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Storyboard: Oats

Storyboard-Oats (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

Oats

Oats are comforting, hearty, and nourishing. We’re all familiar with quick cooking oatmeal for breakfast, but that’s just the beginning of the story for oats. This crop prefers the cool, wet climates of the northern hemisphere. Think of oats, and you most likely think of the United Kingdom, Germany, and Switzerland, who all have unique traditions for preparing this cereal grain. The Swiss have their muesli, which is oats combined with dried fruit, nuts, and a splash of fresh-squeezed orange juice. In the U.S. we’re into granola. My Irish husband says his father would soak Irish steel cut oatmeal overnight so it would be tender for his breakfast in the morning. Scotland is famous for many dishes from ground oat flours used in farls (a flatbread) to whole oats used in cranachan (a whisky spiked dessert). Oats have many purposes as a pantry ingredient. They can be used as a thickener for soup or a filler for meat loaf and sausage. Oats retain moisture and so extend the shelf life of baked goods like cakes, breads, muffins, and scones. Keep a muesli or granola mix in a jar ready to enjoy for breakfast. Oat flour adds flavor to pancakes and breads, while whole oats can be used to coat a loaf of bread. Cook oats like a rice pilaf and serve them with roast chicken or pork. Crackers made with oats and cheddar are tasty with Guinness. As you can see, there are a lot of things you can do with oats. It’s a free for all! It’s a chance to experiment and try something new!

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Cook in the Moment: Not Your Average Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

I’m so excited about this recipe I can hardly stand it! Originally inspired by the the article, “Come Together” in the June issue of Whole Living magazine, I have gone down a different road. This week at La Domestique, I’m cooking with oats, which are essential to the topping of a traditional crisp. Have you ever made a crisp before? You should! Crisps are simple to bake yet make you weak in the knees yummy. Comforting oozing hot fruit topped with a golden, lightly crunchy crust- that’s a crisp. Interpret it in your own way. Try a combination you imagined in your mind. Crisps are a great way to try new things and come out successful. What can go wrong? Hot fruit, crispy topping, done. Easy peasy.

When I set about making this crisp I had some deep thoughts. I meditated over how to make the strawberry rhubarb combo uniquely mine. Give it a new hairdo. Maybe some fun new shoes to jazz things up a bit. Then it came to me: fennel seed and black pepper. I know it sounds crazy but it’s crazy good!

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10 Ways Tuesdays: Oats

Banner - Oats (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

I’ve come up with 10 ways to use oats in your spring pantry:

 

1.  Homemade Granola

If you haven’t tried homemade granola, you’re really missing out. The aroma fills the house: cinnamon, nuts, honey…heavenly. It’s the same feeling I get when chocolate chip cookies are baking in the oven- a warm and comforting feeling. I don’t stick to recipes, but instead throw whatever nuts and dried fruits from the cupboard into the mix. Using olive oil yields a fruity, complex granola. The guys from Baked have a good quick baking granola recipe in their fantastic book, New Frontiers in Baking. Love them!

2.  Pastry

While reading  The Versatile Grain & the Elegant Bean, I was intrigued by the recipe for a tart shell made with oat flour and quick-cooking oats as a base for a mixed berry tart. I can see how the tart shell would be more satisfying with a nutty flavor and crisp texture. If you make a lot of tarts, this would be a great way to change your routine up a bit and try something new.

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Ingredient of the Week: Oats

Banner - Oats (c)2011 LaDomestique.com


It’s funny, as summer approaches and the days get hotter, I am wishing for more spring. All the sudden I feel I’m not ready to move on from risottos and cool weather vegetables. This is ironic because all through spring I’ve yearned for summer- so many ingredients to write about! Spring comes late in Colorado, and while California has strawberries and fava beans we have greens, greens, and more greens. Asparagus has just barely appeared in our farmer’s markets. At La Domestique, I cook with the seasons of Colorado, and in the beginning of the growing season it’s difficult to have variety to keep things interesting and keep you people in more temperate climates entertained. Just as I’m about to get what I wanted (summer), I don’t want to let go of spring. So, we will savor the last two weeks of spring, even if it was 90 degrees outside today. Let’s enjoy this transition where berries and rhubarb are in season, it’s not too hot to turn on the oven and bake something sweet, and our appetites are stimulated by being outside in the garden or on a hike.

