The Buttery Blog

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Spinach and Gruyere Strata June 30, 2009

Filed under: Breakfast/Brunch,Vegetarian — butteryblog @ 5:59 am
Tags: , , ,
Strata

Strata

Brunch is my favorite meal. I love that you can mix sweet and savory. I love that it usually accompanies some sort of celebration. Mostly, I love that it’s the only meal at which it’s socially acceptable to drink alcohol before 11am.

When I was looking for some sort of theme for a recent party celebrating my webseries, Real Life With Married People, breakfast for dinner kept popping up. Seemed like a fun idea. Plus I have a great farmers’ market down the road from me and it was light enough for a summer evening in LA.

After turning to the Buttery Ladies for assistance, I settled on a strata (thanks, Mother Butter!) and baked french toast. The more successful of the two was the strata. Oh my.

This was possibly one of the best things I’ve put in my mouth. You must try this. And that thing about light summer dinner- yeah, no. But it is a perfect brunch meal to put together the night before and pop in the oven when you wake up. Cook’s Illustrated suggests it for Christmas morning. If I celebrated Christmas, I’d agree.

Breakfast Strata with Spinach and Gruyere

From Cook’s Illustrated via Baker Bites.

I misread the wine measurement and used 1.5 cups. I’m leaving it in because the recipe was so popular with the mistake. Just let it reduce a fair amount. I’d say mine ended up being 1/2-3/4 cup.

8-10 slices of supermarket French Bread (1/2 inch thick) or Italian bread
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 medium shallots, minced (about 1/2 cup)
1 pkg frozen chopped spinach (10 oz) thawed and squeezed dry
kosher salt
ground black pepper
1 1/2 cup medium dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
6 oz Gruyere cheese, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
6 large eggs
1 3/4 cups half-and-half

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 225 degrees. Arrange bread in single layer on large baking sheet and bake until dry and crisp, about 40 minutes, turning slices over halfway through drying time. (alternatively, leave slices out overnight to dry) When cooled, butter slices on one side with 2 tablespoon butter; set aside.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Saute shallots until fragrant and translucent; about 3 minutes; add spinach and salt and pepper to taste and cook stirring occasionally, until spinach and shallots are combined, about 2 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl, set aside. Add wine to skillet, increase heat to medium high and simmer until reduced to 1/2 cup, 2-3 minutes; set aside.

3. Butter 8 inch square baking dish with remaining 1 tablespoon butter; arrange half the buttered bread slices, buttered side up, in single layer in dish. Sprinkle half of spinach mixture, then 1/2 cup grated cheese evenly over bread slices. Arrange remaining bread slices in single layer over cheese; sprinkle remaining spinach mixture and another 1/2 cup cheese evenly over bread. Whisk eggs in medium bowl until combined; whisk in reduced wine, half and half, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Pour egg mixture evenly over bread layers; cover surface flush with plastic wrap, weigh down, and refrigerate overnight.

4. Remove dish from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature 20 minutes. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Uncover strata and sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheese evenly over surface. Bake until both edges and center are puffed and edges have pulled away slightly from sides of dish. (50-55 minutes — or 60 minutes if you’ve doubled the recipe). Cool on wire rack 5 minutes, serve.

Be excellent to each other,
Ms. Butterpants

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Travel Blog: Ireland June 26, 2009

Filed under: Travel-Europe — butteryblog @ 5:21 am
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Okay, let’s face it: Scotland, England, Ireland? Not the best reputation for tasty foodstuff. Sure, who doesn’t love a piping hot order of fish and chips served in yesterday’s newspaper, but black pudding? Spotted dick? Haggis? God, it all sounds so weird. Still, when I recently went to Ireland with my sister, I was eager to dive into the local cuisine. While some travelers long to see Dublin Castle or St. Patrick’s Cathedral, nothing made me happier than the prospect of eating new food. Here’s a (hopefully not long-winded) look at the week my stomach spent on the Emerald Isle…

First, a brief stop in Atlanta. Once I landed at Hartfield-Jackson, I was starving and really wanted some junky fast food.  I eventually found a Burger King and heartily enjoyed a Whopper combo meal.  Man, that stuff may be bad for you, but it is damn tasty. I eat fast food about four times a year, so those four times are sacred events to me. I also came up with a new word: tomayo® — that’s when the mayo and tomato juice/seeds comingle into a gooey, oozy mess that inevitably runs down your fingers into your shirt sleeves.

