My love for cooking and eating has definitely been shaped by my parents passion around food. It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is, they’re usually cooking up something pretty delicious. A few weeks ago, it was a beautiful Fall Tuesday, and my Dad decided to cook a massive pot of mussels over the fire. Open fire cooking is something he has picked up over this summer and has become quite serious about.  His favourites, and mine, being paella and rotisserie chicken.


Now he can add mussels to his open fire cooking repertoire. Although I can’t take credit for any of the preparation of this meal, I was happy to get there in time to capture some photographs. It’s rare that we are able to eat outside in Winnipeg, in the summer you are confined to screened in rooms because of the mosquitoes and then in the Fall the wasps are fairly ruthless. This was the perfect evening to eat outside next to the fire; no bugs and the perfect amount of heat coming from the fire to keep us toasty.




This meal was inspired by a Barefoot Contessa recipe that was slightly altered.

Mussels in a Tomato Broth

Serves 6


6 ½ pounds mussels
½ tsp saffron threads
3 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp olive oil
3 oz chorizo, chopped
2 cups chopped scallops or onion
12-15 cloves garlic, minced
2 cup canned plum tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped (8 ounces)
Large handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 cup white wine (Chardonnay works well)
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper


To clean the mussels, soak in a large bowl of water for 30 minutes, or until the mussels disgorge any sand. Drain the mussels, then remove the “beard” from each with your fingers. If they’re dirty, scrub the mussels with a brush under running water. Discard any mussels whose shells aren’t tightly shut. Soak the saffron in ¼ cup hot tap water for 15 minutes and set aside.

In a large (12-quart) non-aluminum stockpot, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for 5 minutes; then add the garlic and cook for 3 more minutes, or until the shallots are translucent. Add the saffron with the soaking water, the tomatoes, parsley, thyme, wine, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil.

Add the mussels, stir well, then cover the pot, and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until all the mussels are opened (discard any that do not open). With the lid on, shake the pot once or twice to be sure the mussels don’t burn on the bottom. Pour the mussels and the sauce into a large bowl and serve hot, alongside a crusty bread or “frites” to soak up the juices.