Showing posts with label butter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label butter. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

BLACK AND WHITE

"Mama, what do anchovies do in school?"

Bash 10 anchovies with a mortar and pestle.

"They don't go to school. They swim in schools. With their families."

"Do they have teachers?"

Don't stop until the anchovies are creamy. Two-handed bashing works well for 4-year olds.
"Mama, does everybody love their parents?"

"I don't know. What do you think?"

"I don't know."

"Well, Dash, do you love ME?"

Hearty laugh followed by, "I love you because you're my MOMMY. Why wouldn't I love you?"

Add a stick of soft unsalted butter. 
"What do you love about me?"

"Mama, I love gardening with you."

"What else?"

"Maybe only that."

"Do you love making anchovy butter with me?"

"Uh-huh. Mama. I REALLY do."

Mix until butter and anchovies are fully integrated.
"Mama. Hey. What are you writing there?"

"I was writing a story about you."

Taste. Add salt if needed.

"Can you read me the story you wrote?"

"Sure, Dash."

Spoon into a ramekin. Dip. Lick. Repeat.
"Once upon a time there was a little boy named Dash. He loved to slurp up anchovies, just like his mama. He even asked if we could grow anchovies on the back porch..."
In case you need ideas for what the hell to DO with anchovy butter:
1. Use as a dip for carrots, radishes, celery or breadsticks.
2. Smear on grilled bread. Top with peeled and halved 5-minute eggs and chopped chives.
2. Add to cooked pasta with lots of parmesan, chopped herbs, and some pasta water.
(photo by Bella)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

NEW WORDS

Dash and I listen to music while we cook. If he likes a song, he'll place his hands on the upper crest of my pelvis, hoist himself up, and say, "Mama, let's dance." He likes the slow songs.

Last week we experienced Ke$ha's "Tik Tok." This song is not slow. We did not dance. Instead, we listened to the words.

"Mama," Dash cackled, "What a silly song.  I love it. WHAT does she brush her teeth with?" 

"Jack Daniels."

And then Ke$ha started rapping about getting crunk. And then she said something about her junk. I turned the radio off so crazy fast.

"Wait. Mama. She brushes her teeth with someone named Jack?"

"Nope. She brushes her teeth with a grownup drink called whiskey."

We agreed this was a bad idea because it doesn't kill the sugar bugs. And oh my god my kids have a ton of sugar bugs on their teeth right now because of all the fruit butter we've been making (AND ice cream, french toast, and pancakes—but those are for another post).

Last year, a quarter of Dash's lifetime ago, we made strawberry butter. This spring we've taken on blueberry butter.
Caramelize one tablespoon of sugar. Carefully drop in a big handful of blueberries.
The blueberries sizzle and seize up with caramel. After a minute, the hard sugar dissolves and the berries start to bleed their beautiful purple juice. Dump them on a plate to cool until room temperature. Be patient. If you add warm berries to the butter it can split. Blueberry butter is hardcore ugly when it splits.
Beat the heck out of some super soft butter and one tablespoon powdered sugar. Add half the berries. At this point you're coloring and flavoring the butter. Add the rest of the cooked berries and mix until the softened purple spheres just burst open. Serve it right alongside some strawberry butter. We had it on toast, pancakes, waffles, french toast, and even in oatmeal with warm milk.
"Mama. One more thing. What did Ke$ha mean when she said the party doesn't start until I walk in."

"Ke$ha THINKS she is the life of the party."

Long pause from Dash. "Okay. I think I understand her now."


BLUEBERRY BUTTER
printable recipe
Don't mix the cooked berries into the butter until they're room temperature. Don't put the berries in the fridge to cool because you also shouldn't add cold berries to the butter. All these steps prevents the butter from splitting. If it does split, place the bowl over a low flame to loosen the butter up and then mix vigorously until the butter comes back together.

ingredients:
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon water
3/4 cup blueberries
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
pinch salt

directions:
Mix granulated sugar and water in a medium-sized saucepan. Swirl around until sugar is dissolved. Keep watching the sugar. When it just starts to caramelize (light brown), turn off the flame. Toss in blueberries and coat with the caramelized sugar. But back on a low flame, stir with a wooden spoon, and cook until blueberries just start to release their juices (1-2 minutes ). Take off the heat, pour onto a plate, and cool until room temperature.

