Tuesday, July 30, 2013

It All Makes Senf To Me (That's German for Mustard)

When Vince and I visited Germany several years ago, I fell in love - with the people, the mountains, and the mustard.  When I was creating recipes for The Kitchen Pantry Cookbook, I knew I had to include a Bavarian-Style Yellow Mustard. This is my homage to the delightful, lightly sweet, slightly spicy mustard I had so often on that trip. 


This sweet-hot mustard is the perfect companion to wieners, bratwurst, and knockwurst. It also makes a nice dip for pretzels. I’ve suggested two different preparation methods—slow and quick—in this recipe. If you are interested in the natural mellowing of mustard and have the time, try the slow method. If you’d like to eat the mustard right away, the quick method is the one for you.

Yield: Makes 1 cup (175 g)

1/2 cup (72 g) yellow mustard powder/dry mustard (see Note)
1/4 cup (60 ml) warm water
2 tablespoons (26 g) sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt or coarse sea salt
2 tablespoons (28 ml) cider vinegar


Slow Method—Combine the mustard powder, warm water, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Stir until a smooth paste is formed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit overnight or up to 24 hours.

Stir in the cider vinegar. Transfer the mustard to an airtight container. Cover. The mustard will continue to mellow if left at room temperature. You can allow the mustard to rest on your counter for up to 8 weeks before refrigerating. Test the flavor occasionally to determine whether it has mellowed to the level you desire. When you are satisfied with the flavor, transfer the jar to the refrigerator.

Quick Method—Increase the water to 1/2 cup (120 ml). Combine the mustard powder, warm water, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Maintain a low heat. Do not simmer or boil. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cider vinegar. Cool to room temperature and transfer to an airtight container. Cover and refrigerate. The mustard can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 12 months.

Note: For spicier mustard, try using Penzeys Regular Canadian Mustard Powder, a blend of brown and yellow mustard.

Heat and Mustard
I’ve seen many mustard recipes over the years that suggest mixing up the mustard, letting it rest overnight, and diving right in. I’m not suggesting those recipes are wrong, but—a word of warning—if you’ve mainly eaten commercially prepared mustards, you might be in for quite an assault on your taste buds, not to mention a clearing of your sinuses, and perhaps a flush of your tear ducts. Homemade mustard can take weeks to mellow.

So, why is the yellow mustard we buy from the grocery store less intense? Well, when mustard seeds are cracked or ground and mixed with cool liquid, a chemical reaction occurs that releases fiery chemical compounds, myrosin and sinigrin. Adding warm liquid instead diminishes some of the burst of heat. In addition, acids, like vinegar, can slow the decline of the heat. If you like a milder mustard, use warm water or warm the mustard over medium-low heat and add the vinegar after the mustard has set for a time.

Incidentally, mustard does not need to be refrigerated, but refrigeration does help maintain the potency.

Excerpted from The Kitchen Pantry Cookbook by Erin Coopey (Quarry Books, 2013)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Burger Nirvana - Smells Like Summer Spirit!

Okay, so my title might have been influenced by the fact that I live in Seattle. (That's a nod to all you reformed grunge listeners.) Or! It could be because I have ascended to a transcendental state of burger bliss. (Let's go with that one!)

Burgers are classic American BBQ fare. I'm sure that there have been many heated discussions about what constitutes the best burger. Ultimately, I think most will agree that the burger has got to be juicy and flavorful.

So, you're looking for the secret? What constitutes the Best Burger Ever? I've got a few tips that will change the way you eat burgers forever. You know you want it...juicy, flavorful, burger nirvana! Get out some extra napkins because this tiny pat of heaven is gonna rock your burger world.

The Best Burger Ever!

1 1/2 to 2 pounds 85% lean/15% fat grass-feed beef
Burger Nirvana Butter, recipe below
Chef Erin's Steak Shaker, recipe below (I can't believe I'm giving out my secret recipe!)
4 hamburger buns, your favorite
Burger condiments, your choice

Fire up the grill or preheat your grill pan. Medium heat is best. You don't want to char the outside before the inside is properly cooked. 