When I hand my boarding pass to the steward, she tells me my seat’s been changed. Somehow I end up in first class! What a delightful surprise. They are serving real dinner here. I’m stuffed full of low-grade beef and tomayo, but make a go of it nonetheless. A trio of appetizers: curried crab salad (meh), Greek salad (fresh, with a nice hunk of feta) and cream of asparagus soup (unpalatable and, unfortunately, served during turbulence). Entrée of cold salmon, roast beef and grilled veg. The salmon was good, although oddly reminiscent of bologna. Roast beef was forgettable. For dessert, a delicious little ice cream sundae. I had to skip the breakfast of French toast and eggs as I was too full.

Parma at Carluccio's.

Parma at Carluccio's.

Once I landed and met my sister at baggage claim, we settled ourselves at The Westin and began our education on Dublin life. We walked around Grafton Street and bought some “Irish” snacks at a convenience store: Walker’s Prawn Cocktail chips, Sweet and Spicy Thai Doritos, and a Bounty coconut candy bar. We ate lunch at a little café called Carluccio’s. That’s right, our first meal in Ireland is … Italian? An excellent, strong latte was much appreciated as I was starting to feel the drag. We split an appetizer of prosciutto (parma), breadsticks, parmesan and balsamic. It was very tasty. Our mozzarella, tomato and basil Panini was okay. The bread was lovely crunchy, but the pesto was overdone and the inside of the bread was just a bit mealy.

After lunch we went to the Guinness Factory. Beer-making is quite an interesting process and, even though I don’t drink it, I can appreciate the care they put into making it. They gave out free tastings at the end. It was very cold, smooth, creamy and bitter. I tried to like it, but after about five sips (you’re supposed to be able to gulp a pint in seven), I gave up.

Even crabs need Guinness.

Even crabs need Guinness.

We ate dinner in Ballsbridge at Roly’s Bistro. It was more expensive than I would have liked, but quite good. I had a pot of chamomile tea and J had mint. For dinner she had mushroom soup and fish & chips. I had an artichoke and parma tart that was very tasty. I also had the special spicy Thai fishcakes, which were quite spicy. Our waiter came to take away the food and commented that J hadn’t eaten her mushy peas. I said, “They don’t translate well.” The best part of the meal was dessert: strawberry pavlova. I’d never had pavlova before and don’t often see it on American menus. This was a mound of baked meringue, a dollop of clotted cream, and a ring of fresh berries in a thin pool of white chocolate sauce. The meringue was fantastic! Crispy turned chewy (if taste accounts for 45% of food-enjoyment, 25% is texture (20% is visual, 10% ineffable)). Amazingly delicious.

The next day, we ate breakfast at a place called Lemon, which served crepes. J had banana and Nutella, and I had egg and bacon with relish (similar to Branston Pickle as opposed to hot dog relish). The crepe was good with a nicely chewy-not-rubbery texture (that word again!). I also had a cup of coffee, which they sweetly served with a piece of chocolate.

Dublin burger at Bobo's.

Dublin burger at Bobo's.

For dinner we went to Bobo’s Burgers. The street signage in Dublin leaves something to be desired, but we eventually found the restaurant. Our waiter was from Buenos Aires. He was very friendly and cute — nearly everyone we’ve met has been extremely friendly. J had a Conn burger with bacon and I had a Dublin burger with cheese and more brown relish. We split rosemary fries. It was a very tasty burger. J fell in love with hers.

After dinner we went to The Duke for our literary pub crawl. We were there early and chatted with the charming bartender. I’m not sure if it was just this bar or all bars in Dublin, but I got a vodka with pineapple juice. The vodka was measured precisely in a jigger and I got one bottle of p-juice. None of this will-nilly “a little of this, a little of that” crap like in America! After this initial vodka, I stuck to glasses (half-pints) of Bulmer’s cider — much easier to quaff than a Guinness. The pear version is particularly nice.

