Spring Delights

We've always had ham for Easter. This is not necessarily a favorite with the women in the family so once in a blue moon I sneak in a leg of lamb, which I've always considered the only acceptable alternative to ham on Easter Sunday. But the guys always want ham. And in the same breath they ask: are you making the mustard ring? Which, as near as I can figure, is a necessity or don't bother having ham. It's tricky to get anyone outside the family to try this recipe. I even posted it when I first started blogging but sincerely doubt anyone made it. You probably thought I was nuts.

Back in the 60's this mustard ring won best of show in a big, albeit local, cooking competition. My friend Grace was the winner and she told me it was an old family recipe. Only I never got the chance to taste it that day and when all the recipes were finally published in a cookbook, I just stared at it dubiously, wondering how on earth it ever won over all the fierce competition. So this mustard ring had to be beyond great, right? It even beat out some scrumptious desserts! Well, well. Best in Show. Good for you, Grace!

But it still took me a couple years before I finally made it. It's not rocket science but it does take a little time. The color is such a delicate yellow, making it very Easter-like. I spoon-tasted it as it was cooling and it was sweet with a tangy bite; pretty tasty actually. Then you fold in some cold whipped cream and the color turns an even softer yellow and while the bite is still there, it's not as sweet. And served with ham? Spectacular. Unusual. The first question invariably is: what is this?? Some kind of lemon dessert?  Definitely not. In the end, everyone is asking if it will keep in the fridge for leftovers. And they've been asking for it ever since.

You don't need to make it in a ring mold (although it puts to good use the old molds we used to make those ghastly jello salads in) but I do because it's fun to fill the center with something. If I have it at Christmas, I use holly. Other times I've used black olives, crabapples, flowers, fruit...just about anything. But my favorite is a Rhubarb (quelle surprise) Ginger Compote. I love the colors together. And spring is always when I first get my hands on some rhubarb.

Here's a prediction: you're going to read this post, comment politely that it looks good and then not try it. I know, because that's what I did. But just this once, when ham is next on your menu, please remember Grace's prize-winning Mustard Ring.  You have to make it a day ahead anyway (I've made it as much as 3 days ahead) so you're not adding one more thing to think about for dinner that day.

And because I'm mad for the Rhubarb-Ginger Compote, I'm posting that recipe too. Don't wait for the mustard ring to make the compote, because it's a killer recipe. I keep sneaking spoonfuls!

Grace's Mustard Ring

4 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons dry mustard ( I use Colman's)
1 envelope gelatin
1/3 cup water
2/3 cup vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup whipping cream

Whisk the sugar and dry mustard together in the top of a double boiler to make certain there are no lumps. Add the vinegar and water and then the well beaten eggs.

Soak the gelatin in 1 T. cold water then melt over hot water.
Cook the egg/mustard mixture slowly in double boiler stirring constantly, adding gelatin when it becomes hot. Cook until creamy and thickened. Remove from heat, cool over ice cubes.

When cool, beat the whipping cream until peaks form. Slowly fold in the cooled mustard mixture. Pour into a mold and chill.

Rhubarb-Ginger Compote

From an article entitled Rhubarb Bites by Molly O'Neill, New York Times Magazine,  May 15th, 1994

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 shallots, peeled and minced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons grated ginger
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
4 cups rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons rice-wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste


Heat the olive oil in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the ginger and cook, stirring, for 45 seconds. Add the water and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat so that the liquid barely simmers. Add the rhubarb and cook without simmering until the rhubarb is tender but still whole, about 12 minutes.

Remove rhubarb from the liquid with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. Bring liquid to a boil. Cook, adding juices that accumulate from the rhubarb, until reduced to 1 cup, about 30 minutes. Set aside to cool. Stir in vinegar, salt and pepper. Stir in the rhubarb. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator.
Makes 2-1/2 cups


  1. This is the most interesting recipe I've read in a long time. I am so curious about the taste, I have to try this. We're having ham for easter and of course, I have those jello molds, so it's a must.

  2. We tend to have gammon at special occasions (quite like ham). I assume this would work just as well with that....

  3. hey can u suggest any other fruit other than Rhubarb for this?

  4. Wow, interesting recipe! Can't say I've ever seen anything like it. It does sound intriguing, especially with some nice smoked ham!

  5. What a fascinating dish. Looking at it, I would have assumed it was a sweet. I guess it's because I always have desert on the brain. It's very impressive.
    *kisses* HH

  6. Tsk, tsk... don't you know I don't do polite for the sake of polite? Furthermore, I happen to LOVE dry mustard and cream together (use it in the sauce for my mac 'n cheese), so I will be making this for Easter for MY family. I'm assuming it will travel happily enough? Anything I make has to survive a two hour plus commute to the farm...

    And that might be the rhubarb I barely remember from my paternal grandmother's (she died when I was 4), but still CRAVE.

