Biscuits and Butter

In case you missed last week's live show, I did an episode all about one of my favorite things: Butter. The episode was filled with all sorts of fun facts about the history of butter, butter reviews, and a lovely excerpt from Butter: A Rich History. I even dared myself on-air to make butter and use the butter I made, and the extra buttermilk that results in the process, to make biscuits from scratch. So where's the episode, you're wondering? Well, it got lost due to a studio glitch. So now I can either re-record it, or let it pass on into the airwaves and ether. Either way, episode or not, today I did it! I made butter from scratch, and then made biscuits from that butter and buttermilk. It was a very satisfying endeavor!

IMG_E9370.jpg

The process of making butter is alarmingly easy, and doesn't even have to require great arm strength, if that's an issue for you. I got good results from the shaking method and using the blender alike. You could also use a food processor. Now that I've tried it, this is definitely something I want to play around with more in the future! I'd love to try it with different types of local heavy cream, experiment with letting the cream sit out (as recommended by Butter Journal), or even adding a bit of plain yogurt to get the milk to culture. 

ezgif-2-5ac4106739.gif

Yes, it's really as simple as that. Fill a jar halfway with room temperature cream and shake shake shake until you start to see visible separation of the butter solids and the liquid, which will become buttermilk. Yes, it was tricky pushing past the whipped cream phase, but once you get there you'll be rewarded with the freshest, creamiest butter imaginable. 

While I was happy with my hand shaken butter, I wanted to see if it would work as well done in my blender. As you can see below, the yield from my first run was quite small, maybe 4 tablespoons worth for about 6 oz. of heavy cream. I think this was due to my not mastering the filtering process of letting the buttermilk drain. When I was done shaking, there was no clear liquid to separate, so I placed my mixture over a sieve and waited. I think I may have strained too much off by moving the butter across the mesh surface, and should have done more rinsing in cold water! 

IMG_9387.jpg

When I put the same cream into the blender, it quickly got into the whipped cream stage. It needed a little poking and prodding to get the cream to properly blend (an air pocket situation happened), but once it did things progressed quickly. Immediately you could see the visible separation of the butter solids from the buttermilk liquid. So in the future, or if you're wary to use a jar, I definitely give the blender/food processor method a big thumbs up! It also worked wonderfully for the cool water rinse. It will seem counter intuative to dump your butter solids back in to the blender with cold water, but trust me, it worked fine! 

As you can see above, there was a large clump of butterfat and the buttermilk drained very easily. 

IMG_E9396.jpg

On the left we have the butter and buttermilk made in the blender, on the right is the butter and buttermilk from the jar method. The butter from the blender seemed airier and like it could possibly stand to lose more water,  but at the same time the denser butter from the jar method was also leaking a bit of water after resting in the fridge. 

And finally, for the real challenge! How would this butter and buttermilk hold up when making biscuits? Well the butter (mostly the blender version) folded almost seamlessly into the flour. It felt extremely light and soft, but not at all melty or greasy. I'd never had such an easy time incoorporating butter into flour, to be honest. The buttermilk itself seemed a bit thin, which was worrying, but lo and behold, my biscuits rose perfectly and filled the house with such an incredible buttery aroma while they baked. 

The results were very worthwhile and resulted in a biscuit with a cloud like interior that feels as though its melting in your mouth. My only complaint was that they were a little bit bland, but that could be on me for not salting my butter quite enough! I used some fancy french sea salt, which while it's delicious, might not have been the right choice for baking. 

IMG_9413.jpg

In the end, I found this project to be incredibly satisfying. With the blender or food processor it was extremely easy to do, and it would be easy to also scale up the recipe since my blender base is quite large. I will look forward to trying this again, and baking with fresh house made butter to see if it improves any cookies or cakes I might make in the future! There is also the extremely pleasing aspect of using the whole of your ingredients, utilizing both the buttermilk and butter in the same recipe. If you're looking for a fun and near instantly rewarding DIY project, I say give this one a try! 

Butter in a jar method from Butter Journal

Butter in the blender recipe from The Kitchn

Biscuit recipe from Smitten Kitchen 

Simple White Beans

I've been working on a little side project this week, a sort of challenge to myself, you could say. I challenged myself to "archive" my cookbooks, of which there are many. This means I'll be combing through each one, creating a google doc and noting the recipes I'd like to try and their page numbers. While this may sound mind numbing, it's been a fairly simple process so far, done mostly at a leisurely pace while watching Netflix. It's been a fun way for me to re-engage with my own library, and to engage with food writing and recipe structure even more than I already do.