The next day we took the bus to Russborough House. First we had breakfast at Gruel (known for their lunchtime “roast in a roll,” but we were, alas, too early for that). Very leisurely service, but we had plenty of time to kill before the bus. Nice pot of Irish tea. I wasn’t sure what to get for breakfast so I asked the waiter for his favorite dish. He said he liked the pancakes and the French toast. I was hoping he’d say something more Irish — J chose a good-looking plate of corned beef hash and poached eggs — but I said I’d take his advice so I went with the French toast and bacon. Perhaps a tad custardy in the center, but overall very delicious. The combination of egg, bread, salty bacon and sweet syrup is just about perfect.

As we walked to the bus, we opened another “Irish” snack: a bag of spicy Cheetos. Smelling strongly of cumin, I must say they were quite gross.

We ate dinner in the hotel atrium. We both had Bailey’s hot chocolate (served with lovely gourmet marshmallows). I had beef minestrone — never my first soup choice, but very tasty here with mini meatballs and fresh veg. The piece de resistance was the lovely sticky date pudding.

Delightful sticky date pudding at The Westin.

Delightful sticky date pudding at The Westin.

The next day we left for Galway. Our cabbie jokingly said he’d drive us to Galway for €350, which included a pub lunch and a pint. He dropped us off at the Sandwich Market near Heuston Station so we could have breakfast. There were two ladies running this very tiny deli. I got an egg sandwich. There was a white pudding option and I asked what was in it. It caused quite a conversation as no one really knew. One customer said, “It’s gross. It’s not healthy and has weird bits in it.” One of the counter ladies said — I quote — “It’s yum.” The other lady told me she’d warm up a piece for me to taste. Well, the customer was wrong: no meat in the white pudding; the counter lady was right: yum. It’s basically just stuffing shaped into a sausage shape. It was very good. So J & I sat in the train station and ate our greasy sandwiches.

We stayed at The Ivies in Galway. Perhaps the charm of the B&B has worn off for me. They sound lovely romantic, but the amenities are always better at a hotel. Still, I’m always lured in by the beautiful phrase, “Full breakfast provided,” even though the breakfast here wasn’t great (plain eggs, toast and grisly ham. Excellent tea, although extremely hot. Very forgettable overall). But for all that, it’s about ¼ the price of The Westin where I must pay for breakfast myself.

We spent the afternoon walking around. There are loads of cute shops. We went to a mall with a lovely milkshake shop. I had a chocolate chip cookie shake, which was a delicious indulgence. This shop will blend anything into a shake: Skittles, muffins, popcorn (that last one can’t possibly be good).

Yes, that's black pudding.

Yes, that's black pudding.

We ate dinner at The Dáil Bar (no idea how to pronounce it, but I’m sure “dale” would be too easy — I must say I am truly confounded by Gaelic). Our waiter was friendly and charming, albeit a bit absent. I asked him about the Grilled Clonakility Pudding. He said it’s the traditional Irish black pudding with all the nasty bits and blood. At first he tried to dissuade me from it, saying it was more of an “Irish thing,” but when I dissuaded him from dissuading me, he said The Dáil Bar had the best black pudding. So I started with creamed onion soup and finished with the black pudding. The onion soup was delicious (creamed with potatoes and finished with melted butter — the Irish love their butter (I wonder if Paula Deen is Irish?)). The black pudding? Also delicious! I’m sure, depending upon venue, it can range from magnificent to revolting, but this was expertly done. A pillow of potatoes and pancetta, then the grilled pudding, then apple chutney and shredded carrots and drizzled with balsamic glaze. Spicy, wonderfully chewy (Ireland: Land of Chewy Food) and the chutney and carrots gave a lovely sweet finish. One or two bites did seem a bit heavy in the way that organ meat can be, but overall it was quit enjoyable. Do I want to eat it every night? Probably not. But as an occasional thing? Yes, it went down nicely. My verdict? Better than haggis!

