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Dashing Dijon

Dijon mustard is one of my go-to ingredients for making sauces, dips and glazes. A slew of brands are on the market, though Grey Poupon is perhaps the most well-known. Recently, I tried Extra Strong Dijon Mustard from Roland Foods, a New York-based specialty food company with products ranging from condiments and spices to ethnic specialties.

Brace yourself, because it is strong. But its bite mellows to a mild tang with a smooth finish.

I found the mustard in a good-size jar — 1 pound, 13 ounces. That’s a lot of Dijon, but once it’s opened, it will keep several months in the refrigerator. Dijon mustard, originally from Dijon, France, is a smooth, pale yellow mustard made from mustard seeds, white wine and unfermented grape juice. The grape juice is a must, according to many food reference guides. Most stores carry a wide selection of Dijon mustard with other added ingredients, such as herbs and spices. Here are three unconventional ways to use it:

**Mix with reduced-fat mayonnaise and use as a dip with pretzels.

**Make a glaze, mixing it with orange marmalade or apricot preserves to spread on grilled chicken or pork tenderloin. preserves to spread on grilled chicken or pork tenderloin.

**Whisk 1 tablespoon Dijon with 1 tablespoon red or white wine vinegar. Add fresh chopped herbs. Slowly drizzle in Ð cup olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Use as a vinaigrette or toss with red skin potatoes and roast.

Dijon gives sauces a tanginess and, because it’s thick, acts as an emulsifier that allows you to omit high-fat ingredients such as butter and heavy whipping cream to make the sauce.

Our recipe for penne with broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes and Dijon cream is a winner in the convenience arena — you only need one pot and one serving bowl. The broccoli and sun-dried tomatoes are cooked with the pasta — eliminating the need to dirty another pot.

You can use a heatproof bowl to make and warm the sauce, and you can use it to serve the meal as well. The heat from the pasta water warms the bowl, keeping the sauce and the other ingredients warm.

PENNE WITH BROCCOLI, SUN-DRIED TOMATOES AND DIJON CREAM

1 large clove garlic, peeled, minced¼ cup Dijon mustard1 cup fat-free or regular half-and-half8 oz, penne pasta or favorite short pasta1½ cups broccoli florets1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, sliced1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil¼ cup shredded or shaved Parmesan cheese Freshly ground black pepper 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, optional

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Meanwhile, place the garlic in a large, heatproof serving bowl that will fit partially in the pot. Add the mustard to the bowl and whisk in the half-andhalf. Set aside or place over the pasta pot to warm while the water is heating. Once the water begins to boil, remove the bowl.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until it is al dente, according to package directions. About 2 minutes before the pasta is done, add the broccoli florets and sundried tomatoes. Cook 2 more minutes. Remove 2 cups of the cooking water. Drain the pasta and broccoli and tomatoes. Place the cooking water back in the pot and leave on low heat.

Set the heatproof bowl with the mustard sauce over the pot with the remaining pasta water. Add the pasta mixture and toss to coat and heat through. Drizzle with the olive oil and add the cheese. Toss again to coat and heat through. Garnish with a grinding of black pepper and a sprinkling of parsley before serving. Makes 4 servings.

BRAISED CHICKEN IN DIJON CREAM SAUCE

2 boned and skinned chicken breast halves3 tablespoons olive oil1 medium onion or 4 shallots, chopped2 cloves garlic chopped½ cup dry white wine1 can (14½ oz.) chicken stockSalt and pepper to taste3 tablespoons Dijon mustard8 oz. heavy cream

In a skillet with high sides, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Sear the chicken breast halves in the hot oil about 2 minutes on each side, until just golden brown on the outside.

Reduce the heat to medium, move the chicken to one side, add the onion and garlic, and cook a couple of minutes more until the onion and garlic are lightly browned. Add the wine and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Replace the chicken in the center of the pan, spacing it evenly, and add the chicken stock, salt and pepper. The stock should come up only about halfway on the chicken pieces. Bring the liquid to a simmer and reduce the heat to low. Partially cover the pan and let the chicken braise for one hour, turning the chicken over once or twice near the end of the cooking time. Remove the chicken pieces and keep warm.

To the liquid in the pan add the Dijon and cream, and stir. Raise the heat to medium and boil the sauce until it reaches the desired thickness. Taste and add salt or pepper if desired.

Serve the chicken with the warm sauce. Makes 2 servings.

TUNA, WHITE BEAN AND ROASTED PEPPER SALAD WITH CREAM DIJON DRESSING

¼ cup mayonnaise¼ cup olive oil3 tablespoons Dijon mustard2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar 5 cups mixed baby greens 1 can (15 oz.) small white beans, rinsed, drained 2/3 cup chopped drained roasted red peppers from jar 1/3 cup chopped red onion 1 can (12 oz.) chunk light tuna 2/3 cup Kalamata olives or other brine-cured black olives, pitted, halved

Whisk mayonnaise, olive oil, Dijon mustard and vineger in small bowl. Season dressing with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.)

Toss greens in large bowl with enough dressing to coat. Place greens in center of 4 plates. Toss beans, red peppers and onion in medium bowl with enough dressing to coat. Top greens with bean mixture, then tuna, dividing equally. Garnish with olives and serve. Makes 4 servings.

BEEF TENDERLOIN WITH CRANBERRY DIJON MUSTARD SAUCE

Sauce:1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce½ cup beef stock ¼ cup cranberry juice 6 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard 4 tablespoons heavy cream Salt and pepper to taste

Tenderloin: 1 beef tenderloin, trimmed of fat, weighing about 5 lbs. 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon salt 2 tablespoons freshly ground pepper 1 tablespoon whole mustard seed, crushed or coarsely ground

For the sauce: Place all ingredients in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to break up the cranberry sauce. Turn down to a simmer and cook until sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon, about 8-10 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper.

For the beef: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Rub meat all over with the oil. Combine the salt, pepper and mustard seed and sprinkle mixture all over the meat. (You might have to press mixture on roast if mixture doesn’t adhere.)

Set tenderloin on a wire rack on a shallow roasting pan. Roast until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers about 135 degrees for medium-rare to medium. Let stand at room temperature about 20-25 minutes before slicing.

Cut meat into ¼- to ½-inch thick slices. Arrange overlapping slices on a serving tray and spread a 2-inch wide ribbon of cranberry mustard sauce down the center. Pass the remaining sauce. Makes 8 servings.

LEMON-DIJON SHRIMP SCAMPI

1½ lbs. large shrimp, cleaned and deveined1-2 tablespoon minced fresh garlic (or to taste) 4 tablespoons butter ½ teaspoon dried chili pepper flakes (or to taste) 1-2 tablespoon Dijon mustard (or to taste) ¼ cup fresh lemon juice ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley ½ teaspoon salt Black pepper Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Cook and stir shrimp, garlic and chili flakes in butter in a large skillet over medium heat, until shrimp are pink and cooked. Blend mustard, lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper, add to shrimp mixture; heat thoroughly. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese if desired. Serve with rice, pasta or couscous. Makes 2 to 4 servings.

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