Curried Mussels Bruschetta
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    Serves 4 for brunch or as a starter or light lunch
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Brunch is the new breakfast and lunch rolled into one, and is predicted to be the ‘in thing’ for 2015 by food trend experts. It’s informal and is to be enjoyed with a newspaper and a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice or a cup of tea or coffee. Sounds like heaven to me.

This dish is simple and delicious. The spices are complex and sophisticated but not too punchy to put you off your cuppa. I serve the curried mussels on sourdough toast – perfect for soaking up the sauce and maximising the enjoyment.

I use rope-grown mussels from the River Deben here in Suffolk. They are farmed all year round, but my preference is still to enjoy them in their natural season, which is during the months with ‘r’ in the name, when the water is colder and the taste of the mussels is naturally sweeter (then leave them alone during the summer when the water is warmer).

Always make sure you clean fresh mussels thoroughly, removing the beards and giving them a good scrub, as there is nothing more disappointing than gritty mussels.

Ingredients & Method

For the curried mussels

  • ¼ teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 2 curry leaves (fresh or dried)
  • 2cm piece of cassia bark or cinnamon stick
  • ¼ teaspoon whole cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons rapeseed oil
  • 2 banana shallots, sliced
  • 1kg fresh mussels in shell, scrubbed, beards removed and cleaned well (discard any that remain open when tapped sharply using the back of a knife)
  • 125ml dry white wine
  • 200ml double cream
  • sea salt, to taste

For the bruschetta

  • 4 thick slices of sourdough bread
  • 1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
  • ½ clove garlic, peeled
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • fresh micro herb leaves, to garnish (optional)

First prepare the spice mix for the curried mussels. Dry roast the whole spices together in a hot pan over a medium heat for 1–2 minutes, until they become fragrant. Remove from the heat and then grind the fragrant spices to a fine powder using a pestle and mortar. Stir in the ground turmeric.

Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan, then add the shallots, ground spice mix and salt to taste and sauté for about 5 minutes or until the shallots start to soften and colour. Tip the mixture onto a plate, then return the pan to a high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the mussels along with the wine, cover with a lid and cook for about 5 minutes, until all the mussels have opened (discard any that remain closed).

Stir in the cream and curried shallots and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl. Pick the mussels from the shells, discarding the shells. Pour the sauce and mussels back into a small clean pan and bring back to the boil over a high heat, then cook rapidly for 2–3 minutes until the sauce is reduced and thickened.

Meanwhile, prepare the bruschetta. Heat a ridged griddle pan over a high heat until hot. Rub the slices of bread with the oil and then toast for 2 minutes on each side or until grill marks appear. Dip the garlic clove in the salt, then rub the cut side of the garlic on one side of each slice of warm toast; this will give it a lovely taste.

Place the toast on warm serving plates, spoon the curried mussels on top and serve immediately, garnished with micro herb leaves, if you like.