Beetroot? In a brownie?

Beetroot? In a brownie?

The next day we rented bikes and rode on a 30-mile trip around Galway. It was insanely windy and hilly and speckled with intermittent rain, which made us cold and tired. About two-thirds done with the ride, I can’t tell you the utter joy with which we pulled into the Builin Blasta coffee shop. The waiter asked how we were and I said, “Cold. Very cold.” He said, “Yeah, bike riding in Ireland — brilliant idea.” I had a curried chicken salad sandwich and a rather unusual dessert: chocolate beetroot brownie. I love beetroot, so I was intrigued. It was basically just a brownie that had little chunks of beetroot the way others might have chunks of extra chocolate or nuts. It had a really nice depth of flavor. Often when chocolate desserts are inexpertly prepared they taste one-note, but this had an earthy sweetness and slight tang. I would have preferred the beets pureed and folded in for textural reasons, but otherwise it was really unusual and delicious.

After we return, rest and shower, we eat dinner and visit a bar called The Quays (we were on Quay Street, which I think means “Street Street”) (also didn’t know how to pronounce it correctly until some time last year: key). Our bartender, Paddy McKenna (could I have made up a more Irish name?) was a jovial fellow. J drank her Guinness and I drank my Bulmer’s pear cider. Paddy tells us the Guinness tastes better in Ireland because it’s free- and fast-flowing. Any self-respecting Irishman would not suffer a pint in a foreign country because it tends to taste stale (here I drew a very wry comparison to movie-theater popcorn).

J was looking to do a shot but was scared by the Jameson. Paddy suggests something called a Baby Guinness — Kahlua with a floater of Bailey’s (or vice versa). It really does look like a little pint. J liked it a lot, but kept saying, “I’ll have to remember this when I go home: Kahlua and Guinness!” I hope she never actually asks for that.

The next day we headed back to Dublin. Nothing remarkable before the train ride. J had coffee while I walked around the shops one last time. I stared longingly, lovingly at the pink and white meringue confections in the sweets shop. They never had any fresh ones to sell me, only stale ones to taunt me.

Oh, how I loved you, pretty meringues!

Oh, how I loved you, pretty meringues!

That night, J and I eat at a place called East Korea (West seems more geographically correct), and have the prix-fixe. It was decent. I had beef chun (pancakes) and bibimbap (rice hot pot). For dessert? Oddly, it was cheesecake.

There was a bit of confusion over the tip. Our bill was €42 and all I had was a five note. J said, “You’re going to leave five? Let me get some change.” Then she puts down a €2 coin. There is some more awkward miscommunication between us and we leave. Turns out I thought she meant, “You’re only leaving €5?” when what she really meant was, “Isn’t €5 too much?” I suppose it is worthwhile to investigate the tipping policies of a foreign country beforehand.

After dinner we went back to The Duke for a last drink. We proudly tell the bartender from Monday night that we won the t-shirt from the pub crawl. J and I are sitting next to two guys who start to chat us up. One guy, B, is a farmer from Mayo and proudly shows us photos from his phone of all his cows. I asked if he’d name his next male cow F____.

“There aren’t any male cows.”

“Right, the cows are female. What about the next bull?”

“We don’t name the bulls.”

“Why not?”

“Because we eat them.”

Too quickly the day of departure is here. At the airport, I have about €20 to use up before boarding, but instead of getting food and snacks at one of the dozens of shops above ground, I wait until I pass through customs (generally a one-way street). A sign promises a food stand, but when I get there, it is disappointingly limited. I keep buying this and that until I’ve used nearly €17. I spy a vending machine and drop €3 on some Cadbury’s. I feel fairly satisfied that I won’t have more than €1 in change left over, but after rummaging through my bag I find an errant fiver. I can’t possibly buy anything else at the food counter, so I pocket it.

The plane ride to Atlanta is pleasant enough. The hot meal looks very unappetizing so I eat a few of my candy bars. I make the egregious mistake of asking for a cup of tea. It was the most revolting thing I have ever put to my lips. I can’t be sure how it’s made, but if I had to guess, I’d say it was instant tea that is heated up. Well, that’s life in coach: no tea pot for the untouchables.

