Monthly Archives: February 2010

Butter (I can’t believe it is!)

I channeled an Amish dairy farmer this past weekend and the result: homemade butter. I even grew my beard out for this one…what can I say I really get into character, I’m like the DiCaprio of food blogging.

So yes, I made butter, in all its creamy, salty, melty, spreadable, glory.  For $4 and change for 1Qt of heavy cream to make homemade butter, you can’t go wrong, literally…you can’t even mess this up it’s foolproof. It’s so simple that I’ve been kicking myself for not finding out about this sooner. Sorry Hotel, but you have nothing on the homemade stuff…well maybe convenience…but aren’t we all tired of sacrificing quality for convenience?! [Rally cry].

This first time around was more experimental. I wanted to see if I could even make it happen so I just picked up 1QT of whatever brand heavy cream. Needless to say, it worked. Now, I’m really psyched to get my hands on some real high quality fresh heavy cream.

1QT or 4C of heavy cream yielded ~12oz (3 sticks butter). Just shy of a pound.

Get yourself:

1QT good quality heavy cream

Kosher salt

Food processor fitted with steel blade (muy importante)

Wax paper

Here’s a quick rundown: pour heavy cream in food processor and turn on. When butter breaks pour off the liquid. Form butter into ball and knead the trapped buttermilk out of it while in a bowl of cold water. Do this several times until water is clear. Add salt (or herbs) and mix with spatula. Taste. Form butter (into 4oz blocks) and store in fridge and/or freezer. Spread on warm toast.

Let’s do this…

Pour it all in…get every last drip!

Flip the switch and get it churnin’

After about 5 mins…

…magic happens

All of a sudden, the cream will break and you will have liquid buttermilk and butter solids

Hi, I’m butter nice to meet you

Now let’s prep

Bring butter solids together into a ball

Add to a bowl and pour ice-cold water on top

The water will be clouded from the buttermilk runoff

Dump the water off

Wash several more times in ice-cold water while kneading the trapped buttermilk out

Once virtually all the buttermilk is forced out form into a ball

Leaving traces of buttermilk will hasten the butter’s spoilage

Add ball to bowl

Work your salt into the butter using a rubber spatula

Measure out the butter on wax paper

Standard butter is portioned into 4oz sticks (1/2C)

Now jog your memory to recall a time you watched a sushi chef form rolls

Using that same method you will be able to form it into a stickPinch the edges closed

Or, if stick making isn’t your forte, just dump it into an airtight container

Store some of the butter in the fridge and pop the rest in the freezer

Reach behind your shoulder and pat – you just made butter

Now grab some bread that you’ve made (from my previous posts) and let butter do what it does best

Variations:

At the point where you add the salt you can instead make herb butter by adding fresh basil, parsley, sage, etc

You can add a few cloves of roasted garlic mash

You can add the butter ball to a mixer and beat for a minute to make whipped butter

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Pasta Brittanesca

I know, I can hear you now, “Oh how sweet, he named a dish after his wife!”

You see, this dish started out as a Puttanesca and then I flipped it on its head. So I had to come up with a new name and since wifey absolutely loved this dish (she went for seconds AND brought leftovers to work!) I decided, well see for yourself…

“Wow, this is really good. Where you get the recipe? That Pioneer cowboy lady your obsessed with?!”

“Uh, no. This is my recipe, thank you very much.”

“Ok, well it’s really good, you should put this one on your blog.”

“Thanks. Don’t know what to call it though. Pasta with artichoke hearts?”

“Eh, too boring”

“Are you seriously going for a second bowl now?! Damn, I guess you really do like it.”

“I told you it was really good; I don’t lie.”

“Sweet, I’m naming it after you than.”

“How about…Pasta Brittanesca?”

“Dunzo”

Get yourself:

2 cups artichoke hearts in oil

2T capers, not salted OR Kalamata olives

6 Cloves roasted garlic mash

1 28oz can diced tomatoes without juice

1C  grated Pecorino Romano

.5C Chardonnay

3T Butter

1T Parsley

1lb Mezze Rigatoni Pasta

Salt + Cracked

Ok, first things first, bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil and cover

Let it be…

Heat up a skillet over medium flame with 2T butter and oil

When foam subsides add your garlic mash, stir together, and saute a bit

Rough chop the artichoke hearts

Toss into the skillet with the capers, stir,  and saute for a min

Bring that flame up to high…

Add in your Chardonnay and burn off the devil for a min

Drop flame to medium

Cook your pasta

Drain off the juice from those tomatoes and dump into skillet

Simmer for 5 mins

Crack some pepper over this

Toss in a cup of grated Pecorino and 1T butter, stir

Once pasta is done, drain then add back to pot it was boiled in

And a little sauce to pot and stir

Now, take enough pasta for each serving and add to skillet with sauce

Stir real good

Add some fresh parsley

Taste, adjust for salt + cracked

You can add some fresh basil too if you’d like. Can’t go wrong.

