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Saturday, August 4, 2012

Mustered Mustard Musings: Take Two

"The most challenging task for today's post was coming up with an enticing title. Sure, I could have just titled it Happy National Mustard Day (celebrated annually on the first Saturday in August) or simply Mustard Day but that just wasn't going to cut it. I originally thought "Not Without Mustard" would be the best lure and yet, it just didn't seem to blend. How difficult could it be? I know dabs of this and dabs of that about mustard. Heck, I've even mustered up a few of my own mustard concoctions through the years. How difficult could it be to come up with a label for mustard day? After mulling around and researching an assortment of sources, I decided on Mustered Mustard Musings. Say that fast 3x! Apparently, not everyone has a hard time coming up with a title that's as "keen as mustard."
I wrote those words you see above way back in 2008. Some things never change. I couldn't think of a clever title then and I couldn't muster up one for today either! Oh well!!!
I actually thought about reposting that Mustard Day celebration because, if I do say so myself, it was rather informative. In essence, I discussed the preparation of Marvelous Mustard from seed to paste. I then skimmed over the different kinds of mustard. Though the seeds may be tiny, there's a lot more to the Amazing Mustard Seed than meets the eye!
White Mustard: (Sinapis alba) Generally used for flavoring, white mustard seeds are the traditional seeds used in yellow mustard or Ball Park Mustard. It's usually mixed with salt, spices, vinegar, and turmeric which enhances the golden color. Ball Park mustard was first manufactured in America around 1904 by George T. French as "Cream Salad Mustard." Some say it made its debut at the St, Louis World Fair that year but I haven't confirmed that notion. (see French’s Mustard Cleans Up Its Act, Revises Web Sites) It has, on the other hand, become the standard for “Classic Yellow” mustard in America which has been owned by the British food company Reckitt Benckisersince 1926. White mustard seed is also used as a spice in cucumber pickling.

R. T. French worked for a New York tea, coffee and spice shop for more than twenty years before opening his own spice brokerage in 1876, which became the French & Sons Spice Company four years later. Along with baking powder and birdseed, the company sold mustard, but like other American mustards of that era it was pungent and powerful. French died in 1893, and eleven years later his sons, Francis and George, introduced a much milder "cream salad mustard". As the name implies, it was originally intended as a salad dressing, but French's mustard became popular instead as a condiment for hot dogs and hamburgers.
Black and Brown Mustards: Black (Brassica nigra)) and Brown Mustards (B. juncea) are generally used for aroma. They produce the hottest mustard, especially the black which can grow up to 10 feet but is more difficult to grow. As noted in The New York Times, Mustard Oil is popular in Indian cooking in dishes ranging from curries and lentils to bread and breadsticks. Brown mustard seeds are usually found in prepared English Mustard along with other ingredients such as capers, white wine, vinegar or water. Originally, many mustards were made with black mustard seeds but preparations now use brown mustard seed which is easily available.Herb or Spice? Mustard plants as well as mustard seeds are considered an herb because they are used not only as a condiment, but also for medicinal purposes. Mustard Plaster anyone?
Mustard Oil, a key in India and South Asian cuisine, has left a lot of home cooks and even some chefs scratching their heads over one pivotal question for the pungent culinary accouterment: Is it safe?..Like olive oil to Mediterranean countries, mustard oil in Asian countries like India, Nepal, and Bangladesh is used for lots of purposes, in both cooking and care. (The Mustard Oil Controversy)
Creole Mustard: First introduced to New Orleans by a German man by the name of Mr. Wolff, Creole Mustard, or grainy mustard as it is sometimes called, is a variation of whole-grain mustard where the seeds are slightly crushed. They are not ground nor are they whole. Creole style mustard is mostly found today in Mississippi and Louisiana. Creole Mustard can be used as a substitute for classic yellow mustard in most recipes. I believe, creole mustard usually has some horseradish in its basic recipe. Mine does anyway! I found a rather interesting documented interview with Mr. Emile Zatarain, president of Zatarain Food Products at the Louisiana Digital Library regarding the introduction of Creole Mustard to New Orleans. Way cool...
Garlic Mustard: Garlic mustard is also in the mustard family (Brassicaceae.) It was introduced in North America as a culinary herb in the 1860s. The leaves, flowers and fruit are edible and are best when they are freshly sprouted. The sprouts have a mild flavor of both garlic and mustard, and are used in salads and pesto. It can also be steamed, simmered, or sautéed. In Europe, they use it in sauces. Cook no longer than five minutes, or the leaves will become mushy. Like other members of the mustard seed families, garlic mustard was also once used for medicinal purposes. Garlic Mustard can be very invasive in the garden.In 1720 a Mrs. Clements of Durham, England founded the modern era for mustard making by milling the center of the seed into a fine flour. She used a similar processes used in the making of flour from wheat. Its pungency and taste were far superior to any mustard that had been produced before. It quickly became the standard process for use as a seasoning in cooking and for preparing mustard sauce. Mrs Clements was awarded a patent for her mustard by King George I.
Shakespeare mentions the mustard in Henry IV where Falstaff has the line: "his wit’s as thick as Tewkesbury Mustard"
In 1804, Jeremiah Colman started producing his now famous Colman's Mustard, which is still prepared by a similar process.
Here's a rather humorous ad for Colman's Mustard from Table Topics a regional supermarket flyer published in August of 1938.

