French Mustards

French mustard is nothing like american mustard, though the closest thing is perhaps American brown mustard, a bastardization of the English brown mustard and really nothing like the French ones.  Oh sure, we have the Grey Poupon, made famous by the posh-teasing commercials of my childhood and I don’t think anyone doesn’t know the phase, “Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon?”  But the truth is, Grey Poupon, isn’t really that posh, nor very good, as far as French mustards go anyway.

The much more flavorful ones are not pulverized like the typical Grey Poupon and are whole grain, in France.  We prefer these ones for serving on their own, with something like pâté.    We find the best ones to be Vilux, which is brown mustard if you can find it in specialty stores, which is sweeter and more full-bodied than the Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard, and we also like any of the whole seed mustards, including the ones by Grey Poupon, such as their Country Dijon or Harvest Course Ground mustards.

Or you can make homemade mustard, as our friend, Shawn, does:
Le Parfait french canning jars or use jelly jars in basement
6 tablespoons mustard seeds, about 50 grams
1/2 cup mustard powder, about 50 grams

Combine brown or black mustard seeds with yellow mustard powder
Add Stout beer and cognac to consistency (or if making a traditionally French version substitute verjus)

Other secret spices are shown in his Instagram photo below:




By |October 3rd, 2011|Cuisine, France, Recipes|Comments Off on French Mustards


The word tapenade comes from “tapeno,” the Provençal word for caper, which is a versatile topping on crostini (dried slices of baguette toasts) for appetizers, a topping on grilled salmon, a marinade for roast chicken, lamb, or beef.   The Italians use it as a quick pasta sauce or pizza topping.

Use either black or green olives, oil-cured or brined. Oil-cured are easier to work with (if pitting the olives yourself), but brined can produce a great impact, too. Traditionally, tapenade is made with anchovies and capers.

The best anchovies are fresh white ones, but the ones from Colliore in the Languedox-Roussillon, or the Basque coastal regions are also top shelf.  Barcelona  has sweet and meaty anchovies, which are so prized they are never exported.  If you can find salt-packed Italian anchovies in the States, you won’t be disappointed.


1 1/2 cups olives, pitted, any kind will do, black or green, oil cured or brined, your choice, but we like Provencal black olives and castelvetro olives, from Emilia Romagna, which has a nice contrast of cured and soft versus hard, fresh and salty, finely chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped.
1 T. capers (preferably salt cured), rinsed in a colander, and then coarsely chopped
1 t. minced fresh thyme and/or savory, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1-2 boned fillets of anchovy, preferably fresh white anchovies, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil as needed
Red wine vinegar or lemon juice, to taste (about 1-2 tablespoons)
1-2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper


Finely chop together the olives, capers, garlic, herbs, and anchovy.  Add 1 tablespoon of oil and pepper and mix together with 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice and olive oil.

You may need to add salt or more vinegar and/or lemon juice. […]

By |October 3rd, 2011|Cuisine, Recipes, Starters|Comments Off on Tapenade

Smoked Salmon Bagel Sandwiches

Lox is a cured salmon fillet, usually sliced thin.  Typically it is served on a bagel, often with cream cheese, onion, tomato, cucumber and capers. Lox can be crumbled into small pieces and added into scrambled eggs, sometimes with chopped onion.

I have to confess, I never much cared for lox.   At least, not when compared to freshly caught and smoked salmon, as lox is far too often too dry or too salty.  Freshly smoked salmon is better, especially if you caught it yourself, fly fishing.

While the Kokanee salmon run is on here in Colorado, we like to keep a few for smoking, as they die in their breeding rituals within the month of their run up the river anyway, so it seems a waste not to take advantage of their great flavor.

And, the Togiak River is quite possibly the best King and Silver Salmon river in Alaska, from which our friend, Rim Chung, had just returned with some its delicacies. Numerous anglers who have fished all over the world describe the Togiak as incomparable for its salmon runs, as well as for its nearby trout and grayling fishing. All of the Alaskan and Northwest wild salmonoids are worth smoking, whether it is the Copper River salmon from your market, or something farther down the Sporting Road.

We like our smoke salmon flaked on a hot, buttered bagel, topped with cream cheese and sprouts.  It doesn’t get simpler than this, nor better.  Voila!

By |October 3rd, 2011|Cuisine, Fishing, Recipes|Comments Off on Smoked Salmon Bagel Sandwiches

Fig Molasses

Fresh figs are in season in the States from mid-September, just a short few weeks until mid-October, so get them now while possible from your grocery or specialty grocery.  And, if short of the real thing, you can buy the dried variety of which the best may be Trader Joe’s Dried Black Mission Figs.

Or pick a bottle of Dolci Pensieri di Calabria (fig molasses).  This is pure vigs, dark and syrupy, a result of combining the figs with sugar.  Drizzle over fish, chicken, pork chops, waffles or pancakes, ice cream, fruit salad, salad dressings or marinades too.

