Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Seafood Fest Recipe: Eric's Mussels in Smoked Tomato Sauce with Fennel Relish

Ballard Seafood Fest, where we've had a booth the past two years, has one opportunity for bragging rights - the seafood entry. It's not blind like barbecue competitions. 2-3 judges from the Chamber walk around and taste each booth's seafood entry. You get to talk to them about it and hope for that prize - Best of the Fest.

I really thought Eric's entry was going to win this year, He did local mussels, served with a smoked tomato sauce and shaved fennel. Not only did everyone who ate it love it, the judges were licking their plates and kept asking questions. I don't know who won, only that we didn't get a ribbon. We were so slammed with caterings in addition to the fest, that none of us made it to the awards.

Many have asked for the recipe, and I noodled it out of Eric. You know how tight lipped he can be! The key is to smoke the tomatoes. Mmmm.

Eric's Mussels in Smoked Tomato Sauce, topped with Fennel Relish

6 Roma tomatoes, cut in half, lengthwise
Kosher salt
1 fennel bulb, 1/4 shaved thin, rest of bulb diced.
1 small onion
1/2 cup olive oil
2 lbs mussels, cleaned
lemon zest from 2 lemons
Salt & pepper


1) Shave a portion of fennel bulb and save some of the fennel greens. Set aside.

2) Cut Roma tomatoes in half, lengthwise, and salt. Place on rack face up and smoke for 3 hours. Any mild wood will do.

3) Saute onions, olive oil and diced fennel bulb. Add smoked tomatoes and simmer for 2 hours.

4) Make fennel relish with shaved fennel, fennel greens, lemon zest, fresh lemon juice, olive oil and salt & pepper.

5) Add mussels to tomato sauce and steam for 5 minutes until they open. Top mussels with fennel relish.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Coming up: Chef Eric's Secret to Smoking a Suckling Pig and Seafood Fest!

Next week I'll post a tutorial on smoking a whole pig. Not a big ol' hog, but a suckling pig under 35 lbs. My husband Eric has a pretty unique way of doing whole pigs. He says someone surely has done it his way, but I've never seen it, so I'm calling it a secret until proven otherwise.

Before that post, we have a huge weekend coming up which includes the Ballard Seafood Fest! Smokin' Pete's will be in booth F22. We'll serve pulled pork & chicken sliders, plus Mussels in a Smoked Tomato & Fennel Sauce and a new seafood item this year - New England Clam Cakes. I won't be posting that recipe. That one really is secret. But I will post the mussel recipe. I'll sneak that in before the pig tutorial.

But don't just read about it, if you are local, come to Seafood Fest and try it. F22, on Leary Way off Market Street, between the Kiwanis and the cranky New Orleans Cookery guys. Hope to see you this weekend!

Friday, July 5, 2013

And the winner is....

Happy 4th of July! Well, happy day after. It's 11 am and I'm still in jammies. Not that we had a "rager" last night, just a busy day. While Eric slung ribs at the restaurant, I grilled veggies, made slaw, slathered chicken, and picked up socks. He came back earlier than I thought he could and clean up and weed-whacked the backyard.

It was our first backyard barbecue with guests since we moved! Both the Char-broil Infrared and the Big Green Egg were used, so we covered the charcoal and gas bases.

On the menu was grilled chicken, burgers, steaks, grilled veggies, plus all the other accompaniments. Not a speck of smoked meats, potato salad, or traditional coleslaw (mine had golden raisins, almonds, collards, and was dressed with a mustard vinaigrette). What can I say, we get enough of that on a daily basis.

What did you all cook for the 4th? How about YOU, Shane Conrad? Because you are our winner! My daughter blindly picked your name out of a bowl. Congratulations!