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Italian cuisine inspires Robert Thornberry

They say that travel broadens the mind but in Robert Thornberry's case, a travel agent proprietor, it's also extended his culinary horizons and his collection of cookbooks is extensive. An invitation to Robert's table is much sought after. He spoke at Books on the Menu about being inspired by international flavours and his love of Italian food and the book Lucio's Ligurian Kitchen by Lucio Galletto and David Dale, photography by Paul Green. Here is the recipe constantly on the request list from family and friends  Stuffed Mussels:

Stuffed Mussels (Muscoli ripieni) Serves 4

Ingredients:
500g green prawns, 2kg mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded, 2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese, 1 garlic clove, finely chopped, 1 handful flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped, 2 eggs, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, 60ml olive oil, 1 small white onion, finely chopped, 125ml dry white wine, 5 ripe tomatoes, peeled and sliced, 2 sprigs oregano, roughly chopped, 2 sprigs thyme, plus more for serving.

Method:
Peel and devein the prawns, reserving the heads, and finely chop. With a small knife, force open the mussels slightly, leaving the top shells attached. Reserve any juice from the mussels. Put aside about two-thirds, and remove the mussels from the shells of the remaining third. Finely chop, combine with the prawn meat and place in a bowl. Add the parmesan, garlic, parsley and eggs, one by one. Mix thoroughly and season with salt and pepper. Spoon a little of this mixture into each of the mussel shells, then push the shells closed. Heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan over a low heat, and add the prawn heads. Squash the heads with a wooden spoon to release the flavours. When the prawn heads change colour, take them out of the pan and discard. Add the onion and fry for 5 minutes or until translucent. Pour in the white wine and let it bubble for 3 minutes or until the alcohol evaporates. Add the tomatoes, and 4 tablespoons of the juice from the mussels. Sprinkle with oregano, mix well and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, add the stuffed mussels and thyme, cover and place on a medium heat. Cook for 20 minutes, delicately shaking the pan from time to time. Divide the stuffed mussels between four plates and decorate with a few more sprigs of time. Enjoy!

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