Mustard Fail

 

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As a fearless experimenter of food, I pride myself on my ability to adapt a recipe to make it my own, as well as combine unassuming flavours and be undeterred by the results whether they prove to be edible or not. More often than not, I am able to pull something interesting together. Other times prove disastrous.

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Being a sensory oriented person, I am often inspired by what lies before me. I like to surround myself with lots of ingredients and imagine, or feel, how well they will go together (science has actually found ways to pair foods by their molecular structure… one day, I will have to look into that). Having honed this ability over a lifetime of playing around in kitchens, I often have a pretty good sense of what I am working with will taste like. Kim chi and eggs? Hell yeah. Mango chutney on lentil loaf? Why not? Lamb stew with a touch of maple syrup? You’re damn right. Chicken and milk? If Jamie Oliver can do it, I can, too.

homemade mustard ingredients 2.jpg I found a this recipe for mustard on David Lebovitz’s website. I enjoy making my own condiments, so I thought I’d give it a try with a few of my own “improvements”. The first time I doubled the recipe in my eagerness to have large quantities of homemade mustard in the house. It was awful. I was overenthusiastic in my use of horseradish. It tasted like bleach had a threesome with cat piss and Satan and was unable to detect who fathered the love child. It was all thrown out.

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After a few months buffer to my taste buds, I tried again. I omitted the horseradish, so it was a bit more tolerable, but I still did not find the results pleasing…or even acceptable, really. The recipe I used called for white wine vinegar, which is difficult to find in Korea. But, for whatever reason, I had no problem finding red wine vinegar. I know there are some distinctions between red and white, but could it really have changed it that much?  I managed a few sandwiches, but it was too hard to choke down. Two batches of mustard… rubbished.

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How could a bit of mustard seed, red wine vinegar, and a few other things fail so hard? Did I accidentally leave out a crucial ingredient? Had a misread the instructions? Did I take my improvisation too far? Well, I can’t say for sure until I’ve tried several different recipes multiple more times.

 

But… ironically, I think it was the turmeric.

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Do you know any tips and tricks regarding making mustard? Please leave a comment! 

Candied Ginger Week: Ginger Syrup and Pomegranate Cocktail

 

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I thought I’d end Candied Ginger Week with a desperate plea for summer to arrive. I’m ready for you, summer. I’ve got my spritzer in hand and hot beaches in mind. Unfortunately, these days I need my other hand for my umbrella.

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Ginger Syrup and Pomegranate Cocktail

 

Ingredients (for one cocktail)

  • 150-200ml (1/2 -3/4 cup) tonic water
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1 tablespoon ginger syrup (recipe here)
  • A handful of fresh pomegranate seeds
  • Ice

 

Directions

 

Place pomegranate seeds in a glass and lightly crush them with a spoon.

Drop in as much ice as you’d like. Do not overcrowd the glass.

Add vodka and ginger syrup.

Top off with tonic water. Stir and serve.

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Candied Ginger Week: Candied Ginger Cocoa Nib Cookies with Nuts

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Cocoa nibs can be found in more and more places: chocolate covered cocoa nibs, smoothies, protein shakes and various baked goods. They are broken pieces of cocoa beans that have been prepped all but to the point of being processed into cocoa for chocolate.

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They are rich in vitamins and nutrients and are considered a raw superfood. Cocoa nibs are pleasantly nutty, delicately earthy and they have a wonderful, crunchy texture.

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They also perfectly compliment ginger. Especially candied ginger. In cookies. THESE cookies.

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Ginger and cocoa strike again.

 

 

Candied Ginger Cocoa Nib Cookies with Nuts

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Ingredients

  • 2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • ½ cup candied ginger pieces (recipe here)
  • ¼ cup cocoa nibs
  • ½ cup shredded coconut
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

 

Directions

 

Preheat oven to 375ºF/190ºC/Gas mark 5.

Sift flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside

Combine candied ginger, cocoa nibs, coconut and chopped nuts. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar in a bowl with mixer or whisk. Add eggs and vanilla and continue to whisk until the eggs are well mixed.

Slowly combine flour mixture a bit at a time. Add some and mix well. Then add a bit more. Repeat until the flour is fully incorporated and there is no trace of dry powder.

Now stir in the candied ginger mixture.

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and place a tablespoon-sized dollop of dough evenly spaced along the pan. Leave about two inches between the dollops so they have enough room to expand without being crowded.

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Bake for 8-10 minutes. Keep an eye on them as they bake quite fast. They are done when the edges are brown and the middle is still a little raw looking.

Remove from heat and let cool. Devour immediately or freeze. Share with friends. Bring to a potluck. Or a brunch. Replace cookie for spoon with you ice cream. Dip in milk. Or milkshake. Anyway you do it, enjoy.

Makes about 24 cookies

 

Candied Ginger Week: Cocoa covered candied ginger

 

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When one finds oneself with an excess of candied ginger (I seem to have mountains) one must find ways of using the spicy nuggets creatively. Here are a few simple steps to help support this endeavor:

 

Step 1: Place some cocoa powder in a container.

Step 2: Add about the same amount of your leftover candied ginger to said container.

Step 3: Place a lid on said container.

Step 4: Shake contents until evenly coated.

Step 5: Sprinkle on ice cream, use to decorate your next cake, mix with hot water and make some sort of weird (but probably delicious) tea, add to trail mix or just eat as a snack.

