Mustard in the Custard

2 05 2011

Longtime readers of this blog may remember my penchant for making breakfast strata on Easter.  And other times.  This year was no different.  Again looking to the contents of my fridge for inspiration, ham and cheddar sounded like a delightfully sandwich-y take on the strata.

Speaking of sandwiches, wouldn’t a little mustard be the perfect spice for eggy brunch sandwiches?  Monte Cristo breakfast casserole?  Ok, none of that sounds appetizing.  Let’s just say I put the mustard in the custard and get on with it.

mustard in the custard!

Layers: bread, caramelized onions (I seem to be incapable of making a strata without them), strips of ham, shredded Tillamook cheddar.  Repeat, finish with bread.  Custard: four eggs, two cups of milk, salt, pepper, a big spoonful each of grainy mustard and Dijon, and a few dashes of Tabasco sauce. Let it soak for at least half an hour, bake at 350F for an hour or so, and eat.  Champagne and Bloody Marys make perfect accompaniments.  I probably don’t need to tell you this, but it was so good.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.


Céleri Rémoulade

11 11 2010

I really don’t know why I haven’t made this before.

close up

Céleri rémoulade, a classic of French cuisine, is absolutely delicious.  And it even improves in flavor, if not looks, over time.  (You see, celeriac, also known as celery root, has a tendency to brown when it is exposed to air.  You can minimize the effect by having the rémoulade dressing ready to go when you grate the celeriac, but after a few days in the fridge, chemistry wins.)

capers, mayonnaise, mustard, shallot, parsley

It’s also one of the easiest things I’ve ever made.  I’ve never made it before, yet I dove right in, without even consulting a recipe. Remoulade is a mayonnaise-based sauce not unlike tartar sauce, which I do off-the-cuff anyway.  So I winged it.  Two or three heaping soup spoons of mayonnaise (I used store-bought, but I’m sure it would be even better with homemade), two coffee spoons of capers, chopped, a minced shallot, two heaping coffee spoons of grainy mustard, the leaves of about six stems of parsley, chopped, and several twists of black pepper from the mill.  (You’ll notice I used curly parsley, but that’s only because I couldn’t find any flat-leaf at the store.)  And that’s it for the dressing.  Mix it all together, taste it, and then get going on the celery root.

Scrub and peel the celeriac, cut it into pieces that are manageable for your grater, and grate away.  If I had my Cuisinart, you can be sure I’d use it to make fast work of the grating.  Then simply mix the shredded celery root into the remoulade.  It should be mostly vegetable – the dressing is just that: dressing.  It shouldn’t be gloppy at all.  In fact, when I was mixing it I wondered if maybe I should add more mayonnaise, but in the end I’m glad I didn’t.

And there you have it!  A classic French appetizer salad.  It’s certainly going to be a staple in my winter cooking repertoire, giving me just one more reason to look forward to this tasty root vegetable showing up in my CSA share.

On this day in 2008: Worthwhile French Beers: Les 3 Brasseurs

Originally published on Croque-Camille.

Now We’re Cooking With Mustard!

9 11 2009

October, aka Burgundy Month, may be over, but it has left a lasting impression on my kitchen in the form of Large Quantities of Mustard.  Mustard, believe it or not, does expire, so now I’m faced with the enviable task of figuring out what to do with all of it.  Vinaigrette is easy – the more mustard you add to it, the easier it is to emulsify! – but no one wants to eat salad every night, no matter how beautiful and flavorful the dressing.

Shortly after our return from Dijon, I had a cauliflower from the CSA panier idling in the fridge.  Cauliflower in cheese sauce is a classic, but it occurred to me to swap out the cheese for a healthy dose of fresh mustard.  I whipped up a quick béchamel sauce (remember last week’s velouté?  Same thing, only with milk instead of stock), using an 8:1 ratio of milk to roux – going for saucy, not soupy.  Meanwhile, I was roasting bite-size chunks of cauliflower in the oven.  When the sauce was ready, I whisked in a few big spoonfuls of mustard, then tossed the sauce with the cauliflower and popped it back in the oven for a few minutes to get a delicious tan.

Like a cheese-less cauliflower gratin

And it was fantastic.  We ate it as a main course, but it would make a great side dish, too.

Still looking for ways to incorporate mustard into my menus, I thought I’d check the selection of exotic (well, to the people who stock the vegetables at Monoprix, anyway) greens at my local Asian market (ok, one of the many).  Mustard greens sounded like they might end up a little one-dimensional, but broccoli greens seemed right on.  (Not entirely sure what these are called in English.  In French, they’re labeled “feuilles de brocoli,” and they look a bit like broccoli rabe or rapini, but don’t taste bitter the way those do.)  Using this recipe sketch as a jumping off point  – which I have done many times, all recipes should be written this way – I softened some shallots in a pan before adding sliced broccoli greens until they wilted.  A splash of white wine vinegar and a couple of large dollops of mustard went in next, and when the greens were coated to my liking, I served them up next to loaded cheeseburgers – dark leafy greens make any meal healthy, right?