IMG_4852.jpg

One such book I'd yet to crack the spine on was the Moosewood Cookbook. Folks, I'm not even totally sure how I came to buy this one, but I've found that once I started to actually read it I quickly fell in love. I think it came into my life on the suggestion of a mutual Instagram follower and home cook, but who can be certain? What surprised me even more is this: I was digging through my email looking for a recipe a friend had written out for me, and in the very email I'd been searching for he mentioned a recipe from the Moosewood cookbook. Life is funny, the world is small, and seemingly thoroughly connected. 

So I cracked the spine and poured over the delightfully thoughtful recipes, illustrations, and writings of Mollie Katzen, the book's author, and was thoroughly charmed by the experience of reading her work. This book is full of simple, elegant vegetarian recipes and makes you dream of an agrarian, idyllic lifestyle. One where vegetables come straight from the garden and everything is served with care and consideration, while pomp and fussing are entirely eschewed. Katzen has presented such practical, accessible recipes that I'm mad the book has only impacted my life now. The fact that everything is handwritten and illustrated only further accentuates the books charm. 

While I'm certainly behind on this book, which was initially published in 1974, it's made a large impact globally, enough to merit it's own wikipedia page and multiple re-issues. While I've already made a document with all the recipes I'm excited to try from this book, the first that drew me in was this recipe for white beans. First of all, I love white beans! They're soft and creamy and they pair beautifully with a zip of vinegar, as the recipe calls for. They're also a protein powerhouse, so if you, like me, try to opt for meat only when necessary or when a craving strikes, you'll love this addition to your meal repertoire. It's also incredibly cheap, satisfying and it makes SO MANY BEANS. SO. MANY. BEANS. 

IMG_4857.jpg

Admittedly I should have halved this recipe, but since I'd never cooked legumes from their dried form before I just went with what the recipe called for. This recipe does not require you to soak the beans overnight, which was wonderful since I decided to make it rather impulsively, but I found I needed a good amount of extra cooking time because of this. I'd say just be patient with it and check the texture of your beans every five minutes or s if they're not finished when the timer goes off. In the end I had an excellent side dish that I served both on its own and also over some garlic rubbed toast with a drizzle of olive oil. The resulting dish was hearty, comforting, and perfectly tuscan in flavor - essentially everything I love in food. Below you'll find the recipe as printed in Moosewood. 

IMG_4864.jpg

Just White Beans

"Sometimes it's refreshing to have a bean salad that is a simple solo of lightly marinated beans, without a lot of little diced vegetables singing backup vocals. This is one such dish. It is delightful by itself, and downright smashing when topped with a mound of pickled red onions. This salad keeps well for days if tightly covered and refrigerated. The beans can be cooked without prior soaking." 

  • 1 1/2 Cup Dry White Pea Beans
  • 3 Tbs Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbs Red Wine Vinegar
  • 3/4 to 1 tsp Sale
  • 1 to 2 Medium Garlic Cloves, minced
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Basil
  • 1/4 Cup Finely Minced Parsley
  • 2 Tbs Fresh Dill (I omitted this and the parsley, went with more Basil)
  • Pickles Red Onions
  1. Place the beans in a medium sized sauce pan and cover with water. Bring a boil, reduce heat, and cook, partially covered until tender by not mush (1 to 1 1/4 hours).
  2. Drain well, and transfer to a medium sized bowl. 
  3. Add the remaining ingredients, mix gently, and taste to correct seasonings. Cover tightly and chill until cold. 
  4. Serve topped with Pickled Red Onions. 

Pickled Red Onions

"Try these with any bean salad, in or with sandwiches, in countless other salads, as an antipasto dish, or even on top of homemade pizza. Pickled Red Onions are ridiculously easy to make, and keep practically indefinitely."

  • I cup water
  • Up to 3 Tbs Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Whole Peppercorns
  • 4 Medium Red Onions, Very Thinly Slices
  1. Preliminary: Heat teakettle or pot of water to a boil
  2. Combine vinegar, 1 cup of water, sugar, salt, and peppercorns in a medium sized bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved. 
  3. Place the onion slices in a colander in the sink, and slowly pour all the boiling water over them. They will wilt slightly. Drain well, and transfer to the bowlful of marinade. 
  4. Cover and allow to marinate, refrigerated or at room temperature, for at least several hours. Store in a sterilized jar in the refridgerator and use as needed. 

 

Roast Sweet Potato Tacos

Yet another recipe screen-capped from Smitten Kitchen. I know, I know, I need to share other chefs and creators, and don't worry, that's absolutely going to happen. However the draw to Deb Perlman's recipes is pretty undeniable, as championed in this New Yorker piece, but also because they're often approachable, practical, and *most importantly* can be made in a tiny kitchen with an even tinier oven because we're both residents of New York City and have these tiny apartment woes to contend with. 

sweet potatoe taco.png

In any case, I pretty much always have some sweet potatoes lying around. My go to method is to simply slice them in half inch rounds, toss with a little maple syrup, olive oil, salt and pepper, and whatever herbs I have lying around, and roast them on high heat on a sheet pan until they practically caramelize. While this never fails to satisfy, I was intrigued by this Mexican inspired iteration. So here it is, yet another bit of brilliance from Deb Perlman that will surely satisfy you and leave you with leftovers to look forward to. 

