Homemade Whole-Grain Mustard

I’m German…Austrian or something.  I recently found out, after many years of labeling my heritage as German, my ancestors actually hailed from Austria and Luxembourg.  It makes sense since after visiting both Germany and Austria, I resemble more like the Austrian peoples performing at the Mai Fest in Salzburg.

Mai Fest celebration in Salzburg

A delicious meal enjoyed at the Augustiner keller in Salzburg

Ok, so I am indeed Austrian and Irish instead of German and Irish. Let’s just forget the fact that Hitler came from Austria…forgotten. Whatever I am, I love mustard.  I learned two(three)words in German while in Bavaria and they are: bretzeln, senf and spargel. Translated it is: pretzels, mustard and white asparagus. The pretzel and mustard was my go-to food in Bavaria.  Not a lot of choices sometimes for a vegetarian.  Trust me, I never went hungry; the food and the beer were always delicious. Oh, and I learned the German word word for asparagus because it was in season and all of the biergartens featured it.  

Making my own mustard never crossed my mind until I read Cook’s Illustrated DIY cookbook.  I was paging through it, and I stopped at the Stone Ground Mustard recipe.  It was so insanely simple; I wondered why I hadn’t done this years ago.  It has a bold taste and a texture required from my mustards.

Making Whole-Grain Mustard

Combine the apple cider vinegar, yellow mustard seeds, brown mustard seeds, and beer. Stir and cover with plastic wrap. Leave at room temperature for up to two days.

After leaving at room temperature for the desired amount of time, pour the seed mixture into a food processor. Add salt and brown sugar and process for one minute. Transfer mustard to jar and leave sit at room temperature for 1 to 2 days.  This is where the heat of the mustard is decided so do the 1 day if you like it mild.

Here is the finished mustard with some of my homemade pretzel bites(may be a future blog item after a little tweaking).

Recipe for Whole Grain Mustard

1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
1/4 cup brown mustard seeds
1/4 cup beer
2 teaspoons packed light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt

1) Combine vinegar, mustard seeds, and beer in medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for at least 8 hours or up to 2 days.
2) Process soaked mustard seeds with sugar and salt in food processor until coarsely ground and thickened, about 1 minute, scraping down bowl as needed.
3) Transfer mustard to jar with tight-fitting lid and let stand at room temperature until it achieves desired spiciness, 1 to 2 days. Transfer to refrigerator. Mustard can be refrigerated for up to 3 months.

Ok, while this mustard is a breeze to make, dijon–not so much.  I have tried two different recipes and both turned out extremely bitter. If you know of a fail-proof dijon recipe, please share it. 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day-Let’s bake some bread

I wanted to publish an entry in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day coming up soon.  I’m a little Irish but not enough Irish to have grown up with recipes handed down from my mother or grandmother.  I can’t remember my mother cooking or baking anything remotely Irish except for maybe boiled potatoes.  I’ve scoured my cookbooks looking for a recipe resembling Irish fare, and I came up empty handed.  I found some cookies made with whiskey but that’s as close as I came. When I voiced my aggravation out-loud, my husband quickly suggested a bread his mother had made for him.  He was so anxious for me to make it, he forwarded a recipe from the internet to me. Ok, dear, I got the hint. Sometimes it takes a pan to fall off its hook and hit me on head to make something obvious, and this is a perfect example.

Whenever I am unfamiliar with a dish, I consult Cook’s Illustrated for a little direction. And of course, they did not disappoint. I have never had Irish Soda Bread, so I have really no idea what’s good and what is traditional, but after testing this recipe, I’m not sure I care.  So much quicker than a bread with yeast, and the taste was of a hearty wheat; crisp on the inside and moist on the inside. With so few ingredients, I never thought this bread was going to have the complexity of taste I require but here it is.

So the bread takes an hour to make(including baking time), and it tastes great; I guess this means I won’t be baking this bread just for St. Patrick’s Day.

Brown Irish Soda Bread

In a large mixing bowl combine: all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, cake flour, wheat germ(I used ground flax instead), cream of tartar, baking soda, salt and sugar.

Incorporate the butter into the flour mixture–I used my hands for the heat to help work in the butter.  Make a well in the middle and pour in the buttermilk.  Work the flour and buttermilk(important to use buttermilk and not just regular milk) until fully incorporated. Cook’s recommends a cup and a half of buttermilk, but I added a quarter cup more due to the dryness.

Form into a round loaf and add to the cast iron skillet. Take a sharp knife and cut a shallow “X” on the top(Irish did this to ward of the devil and protect the household).  Bake in a 400 degree oven for 40-45 minutes.

    The bread right out of the oven and drizzled with butter.

   Here’s my dinner: sliced Irish Soda Bread with tapenadeTapenade Blog Entry and eggs from my girls. 

The recipe below is taken from  Cooks Illustrated.

Brown Irish Soda Bread


If you do not have a cast iron pan the bread can be baked on a baking sheet although the crust won’t be quite as crunchy. Soda bread is best eaten on the day it is baked but does keep well covered and stored at room temperature for a couple of days after which time it will become dry.