A few days into a vacation and it’s hard to remember life outside of it. A few days after a vacation and it’s hard to believe you ever had one. Why is that? Did I do, feel or see anything so unlike my old life? No, but I suppose the very nature of travel is that it throws out your usual routine, which seems just that: routine. Lifeless. Shadow puppets with nothing behind them. Sometimes I wonder what will become of my life without realizing that I’m becoming it.

Here’s to you, Ireland: land of friendly strangers, winding streets and a million and one pubs. Sláinte!

♥Lady Butterbuns

 

For the Love of Cumin June 20, 2009

Filed under: Regional-Southern,Salads,Vegetarian — butteryblog @ 8:42 pm
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Black-Eyed Pea Salad

Black-Eyed Pea Salad

My dad is probably the #1 fan of the black-eyed pea (the bean, not the band). He has a way of interweaving black-eyed peas into any conversation. So, when I went “home” recently for his birthday, I decided to make the award-winning Black-Eyed Pea Salad recipe from Cooking Light (which just so happens to be one of my new favorite magazines).

First stop: Publix (Florida’s grocery store chain). Except for the black-eyed peas, my dad didn’t have many of the ingredients necessary for this recipe. I landed in an aisle with a small shelf of spices and couldn’t believe that this huge suburban grocery store only had a handful to choose from. Another shopper noticed my bewilderment and when I told him I was looking for cumin, his eyes lit up. “That’s my favorite spice,” he said. He told me it added a zing to any food, especially mexican food. I told him that I was looking forward to discovering this newly-found spice. I picked up my 79¢ packet and was on my way.

As I stood in the check-out line, the man behind me, wearing camouflage and dirty baseball cap, said to me, “Excuse me, ma’am, I couldn’t help but notice you have cumin in your basket.” It felt a little like the twilight zone. This man told me the merits of cumin on meat and said that it was especially good on “pork butts.” Ah, as Ms. Butterpants said, you can’t beat the Redneck Riviera. Now home to find out what this cumin is all about!

Black-Eyed Pea Salad (with a few of my own variations on the original)

Ingredients

1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (next time I think I’ll try white wine vinegar)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
3 cups chopped peeled tomato (I didn’t peel the tomatoes and it was fine)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion (next time I’ll try a mild onion, like a scallion)
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (next time–less cilantro)
1 15-oz can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (I forgot to get this, so we’ll never know!)
Pita Chips (Publix didn’t have pita chips so I bought some flat bread and warmed it in the oven–soooo good!)

  1. Combine salt and garlic in a medium bowl; mash with a fork until a paste consistency.
  2. Add vinegar, oil and cumin, stirring with a whisk.
  3. Add tomato and next 4 ingredients (through pepper).
  4. Toss well
  5. Serve with pita chips (or warmed flatbread!)

Taste Test

A fresh and summery, easy-to-make salad. Perfect for picnics or parties! It’s sort of like a black-eyed pea salsa. I don’t think I’d make it for a side dish, but it is good as an appetizer. The rice wine vinegar, onion, and cilantro were slightly overpowering flavors, so next time, I’d try a milder vinegar (white wine) and onion (scallion), and probably use less cilantro. They were so overpowering that I couldn’t get a good sense of the cumin. Alas, Publix shoppers, if you’re out there reading this right now, I promise to give cumin another try! I also might use less tomatoes so that the black-eyed peas are the “star.” If this recipe makes it into your repertoire, I’d definitely ditch the store-bought pita chips and serve with something fresher.

♦ Buttery B

 

Cajun Meatfauxf June 18, 2009

Filed under: Fruit & Veg,Regional-Southern,Vegetarian — butteryblog @ 9:12 pm
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Cajun Meatfauxf

Cajun Meatfauxf

So, I realize this post makes the third Southern recipe I’ve posted and you probably think this is like, my thing.  It’s not.  I’ve been on a bit of a kick recently, but I do cook other things, I swear.