It is a substitute of honey on the fruit-salad, with fresh pineapple and maraschino.  We like it drizzled over ice cream, fresh ricotta or any cheese like blue, Parmesan or Pecorino, stirring into yogurt, glazing a pork roast or flavoring pan juices.

By |October 3rd, 2011|Cuisine, Recipes, Sweets|Comments Off on Fig Molasses

Jambon, Speck, Proscuitto, Virginia Country Ham, Jamón Serrano and Jamón Ibérico

Meat has been cured since ancient times.  Dry cured hams have been a favorite in France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal for centuries.  Americans, particularly those in the South and the names Smithfield and Surry are legendary in this area, carried on this tradition with smoked hams, fattening them with tasty peanuts, beech nuts, hickory nuts, acorns and fruits.    

All of these hams are salt cured and aged.  Some are smoked over fragrant hardwoods.

While we love everything French and American, and whilst the Italian prosciutto is the best known the world over, we prefer Spanish ham which usually has a more uniform texture, more intense flavor and is usually less moist than other cured hams, because of the long curing stage.  In fact, every European country seems to have its own specialty on cured hams.  But pig rearing is Spain dates back to antiquity and once the pig was harvested, it was dry-cured to last the family for an entire year.  Jamón serrano is a type of jamón (dry-cured Spanish ham), which is generally served raw in thin slices, or occasionally diced for use in cooking.  Today, Spain is the world’s leading producer of dry-cured pork.  Serrano means from the tierra or the mountain range, where the European white (it’s really pink) pig is curred.  Jamón Ibérico comes from the black Ibérico pig, which has smaller litters and is more difficult to put weight on quickly (compared to the white pigs), hence its higher price and gamier flavor, which we prefer.  These Spanish hams are often thinly sliced and served on a slice of pan tomate.

The German Black Forest ham is commonly available world-wide and is smoked over pine and fir and coated with beef blood to give it a black exterior. Very lean and tender, it […]

By |October 1st, 2011|Cuisine, Recipes, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Jambon, Speck, Proscuitto, Virginia Country Ham, Jamón Serrano and Jamón Ibérico

White Anchovies

Anchovies – whether white boquerones, freshly cooked, salted, or smoked, are a classic Spanish tapa, an Italian addition to an antipasti platter, and a French delight.   Boquerones are tender white anchovies lightly pickled in vinegar and olive oil.  Salted anchovies are silky and tender, definitely different from your typical over-salted canned ones.  Smoked anchovies are incredible with a tender smoky flavor.  Be prepared to spend $40/pound for the good ones.

In addition to just serving them on their own with a slice of toasted and sea salted and olive oiled bread as a tapa or as part of an antipasti platter, we also use them in:

Black Truffle Pasta

By |October 1st, 2011|Cuisine, Recipes, Surf and Fin|Comments Off on White Anchovies

Truffe – Black and White Truffles, the Diamonds of the Kitchen

La Truffe Noir – Black Truffles together with White Truffles the Diamonds of the Kitchen

Truffles cost more per ounce than gold, or at least white truffles still do.  The perceived value of the truffe is far removed from its real gastronmic value that it has become caught up in snobbery and hype.  But the high prices are better understood when you consider that truffle production is 500 times lower than 100 years ago and demand is 50 times higher than supplies available.

Our friend in Paris once had an English girlfriend who invited him home to London to visit her parents.  He planned to make an impression and brought Burgundean truffles along with him and woke up early the next morning to make French omelets for the family, with a few slivers of truffles sprinkled on top.  The girl’s father went to the ice box to grab a bottle of catsup to the Frenchman’s dismay and he attempted to explain the value and culinary uniqueness of the truffle which would be hidden by the ketchup.  The father replied, “I always take my eggs with ketchup.”  On the next visit with the girl, he arrived with her at Charles de Gaulle airport to “discover” he had left his passport behind and there was not enough time to go back home and retrieve it.  Voila, the French way of avoiding the problem without a conflict!

Scientists say that there is a volatile alcohol in truffles that has a strong musky character related to testosterone, so perhaps this is the real reason we are attracted to them.

The truffle is the fruiting body of an underground mushroom.  Seeds, call spores, are dispersed through fungivores, animals that eat fungi.  Since the 18th Century, truffles as have been […]

By |October 1st, 2011|Cuisine, Recipes|Comments Off on Truffe – Black and White Truffles, the Diamonds of the Kitchen

New Posts

Please check out all my new posts…which are hidden under separate pages and therefore don’t show up here. 


Mardi Gras

La Buche de Noel


House Wine

Hungarian Partridge with Gin & Juniper Berries

Pheasant Confit

Four-legged Friends
Gary Ruppel
Rim Chung

Friends from the Sporting Road

Jim Fergus

By |September 22nd, 2011|Cuisine, Dog Training, Fishing, Fly Tying, Recipes, Uncategorized|Comments Off on New Posts