The Buttery Blog

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Mama Mia July 28, 2009

Filed under: Fruit & Veg,Meat — butteryblog @ 11:33 pm
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Stuffed so good!

Stuffed so good!

I am always on the prowl for awesome recipes. Things I can make so people utter “This is the best ___ I have ever had!” I tend to hold on to these recipes once I find them and not share. I refuse to give out my sugar cookie recipe to anyone anymore- Mrs. Butterpants got it out of me in a moment of weakness. I didn’t respond to my FIL’s email request for my sangria recipe. You get the idea. If it is raved about I just tuck it away and keep it to myself! So maybe it is the hot weather that has made me loopy but I feel like sharing today. I think if you make this one, it will also become one of your favorites. It is also a good thing to make if you are trying to impress/ seduce someone.

Enjoy-

Mother Butter

Stuffed Eggplant courtesy of Michael Chiarello

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 onion, small diced
  • 1 red pepper, small diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup freshly chopped parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup freshly chopped basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano, divided
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 2 chopped tomatoes

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut the eggplant in half and scoop out the center, leaving enough meat inside the skin so that it holds its shape when baked. Boil the scooped-out center part until very soft, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium saute pan heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Add the seasoned ground beef to the pan and saute until all of its liquid is evaporated and the beef begins to brown slightly. Drain the beef, removing the extra, unnecessary fat. Let cool briefly and chop the cooked beef so that there are no large chunks of meat. In another medium saute pan over medium heat add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and saute the onions, peppers and garlic together.

In a bowl mix together the cooked eggplant, vegetables, cooked beef, herbs, 1 cup of the cheese, bread crumbs, and the egg.

Fill the scooped-out eggplant halves with this mixture, dividing it evenly among the 2 halves.

Top with chopped tomatoes and the remaining 1/4 cup of grated cheese, season with salt and pepper, place on an oiled oven tray or baking dish, and bake for 50 minutes in preheated oven. Let cool briefly, slice widthwise and serve.

 

7am Indulgence July 27, 2009

Filed under: Breakfast/Brunch — butteryblog @ 7:02 am
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Scrambled Eggs and Toast

Scrambled Eggs and Toast

I’m a breakfast girl. No matter when I wake up or what I’ve had the night before, I must have breakfast. It’s a simple fact. I admit it, the first thing on my mind in the morning is, “what’s for breakfast?”

And, yet, despite this, I’ve found that, generally, breakfasts lately have been less about being in the moment, enjoying the food, and more about just eating something to temper my hunger pangs. Typically, during the week, I eat something small and simple at my desk at work. My breakfasts go through phases, and usually (for weeks at a time) there’s no variance. Lately it’s been cantaloupe and blueberries. Before that, yogurt and granola…multi-grain cheerios with strawberries…oatmeal with dried cranberries…bacon, egg, and cheese on a roll (yeah, my body is thankful that phase is over!).

Routine is good. It gives you a sense of grounding and stability, and allows for simmering creativity to come to the surface. But you still have to be mindful in the routine. And this was the missing element for me. So, last week, I had the urge to make a real breakfast and eat it at home before heading off to work.

  • Scrambled eggs, with dried tarragon
  • Whole wheat toast with raspberry jam
  • Cantaloupe wedges

Placed on my favorite plate, it added a little sunshine to my day. It’s not something I would do every day, mind you, but sometimes you need to shake things up a bit to breathe some fresh air into your life.

What are your breakfast phases?

♦ Buttery B

 

Travel Blog: Las Vegas July 26, 2009

Filed under: Travel-USA — butteryblog @ 11:03 am
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When Lord Butterbuns said he was attending a conference in Las Vegas, he asked if I wanted to come for a few days. I hadn’t been to Las Vegas in many years and we hadn’t been on a trip together since last November, so it seemed like a fine idea. After all, think of the food!