  7. Look really fantastic dear Barbara, xxx gloria

  8. Never try this before but it looks so tempting with the compote. I bet it must have tasted great!
    Have a nice day, dear!
    Cheers, Kristy

  9. ha ha,thats a wonderful post and before i continue wanna tell u that everybody leaves in a sweet word for u coz thats what ur psots are about-they rock and are super cool and sweet ....jus like u ......
    Honestly ,in my part of the world we rarely find ham or cook up but when i do ,u surely have convinced me with this one and its bookmarked-maybe it'll be good with steak too.....

    And yeah my over active taste buds are aroused to the curiosity ur fantastic mustard mould will bring along...
    Bdw we use Colman's mustard too...

  10. I have never heard of a mustard ring. While I have no problem with ham, Ben won't eat it. So we'll have burgers for Easter! :)

  11. That looks wonderful, Barbara!We love to eat ham on Easter!

  12. Whoa this is crazy original. Never seen anything like it before. I'm definitely loving that rhubarb ginger compote! Can't wait for rhubarb season.

  13. Oh wow, you totally amazed me with this recipe. I'm going to be honest and admit I probably won't make it but I promise to keep it close at hand on my desk should ever want to prepare a ham , OK? Fabulous photos as always!

  14. Julie: I have a whole cabinet full of those molds!

    Anita: Should work fine. Gammon is ham, after all.

    MD: I can't, sorry. I left a comment on your blog.

    Lucie: It's be great with smoked ham.

    HH: I know. It looks like a divine lemon mousse. It has surprised a lot of guests!

    Sonia: It is!

    Chan: It will hold up to a 2 hour drive, no problem.

    Gloria: Thanks!

    Kristy: The compote is heavenly.

    Mia: You are so sweet. I don't think I would like this with steak, though.

    Blonde Duck: Sorry Ben doesn't like ham!

    Erica: It's really good!

    Joanne: I've got a ton of rhubarb recipes coming!

  15. The mustard ring is definitely very intriguing, I would love to try it! Always love rhubarb compote!

  16. I have never seen this mustard ring before & to combine that with that georgous rhubarb compote must be so tasty!

    Apart too!

  17. Ham to me is for sandwiches! I love ham, but Easter cries out for lamb..I will butterfly a leg of lamb off the bone, marinate it in olive oil, Middle Eastern spices and herbs and grill it to a medium rare! Most people in Michigan think of lamb, over cooked, served with mint jelly..golly! I wonder why they don't like it? :)

  18. That is a very unusual and original combination! A lovely dessert!

    I've always eaten a leg of lamb for Easter (maybe because I'm part English)...



  19. Barbara, this sounds so intriguing. I promise to let you know if I make it. I have one question, though: what is the weight of an envelope of gelatin? Does it say on it? I only have sheet gelatin, and I don't know how to convert it. HELP!

    Also, thanks for the suggestion to use the peppers on bruschetta. What a great idea! I've added it to the post with a link to you.

    We're going to be out of town for a couple of weeks. Happy Easter!

  20. the ring is great and wow my Dad would love the rhubarb compote

  21. Oh that compote sounds divine!!! Can you believe the first time I hosted Easter I served pasta?! I don't like ham, and, well, back then pasta was about all I did well. I made pasta with zucchini in a white sauce...turned out pretty tastey too :)

    Have a lovely weekend Barbara ~

    :) T

  22. very interesting. i'm a die-hard mustard-lover, so i'm more than a little bit intrigued. the compote sounds great too, but together? i think this is something i MUST try. plus, the creator has an awesome name. :)

  23. Vanessa: You make me smile!

    Natasha: The rhubarb compote is wonderful!

    Sophie: Different for sure!

    BD: I think half the reason my boys love ham is because of the mustard ring! But we do get to serve lamb every now and then. When I lived in Michigan, we did butterfly lamb and grill it. Your marinade sounds wonderful. Definitely med rare!

    Rosa: My daughter and I would much prefer lamb!

    Kate: Left a comment for you. Hope you're going away to have fun. My daughter is coming down this week...can't wait!

    Rebecca: I am being really honest when I say the rhubarb is wonderful!

    Tracey: I'm going to... my daughter is coming home for a bit.

    Grace: I confess: I put them together because of the colors! But I LOVE that compote!
    And I wondered if anyone would think the Grace was you....I'm wary about using last names without permission, aren't you?

  24. This will be a fun recipe to try.

  25. What do you mean ghastly jello salads? *I* make those! Hahaha, just kidding. Ok, that was just mean of me. Sorry.

    Now THIS is intriguing! I don't make ham much, either, but I do love mustard. I WILL make this next time, but I'll probably halve the recipe. That shouldn't affect much, should it?

