Weekend Herb Blogging #24 - Mustard Cress
Probably ten years ago, I bought my mustard cress seeds from Shepherd's Garden Seeds (see farther down for info on them) so I could use the leaves in tea sandwiches for a bit more zip than plain cress. That worked out really well - they tasted great, with their peppery bite and mustard zing.
I did some Googling and discovered quite a few recipes using mustard cress. It's appparently quite popular in England, and readily available there. Here are some links to recipes that sounded good:
- Thai Squid Salad - If you don't like squid, I imagine you could substitute scallops or shrimp
- Jamie Oliver's Paprika Sirloin Steak Wrap - this has the whole menu, but the mustard cress is in the potatoes
- Crabmeat with Wasabi Mayonnaise - the recipe is for a sushi-like presentation and the cress is used as a garnish. Terminology: I'm guessing a punnet is a sprig, and a crab stick seems to be one of the long pieces of meat from a crab leg.
A few simple uses for mustard (or any) cress:
- in a simple sandwich of tomato or cucumber or chicken or just bread and butter
- throw a few leaves into a salad for a little bit of bite
- toss individual leaves in a cold shrimp vinaigrette or potato salad
- garnish deviled eggs or a deviled egg sandwich
- use small sprigs on an herb pizza with Florence fennel and sweet onions
Buy the Seeds
Without spending a lot of time, I only found one source of the seeds, Sand Mountain Herbs. Before buying seeds or other gardening materials online, check the company out at the Garden Watchdog Guide to Gardening by Mail. You can search by company name or by the type of plant/seed you're looking for. Some of the comments on Sand Mountain read like ads, and they have one very negative review, so keep that in mind if you decide to use them.
Shepherd's Garden Seeds - This was a great company for ultra chic veggie and herb seeds. They were one of the first companies to have seeds for true haricots verts or cipolline and various other hard to find European plants and herbs. It was a small operation in Felton, CA. Their beautifully illustrated catalogues and seed packets won awards, and their descriptions were beautiful. It was criminally easy to over-buy, wooed by the lovely descriptions.
I'm not sure why, but several years ago Renee Shepherd sold the company to Whiteflower Farm. It lost a lot of it's chic appeal, and I've heard that service and quality were diminshed. However, I never ordered from Whiteflower, so I have no personal opinion. But, good news, Renee Shepherd has opened Renee's Seeds, still in Felton. You can order online or by phone, but they have no print catalogue. I went trolling for some of the things I used to buy from them, and they're still there, looking just as delicious as ever. I don't know if it's still possible, but you used to be able to order by phone and pick it up in Felton instead of waiting. Worth asking if you live in the area or are going to be visiting.
I'm off to order;
- Windowbox Basil (love its tiny, peppery leaves)
- Siam Queen Thai Basil (what a wonderful garnish or salad ingredient
- Aline Mignonette Strawberries (wonderfully fragant, tiny berries)
- Edamame Beans (why buy when you can grow and know they are truly fresh)
- Rolande Beans (true French haricots verts)
- Romeo Carrots (little round butterballs of carroty goodness)
- Jewel Toned Beets (seeds for red, yellow and pinwheel beets)
Can't you just picture those Romeo carrots with the baby Jewel Toned beets as a salad, or even freshly steamed or baked. Sweet and colorful. When I lived in San Jose, I had the Rolande beans growing in a planter box on the deck - bush beans require very little growing room. It used to spook my roommate. We'd be sitting there in the evening, enjoying the temperature drop and the peace and quiet. He'd notice that there were tiny little beanlets on the plant, maybe an inch long and very thin. The next afternoon, they'd be full grown. ;+) I love fresh green beans!
I'm getting excited now just thinking about all these goodies. I'm going to be growing them in containers on the deck and trying to figure out some way to shield them from the marauding wildlife. I planted three dozen pepper plants of various kinds in San Jose, along with tomato plants. Between the squirrels, possums and raccoons, there were very few intact fruits for eating. Very frustrating. Up here, we have deer and foxes as well, and, in the summer, when it's dry, there are less edible weeds around, so they raid the veggie garden. I sympathize, but I want my veggies.