In case you didn’t know, it’s effing HOT in Vegas in July. Over 110°. Very little desire to leave the hotel for any reason. We stayed at the Bellagio, which is quite nice. The lobby is beautiful — Dale Chihuly sculpture overhead and gorgeous flower arrangements throughout — but it’s hard to see it all amongst the throng of tourists (of which, make no mistake, I include myself).

We went to see Lance Burton’s magic show at the Monte Carlo. Sure, it’s cheesy and overly produced, but magic is fun. Here’s an unscripted exchange that happened toward the end of the show:

Lance: Any questions?

(pause)

Man in Audience: How’d you do that?

Lance: I could tell you but I’d have to kill you.

(pause)

Man in Audience: Could you tell my wife?

(audience erupts into laughter)

As for food, we had a pre-show snack at Andre’s (the only meal we ate outside of the Bellagio). It was a little too fancy for my idea of “bar food,” but was tasty nonetheless. We both had a spinach salad with quail egg and duck confit. The confit was delicious but quite small. I almost wish they hadn’t mentioned it on the menu. Then it would have been a duck-confit surprise instead of a duck-confit disappointment. The warm kalamata olive bread they served was chewy and delicious.

Tuna tartare and tater tots. Who knew?

Tuna tartare and tater tots. Who knew?

After the show we went back to the Bellagio and ate at Sensi. We had duck egg rolls, tuna tartare bites and red curry scallops. All were good, but the tuna tartare bites were excellent. Tuna tartare stacked on a crispy tater tot, topped with a quail egg (consumed absurd quantity of quail eggs today) and crème fraiche. So novel and delicious. After dinner, we went to Jean-Philippe’s for cappuccino gelato. It was quite good — creamy, airy and full of flavor.

Cappuccino gelato at Jean Philippe's.

Cappuccino gelato at Jean Philippe's.

Las Vegas sucks the water out of your body as fast as it sucks the money out of your pockets. I woke up in the middle of the night gasping for air, my mouth dry as cotton. I can’t imagine living in this kind of heat.

The next morning, we woke up and ordered a little room service: coffee, OJ and a fruit plate. We had to wait an hour for it, but weren’t doing much other than watching a string of crime procedurals on USA (In Plain Sight is pretty good, FYI).

After Lord B did some work, we walked to Noodles for dim sum. There was the usual variety of shiu mai and

Dim sum yum yum.

Dim sum yum yum.

dumplings. Lord B ordered some truly unappetizing steamed ribs, sight unseen. Whatever you think of when you hear “spare ribs,” I guarantee these are not the ribs you are thinking of. I only ate a small piece, but I think Lord B felt compelled to eat the whole thing. The buns were the best: steamed pork (very good), BBQ pork (amazing) and custard (tasty).

After window shopping at Caesar’s Palace, we stopped at Café Pallio for a snack (iced coffee and a stale cinnamon roll) and are now set up poolside (it is finally, at 6:00p, “cool” enough to stay outside for more than 10 minutes). I’m alternating between sipping water and an iced solè (spiced rum with various frozen fruit juices). Ahh…

We didn’t really have any big plans for the evening. We laid around and watched No Reservations on the Travel Channel. I like Anthony Bourdain for the most part. The only thing I don’t like is his reverse snobbery. He affects this persona as a “man of the people” eating street food and offal, thumbing his nose up at foodies (admittedly, not a term I much like myself) and artfully constructed meals, but he runs Les Halles, his buddy Eric Ripert runs Le Bernadin and Bourdain eats at French Laundry and el bulli just as all those chic foodies do. And who goes to Les Halles, if not the foodies? Who else watches your show? Alls I’m saying, Tony, is call a spade a spade.

That being said, he’s funny and presents an honest portrait of the less glamorous, but still beautiful, parts of the world. Yesterday he was in Crete. They showed a cuddly little sheep, which Tony affectionately dubbed “Socks.” His commentary, of course, was that Socks was destined for the spit fire. People may watch this and bristle at the barbaric way these Cretans (literally!) kill their livestock, but it really is a much purer way to eat meat: you kill it yourself and you eat it all. They even shaved the wool first, so maybe he will become … a pair of socks. I think, in the end, it’s much better for the psyche to live this way.