You’re ready to plate

Sprinkle on some Pecorino and eat up, it’s really good…

Brittany says so, dammit!

Variations:

Use Kalamata olives in place of capers

Use some fresh basil chiffonade

3 cloves fresh garlic vs roasted

Toss with angel hair, linguine fini, or any other pasta that holds sauce well

Make a pizza with the sauce instead (just reduce sauce a bit so it’s thick enough for a pizza)

Would probably even taste good served as a cold pasta salad with some chunks of fresh mozz


(Post) Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day Objectives: RELAX and EAT.

…and so we did…all day.

We decided to kick things off with leftover cinnamon rolls from the Pioneer Woman (wifey froze half of the disturbingly delicious cinnamon roll dough from last time). Perfect.

And so the deliberate yet destructive eating began…

Our next venture was Oreo cookies…homemade, super chocolate-y, creamy, straight up milk dunkin’ OREO’s!…yea that’s right I made ’em and even colored the center…pause. Thanks to a little inspiration from Smitten Kitchen, I whipped up a big batch of V-day O’s, all pun intended…

The day turned to night…

We started dinner off with a lite, weight watchers friendly appetizer…

Swiss fondue with homemade bread

Take bread, dip repeatedly in warm, melty, gooey cheese. groan.

Repeat.

Note: Use a fondue pot if you have one. I battled it out with the cheese in this sauce pot for a good 20mins. You see, stainless steel pots heat too quickly and if the cheese gets too hot too fast it seizes up. I had to beat the seize outta my cheese. Here’s the recipe (click the pic to enlarge)…

Needless to say, dinner did not come immediately after. As a matter of fact, we both fell into a deep food coma and woke up an hour later. Of course I get blamed…

“Why’d you let me sleep that long?!”

“I didn’t let you, I was sleeping myself.”

“But, I thought you were cooking dinner?!”

“Are you seriously hungry after we just inhaled a pound of melted cheese and a loaf of bread?!”

“Well, I’m not starving…but we have to eat dinner.”

“We’ll eat later, in the meantime let’s drink.”

Drink of the night….

Chocolate Covered Cherry Martini

This seriously tastes like a chocolate covered cherry…got wasted

Get yourself: 2oz Chocolate vodka, 20z Black Cherry vodka, 2oz half and half, 2oz simple syrup, 6t Maraschino cherry juice + 4 cherries, 1T Ghiradelli Double Chocolate-Hot Cocoa mix, Chocolate syrup.

To make: Combine all your liquids into a shaker over ice and shake. Line rim of glass with chocolate syrup. Place cherries at bottom of glass. Pour drink in. Dust top of drink by putting cocoa powder in a sieve and tapping it. Sit down. If standing, grab hold of something stable such as a counter top or banister or such as…drink, enjoy, thank me later.

Okay, now that we’re feelin’ loose…let’s, uh, cook dinner?

Dinner

Sherry Baby Bella’s

Roasted Garlic and Parmesan (s)mashed Potatoes

Porterhouse for Two — Ruth’s Chris style

I wanted some classic sides to go with the 2.5lb hunk of beast I was serving so I thought sautéed mushrooms and mashed potatoes would be perfect. Then I thought, that’s boring.  So I tweaked them a little and now, lucky me, I can never go back to the classic way because it just pales in comparison.

Sherry Baby Bella’s

These mushrooms are bangin’!

Get yourself: 1 shallot, 5T butter, 2T extra virgin, 6 cloves roasted garlic mash, 2 packages of sliced baby bella’s, 1/4 cup dry sherry cooking wine, salt and cracked black pepper, 1T fresh chopped parsley

To make: In a skillet over medium flame heat up your 3T butter and 1T of oil. When butter foam subsides toss in your roasted garlic mash and stir to break up. Then add your shallots and cook for 5 mins until soft and starting to brown. Now toss in 1T of butter, let it melt, and then add the mushrooms. Toss to coat. Let mushrooms cook down a bit and get nice and soft. Now, raise the flame to high, add in your sherry wine and cook for a few mins scraping bottom of pan to deglaze. Reduce flame to medium and stir all together.Continue to cook mushrooms, they should be shrunken and slightly browned at this point. Add your last T of butter and olive oil. This will create a buttery, and velvety sauce for the mushrooms. Kill the flame. Toss in your parsley. Put the fork down.

Roasted Garlic and Parmesan (s)mashed Potatoes

This recipe yields a batch of (s)mashed potatoes like no other. There’s a hint of roasted garlic and Parmesan and the texture is silky smooth. Roughly mashing the potatoes leaves some chunks of potato and skin which gives the dish  contrasting textures.

