Making Butter

Butter

Butter

Butter

Butter

Is there nothing better?

I don’t think there is.

Salted. Unsalted. Mixed with herbs. Mixed with honey.

You name it, I’ll eat it. YUM

Despite my ongoing love affair with it, and my constant claims to be the next Paula Deen, I swear to you here and now that I don’t use butter nearly as much as people think.

It got me thinking, sure, I cook and bake all the time. I usually make things from scratch, I rarely use food from boxes or packages. I use pure ingredients like butter, whole blocks of cheese, and loaves of artisinal bread. But then I got the idea in my head – what if I MADE those pure ingredients myself?

After reading Urban Homestead (Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City) by Kelly Coyne and Eric Knutzen, a book which my darling roommate brought home for me from the library, I realized just how simple it is to make butter, cheese, bread and so much more all from a home kitchen.

I mean, duh, of course those things are easy to make…a home kitchen is where they all started and those kitchens didn’t have industrial sized mixers and ovens. Shocking, I know. I think that living in today’s society and in a city especially creates a real divide between these old practices and the modern cook. It’s been my mission this summer to bridge the gap in my life, and I am now ready to share everything I’ve learned with you all.

So I’m starting with the most basic, butter.

What you’ll need:

1 pint Heavy Whipping Cream, at room temperature

Glass quart jar with tight fitting lid

Salt, if you want salted butter

What to do with it:

Pour cream into jar, fill a little less than halfway. You’ll have to do this in two batches. So why not use a bigger jar? Because you might not be able to securely hold a bigger jar in your hands

Screw the lid on, make sure its really closed

Start shaking

Shake until your arms feel like they are gonna fall off

Shake up and down, side to side, between your legs, over your head. Your choice, get creative. Make it a workout, put on some music, shake to the beat. This is your opportunity to get creative, churn to your heart’s content. Don’t let me down folks!

Seriously, I think that anyone trying to lose weight (or not gain weight) but who still wants to eat butter should make their own. I swear you will burn more calories making it than there are in the amount you will consume! Should I patent this butter workout idea? Probably, huh?

When you first start shaking, the cream will make tons of noise sloshing around

After 3-5 minutes of shaking, it’s gonna stop making noise. At this point you have made whipped cream (minus the sugar)

Keep shaking, you’ll start to notice the cream clumping and sticking to the sides of the jar. You’re almost there

You will know you have butter when you start hearing sloshing again. About 7-10 minutes in, if you make butter with frequency after this, this sloshing noise will be your saving grace, the finish line at the end of a race

Just…a…few…more…shakes…

Take a look inside the jar, you should see a big ol’ clump of pale yellow butter surrounded by a bunch of milk (buttermilk, to be more specific)

You’ve made it, my friends

Next you have to do what’s called “washing” the butter to remove any tiny pockets of buttermilk still trapped in the ball of butter – this step is VERY important. If you don’t wash the butter, the little buttermilk pockets will sour and spoil your butter

To wash, take the butter and run it under cold water gently squeezing and pressing the butter in your hands

Once you stop seeing little drops of milk coming out you can now add salt, if you want salted butter.

Per pint, I would say a sprinkle of salt is sufficient – no more than 1/4 teaspoon

When all is said and done, you will end up with 1 cup of butter (essentially 2 sticks) and 1 cup of buttermilk

Note: This buttermilk is not the buttermilk you buy in stores. This is authentic buttermilk and it is delicious. It’s basically milk with teeny tiny flecks of butter still left in it. I love using it in my coffee especially.

As cliche as it sounds, homemade butter just tastes better than store bought. It has an unadulterated fresh butter taste that I have never before tasted.

Since discovering the ease of butter making it has become my party trick of sorts, as I suspect it will become for you. If I’m going to my friends house to make dinner, I make a point to pick up some heavy whipping cream and impress everyone with my suave churning skills.

This is the butter you will want to use in simple recipes

Like on top of some homemade bread?

Maybe with a little fig jam?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go eat some of that fresh luscious stuff.

Sun Dried Tomato Hummus

I don’t know about you guys, but when its real hot out, I’m not in the mood for a huge meal that is gonna make me feel even more sluggish than the scalding temperatures already does. I want something light, maybe crispy, certainly cold and often times utensil free.

Eating with my hands means less dish washing and its more acceptable for me to lick my fingers in the process.

I know ya’ll understand how great that is.

Summed up, summertime is a time for snacks. But chips leave little more than cheese powder on your fingertips and cellulite on the back of your thighs. No thanks.

