(Serves four to six)
500g fresh mussels, cleaned and checked (optional)
150ml wine, or water if preferred
1tbs olive oil
115g rindless, streaky bacon, chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
600ml vegetable stock
500g potatoes, peeled and cubed
350g boneless, skinless plaice, cut into small chunks
75ml double cream
150g frozen peas or petit pois
115g Edam cheese, cut into small cubes
3tbs fresh chives, chopped
Place the mussels in a large pan, pour over the wine (or water), cover and cook for about four minutes until all the mussels are open. Drain and reserve the liquid. When cool enough to handle, remove the mussels from their shells.
Heat the olive oil in a large pan and cook the bacon for three minutes. Add the onion and cook until softened, about six minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for a further minute.
Pour in the stock and reserved mussel liquid and bring to the boil. Add the potatoes and simmer for eight minutes. Stir in the plaice and cook for a further three minutes. Pour in the cream, petit pois, mussels and warm through. Stir in the Edam and chives and season to taste.
Pour into warm serving bowls and serve with crusty bread. If not keen on mussels then replace with your favourite shellfish such as lobster or crayfish. Simply leave out stage one and add a splash of white wine to the stock.
Lesley Waters, owner, Lesley Waters Cookery School, Frome St Quintin, Dorset