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Sometimes it only takes one delicious ingredient to elevate the simplest dish. Think easy-peasy to prepare but so good it has your guests swooning.

One of my fave must-have ingredients is mustard. It’s a staple and who hasn’t got a jar of it festering somewhere in the pantry?

Here are three ways I use mustard to fake memorable (but dead-easy) dishes.

I would love to know your go-to ingredient for clever cooking. Let’s share the love!

Steaks with balsamic-mustard sauce

adapted from recipe via http://www.marthastewart.com

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 strip steaks (each 6 to 8 ounces and about 3/4 inch thick)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard

Method

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Season steaks generously on both sides with salt and pepper; place in skillet. Cook, turning once, until browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to a plate; cover with foil.
  2. Add vinegar to skillet; boil until syrupy, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in mustard and any accumulated juices from steaks. Serve sauce with steaks. And oodles of red wine.

Brie, pear and mustard grilled sandwich

adapted from recipe via http://www.wholeliving.com

(Feeds one hungry mother)

Ingredients

  •  2 slices whole-grain bread
  •  1-2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  •  1 ounce Brie, sliced
  •  1/4 pear, cored and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Got leftover chicken or turkey? Tuck it in too for a protein-rich lunch

Method

Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat. Spread both slices of bread with mustard and top one slice with Brie and pear. Top with remaining slice and press together gently. Generously brush both sides of sandwich with oil.

Place sandwich in skillet and cover with a piece of foil. Place a half-filled kettle or a heavy skillet on top to weigh it down and cook until bread is golden and cheese begins to melt, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Serve warm.

Mustard-marscapone bruscetta spread

adapted from recipe via bonappetit

This is the perfect go-to nibble for those dreaded unexpected pop-ins.

Ingredients & Method

  • Whisk 1/2 cup mascarpone1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, and 3 Tbsp. Dijon mustard in a medium bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread on crusty bread and feel utterly smug as they fall over themselves in admiration.
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