Get yourself: 3lbs new baby red potatoes, 1 cup heavy cream, 2T butter, 6-8 cloves roasted garlic mash, 1T extra virgin, 3 handfuls of grated Parmesan, salt&cracked pepper.

First things first, cook your potatoes until fork tender. I like to throw mine in a huge Pyrex bowl, add 1/4 cup of water to the bowl, cover, and heat in microwave for 6-8 mins/lb. They will pierce easily with a fork. Dump any remaining water from the bowl and smash the potatoes.

Leave it chunky (it’ll break down when you stir later). In a large pot heat your butter and roasted garlic mash. When foam subsides on butter add the heavy cream, black pepper and Parmesan. Stir to make saucy. Toss in your potato mash and stir until the potatoes are somewhat creamy and take on a sheen.

I’m warning you may be tempted to eat half before it even gets to the plate!

Now, Ladies and Gentlemen, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…our headliner this evening….

weighing in @ 2.5lb and measuring 2″ thick…

Porterhouse (for 2)

Get yourself: a big slab of Porterhouse beef (I put in a special request at the local butcher), 2T butter, 1T fresh parsley, oven-safe serving platter, s&cracked pepper.

Can’t picture a 2.5lb porterhouse, see for yourself…

To make: All it takes to cook this is a quick sear ea. side over high heat and then it gets finished in the oven. First you will take the meat out at least 15mins before cooking so it gets to room temp. Preheat oven to 450F. Next, liberally salt and pepper the beef.  Heat a cast iron skillet grill pan until smoking hot. Sear the steak on one side for ~3mins then flip. Place 1T of butter on top of beef. Place skillet in middle of oven and check for doneness after 8-10mins. Once beef is done, put 1T butter on oven-safe platter and put under broiler for a few mins (watch that butter doesn’t burn). Take out and sprinkle with parsley.  Then place meat on platter and carve.

Make sure you have your stove exhaust on high bc this steak will hiss and smoke like crazy!

And there you have it…

be VERY careful, the plate is hot!

Texas Gravy

A ubiquitous dish steeped in tradition. Although modern, overcomplicated, and pretentious versions have pervaded kitchens everywhere it’s OK. Why? Well, because Chili is that dish that lends itself perfectly to personalization. It’s a great dish, but like an Italian and Sunday Gravy, chili often becomes the victim of harsh judgment since almost everyone has a chili reference they compare to or certain chili rules like no beans or must use dried whole chili peppers which are first toasted then ground to a powder. This is limiting, but for those like me, chili is an art form open to interpretation so no true version should exist. I mean rules are meant to be broken, right? So let’s stop yearning for the perfect and best of everything and just eat!

With that said…

You will need:

2lbs 85% lean ground beef @ room temp

10 Slices hickory smoked bacon cut in 1/4’s

4 Sweet bell peppers – mixed colors (GYRO)

2 Vidalia Onions – chopped

4 Cloves fresh garlic

4 Cloves roasted garlic mash (~1T)

2T Dried Greek oregano

2t Kosher salt/1t crushed black pepper

1T Rendered duck lard

2T Soy sauce (Don’t forget about the Umami dimension of flavor)

4T Worchestire

1 Lager beer (I used Dos Equis)

1 28oz can diced tomatoes (I used Tuttarusso)

2 Cans Red Kidney beans (optional)

Chili Powder Mix:

4T Chili powder

3T Smoked paprika

1T Ancho chili powder

1T Cocoa chili powder

1T Garlic powder

2T Liquid Smoke

4t Garam Masala (Secret ingredient)

2t Cumin

1.5t Chipotle powder

Let’s Make Some Texas Gravy!

Ok, first things first, heat up that duck fat

Believe me, it’s worth it

Brown your beef. Be careful you don’t kill it

As soon as it’s uniformly brown kill the flame and set aside

Should look like this…Cover, we’ll come back to this in a bit

Bacon baby!

Grab ~10 slices and quarter

Fry in a heavy bottom pot

Preferably in the same pot you’re cooking the chili

Get it going, try to separate the chunks so they cook evenly

Goal is to get nice crispy pieces that will hold up in the chili

Reserve about 2T of that fat for sautéing veggies

Once crisp, toss on paper towels to absorb some oil

Heat the bacon fat over medium-high heat

Toss in your chopped onions

Cook for ~5mins

Add the chopped garlic and roasted garlic mash

Stir to combine

Careful, you don’t wanna you know what…

Dice up your bells

Toss into the onions and garlic, along with the bacon and stir

Grab dos dos equis –  they don’t call it dos for nothing

One for you, one for chili

Dump it in and bring to a boil for ~5mins

Drop to simmer and prep your spice mix

Time to spice things up a bit…

Grab all of your dry spices and herbs

Add to a bowl big enough to stir

Add your ground beef to the pot and then toss in the spices

Mix really well

Where there’s smoke there’s flavor!

