Tuesday, March 22, 2016

from Rome to Toronto and back again

bello di mamma
You see that hotdog up there? It’s not a hotdog, it’s a salsiccia or sausage, homemade, the way we like it at home. I choose my meat and I mince it with the tip of a sharp knife. I then add some spices, they may be hot or mild. There’s always a bit of lemon rind and I never miss out on the fennel seeds. Fennel seeds. What’s this world without fennel seeds?! Maybe once in a while I'll add paprika or saffron, a hot, really hot, chili or just salt and pepper. Once, I made sausages entirely with vegetables, vegan style, giving it a kick with pistachios. Try with boiled beets and potatoes, chop them up and once they’re in the pork’s intestine (ok, not entirely vegan), you’ll confuse them with the meat version, at least the sight of it. And if you think this is just too much work, go out and buy your sausages because today it’s not about my homemade hotdog salsicce. It’s about the caviar mustard that goes with it.

My friend Antonella intrigued me with her mustard caviar when she posted it on instagram. It would have been so much better if she was on this side of the globe to share more of our passion for food. We did have a chance that time she came to Rome when we went for an aperitivo on the beautiful terrace of a Hotel overlooking the roman rooftops. The sun was settling down, the sky was tinted gold and the Vatican's cupola was right there before our eyes. Easy and laid-back, drinks and apetizers kept coming as we conversed the night away. Between a bite and a sip, our food thoughts met as we mentioned a few cookbooks, a favorite brand for knives, a good restaurant, where to buy some excellent chocolate in Rome, a particular spice and a Chef. Chef Ema.

Chef Ema works at the George Brown Culinary school in Toronto.  She's from Italy and lives and works in Toronto. I'm from Toronto and I live and work in Rome. Antonella, who lives in Toronto too, takes cooking classes at the George Brown Culinary school where Chef Ema works.  All three of us have a passion for food and everything that goes with it. This, is what brought us in connection. I've learned so much from Chef Ema only steeling with my eyes what she posts on her instagram. Sometimes I'm so inspired that I try to recreate what she does in the little corner of my kitchen. Which brings me back to the caviar mustard.

It's to die for! I had to try it immediately. Chef Ema sent me the recipe and that same day I ran out and bought the mustard seeds. Now, I always have a jar ready and I'm ready to make more when I'm about to run out of stock. I use it for so many things which I'll show you sooner or later here on the blog, but this is how I first tried it. On this homemade salsiccia, with a homemade bun, some stir fried cabbage and ok, I bought the ketchup. Nobody's perfect!

To give you an idea of its tastes. It's just like caviar.  Once you bite into it, it pops on your tongue. The heat spreads in your mouth while the flavor fills your nose. Then, it hits you all at once, the sweet, the salty, the spiciness, the sage, the honey and the bourbon. You must try!
mustard caviar
caviar mustard
Here's the recipe the way Chef Ema gave it to me.

Mustard Caviar

1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/8 cup water
2 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
1 large spring of thyme
1 bay leaf
20 black peppercorns
1.5 oz or 1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
1.5 oz or 1/4 cup brown mustard seeds
2-3 tbsp bourbon
1.5 tsp maple syrup or honey
up to 3/4 tsp salt

Step 1
Combine vinegar, water garlic, thyme, peppercorns and bay leaf in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and set aside to cool and infuse.

Combine mustard seeds, and bourbon in a glass bowl. Strain vinegar water mixture over it. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature overnight and up to 2 days.

Step 2 
Stir in maple syrup or honey and transfer mustard to a sterilized container and let stand at room temperature until it achieves desired spiciness, then refrigerate for months. Or leaving a head space of 2.5 cm (for 1 cup jars) seal and boil 15 minutes. Turn off heat. Rest in hot water 10 minutes then remove and cool.


  1. le salsicce al finocchietto sono OVVIAMENTE anche le mie preferite.. quindi tu mi stai dicendo che hai la macchinetta per insaccare le salsicce??
    dobbiamo parlare! :)
    looking forward for our next lunch together my friend, in the meantime you know I will HAVE TO make this mustard caviar asap..

    1. Once you try it you can't live without it!

      ...e vedessi che macchinetta ;-)

  2. Questo è uno dei modi in cui riesco a mangiare la carne senza storgere il naso!!!!

    1. Ti capisco...è troppo goloso per poter resistere. Ne ho preparati di tutti i tipi e ti garantisco che son buone anche quelle di solo verdure. Se hai l'attrezzo ti suggerisco una con patate e cavolo nero ripassati in padella con spezie varie, infili nel budello, ripassi di nuovo in padella tanto per ottenere quella crosticina che sta sempre bene, e voilà, che robetta! Certo, ora penserai a cosa serve farne una salsicce se è già buono così. Beh, prova e poi ne riparleremo. A presto :)

  3. Now I have to make this as I'm pretty sure it will live on as a staple in my kitchen! I'm equally intrigued with your homemade salsiccia for which the caviar mustard is the perfect condiment! Hazel X

    1. Hazel, your stopping by makes me feel that you just stepped into my kitchen. Shall we have tea now? :) Thank you

  4. Absolutely! I'll bring us some scones! ;)

  5. That touch of bourbon...and the maple syrup. I can't wait to try this! And I agree ~ homemade sausage beats hot dogs any day. And of course I love all the Instagram connections. xox

    1. The bourbon and the maple syrup is what makes it so special. It's so good that I can easily eat spoonfuls on just a piece of bread, that's how much I love it! And yes, instagram connections, it's my favorite way to keep in touch <3