Last week I came home from the farmers’ market with an armful of mustard. I shop with my eyes and couldn’t resist the bunches of mizuna mustard leaves – frizzy purple, spiky red, scalloped green – not to mention their sunny flowers strung together in tidy bouquets. Since then, they’ve made themselves at home in my fridge, while I’ve reached for pinches and handfuls at each meal, tossing in salads, sprinkling as garnish. Yesterday was our last hurrah. I up-ended the remaining mustard into this quick one-dish skillet dinner, along with my other market acquisitions: spicy Italian sausages, violet-tinged baby cauliflower, orange cherry tomatoes and a few handfuls of curly kale for good measure.
Spicy Sausage, Mustard Greens and Cauliflower in a Skillet
Extra-virgin olive oil, divided
12 ounces Italian sausages, sliced 1/2-inch thick
2 cups cauliflower florets, any color works
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 generous bunches mustard greens and/or kale, tough stems removed
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage in one layer and cook until golden brown on both sides, turning once. With a slotted spoon transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel. If the skillet is dry, add 1 more tablespoon oil. Add the cauliflower and a sprinkle of salt; sauté until crisp tender, about 2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. Sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the greens, 1/2 teaspoon salt, cumin, paprika and black pepper. Saute until the greens are tender and bright in color, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and sausage. Cover partially, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Serve warm with couscous or farro.
Blue Potatoes, Mustard Leaves, Fennel Fronds, Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Yesterday was a farmers’ market day and I purchased with my eyes. Nobby purple potatoes, sumptuous lettuce heads, spiky mustard greens and a bouquet of their brilliant yellow flowers. Baby fennel bulbs with frizzy headdresses and a kaleidescope of golf ball-sized heirloom tomatoes.
When the produce is this fresh and diverse, I let the ingredients do the talking. I made this potato salad to accompany a grilled garlic and spice rubbed tri-tip. Purple potatoes are beautiful and other worldly, resembling prehistoric stones. Their flavor is remarkably mild and creamy despite their blue tinged flesh. For this salad they were boiled until tender and tossed with handfuls of red and green mustard leaves and the frizzy tops of baby fennel. The heat of the potatoes wilted the mustard just enough to tame its pepperiness and released the anise aroma of the fennel fronds. Yellow mustard leaves added a brilliant accent – after all blue and yellow are complimentary colors.
Blue Potato Salad with Fresh Mustard and Baby Fennel
The moral of this post is to embrace what you have. Mix and match aromatic herbs such as dill, parsley, mint and chervil to your taste. Any sturdy green is fair game: the warm potatoes will get to work and wilt it into suppliance.
2 pounds purple potatoes
2 cups spiky mustard leaves, torn in bite-size pieces
1 cup chopped fennel fronds with leaves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Put the potatoes in a large pot and cover with 2 inches of cold water. Add 2 teaspoons salt and bring to a boil. Simmer until tender but not mushy. Drain and cool slightly. Cut any large potatoes in large bite-sized chunks. Place in a large bowl. Add all of the remaining ingredients except the mustard flowers. Toss and taste for seasoning and add more salt to taste. Before serving scatter the mustard flowers over the potatoes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
~ Homemade Bratwurst and a recipe for Beer Mustard ~
This month’s Charcutepalooza challenge had the whiff of Oktoberfest. Not only were we asked to make and stuff more sausages, we were asked to blend and emulsify the meat filling to a consistency found in a hot dog, bratwurst or weisswurst. I chose the bratwurst, partly for it’s happy collaboration with beer and partly for its relative ease compared to the hotdog. Baby steps, please!
As I embarked on this challenge over the July 4th weekend, I envisioned dirndls, sauerkraut and good strong mustard in my future. Somehow a trip to Europe has eluded us this summer, but, by golly, if we can’t make it back for a visit, then I will bring Europe home to my California kitchen. I spent the better part of a day on this challenge, which provided much thoughtful time to reflect on how I would title this post. Here are a few of the contenders:
How to make a Danish family happy:
Yes, my husband is Danish and bratwurst is German. At the end of the day, they share a border, and, while their history may have been a tad testy, these 2 countries also share a culinary love for sausages. In Denmark, sausage is the fast food of choice, with carts distributed wherever people roam. While I may be hunting down a cup of coffee upon international arrival from the U.S., my husband will sidle up to the nearest airport sausage cart with both of our kids in tow, and order a flight of pølse with mustard, bacon and crispy onions. Apparently his gene pool is the strongest.
How to train a terrier: Or, more specifically, the unflinching interest my dog is showing in me while making bratwurst is unsettling. I have never succeeded in getting our terrier to consistently obey me. Now I know how.
Why a power hose should be our next new kitchen gadget:
Sausage, sausage everywhere…on the counters, on the floor, in the sink, in the bowls, in the mixer, in the grinder, in my hair, under my nails, on my clothes and countless kitchen towels. And did I mention that my dog is intently staring at me?
The difference between white pepper and black pepper:
White pepper is traditionally used in dishes that should not show dark flecks of black pepper. But visuals are not the only difference. White pepper has a potent spiced flavor which, in large amounts, I don’t care for. Too bad I only figured that out after I added a heaping spoonful to the filling.
Familiarity breeds contempt: I am 6 hours into the meat stuffing process, which includes handling, chopping, chilling, grinding, chilling, mixing, frying, tasting, chilling, stuffing, chilling, poaching, frying and tasting ground, blended meat. I think I’ll tuck these babies away in the freezer and take a time out. Then I can rename this title to: Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
I could be watching Wimbledon and sipping Pimms right now:
But, no, I am blending and stuffing bratwurst in the company of my dog. Pass the sauerkraut and a beer, please.
Mustard makes everything taste better:
Especially when everything involves sausage. Truth be told, these were quite tasty, and my family gobbled them up (see title #1). I pan-fried the bratwurst and served them with thick slices of country-style bread, mustard and sauerkraut. As we ate the bratwurst, we watched Wimbledon highlights and enjoyed an ice cold Danish beer. The EU is alive and strong in Northern California.
Homemade Beer Mustard
Begin the mustard at least two days before serving. Makes 1/2 cup. (Recipe may be doubled.)
1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup dark beer
1 tablespoon dried mustard
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar 1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Combine mustard seeds, vinegar and beer together in a non-reactive bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Transfer mustard and liquid to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; immediately remove from heat. Cool to room temperature. Transfer to a food processor or blender. Add remaining ingredients and purée. Transfer to a glass jar or container and refrigerate overnight. Mustard may be stored in refrigerator for up to two weeks.
What is Charcutepalooza? An inspirational idea hatched by Cathy Barrow and Kim Foster and partnering with Food52 and Punk Domestics. It celebrates a Year in Meat, where participating foodies and bloggers will cure, smoke and salt their way through Michael Ruhlman’s bestselling cookbook Charcuterie.