UPDATE: Smiten Kitchen has post the original recipe, refined in all its glory on her website. Check it out!

Sweet Potato Tacos

  • 3 to 4 Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 TB Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Paprika
  • 1/4 - 1/2 tsp Chili Power
  • 1 to 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

For Tacos

  • Flour tortillas, or your desired tortilla
  • 1 to 2 limes
  • Cilantro
  • 1 can of refried black beans
  • Cotija or sour cream
  • Avocado (optional)
  1. Heat oven to 400. Peel, cube, and toss your sweet potatoes with your spices and minced garlic. Spread on a sheet pan and put into the hot oven for 40 minutes, being sure to stir the potatoes at least once or twice while they're cooking to ensure even cooking. 
  2. Once your sweet potatoes are fully cooked, remove from oven and set aside
  3. To assemble taco: smear each tortilla with a base of refried black beans, top with a heaping serving of roast sweet potatoes. Garnish with lime juice, cilantro, avocado wedges, and cotija cheese or sour cream to your liking. Enjoy! 

P.S. here is a link to the slaw mentioned in the insta-story. It's at the bottom of this recipe for Cauliflower Quesadillas, which is another wonderful vegetarian Mexican option! 

Sausage and Kale Pasta

From my episode on Instagram and social media and food, this is a recipe directly screencapped from Insta-stories, as you can see below. 

Since Deb Perlman post this recipe on her insta-stories I've made it at least three or four times. It's massively satisfying and a great way to use up any heart greens you have laying around. I've written the recipe out for your ease below, with a few suggestions based off my own experiences making this dish. 

Kale and Sausage Pasta

  • 1 lb of pasta, shells or other small shape
  • 1 to 2 TBSP Olive Oil
  • 3/4 lb sweet Italian sausage
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 5 oz. package of kale leaves, or 1 bunch of kale leaves*, either pre-cut or finely chopped

1. Set a large pot of salted water to boil, and cook your pasta in it until just 2 minutes shy of al dente. Reserve 2 cups of pasta cooking liquid, then drain your pasta and set each aside. 

2. In the bottom of your drained pot, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Cook your sausage in the oil once it's hot, adding in the garlic after the meat has begun to brown. Cook your sausage until it is fully done. 

3. Once your sausage is cooked, add in the kale leaves and cook until they have wilted. Be sure to season with plenty of salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes if you so desire. 

4. Once the kale is wilted, add a cup of your pasta cooking to the pan and the cooked pasta and bring your pan to a simmer. You can scrape along the bottom of the pan to help get any brown bits off the bottom.

5. Keep a close eye on the pasta and keep stirring to combine everything. It'll be done when the liquid has nearly evaporated and formed into a light silky sauce, in 2 to 5 minutes.

6. Once finished, plate pasta with more salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, as well as toasted breadcrumbs and shaved parmesan. 

Notes: Since I've made this a few times, here are some things I have changed. 1) When adding the cooking liquid to the sausage and kale, I've splashed in a glug of white wine for acidity. Additionally I think a squeeze of lemon juice or perhaps a bit of lemon zest would be amazing here. 2) I've also stirred in some grated fresh parmesan at the liquid step, to create a sort of cacio e pepe effect and give the dish even more umami. 

*I've done this with regular kale and dinosaur (lacinato) kale alike, both are delicious! 

Sausage and Lentil Soup from Smitten Kitchen

Here's a soup I've returned to time and again each winter. It's simple, hearty, full of greens and vegetables, and takes minimal effort to throw together. Yet another hit from Smitten Kitchen, but Deb Perlman knows how to do cozy, simple, and satisfying like no other. This soup cooks quick, reheats beautifully, and even freezes well. If you go over to her recipe, you'll see she's even updated for those of you out there with an instapot. Here I swap swiss chard for kale, but it's because that's my green of choice and it's almost always on hand in my house. 

It all begins with a simple sautee of carrots, celery, onion, and garlic. 

Then you add a can of tomatoes, which conveniently doubles as a measuring cup for the water required. Don't forget to season at every stage of cooking, from frying the garlic to removing the bay leaf. 

I like to cook my sausage seperately and add it in at the end. This could be a good hack if you're not a meat eater or have someone in your life who's not into that addition to the soup.

And just like that! Minimal fussing, hearty, warming, and good for you! Nothing not to love here. 

