide now. They are farmed here in New Zealand, in the pristine waters of Aotearoa and from all accounts full of great nutrients, so not only taste great but are good for you!

Ever noticed and wondered why you get white and orange fleshed mussels? Well the orange ones are female and for my liking a lot sweeter than the white male ones which can have an ‘earthy’ taste to them. Of course you don’t know which are which until you cook them and they open up, so there is a surprise just awaiting you in each one . . . 'quelle surprise' as they say in France or 'eine Überraschung' as they say in Germany.

Ingredients for Moules Mariniere

New Zealand greenlip mussels (in shell)



white wine (New Zealand sweet)



carrot (small)



celery stalk



onion (small)



spring onion






How to make Moules Mariniere

  • Wash, peel, wash and finely cut the vegetables into small dice or fine strips
  • Scrub the mussels to remove any dirt, barnacles or hair. Remove the beard (the hairy protuberance that extends from inside the shell) by grasping firmly and pulling
  • Place the mussels in a large pot with the white wine, cover and place on a medium heat (do not add any seasoning)
  • The mussels will cook via steam from the white wine and natural juices, shake every minute or so until all the mussels open. This will take approx. 4 minutes; discard any mussels that do not open
  • Placing a colander over a bowl, drain the mussels well
  • Pour the cooking liquor into a clean pan and place pot back on stove, bring to a boil and allow to simmer until reduced to 100 - 200 ml, be sure to taste to make sure it is not too salty (a little garlic may be added at this stage)
  • Add the cream, bring to the boil and simmer until cream has thickened to a sauce consistency (this should take approx. 5 minutes)
  • Add the vegetables and place mussels back into sauce, toss well and serve
  • Eat with your fingers and be sure to serve some baguette (French bread) with it to soak up the sauce! Bon appetite!

Chef's Tip for Moules Mariniere

This is a traditional French method of cooking mussels, the classical recipe does not use cream but the mussels are served only with the reduced cooking liquor thickened by whisking in cold butter or other thickening agent: beurre manié.

Do not be tempted to add seasoning of any kind, the mussels will release plenty of salt themselves

Frozen, pre-cooked half shell mussels are fine for this recipe, but when purchasing live mussels be sure to check them all.

They should smell fresh and have a briny aroma to them

They should be tightly shut

If any are open, then tap the shell. They should close up, if not, it means they are dead and should be discarded.

Cooking and consuming dead ones will very likely cause food poisoning, severe stomach cramps, vomiting etc

Enjoy your mussels and bon appetit . . . . .

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