I want to eat spaghetti bolognese and not feel bad about it for days and days.

I want to eat spaghetti bolognese and not feel bad about it for days and days.

We finally got dressed for dinner, at which point it was already a quarter to 10. We ate at Circo. I have to say, “Most Unusual Food” award goes to my Caprese Martini: tomato-infused vodka, balsamic, cracked pepper, basil and mozzarella. The cheese wasn’t the greatest garnish, but the drink itself was pretty darn good. I heart basil big time. For dinner I had a Caesar salad with bagna cauda dressing and homemade spaghetti Bolognese. The pasta was so good. Thick, chewy spaghetti and just enough sauce to coat, not drown. We had a nice view of the fountains outside (as well as neon adverts for Holly Madison’s Peepshow).

Overall, a fun, short trip. It was definitely nice to spend some time alone with Lord B, but I missed my puppy!

 

Oh, What A Night July 21, 2009

Filed under: Snacks/Appetizers — butteryblog @ 12:58 am
Tags: ,
Spinach Dip

Spinach Dip

There’s nothing like getting together with a bunch of girls, too much food and barrels of wine.  Last night was girls’ night.  It’s a monthly event with several friends from college.  One person hosts each month and they’re responsible for setting the menu and telling everyone else what to bring.  There are a couple of  regulars- Buffy’s Better Than Sex Cake, Floaty’s Cheese in a Crescent Roll and Ms. Butterpants’ (yes, yours truly) Spinach Dip.  Last night was appetizer night.  Oh yes.

Ladies’ night is usually quite rowdy, debauched, and excessive. Secrets are shared.  Stories are told.  Old wounds are opened.  Last night was a doozy.  We went from discussing old paramours to telling ghost stories of our old, haunted college theatre, to sharing memories of the deaths of two very important and precious people in our department. As we sat there and relived all those moments, I was struck by how lucky we are. We get each other. We were all present for some not-so-pretty moments and we still love each other. We support each other. We want the best for each other. We don’t judge when certain ladies drink too much wine and overshare. Stop looking at me like that. We share breakups, new relationships, sadness, joy, uncertainty, and spinach dip.

Spinach dip. This dip was born of a desire to replicate Houston’s Spinach Dip at home. I did a little googling and found Robbie’s Recipes. It’s pretty close and it’s quite excellent. I’ve toyed with it a bit to fit my tastes and you’ll find my adaptation below.

Make this. Share it with your girlfriends. Or your boyfriends. Or don’t. Just sit in your house and eat it all by yourself with Stacy’s Pita Chips.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip
adapted from Robbie’s Recipes

2 cloves minced garlic
2 tbs. minced onion
1/4 cup real butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 cup fresh-grated Pecorino Romano cheese
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sour cream
(2) 10 oz. boxes frozen chopped spinach – thawed, squeezed dry
2/3 cup artichoke hearts – drained, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup shredded monterey jack or white cheddar cheese (sometimes I use less, sometimes I use more- depends on my mood)

In a largish saucepan over medium heat, cook garlic and onion in butter until golden, about 3 – 5 minutes. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in cream and broth and continue cooking until boiling. When it’s boiling, stir in the Romano cheese, lemon juice, and salt; stir until cheese has melted; remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Stir sour cream into pan, then fold in dry spinach and artichoke hearts. Fold the mixture into a microwave-safe serving dish. Sprinkle the cheddar evenly over top. The dip can be refrigerated until you’re ready to serve it. I usually keep it in a crockpot for a party. When I’m ready to serve, I put it in the crockpot, top it with cheese then let it heat up til the cheese is melted.

I’ll never make this again without thinking of my girlfriends. I love them. I love the ones that live within driving distance and I love the ones who are separated from me by far too many time zones.

