Years ago, the best deli in Birmingham was in the tiny suburb of Cahaba Heights. The classic item was a turkey sandwich with a hot honey mustard sauce. I finally got the recipe for the sauce from them, and not much could be simpler.
Here are the grand total of the three ingredients.
12 ounces whole grain Mustard
8 ounces Honey
Powdered hot Mustard
Put as much of the last ingredient in it as you dare. This is also known as Oriental mustard, though ours came from Canada. It varies greatly in heat level, and as a menu at a Chinese restaurant we frequented used to say, “it gives you a pleasant burning sensation up your sinuses.” Fair warning.
Alas, the deli has long since closed, but hot honey mustard lives on, as does that pleasant burning sensation. That one is forever.
As far as is known, the Roman writer Pliny the Elder published the first pear recipe, where he stated that they should be stewed with honey. Modern pear honey recipes omit the honey, but I’m going old school all the way back to the Roman Empire. I’m bringing back the honey.
6 Bartlett Pears, peeled, cored, and sliced
1 Meyer Lemon
1/4 cup Honey
2 cups Sugar
My six pears cost a whopping two bucks at the Festhalle Farmer’s market, and the honey was local as well. My wife Melanie Jane grew that enormous Meyer lemon, and the sugar came from Sugarland, Texas: old school and down home.
I began with cooking the honey, sliced pears, and the complete interior of the Meyer lemon, minus the seeds. Hint: if you freeze the lemon first, and then cut it in half, the peel comes off all in one piece. Add the sugar, and get ready to go do something else.
2 1/2 Days (Correction: 2 1/2 Hours)
This would be an excellent time to go and write some on that novel that you have been putting off, which is something of a shameless plug, as I am half way through writing a novel that deals with food and mental therapy. To me, good food is the best therapy around.
Don’t forget to stir this occasionally, especially toward the end of the cooking, as it turns into pear syrup. After two and a half hours I brought out our most medieval potato masher, and turned this into the consistency of a really thick honey. All that was left was three half pints, processed in a hot water bath.
It appears those Romans were pretty smart after all.
Mesclun season is about gone here now, but the fall season is just around the corner. The idea of having a real mixture of baby greens came from the beautiful French province of Provence, where mesclun is a fixture in farmer’s markets.
This mixture of lettuces are the result of a 99 cent purchase of seeds from Ebay. In the adjacent bed there is also Mizuna, Bak Choi, and Broccoli Raab. It’s a virtual UN of salad greens.
A planter is all anyone needs to grow Mesclun, which is a note to poor sods who live in cities. I always serve mine with some jumped up remoulade sauce–with honey and hot sauce added.
I’m always amazed that people actually buy salad dressing, as it takes less than a minute to make a really good one. Here’s my latest creation. By the way, all that title means is “House Salad Dressing.” Once again, everything sounds better in French.
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard (Most of the mustard seed actually comes from Canada)
2 tablespoons Catsup
2 tablespoons Mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Sweet Pickle Relish
Honey to taste
Chipotle Hot Sauce to taste.
The last two are the kickers. This stuff is delicious. Some Romaine lettuce, Cucumbers, and Tomatoes are going to disappear tonight.
The first wild blueberries are ripe here, which is the cause for some serious noshing (see the next post). These tiny buckshot sized berries have a mind blowing sharpness of taste.
Every other year I will spend an hour or so picking enough of these little devils to make one of my favorite sauces. Here it is: Wild Blueberry Sauce. Serve it on crepes or any pastry.
1 tablespoon Butter
1 cup of Wild Blueberries
2 tablespoons of Honey
Juice of 1 Key Lime
2 drinks of Brandy (One for the dish, one for the cook)
Cook the blueberries in the butter, and then add the other ingredients. More or less honey may be needed depending on the tartness of the berries. Lemon juice can be substituted for the limes, but I always use what I have (my wife grows Key Limes and Meyer Lemons). A crepe is really just a thin pancake, but once again, everything sounds better in French. You could use cognac instead of brandy, but they’re just different priced versions of the same thing.
Thanks to our corporate overlord, Jeff Bezos, and his minions at Whole Foods, we actually had a decent ham for Easter. Still staring at a freezer full of blueberries, we decided to make a new and different glaze for the spiral sliced ham (pre-cooked. Thanks, Mr. Bezos).
Honey to taste
1 tablespoon Sorghum Molasses
The Juice of four cups of Blueberries
Juice of one Lemon
Mix these together, and boil until the glaze thickens slightly. Stud the ham with cloves, glaze, and cook until the ham is warmed through, and the glaze is shiny.
Don’t have a couple of cups of blueberry juice handy? Then whip out your Enterprise #34 cast iron juicer.
Weighing in at a mere 14 pounds, this thing has never met a berry it couldn’t juice. These are readily available on eBay. A food processor and a strainer will work as well, but don’t really make a statement like this beast does.
The wild blueberries are blooming here now, as well as the peach trees. Give it up, winter. Spring is ready to take over.
Siehe, der Lenz lacht in den Saal!
Richard Wagner, Die Walküre
Maybe spring isn’t exactly laughing in the hall, as Herr Wagner put it, but it is time to get ready for it.
That means the cultivated blueberries are not far behind in blooming, but I STILL HAVE A FREEZER FULL OF BLUEBERRIES FROM LAST YEAR. In an amazing moment of insanity, I planted six nice cultivars of “Rabbiteye” blueberries, which means I have enough blueberries every year to feed a family of fifty. I’m tired of blueberry wine and blueberry jam. Let’s make some pancakes, about fourteen or sixteen.
1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
2 pinches salt
1 tablespoon Honey
Butter for Cooking
Mix the dry ingredients first, then add the wet. How much milk? Enough to get the desired consistency. Less milk means more cake to the pancake, more means more crepe like pancakes. Do I really count the blueberries? No.
Blueberries are the easiest fruit to freeze, and about half of one of these handy little containers is about right. Add those last, and, and mix in with a tablespoon. That tablespoon is also used to measure out the pancakes.
Heat up a griddle to hot, and then add the butter. As soon as the butter melts to the foaming stage, turn the burner down to as low as it will go. Cast iron is the easiest thing to cook pancakes on, but for speed I use a carbon steel crepe pan–and yes, it is French, so give me a break.
A heaping tablespoon of the Berry/Batter mixture makes a nice small pancake. Serve with syrup if that’s what you like. Maple is traditional, but sorghum and cane (Alaga brand) is also popular around here. Tulip poplar and hickory are also available, so I may try those as well, as we have plenty of both trees on our property.