I want a snack I can come back to throughout the day.

Wait, isn’t that quintessentially a snack is? Oh nevermind, you get the point.

So what is the best gosh darn snack? HUMMUS

Not just plain hummus (delicious as that may be), but sun dried tomato hummus.

Remember when I made RAW Hummus? Well, the basic recipe is pretty much the same.

Seriously, one of the quickest recipes out there

What you’ll need:

2 cans ckickpeas (garbanzo beans)

Liquid from 1 can of beans

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup of sun dried tomato oil OR just 1/2 cup of olive oil

1/3 cup sun dried tomato, minced (or put through a food processor)

3 cloves garlic

Salt

Pepper

What to do with it:

Here’s where it get’s real tricky

1. Put everything in a food processor or blender

2. Turn on

I know, this is a super complicated recipe, I apologize.

Paired with some toasted whole wheat pita triangles, you got yourself a most wonderful summer snack!

Parmesan Thyme Crackers

Sometimes I think we take the carbs in our lives for granted. Breads, crackers, chips, ect. They are always there when we need them, they last for a considerable amount of time, come in a multitude of flavors and pair nicely with TONS of stuff.

So, this post goes out to the crackers of the world. I salute you and your ability to accompany cheese so delightfully.

But first, let me introduce you to someone special. Someone that I rarely get to spend time with due to distance and my busy schedule when I do come into town.

I’d like you all to meet my mother’s Kitchen Aid Mixer.

It’s big, blue, and beautiful and my mother has adorned it with a many fantastic attachments.

If anyone was to ever bestow upon me this fine piece of machinery, I very well might die of excitement. I just don’t know what color I would want yet…mint green, royal purple, copper? With over 20 different colors how is a girl ever supposed to choose!?

I would surely feel the need to buy every attachment as well; the pasta maker, the meat grinder, the ice cream bowl, the citrus juicer, the ravioli maker. Yea, Kitchen Aid would make a lot of money off of me.

Anyway, moving on.

Crackers. I don’t make a habit of keeping them in my house. But they are one of those things I have always wanted to make myself.

I thought to myself, if I’m gonna take the time to make crackers, they are gonna be fancier. Personally, I think that anything containing fresh herbs are automatically elegant. And, as you may know, I adore anything with cheese.

Parmesan Thyme Shortbread Crackers seem to fit the bill.

Adapted from: Ina Garten

Makes about 46 crackers

What you’ll need:

2 sticks Unsalted Butter, at room temp

6 ounces finely grated Parmesan Cheese

2 1/2 cups Flour

1/2 tsp. Salt

2 tsp. Fresh Thyme Leaves, chopped

1 tsp. Black Pepper

1 Tbs. water*

What to do with it:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1. Mix butter with an electric mixer or a hand mixer until creamy

2. Add in the Parmesan, then the Thyme, salt and pepper

3. Slowly add the flour 1/4 cups at a time

*if the dough seems a bit dry, add water

4. Flour a cutting board and when the dough has been well incorporated place it on the board and divide into 2 evenly sized mounds

5. Roll into 9 inch long logs (2 logs total)

6. Wrap each in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 25-30 minutes to firm

7. Take out of the freezer, unwrap and cut the dough into 1/4-1/2 inch slices with a very sharp knife. I got about 23 crackers per log

8. Place on a baking sheet and put in the oven. For a moister, breadier cracker, bake for 24 minutes, for a drier, crisper cracker about 32 minutes. Check on them all the while, I wanted my crackers to develop some extra color, so I left them for the 32 minutes.

Put a little salami on top for a protein filled snack

Smear a little cream cheese over it and top with a baby sprig of thyme for a creamy and cooling afternoon treat.

Or because I know you all to be crafty little foodies, make both of them, turn ’em in on each other and have a mini meat and cheese sandwich.

These crackers are herbaceous and savory and wonderful and addicting and light (despite the butter) and unique and a crowd pleaser.

So make them. You won’t regret it.

Rosemary Cherry Compote

Hello my sweet darlin’s!

Basically my life the last week has looked a little like this:

Study for finals, work, study more for finals, work, write final essays, work, stay up all night studying for finals, take finals, fly to LA for best friends graduation, drink a lot of liquor in celebration, SLEEP.

Yesterday was the first day I actually felt somewhat rested. It’s been great.

Now that I am at my parents house for a week I have time to try some new recipes. When I made dinner last night though, we had yet to go shopping and my folks got into town the same day as me, so ingredients for dinner were slim pickin’s.