Party here, party there, everywhere. This is our night, ladies.
Ms. Butterpants

eat it

eat it

 

Real Simple July 20, 2009

Filed under: Breakfast/Brunch,Fruit & Veg — butteryblog @ 5:32 pm
Tags: ,
cream wheat

Creamy. Wheaty.

To me, people fall into two categories: those who prefer oatmeal and those who prefer Cream of Wheat. I am firmly planted in the latter camp. I can’t get over the sludgy texture of oatmeal. Plus I grew up eating Cream of Wheat. With butter and sugar, it makes a most satisfying breakfast. Of course, sometimes you want to pretty things up a bit. A few weeks ago I had some wilting strawberries in the fridge — too old to eat as they were, but not old enough to toss. I threw them on the stove with a tablespoon of sugar and a splash of Cointreau. They simmered while I cooked the Cream of Wheat and everything was done at the same time. What a lovely, comforting start to a Saturday it was!

As we’ve said on this blog before, sometimes simplest is bestest. But simple doesn’t have to mean boring. The next time your fruit is starting to brown, don’t throw it out–turn it into a compote and put it on pancakes, Cream of Wheat, French toast, or, yes, even oatmeal.

A few suggestions to help you along:
apriocts + molasses + bourbon

bananas + brown sugar + macadamia nuts

blueberries + lemonade

raspberries + orange juice

apples + ginger + cinnamon

GRADE: A+

♥Lady Butterbuns

 

 

 

 

 

Eating at the Nut Hut July 15, 2009

Filed under: health/diet,Snacks/Appetizers — butteryblog @ 1:04 am
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Valdosta Walnuts (c. Sahale Snacks)

Valdosta Pecans (c. Sahale Snacks)

There is one thing I cannot stand at work: no snacks. I hate feeling hungry with nothing to eat because that leads to potato chips from the vending machine and leftover donuts from the morning meeting. My current obsession is nuts. Nuts are a great snack because they’re full of protein, fiber, and yes, fat too, but supposedly it’s the “good” kind (tell that to my thighs, why don’t you?). The best part is that they’re really filling so you don’t need to eat a whole bag to feel satisfied (please don’t eat the whole bag; they have a lot of calories). Below is my list of favorite nut snacks:

  • Peanut butter: I LOVE peanut butter. True, I don’t keep a jar of pb at my desk and also true peanut butter is a legume, not a nut. But it’s got NUT in the name, so there. There are only two kinds I like: Jif or Trader Joe’s (with salt). Must be creamy. Peanut butter with bananas and honey is heaven on toast and makes a good pre-workout snack.
  • Sahale Snacks: Unique blends of nuts and spices. My current favorite is the Valdosta which makes excellent use of orange zest and black pepper.
  • Whole Foods Salted Cashews: Cashews are my favorite nut because they’re sweet. As a kid, when my parents would buy the mixed nuts, I would just eat all the cashews out of it. The salty-sweet combo of this brand is perfect.
  • Trader Joe’s Chocolate-Covered Almonds: Made with turbinado sugar and sea salt. The chocolate makes it more indulgent. I actually like to suck on these for a second to get a good dose of salt before chewing. What? Is that weird?
    Hey, go nuts!

    ♥Lady Butterbuns

 

Travel Blog: Philadelphia July 8, 2009

Filed under: Travel-USA — butteryblog @ 9:38 pm
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4th of July Morning in Brooklyn

4th of July Morning in Brooklyn

Every 4th of July, for the past 5 years, my tradition has been making a peach cobbler and watching the fireworks from my rooftop with friends. Growing up I didn’t have much tradition, so now I end up fitting it in anywhere I can. This year because the fireworks were moved to the Hudson river, there were rumors that we wouldn’t be able to see much from Brooklyn. My equilibrium was thrown out of whack…should I or shouldn’t I make a peach cobbler, and how can I in good conscience invite anyone over without the promise of an excellent view of the fireworks?

