Saturday, November 2, 2019

All about butter

This listing is not mine, but I approve them all. I found the list in a stash of emails I was about to delete, and thought I'd share it. It may be from The City Cook, but I can't find it on their site.

Butter Basics
  • Butter is made from 100% heavy cream that has been agitated so to separate water and butterfat. The fat left behind is butter. The watery liquid that is removed is buttermilk or whey. Contrary to its high-cholesterol sounding name, buttermilk in fact is very low fat which makes sense if you consider how it's produced. 
  • Nearly every butter available in our stores has been pasteurized.
  • Unsalted or sweet butter is exactly as its name suggests. Butterfat without any added salt.
  • Salted butter includes one to two percent salt (that's like adding one to two teaspoons per pound). Some salted butters include grainy salts like sel de fleur, giving the butter an almost crunchy texture and a more aggressively salty taste.
  • European butter has a higher butterfat content -- as high as 86%. This is in comparison with regular butter, which will have a butterfat content of about 80%. More butterfat means less moisture and this translates into a denser, more refined texture and when used in baking, it can produce flakier pastries. In addition, some European butters are made with cultured cream and due to the addition of lactic acid bacteria, it has a more forward, bigger flavor. A few butters made in the U.S., including one by Cabot, will be labeled "European" as a way of declaring its higher butterfat content.
  • Organic butter is made with cream that's been certified organic and antibiotic free.
  • Whipped butter is simply butter to which nitrogen has been added which means it is softer to spread. But keep in mind that the whipping also reduces volume so you're actually getting less product for the money. If you love whipped butter, especially on pancakes or scones, just let a stick soften to almost room temperature and then whip it yourself using a hand or stand mixer. 
  • Truffle butter is plain butter to which bits of black or white truffles have been added. Two popular brands are d'Artagnan and DaRosario and a little 2 oz. container usually costs $10 to $15. And what's the point? Well, if you are a truffle lover and with truffles costing the price of Caribbean vacation, a tablespoon of truffle butter tossed with a bowl of fettuccine (use dry pasta and search out DeCecco's, making sure it's the egg fettuccine), or added to scrambled eggs, or glossing plain steamed green beans will satisfy many a craving.
  • Clarified butter has been melted so as to separate its water, milk solids and pure milk fat, producing a clear yellow liquid. By removing the water and milk solids, the remaining liquefied milk fat will not burn as easily, making it a good choice when butter is used in higher temperature frying.
  • Ghee is the name in India for clarified butter that has been additionally cooked, adding more complex flavor and extended stability (ghee can keep unrefrigerated for many months). It also has cultural and religious importance.
  • Compound butter is a term used to describe a butter to which flavorings have been added. Truffle butter is one but more quotidian examples would be made with garlic, minced tarragon or other fresh herbs, chopped shallot, or ground cinnamon. It's simple to make: use a fork to mash together softened butter with the ingredient of your choice and then refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Countries that have dairy legacies, such as Ireland and France, deserve their reputations for really excellent butter and flavors can subtly vary depending on the grasses the cows eat. Butters from Ireland, Normandy, Brittany and Holland are exported to the U.S. and are increasingly easy to find in our grocers and specialty markets.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Lots of lava love

This is a quick and easy take on a dessert that was very popular in the '90s. Use the best chocolate you can afford.

Lori K's Molten Mini Cakes
Ready in 30 minutes
Serves 8

6 oz 70% or more chocolate, in pieces 4 egg yolks
16 T butter, divided 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
4 eggs 3/4 cup all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 425. Melt butter in a 2 or 4 cup microwave-safe glass measuring cup, 
and remove 2 T to a small pinch bowl. Use the smaller amount to grease 
8 custard cups or ramekins. 

Add chocolate to the larger amount and stir until smooth and thoroughly mixed. 
Add the eggs and the egg yolks, mix thoroughly; then the sugar and flour and mix until smooth.

Place the cups on a rimmed baking sheet and fill. Put them all on one shelf in the middle 
of the oven and cook for 7-10 minutes. The outside of the cakes should raise slightly and look dry;
the middle should still be shiny. Do not overcook.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Super simple caramel sauce

Bananas are so good for your muscles, but some weeks, we don't eat them fast enough, i.e. before the dreaded brown spots start popping up. Someone who will remain nameless doesn't like the taste or texture of a ripe banana.

