Monthly Archives: January 2013

Epic Fails and Great Successes

mustard in jarsOn reading an issue of Bon Appetit, I stumbled across a page by¬†Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer with ideas for homemade holiday gifts. There were two that caught my eye: Hirsheimer’s Hot and Sweet Mustard and Better Than Nutella. The ingredients were accessible and I liked the idea.

But since this is me, there was of course a catch with both of them.

As those who know me personally will attest, I have a tendency to become far too ambitious and a tendency to panic. This can make for interesting times in the kitchen.

I wasn’t sure about the mustard recipe. At the time there were no reviews and well, I like my mustard a bit grainier. I did a lot of internet searching (let’s just say there are many many kind of mustard and many many ways to make them) and came up finally with this one: Hard Cider Mustard.

First there was the hunt for black mustard seeds. 1 Penzeys, 3 Indian grocery stores, 1 specialty gourmet store later, I ended up ordering these online.

Then I attempted to make it. Most mustards take seeds and/or mustard powder and apple cider vinegar. This recipe called for you to soak the seeds and powder in apple cider vinegar/hard apple cider for 24 hours. I did that. I probably measured wrong because when it came time to put the mixture in the food processor, it looked way too liquidy. But I said to myself, “hey just trust the recipe.” I still don’t know if it was the recipe, mismeasuring, or my food processor that was at fault. All I know is that I pressed the on button, turned my back to clean up my workspace, and BAM! Liquid pungent smelling stuff ran down the sides of the food processor.

Now part of the reason you want to make your own mustard in the first place has to do with the fact that the store bought stuff is on the weak side smell and taste wise. Nothing says Christmas by the intense aroma of mustard seeds and powder soaked in apple cider vinegar all over the floor, your food processor and your counter. Add to which my food processor has these kind of decorative grooves on the sides (that involved an hour with a toothpick cleaning that out).

Freaking out at this point, I turned to the original inspiration for this idea and said, what the heck. Let’s try it. 15-20 minutes start to jars.

mustard making

And it was utterly fabulous. My only regret is that I don’t have a canner and the stuff is good for about 2 months.¬† I followed the Hirsheimer recipe exactly and I heartily recommend it. Easy peasy.

Now let’s talk about the homemade Nutella. First off: even better than the store bought kind. We’re talking FAB. And once you get past the part that messed me up, a fairly simple recipe. Also, I was able to make the BEST TURKEY SANDWICH EVER. Details on that will be forthcoming.

I have never worked with hazelnuts before. Here’s the thing. If you make this, go out of your way to find some without skins. Because the seemingly innocuous phrase in the recipe “if nuts have skins, rub them in a kitchen towel to remove” was an exercise in frustration and laundry (I went through 4 kitchen towels trying to get the skins off).