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The Past Week at La Domestique

Ingredient Of The Week - Mustard (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

Last week at La Domestique was all about mustard: seed, powder, and fresh greens. It was fun to see how each form fits into the spring pantry, from prepared mustard to pickling to southern greens. I visited the Savory Spice Shop in downtown Boulder to pick up all the different types of mustard seeds and spice rubs for the barbecue. At the Boulder Farmer’s Market I grabbed some gorgeous leafy mustard greens from Red Wagon Farm. To learn more about mustard I immersed myself in books on southern cooking as well as grilling.

Here is a recap of the week:
  • Monday: Announcing mustard as ingredient of the week
  • Tuesday: 10 Ways Tuesday! Learn 10 ways to use mustard: the spice and the fresh greens
  • Wednesday: A recipe for southern style mustard greens and cornbread with pickled hot peppers
  • Thursday: Learn the story behind mustard with a photo collage and details on flavor pairing and cooking techniques. Plus an interview with tips from local spice shop owner Dan Hayward
  • Friday: The role of mustard in BBQ spice rubs. Grilled wild sockeye salmon and quinoa salad with mangoes and herbs
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Grilled Salmon With Spice Rub

How about we wrap up mustard week and kick off the weekend with a spice rub for grilled salmon? Recently I was visiting the Savory Spice Shop in downtown Boulder, Colorado, where I picked up a packet of the Pearl Street Plank Rub. Dan Hayward, the owner of Savory, created this  blend of spices for his customers who were always requesting a spice blend for grilled salmon. The Pearl Street Plank Rub is a blend of maple sugar, smoked sweet paprika, salt, chiles, garlic, and yellow mustard powder. Dan opened up the jar and encouraged me to take in the aroma. I breathed in … chipotle, smoke, sweetness, depth. He instructed me to rub the blend on a filet of salmon and grill the salmon on a cedar plank. At this moment, Pacific wild salmon season is upon us. The season for fishing wild Pacific salmon as they migrate to spawning waters begins in May/June and continues until Autumn. I picked up a gorgeous red fleshed filet of Copper River sockeye salmon at my local market.

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Storyboard: Mustard

Mustard Story Board (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

Mustard Greens

 

Mustard greens are the leaves of a plant belonging to the cabbage family. Originally grown in Asia, the mustard plant has spread across the world. The leaves are green with red or purple veins and have a flavor ranging from peppery in the small leaves to spicy and pungent in the larger leaves. Mustard greens are in season early spring until the weather warms in Summer. Small leaves are tasty in a mixed greens salad. Large leaves should be removed from the tough stem and steamed, sautéed, or simmered.

Storage

Store mustard greens in a sealed plastic bag in the fridge for up to a week. Wash them just before using.

Flavor Pairings

bacon, ham, garlic, onion, ginger, peppers, soy, sesame oil, lemon, vinegar.

 

Mustard Seeds

 

Mustard seeds are harvested from seed pods on the same plant as mustard greens. According to the reference, Herbs & Spices, the pungent taste of mustard seed is a result of the enzyme, myrosinase, which is activated by water. There are 3 types of mustard seeds: white, brown, and black. White mustard seeds (aka yellow) are the least pungent and are used to make American style mustard. Black mustard seeds can be difficult to find and replaced by brown mustard seeds which are easier to harvest commercially. Brown mustard is native to India where it’s used in mustard oil and curry dishes.

