Thursday, December 11, 2014

Christmas Gifts...Dan's Mustard

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This year, instead of sending friends some of the jams and fruits I canned this summer, I decided to surprise them with something really special...Dan's Mustard.  No, Dan is not my husband nor is he even a friend.  I have never met Dan but I've worshiped him for more than three decades.

Dan's Mustard was one of the first things made when Hay Day opened its Westport, Connecticut store.  Together with its Peasant Bread it was one of its most popular products and probably sold enough to serve with all the salamis and ham sandwiches eaten in Connecticut. The recipe was created by the brother of one of the owners, Sally and Alex Van Rensselear, and has been in the family for years.

A bad picture of the original store in Westport but the only one I could find

Hay Day was my favorite place to go for a free Saturday lunch after a week of commuting to my job in New York City.   It was Martha Stewart's also.  She lived just around the corner from the store in those early days before she became really famous and moved to Bedford, New York.  When the neighbors started to complain about the film crews and the noise of her menagerie, off she went to greener pastures. The town cheered and life returned  to the way it was supposed to be in Westport, Connecticut.  We still had Paul Newman and he blended in just fine. Did I ever tell you he and Madame Mere picked corn in a field all by themselves one afternoon? She came back with two bushels.  But I digress...

Hay Day started as an apple farm that later sold pies, and later sold bread, and know the drill.  One thing they did, before anyone else caught on to the idea, was offer samples of their products, beautifully paired and displayed for everyone to taste.  Not just little samples, SAMPLES. You could have lunch and dessert and not spend a penny.  But we all did, plenty of it.  It was an expensive free lunch but two hours later you walked away with a smile on your face and a copy of the Rural Times, the store's weekly newspaper.  It had recipes and menu suggestions and tons of information on what was in season.  They also had classes and featured guests chefs and speakers at their kitchen as early as the late 70's.  No one was doing this at the time, not even Grace's or Balducci's in New York City and Barefoot Contessa was still a dream.  The place was like a club, you never knew who you were going to run into.

One of these days I will dig through all my boxes and look for some of the Rural Times I saved from those days.  They were beautifully illustrated and written by one of their staff.  The store eventually opened two or three other branches, one in  Greenwich that I remember, but they were not even close to the charm of the original one in Westport.  They merged with another group similar in size to theirs, next with Balducci's  and eventually sold out to a group of New York investors.

Together with this mustard. my favorites were the dips and the cookies, all made from scratch with the best ingredients. I can still taste the Oriental Dip and the crisp Chocolate Chip cookies. ( Don't get me going or we will never get to the recipe).  It was also there that I learned to pair Black forest ham with Brie and Dan's mustard on pumpernickel bread, a favorite and elegant combination in those days.

Now, let me give you a little advice.  Make the recipe exactly as it's written and use Coleman's dry mustard.  Don't be tempted to try as you cook, cool and save.  This is not chocolate sauce and you will burn your tongue over and over again, as I did five times, knowing full well it was hot (as in spicy). Trust me, it's foolproof and comes out just like the original.  Don't say I didn't warn you!

Dan's Mustard - Recipe from Hay Day Country Market, Westport Conn.
Makes: 2 cups

  • 1 cup (loosely packed) dry mustard, preferably Colman's English Mustard
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse (kosher) salt

  1. In a mixing bowl, stir the mustard and 1/4 cup of the vinegar together to form a paste. Then gradually add the remaining 3/4 cup vinegar, whisking until smooth and thoroughly incorporated.
  2. Beat the eggs in another mixing bowl. Add the sugar and salt, and blend with an electric mixer on high speed until thick and lemony in color. Add this to the mustard mixture and whisk to combine thoroughly.
  3. Pour into the top of a double boiler, and cook over simmering water, whisking occasionally and scraping down the sides of the pan as needed, until smooth, glossy, and thickened to the consistency of a thin custard, about 30 minutes (the mustard will continue to thicken as it cools). Remove from the heat, allow to cool thoroughly, pour into a clean jar, and refrigerate until ready to use. Tightly covered, it will keep well for months in the refrigerator
Bright Ideas
Serve with grilled hot dogs, braised bratwurst, or sausages.

Use as a sandwich spread. It's great with smoked turkey, almost any kind of cheese, and ham. (Try it with  Black Forest ham and sliced ripe brie on freshly baked rye or pumpernickel smeared with a generous amount of Dan's Mustard.)
 Recipe from: The Hay Day Country Market Cookbook
by Kim Rizk


  1. I love this mustard. Only on the prairie we call it Sally's Mustard. She gifts us jars every Christmas and it is so good I can eat it with a spoon! But I'd like to know where you got the darling jars!

