Tag Archives: seafood

The Mussel Matrix

Tomato and Gorgonzola Mussels

I’ve been wanting to post my “Mussel Matrix” for a while, but needed to work through it at least once more.

Steamed mussels are so easy to make, and it’s easy to combine really bold flavours without it being too overpowering. I’ve been obsessed with mussels for the last couple of years, and we had finally found our favourite place in town… and now we find out that it closed.

I guess I’ll just have to make my own personal mussel restaurant.

When I was first looking into making mussels, I found that many of the simple steamed mussel recipes were pretty similar. Just swap out seasonings, veggies, liquids, and you get a totally different dish! Being a bit of a spreadsheet nerd, I thought it would be a good idea to make a matrix of ingredients that you could use with a simple recipe that could work every time.

So here it is!

Continue reading The Mussel Matrix

BBQ Lobster

BBQ Lobster -raw tails

We had never bought lobster before, but for some reason when we saw it at the grocery store, J decided he would BBQ it. Yes, we bought frozen lobster tails at the grocery store. Toronto isn’t known for it’s fresh seafood, so this is the best option for the average joe.

When we got home, J searched the internet to find proof that you could actually BBQ lobster tails. Of course you can – is there anything you can’t BBQ?

This isn’t exactly a recipe – mostly just a log of our experiment, for which I give full credit to the lovely and talented J. I didn’t have anything to do with it, aside from the adding of garlic to the butter that we used for dipping.

BBQ Lobster - on the grill

This isn’t a fancy schmancy lobster dinner. It was simple and rustic, with some BBQ potatoes and salad.

Buying lobster tails is a very different experience than having a whole lobster. I’ve only ever done that once, and while I enjoyed the experience I found most of it frustrating. After twisting the lobster apart, I spent much of the meal trying to prevent the inner goo from getting all over the rest of my food (are you hungry yet?). I think I also cut myself trying to pry bits of meat out of claws and whatnot.

The most satisfying part of the lobster is the tail. So that’s all we bought!

BBQ Lobster - cooked

Here are the grilled lobster tails, in all their glory. They were small, but delicious, and I’m sure we’ll be doing this again soon.

Next, we need to figure out how to cook them on the stove or in the oven.

I Love a Man with Mussels

This is a post about love, romance, and eating weird little creepy things out of their shells.

Some people have a hate-on for Valentine’s Day, and I used to be one of those people. I’ve eased up a little since then, realizing that every holiday (like every other day) is what you make of it. I choose to make it all about food. Surprise!

This past year, we’ve been opting for less fancy meals out for some of these ‘romantic evenings’, and have often ended up at our new favourite place to get mussels, The Fat Belgian. It’s cute, and not at all pretentious, with a great selection of beer (Erdinger and Fruli Strawberry on tap, woo!) and mussels. I’ll admit that I haven’t actually tried any of their other food, because we ALWAYS get mussels, frites and beer… and the odd dessert.


Lots of yummy mussels, in a broth filled with gruyere, walnuts and leeks.

To top it off, we almost always get the same friendly waitress, who shares my name and alma mater but only knew me as ‘purple hair’ until our last visit (unfortunately, she no longer works there, so we didn’t get her this time). The view from the second floor is unfortunate, looking out to a bright green tire place on one side and a boob/owl-themed stinkbar on the other. I won’t hold it against them – they can’t choose their neighbours.

Mussels are a very strange thing. Unlike some other seafood, mussels are often paired with very flavourful things, at least partly because the mussel meat has a stronger flavour that can handle other strong flavours. Most of the time, you will find mussels steamed with very flavourful broth, often including some kind of alcohol, and only a scattering of thinly sliced veggies (if any at all). This is best paired with some fresh frites and/or artisan bread (like sourdough).

We had a great Valentine’s meal.

I took the plunge last year, and finally tried making them myself. It was as easy as friends had reported, and now I’m trying to make a chart o’ fun. Basically, I have some of the basics down and am coming up with a few variations on the basic steamed mussel dish. My recipe/chart o’fun will be featured in an upcoming post!!


Squid may be a little scary, but it’s one of the simplest, tastiest and least expensive seafood options out there.

On our recent trip to St. Lawrence Market, we picked up some nice cleaned squid and made a simple, but delicious meal.


Market Squids!

For those of you who are not fans of squid, or like to pretend that they don’t have tentacles, you may want to skip the next couple of paragraphs. I’m about to discuss “squid parts”.

Cleaned squid is really a great thing, for those of us that are not fond of guts. Many moons ago, I picked up a box of frozen mini squid from Chinatown, and quickly found out that they were not just nice clean white tubes, ready for cooking! After thawing, I had to do some gross things like pulling off heads, pulling out guts, and dealing with ink. Squids have a couple of places that contain ink sacs – one is in the tube part, and the other is around the single staring eye. The preparing of these squids was kinda gross, lots of work… and, in the end, the squids just weren’t that good.

I did not prepare squid on my own again until recently when I discovered the glory that is cleaned squid!! For the most part, the icky work is done for you – guts and ink sacs are removed (sweet!), along with the creepy eye. The plastic spine may or may not be completely gone, and the first time I got these there were still beaks in the head (did you know squids have beaks!??!) Also, you have to pull off the heads and deal with tentacles. This is really not a big deal. I even pulled off the beaks with no trouble. Other than that, all you really need to do is rinse them off and prepare them for cooking!

This time around, we opted to prepare the squids with tubes intact (not cut into rings) using our grill pan.

We found that it fit four small squids just perfectly.

Squid has a very delicate flavour, and a texture that can range from perfectly chewy to rough rubber-bandy; so you will need to handle with care.


For seasoning, I keep it basic: garlic, wine, butter, lemon and a light dusting of herbs & spices (dill & cayenne, usually). You want to be careful not to over cook the squid, otherwise you end up with the rubber bands. I found that the grill pan was perfect for this.

Combined with some veggies, baked sweet potatoes and a healthy glass of wine, it was the perfect meal!


Our Dinner… still working on my presentation skills. 🙂