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Cook in the Moment: Mustard Greens

Mustard Greens with Sweet Cornbread & Hot Pepper Vinegar

I grew up in the southern United States.  My hometown, Fort Smith, Arkansas, is famous for Judge Parker’s hanging court and mentioned in the movie, True Grit. Greens such as mustard, collards, turnip, kale, and chard are a staple of southern cooking. According to The Gift of Southern Cooking, “Greens should always be accompanied by some type of cornbread.” Cornbread is important for sopping up the “pot likker”, which is the tasty broth left behind once the greens are cooked.  Mustard greens are traditionally cooked low and slow in smoked pork stock. However, these greens are also delicious quickly sautéed in bacon grease, garlic, and onion.

In The Gift of Southern Cooking, Scott Peacock writes that hot pepper vinegar is “the essential condiment of the Deep South, used to season greens, other vegetables, and meats.” When I think back to my childhood and going out for supper with my family, I remember hot pepper vinegar on every table, next to the ketchup. I don’t remember ever trying it, or maybe I did give it a taste and I just didn’t like it. My mother never once cooked greens in our house. Growing up in the big boom of convenience foods and the microwave, the only green leafy thing I ever ate was iceberg lettuce salad with supper each night. I did, however, grow up eating (sweet) cornbread. To this day I love it with butter and honey, just like when I was little. I haven’t had cornbread since moving to Colorado three years ago. While researching this article I came across the recipe my mother used to make. As my kitchen filled with the aroma of sweet cornbread baking in the oven, I realized how much I’ve missed it. Everyone is so obsessed with sourdough…is cornbread just not cool? I would like to start a petition for more cornbread please!

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10 Ways Tuesdays: Mustard

 

I’ve come up with 10 ways to use mustard in your spring pantry:

1.  Mustard Vinaigrette

Mustard Vinaigrette is lovely as a dressing for spring vegetables.  In Jamie Oliver’s Magazine Issue 18 for April/May he includes a recipe for “Leeks with Mustard and Dill Vinaigrette and Feta.” You could use this preparation for steamed asparagus or artichokes as well. Most recipes for mustard vinaigrette call for the use of a prepared mustard, in this case it’s Dijon.

2.  Mustard Mayonnaise

Mustard is often used as a flavoring for mayo or aioli. In the book, Barefoot in Paris, Ina Garten suggests the traditional pairing of mustard mayo with a seafood platter. Picture this: a glass of champagne in your hand and in front of you a tray of raw oysters and little neck clams with cooked lobster, shrimp, and crab on a huge bed of ice. Dip the seafood in the mustard sauce and sip your champagne without a care in the world. Sounds like a very happy happy hour to me.

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Ingredient of the Week: Mustard

Ingredient Of The Weel - Mustard (c)2011 LaDomestique.com


Mustard. It’s a spice, a seed, a condiment.  A leafy green from the Brassica family, mustard is related to broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collards, kale and kohlrabi.  Mustard is used for so many things that it’s easy to take for granted. Look in your cupboard right now and you’ll probably find some Dijon, as well as jars of pickles with mustard seeds and a tin of mustard powder. You might have spice rubs for grilling that contain mustard. It’s possible your vegetable crisper is full of mustard greens you picked up this morning at the farmer’s market.

Mustard is pungent and spicy. It adds heat and complexity to dishes. Mustard greens are peppery and slightly bitter. Vinegar gives prepared mustard a pleasant tanginess. A world without mustard would be a bland world indeed. Even though the flavor of mustard is bold, it seems to bring out the flavor in other ingredients. Hot Dijon spread on a ham sandwich intensifies the sweet, smoky flavors of ham. Bitter mustard greens accent the richness of salmon. As part of a seasoning blend for barbecue, pungent mustard powder makes the smoky flavor of paprika and sweetness of maple sugar pop when caramelized on a grill. Thank you mustard! Not only are you delicious, but you make other foods taste better too! Well done.

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About Jess

Jess O'Toole is La Domestique

Hi, I’m Jess, aka La Domestique. No matter how busy or cooking-challenged you are I can help you live the good life and enjoy fresh, healthy meals at home every day. Find out more

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