Mother’s Day @ Mangia Qui

mangia mimosas

Tapas and Mimosas

We took Velma to Mangia Qui for the Mother’s Day Brunch, had a lovely time. It’s a charming room and service is very good. It’s been a long time between lox and bagels for us, so Dee and I both had the New Yorker …

mangia nyer

New Yorker

It’s a fluffy omelet with smoked salmon, sour cream and chives and a toasted bagel. Velma had the Italian Breakfast, pecan raisin sweet bread dipped in egg and sauteed, with mascarpone and peppered bacon. Great food.

Serendipity

Finding good stuff you weren’t looking for is a happy deal. (There’s a word for it — serendipitous — but it’s a mouthful.) I began today looking for web art of pasta with mussels because I wanted to say how much better and more interesting spaghetti is with mussels than with clams, and when I made it last Sunday I forgot to take a picture. So I stole this from Food & Wine.

mussels and pasta

Then I went looking for the NYT piece by Mark Bittman that Dee sent me last month, the one that started us on seafood pasta. We made it for dinner one Saturday night. The next week, I wanted to make some for Megan, so on a Wegman’s trip I meant to pick up a couple bags of littleneck clams. We were in a hurry. I didn’t notice at the checkout that I actually was paying for two bags of mussels (they were in the same ice bath the clams had occupied the week before) until the woman in line behind me asked, “Mussels? What are you making?”

“Uh … pasta sauce,” I said, because why not. Mussels could work.

So it turns out that mussels make a much richer sauce than clams. Wow. (Recipe at the end.)

That’s it. That’s what I wanted to say. Except that while looking for the pasta post I found today’s Mark Bittman post about ChopChop, a cooking magazine for kids that sounds interesting. He says some things and quotes some things, the best of which is this:

“Cooking is not so much a matter of right or wrong but of learning what you like.”

Exactly.

Here’s something I liked that you might too:

Ingredients

24 mussels, scrubbed

4 ounces white wine

Salt (probably not much) and pepper to taste

4 ounces pasta

olive oil

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste

2 cloves sliced garlic, or to taste

Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Instructions

Put the wine and the mussels in a large covered saute pan, steam until they open.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it.

After the mussels open (maybe 5-10 minutes) take them off the heat and let them cool. Throw out any that do not open.

Take the meat out of the mussel shells, strain and reserve the liquid.

Chop the mussels.

Cook the pasta in the boiling salted water.

Add olive oil to the saute pan and cook the red pepper flakes and garlic for about 30 seconds. Add the mussels and continue to cook, stirring, for about a minute.

Add about 1/2 cup of the reserved shellfish liquid.

Drain the pasta when it’s nearly done and stir it into the clams.

Cook, stirring, until the pasta is tender and the mixture is saucy. Add more clam-cooking liquid (or hot water or white wine), if necessary. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding a little butter if you like.

Garnish with parsley and some mussel shells, and serve.

Container for the Things Contained

If you are lucky enough to have middle-aged kids, you may have noticed some things.

First, they survived your attempts at parenting. I say this as a former winner of the Homer J. Simpson Foundation’s “Father Knows Least” Award.

Next, they still need advice, but don’t want it from you. They may occasionally need money, and do want it from you.

Possibly they don’t like to cook, but they do like to eat. Every couple weeks you make a meatloaf for them or some jambalaya or a boatload of fajita fixings. Nothing regular, nothing planned very well, just a little sumpin sumpin they can have before they have to jump in the car and take their kids to soccer practice or baseball practice or gymnastics or basketball.

Here’s what I’ve noticed about that: You never get the containers back.

Oh, you get containers. If you text your daughter every week in all caps and say PUT CONTAINERS IN YOUR CAR NOW. Here’s what you get:

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Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Any Salvation Army Thrift Store clerk would be proud to shelve these babies in the 25 Cents section. On the other hand, the shelves in my fridge have rectangular boxes like

containerthat look like this when filled up.

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They are knockoffs of the Cambro boxes you see in a professional kitchen, but (a big but) the lids actually fit. I get them at The Restaurant Store. They are cheap, which is good because it’s not looking like I’m getting any back from my kid any time soon.