Saffron Mussels

Sauté the onion and garlic with salt and pepper in the butter until onions become translucent. Add the mussels and clams (or you can omit clams or mussels, according to preference). If frozen shellfish is being used, steam until the ice melts. If fresh, just until shellfish starts to lose its nectar…add the white wine and bring to a rapid boil. After about three minutes, add the cream and continue to boil for five more minutes. Add the azaffron or saffron, and let boil another two minutes. Toss with fresh herbs just before serving, and serve with crusty bread.

This is a very versatile dish, you can add fresh zucchini or cucumbers, vine ripe tomatoes, or really any other vegetable you like. It can be served as a stew, or dished over your favorite pasta. Azaffron can be found in the Hispanic spice section of most grocery stores that have a large Hispanic customer base. Prawns, fish, oyster, even octopus or eel can be added as well.

Steamed Clams

Sauté the onion and garlic in oil and butter until clear, allowing the butter to brown just a bit. Add the salt, pepper, and clams and cover for 4 minutes. Remove cover, mix in the wine and tomatoes, and let boil for about five minutes. Right before serving, stir in the basil. Serve in a large bowl, with lots of crusty bread.

Again, this dish is versatile. Add crab legs or lobster, fresh peas or even escargot. You can add bacon in the first step, or diced prosciutto and fresh cantaloupe right before serving….the possibilities are endless!

Money and time saving tips

For quick and easy fresh baked bread, try premade, herbed pizza dough from Safeway's fresh pizza section in the deli area. Remove it from the bag, form into a long, baguette, rub with fresh chopped garlic, sprinkle some parmesan cheese over the top, let rise for an hour, and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 15 to 20 minutes.

If you wish to use a lot of garlic, but hate that pre-chopped stuff in jars, look for the pouches of Christopher Ranch peeled whole garlic. There are usually 6 packages inside, which can be beaten with the wrong side of a knife, then opened, saving you a bit of time, mess, and garlic scented finger…

Instead of using saffron, which is very expensive, find the Hispanic spice section in your grocery store and look for Azaffron. Safflower stamens cannot completely replace the true flavor of saffron, but makes do in a budgetary pinch. Be sure to use it liberally…