Friday, September 30, 2011

Beautiful Basics

Comfort food with fresh ingredients.  That's how I describe my cooking.  Though I have a sprinkling of adventurous days, I prefer the simple and comforting dishes over the complex and frustrating.  I guess you could say I like my food like I like my friends. The BLT makes a frequent appearance at our table especially on Saturday or Sunday afternoons.  One of my favorite add-ons to this sandwich is a farm fresh egg fried over easy.  So, when I read Dorie Greenspan's recipe for a deconstructed BLT with eggs, I felt an instant kinship.

I embarked on this recipe after one of those days. The morning began with a heartbreaking news report that brought to question my overall faith in humanity.  I returned home after a hectic work day only to be me with one child with a pile of overdue homework and another child in hysterical tantrums. I was not inspired to cook.  I was, however, inspired to have a good meal. As I collected my ingredients, a small sense of pride interrupted my anxiety and frustration. Over the summer I had canned homemade dijon-style mustard.  With a mason jar filled with this creation and fresh eggs delivered from my local CSA I had a mise en place of beautiful basics indicative of a simpler time.  I took a few liberties with this salad: I baked the bacon in the oven and chose to toss my croutons in butter rather than bacon grease, however once completed, the dish was simply beautiful.  This salad was filling without being heavy; the warm eggs and bacon lent a true entree feel while the sun-dried and cherry tomatoes balanced each bite with a zap of sweetness; the perfect meal to end a marathon day.  Over our BLT salad, the family sat together; more quiet than enthusiastic, but together.  It seems that in a crazy world, one can find peace in the basics.  Especially when bacon is involved. 

My one regret with this recipe was not attempting the homemade mayonnaise.  With a wonderful dressing made with homemade mustard, it seemed a crime to break out the jar of Hellmans. Homemade mustard has proven to be a great addition to my pantry.  This flavorful condiment gives a kick to sandwich spreads, salad dressings, even macaroni and cheese.  It also gives you the pride of adding one more homemade component to your meal.

Dijon-Style Mustard
Recipe By: Rick Field and Rebecca Courchesne
William's-Sonoma The Art of Preserving
1 1/3 cups dry mustard
2 cups dry white wine or flat champagne
1 yellow onion
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt

Makes 2 half pint jars

  1. Have ready hot, sterilized jars and their lids (see manufacturer instructions)
  2. In a bowl, stir together the mustard and 1/2 cup water until smooth.  Set aside.
  3. In a small non reactive saucepan, combine the wine, onion and garlic.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium, stir in the sugar and salt and simmer, uncovered, stirring often, until reduced by half, about 20 minutes.  
  4. Pour the wine mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into the mustard and stir until combined.  Transfer to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 20 minutes.
  5. Spoon the hot mustard into the jars, leave 1/4 inch of headspace.  Remove any air bubbles and adjust the headspace, if necessary.  Wipe the rims clean and seal tightly with lids.  Store the jars in the refrigerator for up to 1 year.  For the best flavor, let stand for at least 2 weeks before using.  
This BLT salad was another recipe from Dorie Greenspan's Around my French Table.  Log on to for more blogs on how this meal was enjoyed at tables around the world.  


  1. Your mustard sounds amazing. I may just have to try that out! I hope today is more peaceful for you.

  2. I want to make the mustard now and can it away ... !! Maybe in much smaller jars to give away or to have for taking on picnics??.... hmmm.... I was going to make the mayo too but I am going to wait for a day where I will use alot of what I"m making, maybe on a deviled egg day? ....

  3. It never even thought to make my own mustard. Nice! I was tempted to make mayo, but when I saw how little was called for, paired with the fact that Dorie says in her recipe that it only keeps for 2 days, I decided against it. Glad your salad brightened your day!

  4. Thanks for sharing your mustard recipe! I didn't get 'round to making the homemade mayonnaise, either. A project for another time.

  5. I'm obsessed with mustard - it's practically an illness. I definitely need to make my own!

  6. I am so glad you shared your recipe for homemade mustard. As I read your post, I knew I was going to ask you for the recipe, and when I got to the end of the post, there it was! I'm glad to hear that the cooking process improved your imperfect day.

  7. Peace through bacon! It could work:) I cant' wait to try your mustard recipe!

  8. Food does seem to be an island of peace when things are just not as they should be.
    I bookmarked the recipe for the mustard - I have a bottle of champagne that I will never drink and this is the perfect use for it!

  9. I never ever thought about making mustard but of course. Now I have to do it! ! HAVE. TO.

  10. homemade canned mustard. Impressive. thanks for including the recipe. cooking always centers me on tense days - very meditative.