With the temperatures dropping and damp air outpacing autumn’s crispness, we’ve been in the mood for a hearty Baked Mussels 003seafood dish. While some entertaining hosts disagree, I think there is no better reason to try a new dish than friends coming over for dinner. Besides, Itty Bitty Betty and The Bacon Terrorist are always game. As friends with a mutual appreciation for food and cooking, they are a forgiving audience if things don’t go as planned.

Regardless my hand immediately reached for one of our foolproof cookbooks From the Earth to the Table. This wine country cuisine, whole-foods focused cookbook has been the source of some our favorite meals including our favorite spicy tri-color tomato soup and ricotta and herb tart.  The night’s beverage list was weighted heavily on beers, making baked mussels with serrano chiles and fresh mozzarella the perfect choice.

For avid shellfish fans, Mike and I rarely cook them at home instead preferring to leave the shucking and serving to the professionals. I was nervous about giving our friends food poisoning with my amateur shellfish ways. Still, mussels are reputed to be easy to prep and spotting a bad mussel is pretty straightforward  (anything with a closed shell after cooking time is complete). I soldiered on.

results and recipe after the jump! (more…)