    1. I don't recommend eating this one with a's sweet but it's hot. The jars are from our favorite place, Martha Homegoods! $2.99 each. I obviously took all they had here and keeping my eyes out for more. They are really big spice jars.

  2. The last time I was home, I saw giant tins of Colman's mustard. Now I know what that huge quantity could be used for! This looks delicious, I am am trying to imagine the texture of mustard with the eggs in it.

    1. You don't have to. The last photo is what you get. Pretty much what you would expect. Get some Coleman's when you go home and make this. Great with bangers!

  3. Fascinating story this morning and I enjoyed it very much. Hay Day sounds like something in the movies. Dan's mustard sounds divine and I love your jars. Who wouldn't be thrilled with such a pretty present. Thanks for sharing the story of Hay Day and it's clientele with us.

    1. It looks like the jars are the star! It was truly a wonderful place. Too bad it's gone.

  4. Thanks for this great idea and recipe! Now, please, where can I get the charming mustard pot in the photos?

    1. They are reallybig spice jars but enough for 1/2 cup of mustard. Homegoods $2.99

    2. Wow! I wonder if they still have them.

    3. Found them! Thank you for sharing this recipe and the source of your jars :)

  5. My Mother made one like this in the double boiler in the 1960's-- she called it Hot Sweet Mustard and would give it as gifts-- not in beautiful crocks like yours, but in baby food jars! Yours look so elegant. What fun memories you have of Connecticut. This mustard is superb. Thank you so much.

  6. It was probably quite similar to and sweet. It's so easy to make and people are thrilled to get some. Yes, Connecticut was a wonderful place to live and raise a family. I do miss it, particularly in the Fall.

  7. What a marvelous idea and how charmingly you package Lindaraxa's mustard. Your friends and family are lucky indeed to be receiving such thoughtful and tasty gifts straight from your kitchen (the best gifts, don't you agree?).

    I was just given some home-made vanilla recently with instructions to shake the bottle every other day until December 25 when it would be ready to use.

  8. CD,

    NOBODY does packaging as well as you do. Seriously I was so impressed I still think about it every time I have to send something out.. So, thank you!

    The vanilla sounds interesting. Would love to know how it turns out. I have been thinking about writing a post on vanilla and I bet it will be quite different from the one you are sure to post. You go

    Hope the storm didn't do a lot of damage to your garden.

    1. Well, thank you Lindaraxa! I do go a little crazy with packaging but I enjoy it.

      I shall let you know early next year how the vanilla turned out as I too am curious. It was such a thoughtful gift.

      As you've seen in the news, we had an incredible amount of rain drench the area over a 24 hour period. The garden survived but the house took a beating with leaks here and there. The schools were closed for two days, a first around these parts.

  9. What a wonderful story, and what a perfect jar for this mustard. So what actually happened to the physical store? They closed when taken over by investors? Is there something there today? It was a different world then, wasn't it? before social media told everyone where to go, what to eat, how to do it etc etc.
    I've been making the spiced nuts, and then my sugared pecans also, in abundance and giving them away in all sorts of pretty containers. But now I know what I will do next year! This is so different and unique and unexpected: thank you my friend!

  10. I haven't been back in 15 years! I have no idea what happened to the physical store but it was charming. That place would still be a success today. This week I will make the spiced nuts and the sugared pecans as well as the cheese cocktail biscuits. Just for the house and guests. You must try the latter, it was posted last year.and they are very very Southern If you look closely at the top of the peppermint brownies in last post, you will see them.

  11. Looks wonderful! Perfect to give to people and it's a bit of you taking time for friends instead of handing over a credit card. Hope you get some wonderful homemade gifts in return... the mustard is a splendid idea. I passed out small samples of my homemade absinthe!!

  12. Well I made this last night and have to say it is excellent! I'm sure we will use it on our sandwiches made from leftover Christmas ham! You also had me curious about the Hay Day cookbook and I found it on Amazon and ordered it! As always, enjoy reading your blog! Have a wonderful Christmas!

    1. I am so glad you liked it and ordered the book! Merry Christmas!

  13. The mustard sounds wonderful. Love the jars. You have some luck recipients. Happy Holidays!


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