Add to pot and stir

Add your tomatoes and stir it all together

A voice in the distance, starting to smell good in here!

Thanks babe

I hope it’s not to spicy for me though

Uhh…sure babe I made it just right no worries…

Ok good, because you know how much I hate spicy

It’s chili for crissakes not a Bolognese!

Cover and let it simmer for ~1hr

Take a peek…

Once I feel it’s done I let it cool and refrigerate overnight

I know you can’t believe I’m not eating it right away, but honestly…

I think it tastes better the next day

When it’s time to serve, heat as much as you want in a sauce pot

Toss in a handful of shredded sharp cheddar and white American (trick I got from craftsteak in NYC)

Stir until melted

I serve my chili with some white rice

Go make some if you’re into that

Fill up an oven-safe bowl or mug and top it with shredded cheddar or your cheese of choice

Put under broiler for ~2mins until browned and bubbly

Some Tostito scoops, dollop of sour cream, sliced pickled jalapeno, onion rings…

Toppings are endless

It’s a little spicy, don’t cry about it you’re eating chili…

Man up!

Enjoy!

effin’ White Bread

I once experimented in college (No, not that kind of experimenting). I walked down the bread aisle and checked the ingredients of every single loaf of bread determined to find one without trans fat and/or high fructose corn syrup. To my surprise, they ALL had them. Annoyed, I vowed never to buy supermarket bread again. I eventually caved in, but had to shop at Whole Foods just to find a decent loaf. Luckily, bread makers, forced to comply with new FDA regulations, had to take the trans fat out of bread and today you can find descent loaves at the local supermarket. That’s great for convenience and all, but if you want some seriously good white bread…make your own. Fresh baked bread is on another level. You just can’t get this taste in supermarket bread, I promise. It’s easy. You can also make a huge batch and just break and bake as you need–The Artisan Bread in 5 method.

The loaf I’m featuring in this post is like white bread married a croissant and bore a child. My recipe was inspired by artisan bread in 5. I just tweaked it a little, you know because I like to make it my own…

You will need:

7C AP unbleached flour

3C warm water

1 Stick melted butter + more for the top (I use salted)

1.5T Kosher Salt

1.5T Granulated yeast

2T Vanilla infused sugar

Large container to store dough

9x4x3 in. NON stick loaf pan or Pyrex

Go ahead and melt the butter in the mic @ 30sec intervals

Add melted butter to warm water

Toss in your vanilla infused azucar

And your yeast…nice action shot huh? lol

And in goes the salt…

Mix really well.

Good thing for Kitchen Aid stand mixers…cuz this is a pain to mix with a wooden spoon

Julia Child’s is probably laughing and calling me a wuss for saying that

Dough will be shaggy. Don’t knead

Add a pad of butter to the bowl and toss the dough in.

Roll it around in the butter like a pig in mud

Cover and let rise for a couple hrs or until doubled

Now’s a good time to catch up on all your DVR’d shows

Break off a nice big chunk and store the rest of the dough in the fridge for ~week

Liberally butter a NON STICK loaf pan Pyrex and let rise for ~40mins

Once risen, slash top with a bread knife

Than lather about 1T of butter on top

After baking at 350F for ~45mins, or until golden brown, or until thermo reads ~200F

or until a little voice says it’s done dammit! Go ahead and take it out and rack cool it

By the way, your house will smell amazing!

Put on that straight jacket and wait ~20mins for it to cool completely

It’s time to slice…

It’s time to savor. Those @ home, it’s time to envy.

That right there is pure, unadulterated, down right wholesome, buttery,

fluffy, croissant-ish, white bread

Now cut another slice offSmell it and tell me it doesn’t remind you of a croissant

If you don’t think you’ll polish it off within a day or two, then slice, wrap in Saran, wrap in foil, and freeze

Take it out in the morning to defrost on the counter

Let me know how yours turns out.

The Death to Onion Rings…

I love it when a product comes along and completely annihilates the competition. Onion ring fans meet Alexia Onion Strips, the and all, be all of crunchy, oniony, savory snacks. I will never go back to eating those airy onion scented rings in the flourescent green bag. Not “Wise” when you can eat these. If you’ve ever tried the PW’s onion strings then you will love these. I swear I wasn’t paid to write this. They’re just that good. My local supermarket had them on sale 2/$5. Try them and let me know what you think.

Snowed In All Weekend…

Kitchen was working overtime…we definitely don’t feel like cleaning right now…

P.s. Nice win Saints; well played.