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Get Stuffed - Mayo and mustard

The big ‘Mmmms’ of summer fare

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In the early 1700s an Englishwoman named Mrs. Clements made the first finely ground mustard powder that we’re familiar with today as Keen’s and the like. While the English still prefer to mix their own mustard, the French and other Europeans are hot on the pre-mixed stuff.

Dijon, as Chef Bernard will tell you, is king of the mustard realm, both for taste and versatility. To earn the Dijon designation, it must be made by crushing hulled black mustard seeds, and mixing in spices, salt with white wine, verjuice (the juice of unripened grapes) or vinegar. By law no other ingredients, including flour, oil, sugar or colouring, can be added.

"Dijon is an awesome condiment alone, plus you can also play with the flavour of it," says Chef Bernard. "I’ve come up with a tarragon, wildflower, honey mustard using Fraser Valley honey. You can use it as a condiment on a sandwich, or if you incorporate a little white wine and olive oil, you can make a mustard-maze, like a moist paste or rub, which is great on grilled or roast chicken."

Pretty much at the other end of the mustard spectrum is good old "ballpark" mustard, that neon yellow stuff so-named because, you guessed it, it was made specifically for those rubber hot dogs you can’t resist at a ball game. Since our taste for condiments grows up as we do, ballpark mustard is usually kids’ first choice.

"We had a bunch of kids in here and they actually like French’s mustard," says Chef Bernard, mildly taken aback at the mere thought of it. "We had to rush out to Costco and buy those squeeze bottles." Give them time, Bernard, they’ll figure it out.

Mayonnaise, hollandaise and friends

Mayonnaise and its cousins hollandaise and béarnaise sauce all hale from France. They’re based on the principle of emulsification, that is, binding a stable ingredient with non-stable ones. In the case of mayonnaise, egg yolk is the stabilizer and the olive oil and vinegar (or lemon juice) are the unstable ingredients.

The key here is stirring – relentlessly. In fact, the word "mayonnaise" is likely from the French verb "manier", meaning "to stir", though some think it could also have come from the Old French noun for egg yolk: "moyeu".

Thank goodness we have food processors and blenders these days – they make it so easy. If you’ve never made mayonnaise at home, get yourself a good recipe and try it. It’s a fascinating bit of chemistry. You whip the egg yolks round and round, drizzling in olive oil. Suddenly, the whole liquidy concoction congeals. That’s the magic of emulsification for you.

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