Mustard Hungry?

Truth be told, chapters could be written about mustard. Just look at that Mustard Cookbook up above. Written by Sally and Martin Stone, it was published in 1981. If you are at all interested in the nuances of mustard, I suggest you seek it out. Not only is it filled with glops of interesting tidbits, it has some pretty unique recipes too! As a matter of fact, Today I'm going to share a portion of the dinner I made for Marion and myself for today's post! Now, any of you kind visitors who have been popping in for ages know, although this blog circles around food, rarely do I actually set before you a little something I have created with my own little hands:)
Well today I have a really special pork recipe to share with you and believe it or not, I faintly adapted it from a recipe I found in The Mustard Cookbook. And of course, it also involves mustard!!!
The recipe from the book is called Herb Crusted Pork Loin but as you can see from my preparation it doesn't look very "crusted."
That's because I shied away from the array of "crusted" spices and went with a wrapping of bacon instead. My solution to the lack of fat on cuts of meats these days. Yes, I said FAT! Rather than use the assortment of spices as written, I grabbed one of my favorite blends from McCormick; Smokehouse Maple and mixed that into the mustard in lieu of the basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and parsley. Garlic and Marion don't agree so I totally omitted that too. Instead, I added about a tablespoon or two of brown sugar to counteract the bitterness of the mustard. Here's the original recipe with my other notes in red.
Herb Crusted Pork Loin
4-pound boned center cut Pork Loin
4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
4-5 cloves garlic, crushed
1-1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 cup water (I used half water and half pineapple juice)
1 cup dry white wine. (I didn't use this at all, instead I basted with the water/pineapple mixture)

Directions: Preheat oven to 500°
In a small bowl whisk together the mustard and oil; add the garlic, salt, pepper, basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and parsley and make a paste. (my mixture wasn't very pasty:) Make several gashes in the meat with a sharp knife, rub the mixture into the gashes, over the surface of the meat, and into the seams. (I didn't make gashes but I sure did slather the mustard mixture everywhere it would fit!:)
Place the pork loin on top of the sliced onion in a roasting pan, add water to the pan, and roast at high heat for 15 minutes. (yes the air conditioner helped those 15 minutes breeze on by:) Lower the oven to 350° and pour the wine over the meat. (this is where I did the pineapple/water basting) Roast for two hours, basting occasionally with the pan juices. Pork should reach an internal temperature of 175° on a meat thermometer. (I went with 165° and it didn't take two hours, I didn't keep track accurately but I would say it was considerable less, sorry about that:) Serve with pan juices. Serves 6. (Marion and I enjoyed some of the leftovers on Amish bread sandwiches the next day topped with the sweet mustardy onions and it was delicious!)

"The King of Condiments," Mustard that is, grows fairly easily from seed sown directly outdoors from September through spring. Plants will flower in spring if you don't keep them cut back.

A man must eat a peck of salt with his friend, before he knows him.
Miguel De Cervantes
FYI: Just a reminder, tomorrow, the first Sunday in August, is traditionally celebrated as National Friendship Day! And yes, Friendship Day has a history which also happens to include the World's Ambassador of Friendship; Winnie the Pooh!!!

It's still not to late to mix up some Brandied Fruit to make Friendship Cake. So what if it won't be ready in time for tomorrow, there's always next year!!!

A Recipe for Friendship
Fold two hands together
And express a dash of sorrow

Marinate it overnight
And work on it tomorrow

Dissolve the hate within you

By doing a good deed
Cut in and help your friend

If he should be in need

Stir in laughter, love, and kindness
From the heart it has to come
Toss with genuine forgiveness

And give your neighbor some

The amount of people served

Will depend on you
It can serve the whole wide world
If you really want it to.
~Author Unknown~

...Let's go and see everybody," said Pooh. "Because when you have been walking in the wind for miles, and you suddenly go into somebody's house, and he says, "Hallo, Pooh, you're just in time for a little smackerel of something," and you are, then it's what I call a Friendly Day..." (The House at Pooh Corner)

Resources
1. Ogden Nash
2. Mustard @ Purdue University
3. George T. French and Baseball "Mustard" Stains
4. American Chefs Discover Mustard Oil (New York Times)