The Mustard Files: Spicy Spring Dijon

I’m a bit of sucker for interesting mustards.

In fact, it used to be I’d make a special trip to the local farmers market each spring to stock my pantry with a few variety of jars of flavoured mustards that would almost always last the year …but not much longer.

The sad part is that I’m the only one in my house who loves the yellow sauce, so I’m always buying and creating mustards for an audience of one.

Creating? You ask.

Why yes, if you can call starting with a store-bought mustard and experimenting with adding your own spices and seasonings to it to enhance the mustard experience, then of course creating.

Often I’ll spin up a little bowl of spicy mustard or curry mustard or garlic mustard to accompany a plate of bratwurst or a pan-cooked chop of some kind.

And tonight was no exception.

Recipe

30ml dijon-style mustard
4 pinches of curry powder
2 pinches of ground cumin
2 pinches of cayenne pepper
1 pinch ground ginger

This particular blend turned into a medium-spicy mix that reminded me of a trip to Berlin and eating sausages on a busy street corner from a paper tray in the rain.

Appropriate then that I served it with some local sausage and looked out the window at the evening’s downpour.

Pan Fried Mushrooms

I keep a cast iron pan near my barbecue for exactly one reason: my wife loves grilled mushrooms on her hamburgers.

I know very well that a well-seasoned pan atop an outdoor gas grill has a whole host of purposes, but when you have a system like this that ain’t broke… why fix it?

We eat barbecued hamburgers at least a few times per month over the summer, and without fail we slice up a couple cups of fresh button mushrooms, toss them into the blazing hot pan with a pat of butter and a clove or two of crushed garlic.

Recipe

2 cups of sliced button mushrooms
1 tablespoon of crushed garlic
1 tablespoon of butter

The fungi heat and sizzle and brown up with a rich, lovely aroma as the burgers grill up nearby, and everything is usually ready to eat just in time, as I swoop the plate full of patties into the house with a steaming hot bowl of grilled mushrooms alongside.

These go great with hamburgers, but I’ve been know to toss grilled mushrooms atop a steak, beside some grilled pork, as part of a veggie medley, or even just to nibble on their own.

Sweet Iced Coffee

Here on the Canadian prairies the weather is as changeable as a simile about how changeable the weather can be.

Just a few weeks ago there was snow on the ground.

Today it is thirty degrees Celsius in the shade.

That’s definitely not unbearable, nor unwelcome, but after a deep cold winter it can be a bit of a shock to the body system and requires that I adjust and remember ways to adapt.

One simple way to adapt quickly is with cool drinks.

I usually start my day with a hot cup of coffee, and despite the relatively scorching weather, today was no different.

Yet when I wandered back towards my coffee pot after that first cup, I couldn’t help but pause and reconsider my second. So, instead of refilling I pulled a fresh glass from the cupboard, filled it with ice, sprinkled a bit of sugar inside, and topped it up with some of the remaining brewed coffee that was hanging out in the pot.

Recipe

500ml drinking glass filled with ice cubes
250 - 500ml of coffee (cooled)
15ml sugar

I usually drink my coffee black, but iced cold coffee seems to call out for something a little sweeter. And if you are a cream and sugar kind of person, an iced version of that variation would be delicious and refreshing as well.

I’m not sure how long the weather will stay so hot around here, nor can I know how your weather is treating you. But I can say that this is a simple drink recipe that I’ll be revisiting again in the next few days, and I can definitely hope it inspires you to feel cool and refreshed, too.

Campfire Corn Roast

My foray in to roasting vegetables over the fire veered into more traditional territory this afternoon after picking up a few ears of fresh corn from the grocery store.

Step one was to remove the silk while leaving the husk as intact as possible. This is done by carefully peeling back each fibrous layer one at a time without breaking them off. When the final layer of husk has been pulled back, the hair-like strands of silk can be pulled away easily… tho getting those last few is a meticulous process. Then reversing the husk peel, each layer is folded back up around covering the kernels again.

Step two involves a long soak. I’ve read online that some people soak their corn for hours or even overnight. Time was pressing so mine got a deluxe ninety minute bath in ten centimeters of cold tap water in my kitchen sink. The point of this is to introduce a lot of moisture to the ears helping to (a) slow burning and (b) induce steaming.

With nearly an hour left in my soak I got to work chopping wood for step three which was, as the title of this post implies, building a roaring fire to create a bed of hot, crackling embers over which the corn could be roasted. I suppose if one wanted to settle for a charcoal barbecue or even a gas grill I would not object. After all, corn over a flame, whatever flame, is always better than a simple cob dropped in a pot of boiling water.

Step four was that point in the corn-fire relationship where the two really got to know each other. Wet corn sizzled and crackled over the glowing red coals at the base of my fire pit. I started the cook with a lot of careful clock-watching, letting the ears cook for a solid five minutes before turning them (even if it was tempting to intervene on the blackening, charring results.) After each five minutes per side, the black bits that had been rotated away from the flame flaked away exposing more unburnt husk, which in turn cooked and burned and shed. As I neared the end of the cook, the tips of the ears had burn away and the kernels at the tip charred a bit.

The whole family helped with step five which as one might guess involved some butter, salt and pepper and a whole lot of sweet, fire-roasted corn. Delicious.