I became a vegetarian in high school literally during the course of a school day.  I left the house a carnivore and came home a vegetarian.  My geography teacher, Mrs. Wagg, spent the day discussing goat slaughter in Africa in detail and I could not bring myself to eat meat again.  The problem with this sort of conversion is that there isn’t a lot of education or preparation that takes place.  So I quit eating meat, but I didn’t stop eating cake or french fries or bread or pasta or any number of things that have little to no nutritional value.  So about 6 years later my doctor told me that I was anemic and my hair was falling out and I needed to eat meat.  So I gudgingly went back to meat.  Then about two months ago I was preparing some chicken enchiladas and mid-shred, I lost it.  I started sobbing like I haven’t since I saw The Wrestler.  I sent my husband out for black beans and he ate shredded chicken for weeks after.  This time around, I’m much more careful about my nutrition.  I’m always on the search for great recipes that satisfy my meat eating husband and my need for serious protein.

Enter Cajun Meatfauxf.

I originally found this recipe at The Pioneer Woman’s Blog. It is Pastor Ryan’s creation.

I made it three times in two weeks. It is crazy good. And lasts for days (at least when you’re just two people). Between times 3 and 4, I quit eating meat. I needed an alternative. Thank G-d for Smart Ground.

2 large bell peppers, finely diced (doesn’t matter which color)
2 medium onions, finely diced
1 bunch of celery, finely diced (5-6 ribs)
8-10 cloves of garlic (I used minced out of a jar because I am lazy)
3 eggs
6 tablespoons of butter
1-2 cups of matzo meal (the original recipe calls for breadcrumbs, but all I had was matzo meal. It worked really well)
ground nutmeg
black pepper
cayenne pepper
1/2 cup of milk (I used skim)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
2 cups of ketchup
2 tablespoons honey
3 pounds ground beef substitute (I used Smart Ground)

Preheat your over to 400 degrees.

Melt your butter over a medium heat. When it starts to brown, dump all your chopped veggies, your garlic, and a TBSP of salt into the pan. Cook for a few minutes then add the Worchestershire sauce, black pepper, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper. Make sure it’s all incorporated, then add a 1/2 cup of ketchup. Continue cooking and stirring for several more minutes. I find this whole process takes about 15-20 minutes. Remove your veggies from the heat.

After the mixture has cooled, add about a 1/2 cup of milk. Stir until combined. Next add your matzo meal. Start with stirring in a 1/2 cup and then add more until the mixture becomes a thick paste.

In another large bowl, beat your eggs. Then add your “meat”. Next, add your paste. Using your hands (yeah, you heard me), mash everything together til it’s a big fake meaty mess.

Spray your pan with cooking spray, then fashion your mixture into a meatloaf shape about 1 1/2 inches thick.

In another small bowl, mix 1/4 cup of ketchup with 2 TBSP of honey. Top your meatloaf with this sauce.

Cook for about 45-50 minutes. I like to serve it with Pioneer Woman’s Crash Hot Potatoes and something green.

I like you,
ms. butterpants

 

Beef Burgundy June 17, 2009

Filed under: Crock Pot/Slow Cooker/One Pot,Meat,pasta — butteryblog @ 4:25 am
Tags: ,
Beef Burgundy

Beef Burgundy

Yup, I dragged out the crock pot again. This time I made beef burgundy (boeuf bourguignon for the snobs). This is the best thing I’ve made in the crock pot so far, but considering I gave Jimmy Fallon’s chili a B-, that’s ain’t exactly praise. Honestly, I feel like I need to double all the spice recommendations in crock pot recipes to get any flavor out of them at all.

Anyway, this recipe comes from Cooking Light’s Slow Cooker recipe book.

