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The Magic of Mustard

The Magic of Mustard

There's a lot more to it than hot dogs. Read on!

By Karen Berman

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There’s a lot more to mustard than that yellow stuff you slather on your hot dog. Mustard has been eaten for thousands of years; it’s mentioned in the Bible and researchers have found that it was eaten in ancient Egypt. Early traders carried mustard seeds all over the world, and wherever it landed, the local folk incorporated it into their foodways. For example:

  • In France, particularly in Burgundy, cooks developed a method of crushing the seeds, adding wine and other flavorings to make spicy paste we know as Dijon mustard.
  • In England, black and white mustard seeds were crushed, mixed with spices and sold in powdered form to be mixed with water by the user.
  • Italian Cremona mustard contains crystallized fruit.
  • In the Indian province of Bengal and its neighbor to the north, Bangladesh, mustard is not just a seasoning; the oil that results from crushing the seeds is used as a cooking fat.

These days you can find all kinds of mustards on the shelves of your market: basic yellow mustard and spicy deli-style, as well as whole-grain mustard and mustards flavored with tarragon or bourbon, curry powder or cranberries. Use mustard for hotdogs and sandwiches, of course, but it also adds a pleasantly pungent note to sauces and dressings.

Mustard Vinaigrette
Add mustard to your homemade vinaigrette for a little extra zip: combine 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1/3 cup white or wine vinegar and 2/3 cup olive oil and blend until the ingredients are thoroughly mixed and golden in color. You can add a few grinds of black pepper if you like but because the mustard is salty you probably won’t need much extra salt, if any. This makes a little more than 1 cup of dressing. Cover and refrigerate leftover vinaigrette.

Winter Salad with Apples and Mustard Vinaigrette
If you don’t care for winter tomatoes, use apples in your salad instead. Make the Mustard Vinaigrette as described above. Core 1 or 2 firm, tart apples and cut into bite-size pieces, leaving the skin on for a nice bit of color. Place the apples in a plastic storage container (use one with a lid) and pour in some of the vinaigrette. Cover tightly and shake, so that all of the apple pieces are well coated. Use enough vinaigrette to cover all the apples, as this keeps them from browning; ¼ to 1/3 cup should do it. You can refrigerate the apples for several hours if necessary.

When you are ready to serve the salad, assemble your favorite salad ingredients (lettuce, cucumber, scallion, carrot or whatever you like) and toss in the apples, pouring the vinaigrette from the storage container over the greens. Toss well. If you need more dressing, drizzle a little more vinaigrette over the salad and toss again. The apples and vinaigrette offer an easy way to jazz up a bagged salad, too. _______________________________________________________________________

Karen Berman is a freelance writer who specializes in food, technology, and lifestyle issues


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Tagged With: mustard, grainy mustard, mustard seeds, sausages, vinaigrettes

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