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Whole-Grain Mustard with Roasted Garlic and Maple

21 Dec

I really do love the holiday season. I think it is easier to love in the last five or so years since Dave and I decided to get out of the STUFF cycle– no more stress of finding the exact perfect thing for someone who already has everything s/he wants or needs; no more shocking credit bills in January; no more frantic trips to overcrowded shops, no more pretending to love something you know will get thrown straight into the trash bin.  But I do love the spirit of giving, and so I have managed to find a happy balance for myself by focusing on homemade gifts. Nothing is more fun (to me) than starting lemons and vodka in July in anticipation of bottling limoncello in December for my friends. Last year I made this, to rave reviews, and the mustard I am sharing with you now was also such a big hit last year I had to make it again.

Sadly, I don’t have any pictures to share of the mustard (computer issue, I won’t bore you with the details). So instead I will share a photo of Robyn and I and the fun we have been having this season, and you will just have to trust me that this mustard  is really, really good. Slather it on pork or chicken and roast away. Or add it to a grilled ham and cheese sandwich, or serve with crackers and an kind of cheese.  Once you see how easy it is to make your own fresh mustard, you might never want to buy the supermarket stuff again.

Whole-Grain Mustard with Roasted Garlic and Maple
From Cooking.com
Yields about 8 cups

2 1/4 cups  whole yellow mustard seeds (see Tip)
3/4 cup  whole brown mustard seeds (see Tip)
2 1/2 cups  cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups  water, plus more as needed
1 head  garlic
1 teaspoon  extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup  pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons  salt

Combine yellow and brown mustard seeds, vinegar and 1 1/2 cups water in a large bowl; cover and let stand at room temperature until the liquid is mostly absorbed, at least 6 hours (or up to 24 hours).

About an hour before you’re ready to make mustard, preheat oven to 400°F. Rub off the excess papery skin from garlic without separating the cloves. Slice the tip off the head, exposing the cloves. Place the garlic on a piece of foil, drizzle with oil and wrap into a package. Place the package directly on the oven rack and roast until the garlic is very soft, 40 minutes to 1 hour.

When the garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze half of the cloves out of their skins into a blender. Add half of the mustard seed mixture and pulse, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary and adding water by the tablespoon as needed to facilitate the blending, until some of the seeds are coarsely chopped and the mixture looks like grainy mustard. Transfer to a large bowl. Repeat with the remaining roasted garlic and mustard mixture and add to the bowl. Stir in maple syrup and salt.

Spoon the mustard into airtight containers and refrigerate.

Herbed Olive Oil Crackers

6 Jul

My New Year’s Resolution this year was to make everything we eat from scratch, and I must say that I have done very well the last seven months. It wasn’t like we ate much processed or packaged food before, but I really just wanted to try to make everything by hand that I could, in order to see if it really was an impossible task. I kept thinking back to my grandmother and great-grandmother and all that they did every single day, and felt like a slacker in comparison. Feeding ourselves is the most basic and most important human endeavor, and I really wanted to take responsibility for every morsel entering my body, and also for every dollar spent in the pursuit of food.

Dough

In the first few months of the new year I made homemade cinnamon rolls, baked fresh bread (which I had never done before), fermented sauerkraut, and made my own ricotta from goat’s milk. I made ice cream and pasta from scratch, and was having a ball. I saw Michael Pollan discussing his book, Food Rules, and it just. made. perfect. sense.  And I am happy to report that I have not looked back.

Cooking for friends is something I absolutely love to do.  Cooking is how I show people I care about them, and making a glorious meal for friends and family is pretty much the best way for me to spend a day, topped only by sharing said meal with said friends.  And wine.

Rolled dough with herbs

My friends Cheryl and Bryan, who also like to cook, came for dinner recently and I couldn’t wait to put together a menu.  For appetizers I knew I wanted to serve this amazing local chevre with Herbes de Provence (from Port Madison Goat Farm and Dairy), and needed something spectacular to serve with the cheese.  Voila!  The trusty Herbfarm Cook Book had just the recipe I was looking for: herbed olive oil crackers.

The crackers turned out amazingly well, and were super easy to make.  In fact, once you have homemade crackers it is pretty hard to go back to the cardboard taste of most anything that comes preserved forever in a box.  The recipe calls for rye flour which you can find in bulk at your local grocery store, and any herbs you have on hand would be lovely. Unlike bread, you don’t have to wait for these to rise, so they are super simple and quick to make.

Fresh out of the oven

Herbed Olive Oil Crackers
From The Herbfarm Cook Book

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup medium rye flour
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp finely chopped rosemary
5 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup cold water, plus more if needed
1/4 cup thinly sliced sage leaves
1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt

Dough: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Stir the flours, 3/4 tsp salt, and rosemary together in a medium mixing bowl.  Stir in 3 tbs of the olive oil, then rub the mixture between your fingers to break up any lumps and work the crumbs into the texture of cornmeal.  Stir in the milk (I used plain soy milk because I am allergic to cow milk) and water to form a medium stiff dough.  (I did this all in my Kitchenaid.)  If it is too dry to easily come together into a dough, add more water 1 tbs at a time.

Rolling: Line a large cookie sheet or the back of a baking sheet (about 16 x 12 inches) with parchment paper.  Roll the dough into a rectangle the same size as the pan.  Roll it up on the rolling pin and unroll it onto the parchment.  With a pastry wheel or pizza cutter, cut the dough into a 6 x 4 grid for 24 crackers.  (They don’t have to be uniform.)  Brush the tops of the crackers with the remaining 1 tbs olive oil and sprinkle them with sage leaves and kosher salt.

Baking: Bake the crackers until they are browned around the edges and in spots throughout, 16 to 18 minutes.  Slide the crackers into a wire rack to cool.  If the crackers that were baked in the middle of the pan seem softer and less done, return them to the oven for 3 to 5 minutes.  Cool the crackers for at least 30 minutes before serving to give them a chance to crisp.  Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

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