Recipes: Then and Now

Recipes from the past updated for today


Post #10 Spices 2

July 15, 2014

Last posting I covered Cinnamon and Black Pepper, a couple of spices that anyone’s Grandmother would have used. Now lets talk about Mustard, Paprika, and Celery Seed. This will finish up Spices for a while, though I will likely cover some others later. All the best spices, including the ones talked about here, are available at Penzeys. Check out the website link below!

Mustard Seed is a very old seasoning, mentioned in many ancient texts including the Bible. The Greeks and Romans used a type of prepared mustard we would easily recognize today. Closer to our times, the Victorians must have been avid mustard fans as they made special silver spoons just for serving it. There are several kinds of mustard seeds to choose from. The most common would be the yellow. The whole seed is included in many pickle recipes. The powdered form is what is made into what we all know and love as good old American yellow mustard. We use this prepared mustard in all kinds of ways. I am sure you have added a little mustard to make some dish special. You may want to try rubbing a pork roast with your favorite Dijon, spicy brown or regular yellow mustard before putting it in the oven. The powdered is great for flavoring and thickening sauces and salad dressings. Try adding a teaspoon to 1 cup of your favorite vinaigrette and blend well; it will stay mixed longer. The less common brown and black mustard seeds are different from each other in color only; the flavor is pretty much the same. Mixing some cracked brown seeds with some powdered yellow makes for a wonderfully grainy spicy mustard. To make your own prepared mustard start with about 1 cup regular mustard powder and add 6 tablespoons vinegar and 6 tablespoons water. Stir in ½ teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon honey and blend well. Let sit at room temperature overnight to mellow, cap and refrigerate. Add ½ to 1 teaspoon of Turmeric to make it as yellow as the store bought.

Celery Seed is familiar as a necessary ingredient to Potato Salad and Pickling. It is from the same plant we also know the vegetable celery, the plant has been allowed to grow for a second year and the seeds are harvested after flowering. It has a very clear celery taste but can be somewhat bitter. We commonly use it ground and blended with salt to make celery salt. Other cultures use it in soups, stews, breads and curries.

Paprika is the common name for three variations of the same thing. The ripe fruit of a plant, for the spice prepared from the fruit, and for the whole plant itself. The plant and fruit resemble a bell pepper, except the peppers are smaller and more pointed or rounded. The spice is made from the ripe fruits which are dried completely and ground to a fine powder. The Hungarian people have the talent for producing some of the best Paprika in the world. Their Paprika varies from very mild to having a little bit of fire. The hotter is called Half-Sharp. And the Spanish produce a Smoked Paprika.