Smitten Kitchens Swiss Chard and Lentil Soup

  • 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
  • 2 large links (about 8 ounces) of sweet Italian sausage [see Note]
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced or diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into half-moons or diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced (reserve half for later in recipe)
  • Kosher salt
  • A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 cup brown lentils, sorted and rinsed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 6 cups water
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 to 4 cups shredded or thinly ribboned Swiss chard leaves or kale
  • Grated Pecorino Romano cheese to finish
  1. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil (enough to generously coat bottom of pot) in a large pot on medium to medium-high heat. When hot, add the sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon until it starts to brown, about five minutes.
  2. Add the onion, celery, carrots, first two garlic cloves, a pinch of salt, and if you like your soup spicy, a pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook with the sausage until the vegetables soften a bit, another 5 minutes.
  3. Add the lentils, bay leaves, tomatoes, water (6 cups is, conveniently, a little less than 2 empty 28-ounce cans, so you can get any tomato pulp you missed), more salt and black pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook until the lentils are tender, about 40 minutes. (It might be necessary to add more water if the soup gets too thick, though we preferred ours on the thick side.)
  4. When the lentils are cooked, add the chard and cook until the leaves are tender, just a few minutes more. Discard the bay leaves.

3 Ingredient Mac and Cheese

Here's another one courtesy of Kenji Lopez and Serious Eats. Love creamy mac and cheese, but feel concerned about the article going around about the stove top stuff's ingredients? This recipe couldn't be simpler, and no you don't have to buy sodium citrate to make it! 

So how does it work? As the pasta cooks down in the water, it releases starch which is then concentrated and acts as a binder, similar to the technique used in this Cacio e Pepe recipe. The addition of evaporated milk provides proteins which help to bind the cheese and starchy liquid, creating an instantly creamy sauce.

Here I've used regular pasta, but I suggest using macaroni elbows as they will cook much quicker and this recipe is supposed to be fast! The key in the cooking process is not to let the milk scorch, because if it does the texture of this sauce will go grainy. Make sure to keep the heat low and keep stirring once you've added your cheese. I used an extra sharp Vermont white cheddar for this recipe, but your cheese options are truly limitless! 

3 Ingredient Stove Top Mac and Cheese, recipe by Kenji Lopez

  • 6 ounces (170g) elbow macaroni
  • Salt
  • 6 ounces (180ml) evaporated milk
  • 6 ounces (170g) grated mild or medium cheddar cheese, or any good melting cheese, such as Fontina, Gruyère, or Jack
  1. Place macaroni in a medium saucepan or skillet and add just enough cold water to cover. Add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Continue to cook, stirring, until water has been almost completely absorbed and macaroni is just shy of al dente, about 6 minutes.

  2. Immediately add evaporated milk and bring to a boil. Add cheese. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring continuously, until cheese is melted and liquid has reduced to a creamy sauce, about 2 minutes longer. Season to taste with more salt and serve immediately.

Panzanella

There are so many ways to pair bread and tomatoes, and that's a major part of what I'm exploring this week as we ease into tomato season here in New York. You can make the southern classic, tomato and mayonnaise sandwich. You can make bruschetta. You can rub a fresh tomato on toasted bread. You can even put the two together and turn them into a soup.

But maybe the most direct way to highlight both tomatoes and good bread is a classic panzanella. This dish is an Italian bread salad, which might sound perplexing, but trust me it's absolutely divine. I'd go so far as to say this might be my ideal dish. It's tangy and crunchy and savory and bright and fresh, all those things summery Mediterranean food always gets perfectly. If you have good heirloom tomatoes, like the ones I got from my local farmers market, you really can't go wrong. The genius here lies in making a vinaigrette from the tomato juice, and pre-toasting the bread so that each bite is slightly soaked and slightly crunchy. It's absolutely brilliant and completely addictive. 

Classic Panzanella by Kenji Lopez, originally posted on Serious Eats 

  • 2 1/2 pounds mixed tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 3/4 pound ciabatta or rustic sourdough bread, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes (about 6 cups bread cubes)
  • 10 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 small shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup packed basil leaves, roughly chopped
  1. Place tomatoes in a colander set over a bowl and season with 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Toss to coat. Set aside at room temperature to drain, tossing occasionally, while you toast the bread. Drain for a minimum of 15 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F and adjust rack to center position. In a large bowl, toss bread cubes with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until crisp and firm but not browned, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

  3. Remove colander with tomatoes from bowl with tomato juice. Place colander with tomatoes in the sink. Add shallot, garlic, mustard, and vinegar to the bowl with tomato juice. Whisking constantly, drizzle in the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.

  4. Combine toasted bread, tomatoes, and dressing in a large bowl. Add basil leaves. Toss everything to coat and season with salt and pepper. Let rest for 30 minutes before serving, tossing occasionally until dressing is completely absorbed by bread.