So usually, I just peel them and throw them in the freezer to be used for banana bread at some future time. But this morning I felt like bananas Foster, but didn't want to go to all the fuss.

So I just made a simple caramel sauce to pour over the sliced bananas. Delicious! Only four ingredients, and in simple proportions so I can keep it in my head.

Lori K's Simple Caramel Sauce
Serves 2 (can half or double and will keep for a week in the fridge)

2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons evaporated milk
Pinch or two of coarse salt

Melt butter for 30 seconds in microwave in a 2-cup Pyrex measure. Add the brown sugar and evaporated milk, mix well, and return to the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir well, and return to the microwave for 15 seconds.

Serve over sliced ripe bananas and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Enjoy!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Nifty butter trick!

I saw this on Facebook and had to share.

Kimberly Reaves Bernards
One of the coolest baking tips ever... Tried and true... If you need to soften butter quickly but don't want to melt it.... Put boiling hot water in a glass to heat the glass. Dump the water out and flip it over your stick of butter. In a few minutes it will be softy soft to use! You're welcome!

Monday, December 18, 2017

A star pepper

Here's something you don't see every day; a pepper with not three, not four, but five ribs. And it came from my community garden (getting peppers in December isn't an annual occurrence, not even in Sacramento). Delicious in our weekend omelette.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Good salmon, bad eggs

Eggs still are a mystery.

The trick to beautiful hard-boiled eggs is not to use ones that just came out of a chicken, not to overcook them and to cool them down in ice water immediately after cooking.

I thought I had done everything right when I recently cooked 18 of them for two parties on consecutive nights. And the first night, all was well. The shells, gently cracked all over, came sliding off like a dream, and the yolks were a lovely yellow through and through. I put the rest of them in the fridge. The next day, every last one of the yolks were covered in gray. I felt as bad as a young wife cooking a first meal for my husband and burning the rice.

Worse, there was nothing on the internet that could tell me what had gone wrong. It wasn't like all the eggs weren't cooked the same amount of time, or in a different pan. Sigh. More experimentation to come.

On the fish front, here's a really easy way to poach a skinless, boneless salmon fillet for one.

Lay the salmon flat in a microwave-safe pie plate or bowl. Season with herbs of your choice (I used Montreal Steak Seasoning this morning) and cover with wine or beer. Cover the dish and cook for 2 minutes. Remove carefully (it will be steamy hot) and chill. I topped it with some homemade mayonnaise. Yum!

Homemade mayonnaise

2 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco
1/2 teaspoon powdered mustard
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
White pepper to taste
16 ounces olive or canola oil

Beat together the yolks and the seasoning ingredients. Add the oil, a drop at a time at first, then in a slow, steady stream. Keep beating until all the oil is absorbed. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

An improved gazpacho, just made for ripe tomatoes

Gazpacho is the perfect soup for summer, especially when your plants start over producing. Even little ones make a crazy good soup. I used to use a tablespoon of sherry, but this year, I tried it with a shot of vermouth and a drizzle of balsamic glaze. It was perfection.

Prep time: About 15 minutes

Serves 3 or 4
Note: I like seeds and skins. Add more prep time, and some tomato juice, if you want to remove both.
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 medium red bell pepper, roughly chopped

1 large, young lemon cucumber, roughly chopped

½ red onion, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Two ½-inch slices french bread or 1 slice ciabatta, torn up

A few basil leaves, tarragon and/or parsley

2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

A shot of dry vermouth

A drizzle (up to a teaspoon) of balsamic glaze

Salt and black pepper

1 avocado, quartered and thinly sliced into fans (optional)

Put the tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumber, onion, olive oil, bread, parsley and/or basil, garlic, vermouth and balsamic glaze in a blender; season with salt and pepper. Process until smooth, adding up to ½ cup water if necessary.
Taste and adjust the seasoning. Refrigerate for up to a few hours before serving or serve immediately. Garnish with avocado fans, if desired.