AlcoHOLidays | National Mustard Day | Pretzel Dip



To presume that National Mustard Day was a promotional effort instigated by one of the many mustard producers (or Big Mustard?) wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility but, as near as I can tell, it wouldn’t be true, either! Apparently National Mustard Day, celebrated on the first Saturday of August, is the product of the National Mustard Museum, currently located in Middleston, Wisconsin, and houses over 5,500 mustards and various mustard memorabilia.

Barry Levenson founded the Mustard Museum while he was still the Assistant Attorney General of Wisconsin and 6 years later changed careers to run the museum full time. The Mustard Museum was been the sponsor of National Mustard Day since 1991.

Now, mustard can be sweet. My favorite used to be this raspberry honey mustard I first had at a wine tasting. Just amazing! Of course, just your usual run of the mill honey mustard is pretty tasty, too, but these days I gravitate more towards Dijon and Creole mustards, the grainier the better. Mustard is part of the holy trinity of my mom’s ham glaze (brown sugar, orange juice, and the aforementioned mustard), pretzels and hotdogs would be lost without it, and the powdered variety is wonderful to cook with (then again, so is the prepared variety).

So the challenge was to create a cocktail based on this “King of Condiments.”

Pretzel Dip

2 oz London Dry Gin
1 oz Beer
1/2 oz (or 1 Tbsp) Dijon Mustard

Combine ingredients over ice and shake until nice and frothy. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a mini gherkin or kosher dill pickle, whichever you best prefer.

You could even go more elaborate with your garnish and skewer a cocktail wiener or some deli meat with an olive. Or, hey, if you’ve got some pretzel bread handy, go for it!

I don’t think I have to point out that this is not a sweet cocktail. This is very much along the lines of a dirty martini with the added boost of the emulsifying property of the mustard. The mustard and gin go so well together than I’m seriously considering using gin instead of vinegar in my next vinaigrette, and the beer gives the cocktail a bright finish–though the exact tone will change depending on what beer you have on hand.

50 Shots of America–Wisconsin

Pretzel Dip

Pretzel Dip

On May 29, 1848,  Wisconsin brought our state-count up to a nice, even 30. Known as the Badger State, it might surprise some to learn that name didn’t come from the bustling fur trade of the early-settled territory but of the miners (whose industry replaced pelts in the economy’s hierarchy) that had the badger-like habit of seeking shelter in holes they’d dug.

We’re not entirely sure what the name Wisconsin means (though we know it’s not ‘people who where foam cheese on their head’) but one possible etymology concentrates on its red rocks, like those found in the Wisconsin Dells. I wonder, then, is that why Republican States (founded in Ripon, Wisconsin, on March 20, 1854) are painted red on political maps?

America’s Dairyland is actually not the total agrarian state that such a name conveys. It became dairy-central because early agriculture was pursued to the detriment of the land. While it’s regained some of it’s croplands and the forests, the service industry plays a far larger part in the state these days while still leading the nation in cheese production (2nd in the US for milk and butter).

Pretzel Dip

1 oz Wisconsin Ale
1 oz Cranberry Juice
1 tsp Brown Mustard

Combine over ice and shake like a Barbie(1) and a troll(2) riding a Harley(3) around the center ring(4). Strain into a chilled cordial glass and sip.

Breweries are big in Milwaukee and the state is a major producer of cranberries (among other crops). This drink may sound strange (Todd certainly thought I was stretching it a bit) but it’s totally drinkable and does remind me of a big. soft pretzel dipped into berry-laced stone-ground mustard. Give it a shot before you judge it unfairly, and remember that it usually takes 2 sips before you get the full flavor of a drink.

The other references are as follows:

  1. Barbie-creator Barbie Millicent Roberts is from Willows, Wisconsin.
  2. Mount Horeb, Wisconsin is, apparently, the Troll Capital of the World. It’s also home to the Mustard Museum which houses over 2300 specimens of mustard.
  3. Harley Davidson Motorcycles are headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
  4. Ringling Brothers Circus got it’s first show in Baraboo, Wisconsin, in 1884.

And, hey, as we head into Labor Day weekend, if you’re in the neighborhood of Prairie du Sac check out the State Cow Chip Throwing Contest.

Agnolotti with Garlic-Spinach Sauce

Agnolotti with Garlic-Spinach Sauce

Agnolotti with Garlic-Spinach Sauce

Fresh pasta is a treat. And while I do enjoy getting elbow deep in the semolina from time to time, it’s not convenient for your average weeknight dinner. The happy medium? Fresh pasta in the refrigerated section of your local grocery store.

We recently had the opportunity (read as: coupon for a free package) to try Buitoni’s Riserva Quattro Formaggi Agnolotti. Translated, that’s a 4-cheese stuffed pasta that look like half-round raviolis.

Having just had beef the night before, we paired it with chicken but didn’t relish looking at two beige-colored items on the same plate. Time to get creative.

First, I made a sauce of pomegranate liqueur, tequila, mustard and other savory ingredients and applied it to both sides of the rice flour-dredged chicken breasts as they cooked. Meanwhile (and as the pasta cooked–remember fresh pasta doesn’t take nearly as long to cook as dry) I melted butter as a base to a garlic and spinach sauce. Everything was ready at just the right time and dinner was delicious.

The Quattro Formagi Agnolotti are very tender (another hallmark of fresh pasta in general) with a creamy filling that pairs well with a simple oil or butter-based sauce. The addition of spinach definitely brightened up the plate a bit but, with the cheese filling, was almost like an inside-out creamed spinach (or would that be outside-in?).

According to the label, each 9-ounce package serves 2; that’s 6 agnolotti a piece. At 360 calories per serving, the addition of a nice sauce and a salad and this could be a dinner portion and not just a side dish. As an accompaniment, you might be able to get three smaller servings out, but there’s not really enough in each agnolotti for 4 servings in a single package.


Garlic-Spinach Sauce

1/2 c Butter, melted
1.5 T minced garlic
1.5 c cooked Spinach
1 T Salt
Fresh-ground Pepper, to taste

Melt butter in a small saucepan and saute garlic until golden brown. Add cooked spinach, salt and pepper and toss with cooked pasta.

Pomegranate-Mustard Chicken

2 T Spicy Brown Mustard
2 T Pomegranate Liqueur
1/2 T Agave Nectar
3/4 T Tequila
1/2 t Lime Juice
4 4-oz Chicken Breasts
3/4 c Rice Flour
Salt & Pepper
2 T Olive Oil

Combine mustard through lime juice in a small bowl, stirring to combine. Adjust flavors as needed. (Pomegranate juice can be substituted for the pomegranate liqueur and the tequila skipped if you’d prefer to not use alcohol.) Dredge chicken in rice flour seasoned with salt and pepper and brown on both sides in the hot oil. Spoon or brush the pomegranate-mustard mixture over each side of the chicken and continue to cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

[Disclaimer: I was provided with a free coupon for this item. All opinions and observations of this product are mine alone.]