There were a couple items that caught my eye: roasted turkey, sourdough bread, onions, and fresh cherries. I could work with that.

A roasted turkey sandwich with rosemary cherry compote and crispy onions. Yea, that sounds tasty.

Lucky for me, the turkey was already roasted, the bread was already baked, and we will get to those crispy onions a little later. Right now, I’m gonna show you how to make some seriously phenomenal cherry compote.

Recipe adapted from YumSugar

What you’ll need:

2 cups rinsed, stemmed and pitted cherries

2 1/2 Tbs. Sugar

1 tsp. Fresh Rosemary, finely chopped

1 tsp. Balsamic Vinegar

1/2 Tbs. Water

Salt

Pepper

What to do with it:

1. Place cherries, sugar, rosemary, and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil

2. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and allow to simmer until cherries are nice and soft and the sauce has thickened. It will take 15-17 minutes. (I helped it along by taking the back of a wooden spoon and slightly mashing the cherries against the side of the pan)

3. Once they are at the consistency you prefer, take them off the heat, add the balsamic and allow to cool

4. Serve hot or cold

I would liken this compote to the summer version of cranberry sauce, its a little tart, not too sweet and goes great smothered on turkey. Which is exactly what I did.

For the sandwich:

Sourdough loaf, cut into hearty slices

Cream Cheese

Dijon Mustard

Roasted Turkey

Cherry Compote

Spiced Crispy Onions

I think sandwich assembly is pretty easy, but here’s what I did

Slather one piece of bread with cream cheese, and the other with Dijon

Layer about 3 slices of roasted turkey on one side – you can do more, but my bread was on the small side

Spoon a generous heaping of cherries on top of the turkey, take the wooden spoon and get the sauce in crevices of the turkey layers

Take a big ol’ handful of the crispy onions and place that on top and cover with the other piece of bread

This sandwich was so divine. It pretty much felt like a Thanksgiving leftover sandwich…and who says I have to wait for November to get on that?!

Nobody, that’s who.

So go ahead, indulge and enjoy in this delightful slice of heaven.

Btw, my parents have an entire hillside of rosemary growing wild in their backyard.

Any ideas for what to do with some of it?

Blueberry Scones

Up until recently, I have not been a big breakfast person.

I love cereal, but usually in the afternoon, or as a midnight snack.

The typical breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast, and hash browns followed by an overwhelming food coma is a rare occurrence for me.

It was really only after doing my raw food challenge that I discovered the beauty of raw overnight oats and have since incorporated Greek yogurt, nuts, almond flour, and berries into the mix. Some variation of this is now my breakfast staple. I love the crunch of the nuts and oats, the bright tartness of the berries and the rich and filling creaminess of the Greek yogurt.

Isn’t it just gorgeous?

BUT something must be said about a breakfast pastry every once in a while. Not the overly decadent ones with globs of glaze or doughnuts that have sprinkles or Lucky Charms adhered to the top.

Although sometimes pastries like this Apple Pecan Bun with a maple glaze is much appreciated.

No, no, I talking about a good old fashioned pastry, like a scone.

A blueberry scone, to be exact.

Perhaps a scone with a fantastic blueberry goat cheese spread.

Yes, that’s my kind of pastry.

I adapted this recipe from my homegirl, Martha Stewart, ’cause sometimes, nobody does it better than Martha.

What you’ll need:

2 cups all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons sugar, plus more for sprinkling tops

1 tablespoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1/3 cup low fat milk (2%)

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Here’s what you do with it:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

In a bowl, mix together flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, and salt

Make the work easier by cutting up the butter into small pieces and incorporate

Then toss in your blueberries and zest

In a separate bowl, whisk together cream and egg

Slowly incorporate your wet mixture into your dry mixture

Stir lightly with fork just until dough comes together

Place mixture onto a floured cutting board and knead gently a few times

*I opted to make round scones by scooping out a heaping tablespoon of batter onto a baking sheet

Brush tops with cream, and sprinkle with sugar

Bake for 20-22 minutes

 

Aren’t they beautiful?

Now, onto the spread!

These are rough measurements, but basically:

4-5 oz goat cheese, softened

3/4 cup blueberries

Release the days frustrations on these blueberries, squishing them in your hands letting the juice drip onto the goat cheese

Then scrap the peels and seeds off your hands and add that to the cheese

Mix together with a spoon

That’s it

Spread generously on top of your cooled halved scones

Yea, they were perfection in the morning.

And in true breakfast food form, I ate them in the afternoon, and at midnight too.

What’s your favorite breakfast, pastry and otherwise?