Luckily I didn’t have to spend much time deciding, when a friend proposed a day trip to Philadelphia. What better way to spend the 4th of July than in the City of Brotherly Love?! I had never been to Philly so I made two requests:

1. I must eat a Philly Cheesesteak
2. I must see the Liberty Bell

Blueberry Cheese Danish

Blueberry Cheese Danish

We stopped at the farmer’s market and picked up a blueberry-cheese danish (July is national blueberry month) for a quick breakfast and then hopped the NJ Transit at Penn Station, bound for Philadelphia. At 2 1/2 hours and only $37.50/round trip from NYC, it really is a great one-day getaway.

 

A 15-minute walk from the Philly train station will get you to Rittenhouse Square, a beautiful park with lots of shade, small flower gardens, and tons and tons of benches. We wanted a nibble to start our sight-seeing adventure so our first stop was the Metropolitan Bakery, located a short block away from the park. It is a cute, welcoming shop filled with homemade breads and baked goods and a fridge stocked with fancy cheeses–a little taste of Paris in Philadelphia. We decided to share a Sour Cherry-Chocolate Chip-Sea Salt cookie. One of my favorite flavor combinations–the salty and the sweet–this was absolutely divine. The ratio of chocolate chips to sour cherries was about 2-to-1 and the sea salt turned what could have been a good cookie into something extraordinary and one-of-a-kind.

Metropolitan Bakery

Metropolitan Bakery

Jim's Steaks--where we should have gone!

Where we should have gotten our Philly Cheesesteak

From there we made our way up Walnut Street, the main drag for shopping. The street included everything from H&M to a Coach store. It’s like the 5th Avenue of NYC, only smaller and more manageable. We meandered over to South Street, the place to be if you want a Philly Cheesesteak. Since we hadn’t done any research before coming to Philadelphia, I plugged “Cheesesteak” into UrbanSpoon and was told to make my way to Jim’s Steaks. When we made it there, it looked like UrbanSpoon had told everyone to go to Jim’s Steaks because the line was wrapped around the block. If you’ve ever been to Grimaldi’s in DUMBO on a beautiful Friday evening, you’ve got a good picture of the wait! Neither one of us wanted to spend the long wait in line, so after peering into a few spots nearby, we settled on Johnny Rockets (I know, I know…). But, hey, I got my Philly Cheesesteak, complete with American Cheese (yay, America!) and grilled onions. While it was probably not as good as the one at Jim’s, it satisfied me 100%.

Independence Hall

Independence Hall

Next stop: Liberty Bell. We walked through the Historic District and I imagined myself living in one of the cute houses on a cobblestone street. The historic houses in Philly are a little different from the brownstones you’ll find in Brooklyn. They’re wider and shorter–usually only 2 stories as opposed to the 3 or 4 stories you’ll find in NYC. And that’s when we discovered Independence Hall, the site of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. I was surprised at myself for getting a little emotional at the sight of it. There were some people walking around in historic costumes and an Abraham Lincoln impersonator was giving some famous speech on the lawn behind the Hall. A Chinese-American band was playing patriotic tunes. This really was the place to be on the 4th of July! Oh, yes, and I did see the Liberty Bell, which made my journey complete.

 

 

 

Cheese Plate at the Parc

Cheese Plate at the Parc

Before heading back to NYC, we stopped at Parc, a French bistro on Rittenhouse square. The way they set up the chairs was exactly like they do in Paris, next to each other rather than across from each other. I had a glass of white wine and the cheese plate, with apples, almonds, and preserves. It was so peaceful sitting there, watching the passers-by, the dogs and their owners, the friends playing frisbee in the park, and the general small-town feel of this city.

The perfect ending to a beautiful day

The perfect ending to a beautiful day

Philadelphia is a city small enough to explore in one day. Pick a few “musts” and then see where your journey takes you.

♦ Buttery B