Combine soft butter, powdered sugar, and a pinch of salt, in the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix together really well (2 minutes high speed). Scrape down the sides. Add 1/2 of the cooked blueberries. Mix really well again on high speed (at this point you're coloring the butter by mashing the cooked berries). Scrape down the sides. Mix in the other 1/2 of the blueberries until they just burst open (about 10 seconds).  Scrape blueberry butter into a ramekin. The butter tastes best served right away. But you can refrigerate it up to 5 days. And it freezes really well and stays a beautiful vibrant color. 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

MILESTONES

I'm going to be so annoying but I have to say it. Dash and Bella are really growing up. 
Bella (creatively) loads the dishwasher with glee. She can read an entire chapter book before breakfast. She strokes my forehead when I have a headache. And she can follow a recipe from beginning to end.

Dash is "a whole three and a half." He no longer says "cimamin" (this makes me sad). He likes very stinky cheese. He slurps down anchovies like they're M&M's (this makes me cry with joy). And he has been quite busy in the kitchen ALL BY HIMSELF.

Last weekend, Dash got out of his big boy bed, ran down the hall, and started rummaging through the freezer. I could hear him grunting, and sighing, and setting out the plates for breakfast. I was lying there thinking that I could really get used to this behavior when Dash ran into my bedroom and said, "I'm making a special breakfast. I need help with the big knife." He started making a horror movie stabbing motion with his arm. "I"m having trouble separating the frozen pieces of cinnamon toast." It's true. My 9 inch Henckels chef knife is always dull. It was time for me to get off my butt and be a parent.

"And mama, where's the butter?" 

We're in love with butter around here.

 I was trained by my parents to love butter. Even in the Eighties, when it was considered evil and margarine was popping up all over, we were enjoying butter at almost every meal. Butter equals comfort. 

A few months ago I made my own butter for the first time.  I put cold heavy cream into a jar and shook it for 20 minutes straight. I almost gave up. The cream thickened and then it felt like I was shaking something solid. It felt impossible. And then I heard and felt a SPLAT in the jar that reverberated through my knees and down into my toes. I peered into the jar. No way. Butter.  I was drenched in sweat.  I added some crunchy salt and then ate the butter like it was kick ass French cheese.
I made butter a few more times with Dash and Bella. We learned some things along the way about science, magic, and determination.

Heavy cream is composed of butter fat suspended in liquid. When you shake the hell out of cream, the butter fat comes together into a lovely mound and separates from the buttermilk. This separation is the SPLAT. 

DON'T fill your jar up more than halfway with heavy cream. The cream expands as you shake it. Leave yourself some shaking room.
DON'T shake cold cream unless you really want this to be a sweaty workout. Leave it out on the counter for a few hours to come up to room temperature. You can even leave it out up to 24 hours to fester. The bacteria will munch away and produce lactic acid which will give the butter and the buttermilk a bit of a sour flavor. Dash kept looking for the bacteria bugs. He didn't see any. 
He got tired of waiting for the magic to happen. "Mama, is it the same kind of magic as when daddy downloads music and burns a CD?"
DON'T  tuck the jar of cream into the side of the the swing as a shortcut. You really do have to shake it. One splash per second. Slam the cream against the side of the jar. Like a crashing wave. This transformation takes some force, some time, and some patience. The grownups finished off the butter for Bella. Grandpa experienced the SPLAT. Bella was jealous.
DO save the buttermilk and use it to make pancakes. You can strain the butter with a coffee filter or a fine strainer. You can get fancy and rinse the butter in a bowl of ice water. Just make sure to squeeze out all the water and pat it dry. But the rinsing step is not necessary if you're eating the butter right away.  

DO buy organic heavy cream from grass fed cows. This will make butter with the best flavor. And at certain times of the year the white cream will produce a vibrant yellow butter. The yellow comes from the carotene in the grass eaten by the cows. No annatto coloring needed here.
DO use the butter or freeze it within 24 hours. Otherwise your butter will taste like really skanky cheeese. Too intense even for Dash.
PS: Bella did finally get to experience the SPLAT. It was late one night. She got this fierce look on her face and started shaking a jar of cream with a vengeance. 