  • 10 oz pearl onions (Unbelievably, Vons did not have any pearl onions, so I omitted this)
  • 2 pounds top round steak, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 1/2 cups sliced onion (1 large)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • cooking spray
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 1/3 cups beef broth
  • 1/2 cup Burgundy or other dry red wine
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste (stupidly, I forgot to buy this so I threw in some tomato sauce–not the same thing!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (I didn’t have this so I used herbs de provence, which includes thyme)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (I used WAY more than this. WAY WAY more)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (yup, used WAY more of this too)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 oz button mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 cups cups hot, cooked egg noodles

1. Drop pearl onions in boiling water, cook 1 minutes. Drain onions, peel.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add steak; saute 5 minutes or until browned. Place steak in a 3-quart electric slow cooker (I have a 6-quart, which was fine–no burning). Add sliced onion and garlic to pan; coat with cooking spray, and saute over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until tender. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Sprinkle flour over onion-garlic mixture; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add broth, wine and tomato paste, stirring constantly. Cook 1 minute or until thick. Add pearl onions, dried thyme, salt, pepper, bay leaf and mushrooms.

3. Pour wine mixture over steak in cooker. Cover and cook on LOW 6-7 hours (I cooked it for 6). Discard bay leaf. Serve over noodles. Garnish with thyme leaves, if desired. I topped it with sour cream, which added a nice cool note.

GRADE: B

♥Lady Butterbuns

 

Lazy Chips June 14, 2009

Filed under: Snacks/Appetizers — butteryblog @ 3:02 am
Tags: , ,
hot and fresh

hot and fresh

I am one of the laziest people I know. The other day I wanted tortilla chips but we were out. I didn’t feel like packing up the kids and going to the store to pay too much for snack food. So in a brililant move of backwards logic, I thought,” I have tortillas and oil, I will just make my own chips.” I know, it makes no sense. However, it did result in yummy, hot and salty snack. I am calling this health food. That is right people! It is not processed! My challenge to you- make something from scratch that you would normally buy. You can do it cause maybe you are a little lazy too!

-Mother Butter

 

Four-Way Lemonade June 11, 2009

Filed under: drinks — butteryblog @ 4:57 am
Tags: ,

I have a lemon tree in my backyard. Right now it is bursting with fruit. I gave bagfuls to my friends D&M. D loves to makes drinks in the blender and one day he showed me how he made lemonade. Taking his basic recipe, I came up with four variations.

First, though, I’d like to show you the kinds of lemons that grow on my tree:

The real meaning of "organic."

The real meaning of "organic."

Not exactly the perfectly oval things you see at Vons, right? But they’re really fragrant and delicious.

Here’s the basic recipe:

  • 3 lemons, no rinds
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 quart water

Throw the lemons and sugar into the blender with about a cup of water and blend it up! You can remove the seeds prior to blending if you want, but since it gets strained, I find it unnecessary.

Once you find your perfect tart/sweet balance by adding/subtracting lemons/sugar, strain the concoction into a pitcher. Add the remaing water.

Wow, that was easy.

Now for the fun stuff:

Peach Lavender Lemonade

Peach Lavender Lemonade

Peach Lavender Lemonade

In addition to the basic recipe, add a few sprigs of lavender and two peaches (peeled) into the blender.

I liked, but didn’t love this version. The peaches were a bit tart for my taste, but I’m sure if I had riper, juicer ones, my complaint would be alleviated.

GRADE: B


Apple Ginger Lemonade

Appley. Gingery.

Appley. Gingery.

In addition to the basic recipe, add one apple and two inches of peeled ginger root to the blender (if, like me, you freeze your ginger, microwave it for 30 seconds before blending).

I loved this version.  The ginger gave it such a nice bite.

GRADE: A


Blackberry Basil Lemonade

Best drink. Ever.

Best drink. Ever.

In addition to the basic recipe, add a handful of blackberries and four leaves of basil to the blender.

This is the best thing I have ever made. EVER. It was the perect balance of sweet and tangy with a subtle herbal undertone. I should bottle this one!
GRADE: A+


Chamomile Lemonade

Ahh...

Ahh...

In addition to the basic recipe, brew one mug of chamomile tea. Add the tea to the strained lemon mixture and water. Make sure the tea is cool or else, you know, you’ll have hot lemonade.

I used Tazo Calm tea in my version. It has a subtle mint flavor that I found very pleasing.
GRADE: B+


Enjoy the summer!

♥Lady Butterbuns