Thursday, March 7, 2013

Visiting the National Mustard Museum

A week or so ago on a lovely winter day filled with sunshine and warmer temperatures, my husband and I traveled to Middleton, Wisconsin to visit the National Mustard Museum.  I had referenced the museum on my Herb of the Week post about Mustard Seed and this spurred a road trip!

We like traveling in Wisconsin especially around Madison and this museum is located on the northwest side of the city in a town called Middleton about 2 hours from us.  There were a few nice places to eat, a museum in a restored depot and a great atmosphere in the town on a Sunday morning.

When we arrived at the museum we were greeted by "Mrs. Mustard" Patti Levenson, the wife of the curator Barry Levenson.  She gave us a great overview and suggested the way to do the tour.  Now as a museum professional I generally am not thrilled by commercial, private collection museums, they tend to make everything including the collection for sale which sets up the wrong vibe for me.  However, this was nothing like what I had feared.  The commercial space on the first floor was that, but it also paid homage to the building it was located in, a restored former mercantile as well as supported the theme - mustard.  The museum located downstairs was not cramped or fussy, although it was rather yellow -- mustard yellow!

We started with the video which loops so you can watch the whole thing no matter when you enter.  It was a great piece, older but not so old you got distracted and could not appreciate the wealth of information it provided.  The best part of the video was this demonstration of a recipe made in a traditional bistro in the Dijon region of France.  This recipe of roasted chicken in a mustard cream sauce was the epitome of the history of mustard in that region.  It is named after the man instrumental in making Dijon famous.  When we concluded our tour and while shopping I was given a copy of the recipe which I share below.

The museum displayed jars and bottles of mustard from all over the world.  The focus was distinctly North American, but since Canada is one of the largest producers of Mustard Seed for the world, this makes a great deal of sense. 

An interesting tidbit I learned while viewing the video was that Coleman's Mustard was the first company to use modern techniques of advertising to get consumers to buy their product.  That is probably why I recognized the items in this case, because every museum I ever worked for had a least one container of Coleman's mustard in the household collection and now I know why!

Coleman's Mustard - recognize this?!

My favorite part of the displays was the Mustard Condiment Jars.  There were cases of them, crystal and ceramic and everything in between.  I imagined making my own mustard and serving them to guests in these great old-fashioned jars!

After a tour around the museum we enjoyed the shop.  I think we spent equal time in the store as we did viewing the museum displays and videos.  Mrs. Mustard and the staff were gracious and cordial and they love mustard.  We were not the only ones there, but I sometimes felt I had the staff's undivided attention.
Mustard Pots

The store was nicely organized and had all types of mustard related items.  I obtained a great cookbook I know I will share recipes from in the future.  There as also a Koop's Mustard ring toss and the only mustard vending machine I have ever seen filled with local mustard from Eau Claire, Wisconsin!

Any mustard in the store can be sampled.  They encourage you to shop and bring your items to the testing table where you can try each one before you buy.  And the range of items varies from sweet to very spicy.  You can find a mustard to suit anyone's palette.  I shared a tarragon mustard recipe in my blog post at the end of last month.  We were able to obtain a tarragon mustard while there and as Mrs. Mustard said.  "It takes much less time to enjoy this than start from scratch."

She introduced us to some flavors I might never have tried including  a Walnut Dijon that we have since made into a vinaigrette per her suggestion.  (See a variation of her recipe below.)

In Wisconsin, not far from my husband's family is the Huntsinger Farms where they grow horseradish.  We drive by it all the time and I must say mustard and horseradish are a wonderful paring.  The store contained numerous varieties combining mustard and horseradish and we tried several of them before settling on one with a sweet aftertaste that I wanted to use on potatoes and Mrs. Mustard convinced my husband would be a great addition to his savory crepe recipe.  We went home with Slimm and Nunne Habanero Horseradish Mustard and the plan to get more come Christmas to go with our annual crepe gifts to family.  My husband also obtained a Beet Mustard combo that he plans to put in the savory crepes with chicken.

The best thing about being able to taste all the mustards is I now know the quality and variety that I can get from the shop and know that even if I do not want to drive to Middleton I can order from them online at the website.

It was the most wonderful day and a most pleasant visit to the National Mustard Museum.  And snacking on what we purchased that day is still a heavenly experience days later.  I recommend that you take the time to stop by if you are ever in Wisconsin.

As promised, here are the RECIPES:

Savory Mustard Crepes (courtesy of the National Mustard Museum)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbls. Slimm and Nunne Habanero Horseradish Mustard

Place eggs, water, flour and mustard in a blender and whir until smooth.  Transfer to a bowl.  Place a medium non-stick skillet or crepe pan over medium heat.  Melt butter until hot but not smoking.  Ladle about 1/4 cup of the mustard batter on the skillet and level it by titling and rolling the skillet to create a thin layer over the pan.  Cook until set and slightly brown, about 40 seconds, then flip and finish the second side, about another 20 seconds.  remove to a warm plate and continue until batter is used.  This recipe will make about 6 crepes.  You can serve them rolled with cheese, filled with cooked sausage or chicken and topped with salsa or plain with a bit of sour cream.

Walnut Mustard Vinaigrette
Here is our variation of a Walnut mustard vinaigrette.  Mrs. Mustard serves a similar recipe (using walnut oil) over salad greens, pears slices, toasted walnuts, cranberries and blue cheese.

4 Tbls Grape oil
2 Tbls. herbed Chardonnay wine (see this post for directions)
1 Tbls. Walnut Dijon Mustard
1/2 Tbls. honey
salt & pepper to taste

Mix the dressing in a small lidded jar and shake well until combined.  The dressing can keep 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator and is always best the second day.

Poulet Gaston Gerard (courtesy of the National Mustard Museum)
(Chicken in Mustard Cream sauce)

1 frying chicken, cut up
       seasoned with salt, pepper and paprika
2 Tbls. unsalted butter
1 bay leaf
1 spring of thyme (about 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. dry)
2 Tbls. dry white wine
1 cup Creme fraiche or heavy cream
2 Tbls. Dijon mustard (the museum recommends La Musette which they stock)
3/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese

Dry the chicken pieces and season with salt, pepper and paprika.  Shea a saute pan to medium high heat and melt the butter.  Brown the chicken on both sides, then reduce the heat to medium-low.  Add the bay leaf and thyme and cook, covered, about 15 to 20 minutes or until the chicken is done, but still moist, turning at least once.

Preheat the boiler,  remove the chicken to a shallow earthenware casserole.  remove the herbs and pour off the excess butter and fat.  Over high heat add white wine to deglaze the pan.  Add cream fraiche and cook over high heat until warm.  remove from heat and stir int he mustard and all but 2 Tbls of the grated cheese.  Pour the hot sauce over the chicken, add the remaining cheese and place it under the broiler until the cheese is melted and bubbly and slightly browned.

We have enjoyed a chicken pan sauce using one of the mustards too, but since I was not home when the recipe was crafted it will take time before I can watch the hubby make the recipe so I can write it down.  I know my husband used a Vidalia onion mustard to make it and that it was out of this world even heated up the next day!

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