If you’ve ever driven across the Canadian prairies in the summer, you know about the glorious fields of yellow that dot the landscape. Often, these fields are considered to be canola, but they are fields of mustard as well. You have to get out of your car and get up close and personal with the plant to really tell the difference, as the flowers are so similar.
Canada is the world’s largest producer of mustard seed and Saskatchewan produces more than 70% of it. As the world’s most important exporter of mustard seed, that bottle of Dijon you pick up at the grocery store may have been made in France, but the seeds to make it more than likely came from Saskatchewan.
There are varieties of mustard on the shelves; yellow mustard seed is the most common, and the most mellow with minimal heat – you probably have a bottle of it in your fridge. Brown mustard seed is zestier than yellow, and used in Dijon-style mustards. Oriental mustard has the most piquant flavour, and is smaller and darker than yellow mustard seed: that little seed really packs a punch! Dry mustard powder is finely ground mustard seed.
There’s more to mustard than meets the eye. Yes, it’s fabulous on grilled sausages, smeared on sandwiches and packed in pickles, but mustard packs a flavourful punch as well as adding texture and visual appeal with very little effort.
A teaspoon or two goes a long way, and I like to add it to salad dressings and marinades, as it’s a great emulsifier. Mustard and eggs go hand in hand, and I love adding a spoonful to Hollandaise sauce, devilled eggs, egg salad, even a little bit of Dijon on a fried egg sandwich.
Potatoes are a perfect partner for mustard, whether they are roasted, mashed, stuffed or baked – and of course in potato salad mustard really perks up the flavour. I especially love mustard in a hearty meat sauce, which can be the base for lasagna or served on its own with spaghetti.
It might sound a little crazy, but mustard is also wonderful in baked goods. I’ve mixed dry mustard powder into the melted butter of rice crispy squares, then stirred yellow mustard seeds in for good measure. I’ve stirred honey mustard into brownies, oatmeal cookies and chocolate cakes, with terrifically tasty results.
Mustard seeds add great texture and flavour to cheese biscuits, focaccia and cornbread. These touches of mustard really add a warmth to the baked goods, without shouting “Mustard is in here!”. It’s a subtle, yet welcome depth of flavour, which will surprise (and impress) even the biggest sceptics.
Homemade Grainy Mustard
Making your own mustard is so easy and so satisfying; I pat myself on the back every time I tuck a jar of the stuff into the fridge. Add a little honey for sweetness, or use beer instead of wine. Customizable and creative, homemade mustard would make great gifts for the holidays.
6 Tbs (90 mL) mustard seed (yellow, brown, oriental or a combination)
½ cup (125 mL) dry mustard powder
½ cup (125 mL) water (or white wine, beer, grape juice)
3 Tbs (45 mL) white wine or cider vinegar
Grind whole mustard seed in a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder for several seconds, until they are coarse.
Place in a glass bowl with dry mustard powder and water, and stir well. Let stand for 10 minutes.
Stir in the wine or vinegar. If adding honey, add 2 tsp (10 mL) now.
Pour into a glass jar, tighten the lid and refrigerate for at least 24-48 hours before using. The waiting time allows the bitterness to dissipate.
(note: the mustard will keep for up to 6 months in the refrigerator)
Bumble Bee Brownie Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes
You wouldn’t think it, but mustard and chocolate are lovely companions, and they balance each other well in these cupcakes. Like Beyoncé and Jay Z, both are earthy, rich and intense on their own, but together, they are even better.
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup unsalted butter
½ cup (125 mL) buttermilk
2 Tbs (30 mL) honey mustard
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp (10 mL) pure vanilla extract
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1½ cups (375 mL) cream cheese, softened
3 Tbs (45 mL) buttermilk
3 Tbs (45 mL) honey mustard
3Tbs (45 mL) liquid honey
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a muffin pan with papers.
- In medium saucepan, combine sugar, butter, buttermilk, mustard and cocoa.Stir over medium heat until it comes to boil. Immediately remove from heat.
- Stir in eggs and vanilla.
- Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl and then stir into the chocolate mixtureuntil combined.
- Spoon the batter into muffin cups until¾full and bake for 16-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out with just a few crumbs clinging to it. Let cool on a wire rack before icing.
- To make the icing: In a bowl, combine cream cheese, buttermilk, mustard and honey. Using an electric mixer and beat until creamy. Spread or pipe on top of cooled cupcakes.