  26. I don't like to lie and you are right I will not try this mustard ring; I will on the other hand try the rhubarb compote as soon as I can get a hold of the fruit at the farmers market; it is right up my alley taste-wise!
    I enjoyed reading your introduction to the mustard ring though. That dish is like a savory custard, is it not?

  27. Barbara> I love the word ghastly!!!

    I have to tell you, one of the best things at Gotham in NYC is a mustard custard with steak and onion rings... It is a little more foo-foo and has marrow in it but it is out of this world good....dunno if it's in any of Portale's books or not... but I am not laughing when I look at your mustard ring! I think I'll give it a try at easter, ham or no!

  28. Just like the women in your family, I have a hard time serving ham to my daughters for Easter these days but if I ever do make one again, I will definitely make this mustard ring! It sounds delicious and so does the Rhubarb Ginger Compote. I'll be trying that one before I make the next ham!

  29. I'm making ham this Easter and I would love to try this. It sounds great to me, but then I am a mustard fanatic! I'm going to bookmark this and see if I can halve the recipe. I'm pretty sure my mother in law and I are the only mustard lovers in the family. The rest of them must be crazy;D

    Have you ever halved this recipe?

  30. Sounds different -that's for sure- but I can see how it would be a real treat. What kind of vinegar do you use, plain white or wine?

  31. I so love rhubarb...this sounds like a different way for me to use rhubarb . Thank you for sharing... I always so enjoy coming over to see what you are up to in the kitchen. xo

  32. Ha ha ha, I'm DEFINITELY going to try it now Barbara, but probably not in such a large quantity as the rest of the hosuehold isn't as adventurous as I am ;P

    Can't believe how quickly time has flown and Easter is just round the corner!

    I adore rhubarb too, so will try that one too.

  33. The ring is simply unusual! Don't think I have seen it before, barbara.

  34. how interesting I have never seen this..I bet it is awesome!1love the compote..were from texas we usually have a texas brisket for easter..haha


  35. Hey Barbara, I am afraid we don't this fruit/vegetable in India. I wasn't aware that it's a bitter fruit. Was wondering if tasted like one of those berries or may be tangy fruits.

  36. Barbara I think this is wonderful! You can't have ham without mustard, in my opinion, and your mustard compote looks so pretty, festive and what an innovative way to bring mustard to the table!

  37. You just made me laugh! but it does look good......and interesting and yes maybe I shd try it!!:))

  38. I have a sneaky suspicion that I would actually enjoy this! Now I just need enough courage to actually make it! What else can I serve this with? Ham?

  39. I never knew anything like this... but it does look good and thinking about serving it with ham, I think I might actually try it..

    Anyway your photo is beautiful and with the rhubarb compote at the center, who won't buy the idea of actually trying it in our own kitchen...

    But a problem though, there is no such thing as rhubard here, should I probably change it to mango??

    Sawadee from Bangkok,

  40. Mimi: It's very unusual.

    Bella: I have about 10 of those molds and I'm sure I have given away/thrown out about 10 more!

    Joumana: No, it's not a custard. And the texture is nothing like a custard. It's dense and smooth. And not baked.

    Deana: I'll have to look into mustard custard...sounds intriguing.

    Susan: Don't know why, but we girls in my family just don't like ham that well.

    Kim: Yes, I have halved it. And doubled it for a crowd.

    Natashya: Just regular cider vinegar is fine.

    Koralee: The first time I made the dompote I was amazed at how good it was. Rhubarb and savory go very well together.

    Shaz: You have to be a mustard-lover for this recipe!

    Anh: Very unusual, I know.

    Sweetlife: Well, this won't go with brisket, that's for sure!

    MD: No, it's a sour fruit (actually it's considered a vegetable) and does not hold its shape very well when cooked. The leaves are poisonous.

    Francesca: I thought it odd at first, but now we love it.

    Zurin: It sounds odd, so most people don't want to give it a try!

    Trissa: It's only good with ham.

    Book: Thank you!

    Kris: There really is no good substitute for rhubarb. Don't know if you can find it frozen or not. That's so often the problem when we blog across the world!

  41. i am so intrigued. my kids actually LOVE mustard, so i have a feeling that this would be a hit at our house. next time i make a ham i'm going to try it. i'll let you know how it goes!

  42. This recipe is quite interesting. I love mustard in macaroni and cheese. Will keep this recipe in mind because I love ham! Is this a Southern Grace's recipe?

  43. Barbara, this is so unusual - I have never heard of anything like this before. Sure it tastes wonderful. Hope you have a lovely weekend there in sunny Florida. Spring is just upon us here in England, at long, long, last :) Love Lucie x

  44. Very interesting, Barbara! My mother once made a mustard aspic to go with a ham dinner which was a little similar. I'm DEFINITELY going to make the rhubarb ginger compote--love that combo.

