Top of my New Year’s Resolution list this year was to move out. Being 26 years old and living at home is just not a sustainable state of affairs. And yet, all of a sudden, it was 2012, and I realized I had sustained the situation for seven whole months.
After a week of literally doing nothing but climb fourth-floor walk-ups only to discover that the apartment at the top had a dorm-style mini fridge and no dishwasher, I lucked out and found an adorable studio in Chelsea. When I signed the lease less than 24 hours later (yeah, that’s how we roll in NYC), Josh asked me who I thought would be most excited about this development: him, my parents, or me? I’m pretty sure he thought it went in that order.
Living with your parents is one very efficient way of killing the romance in a relationship. Luckily, it didn’t entirely do away with ours. But one thing that did fall by the wayside was the casually intimate weeknight dinner for two. Sure, I cooked at Josh’s from time to time. But since I didn’t live there, it was always something quick, and often times incorporated leftovers from a Tupperware container I had brought with me.
The first meal I cooked in my new kitchen was my kind of weeknight romantic dinner for two: mussels with chorizo and cherry tomatoes. There is something about mussels that feels fancier than usual, even if they are one of the cheapest proteins around. Not to mention that the delicate surgery involved in eating them is downright sexual.
Since Valentine’s day falls on a Tuesday this year, I thought I’d share this meal with all you readers out there who would rather have a casually intimate evening at home with a special home-cooked meal than a mainline romance out on the town with a prix fixe and a bottle of Veuve. It christened my kitchen, and made my house smell like a home. Now, that’s my kind of special.
From my kitchen, brewing romance in Chelsea!, to yours,
Phoebe, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
Mussels with Chorizo and Cherry Tomatoes
Makes 2 servings
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon crushed red chili peppers
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ pound dried Spanish-style chorizo, halved lengthwise and cut into thin slices
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1/4 cup parsley leaves, roughly chopped (optional)
Heat the olive oil in a large lidded pot or Dutch oven over a medium-high flame. Saute the shallot until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, and chili flakes and saute for another minute or so, until very fragrant. Add the tomatoes and chorizo and toss to combine. Allow the tomatoes to sweat and the sausage to brown, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have begun to release their juices, about 8 minutes. Add the wine and scrape up any brown bits that have formed on the bottom of the pan. Simmer for a minute or so, until some of the alcohol has burned off, then fold in the thyme sprigs and mussels. Turn the heat to low, cover the pot, and cook until the mussels have opened, 5-10 minutes, depending on the size of your mussels. Discard any shells that have failed to open, garish with parsley, and serve immediately straight from the pot.