Sunday, June 2, 2013

Let's ride bikes and eat mustard!



Dear kind, sweet, adoring (albeit few) readers... I purchased a bicycle today.  It was raining, my car was barely big enough to fit it, but I bought myself a bicycle.  The transition into adulthood continues as I approach 30 (30?!), and exciting things like buying my very first adult bike make this maturing process feel more and more awesome.  

Let me share with you a little about my bike...  She is green (and it's totes easy for her to be green because green is a baller color, plus it's the shade geniuses pick out... apparently).  She is technically a men's bike, but I feel like she's strong enough for a man, but made for a woman. This woman.  Lastly, she's going to be named after a Game of Thrones character.  I'm not kidding.  Her name is going to be Dany (Daenerys Targaryen).  My bike is the Mother of Dragons.  WOW I just got super nerdy...

One thing Dany doesn't have is a kickstand.  Apparently, in the land of maturity, wisdom, and adulthood, kickstands are kids play.  What??  No kickstand??  What... where am I going to be able to rest my bike?  Oh... that's why everywhere bikers go there are bike stands.  Oh.  Hah.  I knew that...

I really am looking forward to taking her out into the world, taking pictures along the way, and blazing down a few trails alongside Cori.  We'll be blazin' biker chicks, so watch out.

One of my dreams for my new biking self is getting packs for our rides and going on picnics.  I dream of setting up in the grass with a pretty blanket, lemonade, and freshly-made sub sandwiches.  It's summer, so the subs would include avocado, ripe tomatoes, crisp peppers, and tangy-sweet mustard.  It'd have to be amazing mustard, because it would be (in my head) an amazing day.

So let's talk about creating our own amazing mustard, shall we?

Mustard is an open book.  You can take it in almost any direction you want.  There are the classic smooth mustards, such as Dijon, Honey Dijon, or just plan brown/yellow mustard.  There's whole grain, semi-whole grain, toasted grain mustard.  Then the flavorings!  Horseradish, honey, maple, brown sugar, cracked pepper, sundried tomato, garlic, shallot, roasted red pepper... the list is endless.  

The mustard I wanted to make?  The boozy kind.  Tangy mustard meets maple and brown sugar, then gets spike with bourbon.  Can I get an AAAAAAMEN?

Making mustard was super easy (give yourself two days for proper mustard soak-age), but finding the ingredients wasn't as simple as taking myself to the local grocery store.  Most mustard seed quantities at the grocery store come in 1/4 cup quantities in the spices and herbs section.  Not enough.  Not NEAR enough.  Thank goodness for Amazon, right?  I was able to order USDA organic brown mustard seeds and powder in 16 oz sealed bags - perfect for experimenting with different recipes without breaking the bank.  Heart: Happy.

Mustard seeds marinate overnight (or at least 6 hours) in a bath of water and bourbon.  Simple enough, right?  Be careful breathing that mess in... contact buzzes may ensue.  After marination is complete, strain out most of the liquid using a fine mesh colander.  Save about 1/4 cup of the liquid.

Seeds get pulsed in a food processor until desired smoothness.  Now this is where some creative license can kick in - you can keep it whole grain (which I did, even though I pulsed it to release some more flavor), or you can break it down for a smoother mustard).  You won't be able to fully pulverize it at this point, so what I would suggest is grinding it down with a mortar and pestle before putting it into the food processor.  

  All the ingredients except the maple syrup get together in the food processor and combine.  Blend well and make sure to scrape down the sides occasionally.  

Lastly, before you go smothering your sandwich with the amazing mustard you've made, it needs to cook a little.  Cooking over a medium flame for 3-5 minutes will help reduce the liquid, concentrating the flavors for maximum texture and taste.  Maybe you like a thinner mustard?  No worries.  Just cook for 2-3 minutes.  I like mine spreadable for sandwiches and homemade pretzels, so I cooked for 5 minutes total.  Let it cool and decant into your jar.  

Refrigerated mustard keeps for up to one month, or (if you are a canning pro), for up to one year if stored utilizing the proper canning procedures.

Maple Bourbon Mustard
Recipe adapted from Food in Jars.

1 cup bourbon
1/2 cup filtered water
1 cup mustard seeds (I used brown)
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
6 tablespoons dry mustard (again, I used brown)
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1-2 tablespoons high quality pure maple syrup (adjust to taste)

In a glass bowl, combine the bourbon, water, and mustard seeds.  Cover and let rest in the fridge overnight, or at least 6 hours.

When the seeds have finished marinating, strain out most of the liquid using a fine mesh strainer, reserving about 1/4 cup.  Place seeds and the reserved liquid into a food processor and pulse 3-4 times, when the seeds just begin to split but still hold their shape.  Add the vinegar, mustard powder, brown sugar, and salt and pulse until desired smoothness.

Pour the mustard into a small sauce pot and bring to a "sputter" on medium heat.  It won't so much boil as it will... fester.  Cook for about 3 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced a little.  Keep in mind that as the mustard cools, it will thicken slightly.  Make sure you don't burn your mustard, or you'll kick yourself and your kitchen will smell like burnt hair.  Seriously.

Remove the mustard from the heat and stir in the maple syrup.  Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.  Let cool in the pot completely, then decant into your jar and spread onto everything.

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