Mustardy broccoli greens

I never did much actual cooking with mustard before, but you can believe I’m going to keep at it!

Originally published on Croque-Camille.

A City Known for Mustard in a Region Known for Wine

16 10 2009

Maille boutique, Dijon

Dijon, located in the Côte d’Or département, is a city full of great food, wine, and shopping opportunities.  Nick and I arrived in town Saturday morning and headed straight for the market, which was packed with local and regional cheeses, charcuterie, wines, and produce.  If the weather had been nicer, we would have picked up some goodies and found a picturesque spot to enjoy a picnic.  Alas, it being October, we got gray skies and intermittent rain.  Nonetheless, we did not go hungry.  After a long lunch in a restaurant near the market, we wandered over to the rue de la Liberté, the city’s main shopping street (in fact, it is what I remember most about my last visit to Dijon, in 2000, particularly the H&M).  This time, though, I was shopping for mustard.  The Maille boutique features dozens of flavors of mustard, from cassis to herbes de Provence to marc de Bourgogne.  I wanted to try them all, but feared for my sinuses.

Stoneware mustard jars

My favorite feature of the shop is the mustard taps, where you can have a stoneware mustard pot filled with your choice of fresh mustard.  Apparently Maille has one other boutique in France, located in Paris – D’oh! – so when I run out, I can go there to get my pot refilled.

Mustard Tap

And then we were off in search of wine…

Read the rest of this entry »


5 03 2008

I’m talking about sandwiches, not art.  Although some may consider sandwich-making an art, and those are the sandwiches I want.  Which could certainly contribute to one’s becoming more Rubenesque.  (Now that I think about it, didn’t Subway used to have some kind of “sandwich artist”-based ad campaign before Jared lost all that weight eating sandwiches with nothing on them?  There’s a joke in there somewhere.)  But I digress. 

Last weekend Cook’s Illustrated sent me an email with a Reuben recipe.  I thought Rubens sounded good, and looking at the recipe I realized I could probably streamline it.  It called for making your own sauerkraut instead of buying it in a jar – but what if you can buy it fresh, like I can here?  Ok, sauerkraut, check.  Next, Swiss cheese.  Well, I have some emmenthal in the fridge, check.  Rye bread?  There are only about a million bakeries in Paris.  Check.  Corned beef or pastrami?  Nick found several Jewish delis just up the street last Sunday – surely I can find something like that there.  Mayonnaise and mustard – already mixed, even.  (I think that in France, mayonnaise and mustard are on some kind of spectrum.  It is difficult to find mayonnaise without any mustard at all in it.  And you can buy mustard “mi-forte” which seems to have mayonnaise already mixed in.)  At any rate, these sandwiches should be pretty easy to put together.

Or maybe not.  The first problem I ran into was not knowing the French word for “rye.” I had done my homework and found a boulangerie that was supposed to have excellent rye bread.  However, I got in there and realized I didn’t know how to ask for what I wanted.  After a few awkward moments of stumbling in English and French with the two counter girls, I slunk out with a baguette.  I went home and looked it up immediately.  In case you’re wondering, the French word for rye is seigle.  As in pain de seigle.  Which I definitely saw in that boulangerie.  D’oh!  With my new-found knowledge I found myself at the market bakery counter.  Fortunately, they had pain de seigle, too.  Crisis averted.

Still at the market, I found the charcuterie counter, and sure enough, they had sauerkraut.  But the line was so long I decided to look elsewhere.  Maybe the Jewish deli will have some.  So off to the deli we went.  And they had corned beef, or something like it, called “Pickel.”  Great.  Sauerkraut?  Only in pre-packaged tubs.  Yuck.  We checked a few more of the Jewish establishments in the neighborhood, to no avail.  Well, now I need to buy a cabbage and some cider vinegar.  Back to the market for a cabbage, stopping along the way for a bottle of vinegar.  Ok, that was not as easy as I thought it was going to be.

But once all the ingredients were acquired, the sandwiches were relatively quick.  I chopped up the cabbage and put it in a pot with some cider vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, and a couple of cloves.

Cabbage before

I covered it and let it cook for about half an hour, until the cabbage was nice and tender.  Then I removed the cover and let the excess liquid cook off.  There you have it: less than an hour to make fresh sauerkraut!

Sauerkraut after

After that, putting the sandwiches together was a snap.  Bread, mayonnaise/mustard combo, cheese, meat, sauerkraut, cheese, top with more mayo/mustard smeared bread, butter the bread and heat in a pan until browned and melty.  I thought we could use something green with such a rich sandwich, so I sautéed some pretty little haricots verts I picked up at the market.

Haricots verts

I seasoned them with salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice, and it was time to eat.

Reuben dinner

I like green beans with sandwiches or burgers – they’re like french fries, but healthier!  Speaking of healthier (or was it Rubenesque?) I need to go find some sausages to eat with the leftover sauerkraut.

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