Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Cookbook? Really?

Oh yes, friends, it's true! I have been asked to write a cookbook for Quarry Books. I am stunned, excited, freaked out, thrilled. Mostly, I'm really happy!

The working title is Staples From Scratch: How to Make Your Own Kitchen Pantry Essentials. So what's it all about, you ask? Well, it will include recipes for condiments, salad dressings, chips and dips, nut butters, and more.

I think it will appeal to many people - from the adventurous cook to the person with food sensitivities. It's great fun to create food from scratch that you might have never thought about before. Why not make your own ketchup? It's easy! And while you're at it, use your ketchup to make your own barbecue sauce or cocktail sauce. One recipe leads to the next. You'll also be surprised at how simple most recipes are.

I am working on Chapter One now. It's due to the publisher on July 27 so the clock is ticking. Chapter One is Condiments so my kitchen is filled to the brim with jars of mustard, samples of ketchup, homemade Worcestershire, and mayonnaise galore.

I'm currently in mustard mode - Ball Park-Style Yellow Mustard, Bavarian Sweet Mustard, Spicy Brown, Dijon-style, Whole Grain, Creamy Dill... The list goes on.

I've learned a ton about mustard. For example, did you know that mustard is hottest when it's made with cold liquid? The cold liquid creates an enzymatic reaction that causes that nose-clearing spiciness. Time will lessen the heat, especially if the mustard remains at room temperature. 

Intrigued? Try this recipe for yourself.

Old World Mustard
1/2 cup yellow mustard seeds (for more heat try adding some brown mustard seeds)
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt or sea salt
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 sprigs thyme
1 clove garlic
1 tsp honey 
1 tsp olive oil
cold water, approximately 1/2 cup

Pulverize the mustard seeds, pepper, salt, garlic and thyme using a food processor, spice mill or mortar and pestle. Scrape the crushed seed blend in a small glass bowl. (Note: Do not use a metal mixing bowl. The mustard can pick up metallic flavors.) Add the vinegar, honey, and oil and mix until you created a coarse paste. Slowly add water, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture reaches your desired thickness. Cover with plastic wrap and let the mustard rest on your counter for 1 to 2 days. Transfer to a clean jar, cover, and refrigerate. The mustard will last up to 12 months.

Old World Mustard is reminiscent of French country mustard. It's wonderful as the base of a mustard sauce for roast beef or steak, great in vinaigrettes and delicious on sausages and hot dogs. 

Remember the longer it sits the milder it will become, but you can speed the process by heating it in a sauce pan over low heat for 30 to 45 minutes. Don't simmer, just warm it. 

Staples from Scratch will be published in August of next year, 2013. In the meantime, it's back to the kitchen for me!

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