"Is that the SPLAT? Did I do it? Did I?"
"Yes, my love. You strong girl. You did it." I did not cry. Not at all.

Of course you can just throw the heavy cream into a mixer and make butter in about 3 minutes. But that's too easy and your kids don't need to know that.

Monday, June 28, 2010

STRAWBERRY BUTTER WEEKEND

Dash doesn't yet know how to throw a football, sew on a button, or ride a bike.
But he makes killer strawberry butter.
He and I spent three days making strawberry butter in order to submit our own recipe to a contest over at the fabulous food52 (a great food website—social media/networking at its best).  Every time we had a spare moment Dash would run full tilt into the kitchen and yell, "Let's make more strawberry butter!!!!" We had many ramekins of strawberry butter stacked precariously on top of the ice cream in the freezer.

Dash tested every version.
In the end, Dash and I made a beautiful, creamy, cotton candy-pink butter with big chunks of softened strawberries. Not too sweet. Some vanilla bean. And a bit of crunchy salt. But it took a few rounds to get there.

Our strawberry butter kept splitting. It was such an unappetizing texture. I poked my head into the kitchen at Elmwood Cafe and asked pastry chef Mark Chacon a few questions. Props to Mark for alerting me to the high moisture content of strawberries and its potential effects on butter. All that thick strawberry syrup was tasty but it was too much for the butter to stand. So I strained off most of the syrup. Before adding the strawberries,  I whipped the butter up with a tablespoon of powdered sugar in the hopes that it would help things stabilize. Success.
We were ready to submit the recipe. Photos were taken. The recipe was written up. I went to download the recipe and I realized we had missed the food52 deadline by two days! I won't repeat the awful words I said to the computer at this point. But Dash could probably tell you since he has heard all these swear words since birth. But at least we had a freezer full of strawberry butter and a blog (this one!) on which to upload the recipe. Nothing lost.

Here are some uses for strawberry butter (besides just eating it out of the dish like Bella did):
1. Topping for waffles and pancakes.
2. Inside Danish ebilskiver (recipe coming soon).
3. On toast.
4. On buttermilk biscuits(anyone have a great recipe?).

I added some blackberries and raspberries to the leftover strawberry syrup and poured it over ice cream and pancakes.


CARAMELIZED VANILLA BEAN STRAWBERRY BUTTER WITH FLEUR DE SEL
printable recipe 

ingredients:
1 tablespoon granulated sugar (or vanilla sugar if you have it)
1 tablespoon water
1 cup stemmed strawberries, cut into about 1 inch pieces (or bigger)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/3 vanilla bean, sliced in half and seeds scraped out OR 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
fleur de sel or other coarse/crunchy salt, for the butter AND the top

directions:
Mix granulated sugar and water in a medium-sized saucepan. Swirl around until sugar is dissolved. Keep watching the sugar. When it just starts to caramelize (light brown), turn off the flame. Mix in strawberries and coat with the caramelized sugar. But back on a low flame and cook until strawberries just start to soften (3-5 minutes ). Add a squeeeze of lemon juice. Continue cooking for one more minute. Take off the flame and cool until room temperature.

Combine soft butter, powdered sugar, a pinch of salt, and vanilla bean seeds (or extract) in a mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix together really well (2 minutes high speed). Add 1/3 of the cooked strawberries and leave most of the liquid behind. Mix really well again on high speed (at this point you're coloring the butter by mashing the cooked berries). By hand, gently mix in another 1/3 of the strawberries with very little syrup (this time you're keeping the berry pieces intact). If you like lots of strawbery chunks in your butter you can add the final 1/3 of strawberries (again leaving the liquid behind) or save them for another use. Scrape strawberry butter into a ramekin. Before serving, sprinkle the top with another pinch fleur de sel to add some extra crunch. The butter tastes best served right away. But you can refrigerate it up to 5 days. And it freezes really well and stays a beautiful vibrant color.