  • 1 1/2cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2cup cake flour
  • 1 1/2cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2cup toasted wheat germ
  • 1 1/2teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 1/2teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2teaspoons salt
  • 3tablespoons sugar
  • 2tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2cups low-fat buttermilk
  • 1tablespoon melted butter, optional


  1. 1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees and adjust a rack to the center position. Place the flours, wheat germ, cream of tartar, soda, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub it into the flour using your fingers until it is completely incorporated and the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and add the buttermilk. Work the liquid into the flour mixture using a fork until the dough comes together in large clumps. Turn the dough onto a work surface and knead briefly until the loose flour is just moistened. The dough will be sticky and you may add a small amount of flour as you knead. The dough will still be scrappy and uneven.
    2. Form the dough into a round about 6 to 7 inches in diameter and place in a cast iron skillet. Score a deep cross on top of the loaf and place in the heated oven. Bake until nicely browned and a tester comes out clean when inserted into the center of the loaf, about 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven and brush with a tablespoon of melted butter if desired. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Choco-Nut Oat Bars

Many, many years ago, when I had first moved out with my then boyfriend and now husband, I had the grand scheme of baking Christmas cookies.  I recruited a gal I worked with at the time to help me.  She was none too happy when she witnessed my scantily-clad-closet for a kitchen. I had no mixing bowls, measuring spoons, or even a gas oven with a working pilot light . I don’t recall what we baked, or if we were able to successfully bake even a batch of anything, but what did get ignited was my love for a certain cookie book.

The cause of my cookie escapade started with buying a recipe book from the grocery store. I was the ripe-old age of 20, and my first cookbook was about cookies.  This all makes sense given who I am now–a self-proclaimed cookie connoisseur. Those little disks of deliciousness call to me; especially if it has peanut butter and chocolate or any combination of chocolate and nuts. The mood will just hit, and I will pull out the necessary baking ingredients and whip up a batch or two. What’s not to love about cookies? They are easy to taste-test compared to a cake or pie and also extremely portable. I’ve made a pact with myself: I can only indulge in cookies if I have made them; no store-bought cookies.  The exception of course is girl scout cookies–I’m only human. The cookbook is simply called, Cookies  by Natalie Hartanov Haughton . I’ve used it to death since buying it in 1984, so I transferred the cookbook to a binder with plastic protectors.  It’s my go-to book when I’m looking to make a cookie or a bar.  But the one recipe I have made(and the stained, wrinkled page proves it)time and time again is a cookie creation called, Choco-Nut Oat Bars.  I have made those bars for countless bake sales, birthdays, and thank you gifts.  They whip up fast, and somehow I always have the ingredients on hand. I cannot stress how easily these come together; and the added bonus, they are delicious and flavorful.

I start out by roasting the nuts for 5-10 minutes on medium heat, stirring frequently. No burning the nuts-yuck.  After they have cooled, chop them.

Chop the unsweetened chocolate. Tip: If you chop nuts or chocolate on wax paper on your cutting board, you can just pick up the wax paper to transport the chopped item to the bowl.

Add the sweetened condensed milk to unsweetened chocolate and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir briskly.  Place back in microwave and repeat process.  It should just take a minute and a half or so to melt the chocolate completely.

Add the chopped nuts to chocolate mixture and stir to mix.  Set aside.

Throw 2 cups of flour, a half teaspoon of baking soda and a quarter teaspoon of salt into the flour. Set aside.

Blend 1 cup butter with a cup and a quarter of packed brown sugar. Add two teaspoons of vanilla extract and beat.

Add the flower mixture and combine. Add two and a half cups of old-fashioned oats and blend completely.

Take one half of dough mixture and add to a greased 13×9 pan(don’t go up the sides of the pan–you want a sandwich look). Add chocolate mixture(microwave for another 15-25 seconds if too stiff)and carefully spread evenly.  Pat remaining dough to chocolate layer. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 375F.

Isn’t that pretty? Let cool completely in pan and then cut into bars.

Choco-Nut Oat Bars

1(14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk
2 oz unsweetened chocolate-chopped
1-1/2 chopped nuts(I roast the nuts before chopping)
1 cup butter, room temperature
1-1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2-1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a 13 x 9 baking pan.  *In top of a double boiler, combine sweetened condensed milk and chocolate. Heat over hot but not boiling water until melted and smooth, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in nuts; and set aside. In a medium bowl, beat together butter, brown sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add flour, salt, and baking soda, blending thoroughly. Stir in oats, mixing until crumbly. Press half of oat mixture evenly in bottom of greased baking pan. Spread evenly with chocolate-nut mixture. Sprinkle with remaining oat mixture, pressing into chocolate. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan. Cut cooled cookies into bars. Makes 54.

*You can also cook the chocolate and sweetened condensed milk in the microwave.  Microwave on high for 30 seconds in a microwave safe bowl and stir. Microwave for another 30 seconds and stir again.  You may need another 15 seconds or so, depending how fine you chopped the chocolate. Be careful–chocolate burns easily.