  45. Barbara, this looks truly outstanding. I can't wait to give the mustard ring a try. How do you serve this? I feel silly asking but it looks like a salad. Does everyone help themselves or do you serve alongside the meat?

  46. Teresa: Be sure to tell me if everyone likes it!

    Wanda: I thought someone might ask me about Grace...no it's not hers.

    Hungry Dog: Mustard aspic? Interesting. I'm going to look into that.

    Mary: I serve it like a side dish. Although it really is a condiment. You don't need a very big spoonful of it because it will clear your sinuses!

  47. I'm glad you get so into Dallas Jean! It means I'm doing a decent job writing!

  48. This is so unique, Barbara! The pretty yellow color is definitely perfect for Easter. Sounds like a wonderful accompaniement to ham!

  49. Hi Barbara,

    I have never heard of this, is it like a mousse?
    I have just made some stewed rhubarb and apple to eat with our muesli for breakfast. My husband makes some great muesli.
    I really might try this the next time I have a ham - thanks for sharing.

    happy weekend

  50. That's so interesting, I've never heard of a mustard ring before. Thanks for the recipe I can't wait to try it out!

  51. This is fantastic Barbara! I've never seen or heard of this before but I can see what a nice match this would be :)

  52. Blonde Duck: You always do a good job writing!

    Faith: I agree, the color is luscious.

    Carolyn: No, I always think of a mousse as being light and airy. This is dense.

    Patty: Hope you get a chance to try it.

    Lorraine: It's a great match for ham.

  53. J'ai de la rhubarbe dans mon congélateur. Je note ta recette.
    Good weekend.

  54. Hey Barbara, sometimes these good old recipes that seem odd are the best. I suppose that's how good food gets lost in time. I'm going to try it-I'm intrigued...

  55. I love that this won an award in the 60s...it fits the food culture of that era perfectly and sounds like it is best of class! Wonderful.

  56. That looks incredible, Barbara! I've never tried rhubarb before...and I didn't know it paired well with ginger! The color is certainly a gem!
    I don't come across rhubarb much in this area...but I'll definitely give this a try if I do!

  57. Saveurs et Gourmandises: Nice you have it in your freezer! I do too, even though it will be available for a while here.

    Stella: I really like a lot of the old recipes.

    Laura: It's an old family recipe and will last generations!

    Sophia: Rhubarb is amazing with ginger!

  58. The mustard ring sounds very interesting and different from anything I've had! It looks delicious!

  59. I have never seen a mustard ring before! Wow!

  60. SO this is a condiment - or a jellied salad - or both? Can it be eaten on its own, or is it so rich it can only be eaten as a condiment? If so, wouldn't this be enough for an army. If not, does it have enough flavour and texture to stand on its own as a side dish?
    I love the innovative idea and uniqueness of this recipe, but need more information before I would be motivated to make it... so, help me out! :)

  61. Dishesdone and Aimee: Agreed. I've never seen a recipe quite like it.

    Valerie: Let's see how I can help you: it does not have jelly-like consistancy. It is denser and smoother. It is a condiment. You don't eat it like a side dish, you serve it alongside ham as you would mustard, although it's not nearly as strong. Each person would probably use a large spoonful of it. It keeps well in the fridge to use with leftovers. This particular photo would serve 12-14 people, with some for leftovers. It's simple to halve the recipe and make it in a smaller mold of any shape. I adjust the recipe to the number of people I an serving.

  62. Barbara ~ this really does look interesting as I can honestly say I've never experienced a mustard ring in my life! And the rhubarb compote is right up my alley!

  63. Hi Barbara, The rhubarb compote sounds and looks fantastic. The mustard ring is fascinating me because it is something I would never make or want to eat.( really and truly just because of its name, poor thing)!! However I just know if I did make it, it will end up being delicious...Because you always post incredible recipes.
    We are having ham for Easter, think I may try Martha's Peach glaze?? Maybe your mustard ring will be on my table next to it!

  64. I hope you had a wonderful weekend!

  65. I think these recipes are great, very unique combinations of flavor.

  66. Barbara, what a creative dish...looks so yummie and pretty to serve...

  67. Now I thought I have seen it all. I have never heard of such a thing. :)

  68. A mustard ring. Now that's something new that I would love to try.

  69. I believe you! It's so unique, I'm trying to imagine the flavor. How do you think it would pair with smoked turkey?

  70. Mustard ring! This is so interesting. I haven't heard of it and very intrigued in how the taste going to be like.

  71. You and Grace are seriously making me wish I hadn't gotten rid of that ring mold in a garage sale who-knows-how-long-ago. I love make aheads and you're right - this would be perfect with a holiday ham.

  72. Woah...that is definitely an unusual recipe, but it looks SO interesting. OK, next time ham is on the menu, I will definitely keep this in mind!

  73. This is the most fascinating recipe. As unusual as it is, I take bets on it being a success, in my home.



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