Divide the ground beef into four equal portions. Slice four pats of Burger Nirvana Butter, about 1/8 to 1/4 thick each. Make an indentation in the center of each burger portion, and stuff a pat of Burger Nirvana Butter into the indentation and shape meat into a patty. (Be sure that the butter isn't sticking out anywhere.) Season each patty generously with Chef Erin's Steak Shaker.

Grill burgers to the desired doneness - about 7 minutes per side for medium, or 10 minute per side for medium well.* Remove from grill and allow to rest for 5 minutes. In the meantime, spread a little of the Burger Nirvana Butter on the inside of the hamburger buns and toast lightly on the grill or grill pan. Top with the burger and your favorite condiments, serve and wait for the "oohhs" and "aahhs!"

*Note: I wouldn't recommend cooking a burger less than medium temperature.  Grinding beef takes all the bacteria from the outside and mixes it into the meat.  If you cook your ground beef to less than 160F (medium), you won't kill all the potential bacteria that causes food borne illness. Don't worry though, the Burger Nirvana Butter will ensure that the burger stays juicy even when the meat is medium well or well done.

Makes 4 6 to 8-ounce burgers.

Burger Nirvana Butter

2 sticks butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp minced shallots
3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

Chop the butter into chunks. Using a mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the butter at medium speed until it softens and lightens in color, about 5 minutes.

Add garlic, shallots, parsley, and mustard to the whipped butter and beat for another 1 to 2 minutes until blended. Scrape the butter from the mixing bowl onto wax paper or plastic wrap. Use the edge of a baking sheet to form the butter into a tight log. Chill for 2 hours before serving or freeze for up to a month.

Chef Erin's Steak Shaker
(By the way, this makes everything taste better...really.)

1/2 c kosher salt
2 tbsp black pepper
2 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder

Combine all ingredients and place in a shaker with a lid. If left uncovered the garlic powder will decrease in pungency over time.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Rules to Grill By: Tips for Grilling Vegetables

Here are a few pointers to make grilling vegetables a snap every time!

One of the most important things to remember to do is make sure you cut your vegetables approximately the same thickness so that they cook evenly.
Grill veggies over medium heat and be sure turn them often to avoid overcooking/burning. Never leave vegetables unattended unlike meat which can be somewhat forgiving vegetables are very time and heat sensitive.
Brush or drizzle oil on vegetables for added flavor and to help vegetables from sticking but DO NOT oil the grill itself because that can lead to flare up and charred vegetables.
The grill surface should be CLEAN to avoid sticking (prior to heating).
Secure thick slices of onion (at least 3/4" thick) with tooth picks to ensure they don't fall apart on the grill.
Parboil small, waxy potatoes or thick slices of sweet potatoes (at least 1" thick) until just tender. Let them cool to room temperature before you grill them.
You should also try basting grilled sweet potatoes with a little rum butter just before you serve them. To make Rum Butter, simple combine 2 tbsp butter, 6 tbsp light brown sugar, 2 tbsp rum, and 1/4 tsp vanilla in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Stir until melted and then brush or drizzle over grilled sweet potatoes. I swear they'll be the hit of the party.

Soak sweet corn in cold water for 1 hour prior to grilling. This will help the corn to stay juicy. I grilled corn in the husk instead of using aluminum foil. Simply remove the silk, soak and grill for 15 minutes over medium heat, rolling the cob every 3 minute or so.
When grilling large mushrooms like Portobello, remove the stem and start by grilling them stem-side up. This allow the natural juices to collect and the natural flavors of the mushroom are enhanced.

Don't crowd your skewers - leave about 1/8 of space between chunks of vegetables. This helps speed the cooking process and allows vegetables to cook evenly. 

For grilling smaller pieces of vegetables, try using foil packets or a grilling basket so the veggies don't fall through the grate. If you make foil packs, be sure to use heavy duty aluminum foil so they will stands up to the heat of the grill.
If you are grilling kebabs  soak your wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes before you skewer your vegetables and start grilling. This will keep your skewers from burning away while you are cooking. 

I like to toss grilled vegetables with flavored butters like garlic butter or Burger Nirvana Butter for a delicious finish!
Happy Grilling!
What is your favorite vegetable on the grill? Do you have any tricks or tips your could share?