Poached Fennel Mussels with Chardonnay, Cream and Charcoal Ciabatta

By: Mynhardt

We love cooking mussels as it is such a sustainable seafood and delicious at any time of the year!  This recipe calls for loads of fresh fennel and white wine with a dash of cream and can be decadently lapped up with helpings of the Charcoal Ciabatta.  The bread can be baked a day in advance and heated in a hot oven before serving.  Make sure not to overcook the mussels and served immediately after poaching them with chilled glasses of Chardonnay 

Serves 4 

Prep time: 10 min 

Cooking time: 5 min 


  1. 1kg fresh West Coast mussels, cleaned (Do not put into fresh water)
  2. 1 large white onion, finely chopped
  3. 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  4. 1 medium sized fennel bulb with the leaves, finely chopped
  5. 2 tablespoonsWillow Creek BasilFlavoured Olive Oil 
  6. 250ml (1 cup) Cathedral Cellar Chardonnay
  7. 250ml (1 cup) fresh cream
  8. Salt and pepper to taste
  9. 20g (1punnet) dill leaves, finely chopped


  1. Fry the onion, garlic and fennel in the olive oil until well cooked and slightly browned. 
  2. Add the Cathedral Cellar Chardonnay and bring to the boil. 
  3. Add the mussels and cook for approx. 5 minutes or until the mussels open up. 
  4. Add the cream and seasoning and mix through.
  5. Sprinkle the chopped dill over the mussels and serve

Black Charcoal Ciabatta

There is just something so beautiful about the richness of this dark charcoal bread that makes you want to bury your nose in its dark folds of luxuriousness.  This bread is good on its own with lashings of butter or olive oil and can be a great accompaniment for a tapas platter.  It is guaranteed to get the guests talking and keep the recipe on hand to pass out! 

Serves 6 to 8 

Prep time:  10 min 

Rising time:  45 min 

Baking time:  25 to 35 minutes 

Oven:  200 degrees Celsius 


  1.  kg stone ground flour 
  2. sachet instant dry yeast 
  3. table spoons activated charcoal 
  4. teaspoon salt 
  5. table spoon muscovado sugar 
  6. table spoons scorched and crushed coriander seeds 
  7. 100 ml good quality olive oil 
  8. 650 ml warm water 
  9. 100 g of black sesame seeds 


  1. Place the flour, yeast, charcoal, salt, sugar, coriander seeds in a blender with paddle attachment and mix through slowly on low speed.  Start adding the oil and then the warm water until all is combined then turn up to full speed.   
  2. This is a very wet dough but dont be concerned, beat the dough at high speed until the gluten starts to develop long strands and all the dough has pulled away from the sides and collected around the paddle. 
  3. Turn the dough out into a bowl greased with olive oil, cover with cling film, place in a warm area and let it double is size.  Turn out onto a well-floured surface and sprinkle some flour and black sesame seeds over   
  4. Cut into smaller rolls or use as one big loaf without handling the dough too much and breaking up the yeast bubbles. 
  5. Bake at 200 degrees Celsius for about 25 to 35 minutes until done.  Serve immediately or let is rest and warm just before serving.