 

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Candied Ginger Week: Candied Ginger Truffles

 

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If I were to anthropomorphize the flavour profile of ginger, I’d tell you all about her snappy, sassy character. She is difficult not to notice and constantly demands your attention. But, oh, you want to give her your attention. She is intoxicating. As soon as she enters the room, you cannot help but take note of her fiery energy. She is quick of wit, sharp of tongue and hot of head.

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She is so good for you. She makes you feel warm and comforts you when you are tired, down or ill. She reminds you of all the good things you’ve got going on in your life. Ginger has friends everywhere. She can mix with all sorts of crowds. Though she can never hide her fiery nature, she can be sweet when she wants to.

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Ginger is in love. She found Cocoa, who calms her down and keeps her level headed. He envelops her with unconditional love and makes her feel like queen that she is. They make an awesome team and bring out the best in each other. The rest of us can benefit in their union.

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These truffles were produced under the warm glow of Ginger and Cocoa’s love. What teamwork.

Candied Ginger Truffles

 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • ½ cup cream
  • 4 tablespoons ginger syrup
  • 1 tablespoon candied ginger
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • pinch of salt

Directions

 

Chop the candied ginger into very small pieces. Set aside.

Heat the ginger syrup, salt and cream in a saucepan and bring to a soft boil. Stir continuously.

Turn heat off and add coconut oil. Stir until fully incorporated.

Add cocoa powder in small batches and mix until thick and smooth.

Stir in candied ginger pieces. Let cool.

Form teaspoon sized balls by hand and dust with more cocoa powder. Try not to purposely make defective pieces just so you can eat them right away.

Store in the refrigerator. They should keep well in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks. If removed, they will only last a day.

Makes 20-24 truffles.

Candied Ginger Week: Ginger Syrup and Candied Ginger

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Most children have difficulty eating very sharp and hot flavours. There are some foods and flavours that I remember despising when I was very young and later grew to enjoy, such as cilantro, arugula and mustard. I never had that problem with ginger. Though I could only handle it in small doses when I was child, ginger has always had a special place in my heart.

ginger syrup prep 6.jpg Ginger root belongs to the Zingiberaceae family and is closely related to turmeric, cardamom and galangal. It was first cultivated in parts of Southern China and is now used in cuisines around the world. It is quintessential to Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Southeast Asian cuisine and also shows up in many Caribbean dishes. From kimchi and curry to ginger beer, tea and cookies, ginger makes all kind of appearances in your cup, bowl and plate.

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Ginger is also a boss in the medicinal foods category. It can be used to suppress nausea, has been proven to have hepatoprotective qualities and has even been promoted by the American Cancer Society as treatment to keep tumors from developing.

Ginger syrup prep 3.jpg Hot and spicy in flavour and aroma, ginger can overwhelm a gentile or unfamiliar user, but it is certainly worth pushing through the burn for flavour like that. Ginger adds so much to any meal.

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Since ginger knows how to bring the goods to the table so hard, it is Candied Ginger Week here at Turmeric and Twine. I’ll be featuring sweet uses of the spicy rhizome. Every week should be ginger week.

 

Ginger syrup and candied ginger can, luckily, be made at the same time. It is extremely easy and satisfying to make.

 

Ginger Syrup and Candied Ginger

 

Ingredients

  • 14 ounces (375g) fresh ginger
  • 16 ounces (450g) light brown sugar
  • 4 cups water
  • pinch of salt

 

Directions

 

Ginger root can be found in varying degrees of dirtiness. In Korea, sellers make no attempt to clean the dirt off their roots, so mine was really filthy. Scrub the outside very well or you will find your syrup has an unwanted earthy flavour. Peel only if absolutely necessary.

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Cut ginger about 1/8 inch slices. Then roughly chop in small pieces. The smaller the pieces are, the more flavour will be extracted.

 

Place ginger, sugar, salt and water into a non-reactive skillet (non-stick or stainless steel work best) and heat to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about an hour or until the liquid is thick and syrupy.

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Pour the syrup and ginger pieces into a jar, cover and refrigerate for 3-4 days. This simultaneously infuses the syrup with more flavour and candies the ginger pieces.

 

To separate the syrup from the candied pieces, simply strain in a stainless steel strainer. Candied ginger can be refrigerated for up to a month and frozen for several months. Use them to get fancy with baked goods or nibble on their own (like I enjoy).

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Strain the syrup further with a fine mesh strainer so there is no fibrous material left. Drizzle on ice cream, use as a cocktail mixer or make spritzers. Ginger syrup keeps very well and can be refrigerated for 3-4 months.

 

Makes a great gift if you divide in small jars.

Bite: Eat Real Ramen

When most of us think of ramen noodles, we think of the instant rubbish that is made from the cheapest ingredients and produces the cheapest meal we can find. University student survival food. This is unfortunate. Real ramen is a delight. It should be on everyone’s list of Foods to Try Before You Die. While in Kyoto, I ate some excellent curry ramen from a shop downstairs from my hosts home. We placed our orders from a vending machine and gave our tickets to the cooks. After a few minutes of mysterious hand movements and magic noodle wizardry, our meals we produced. Fresh, healthy(ier) and delicious. One more tick, off the food bucket list.real curry ramen.jpg

Toji Temple

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Temples and Shrines

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Geisha

While roaming around Gion, the Geisha district in Kyoto, I had desperately hoped to spot geisha doing their thing on the streets. As I found out, they are as elusive to spot as a hummingbirds. So, to satiate ourselves, my friends and I went to a wee geisha show.

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It was very exciting, especially since I was chosen to wear a kimono on stage. I am not posting photos of myself, as I pretty much looked like a tool.