The Buttery Blog

Everything's better with butter.

A Busy Busy Buttery B March 31, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — butteryblog @ 7:34 am

I’ve been busy ya’ll. (I think maybe if I start speaking with a southern accent, it will help me slow down!)

I can’t complain really–my time has been filled with a lot of laughter and fierce determination towards my goals. But I recently lamented to my Buttery sisters that I haven’t cooked a real meal in over a month (maybe two).

This past Fall I took a class at Capes Coaching here in NYC, focusing on life goals. One of the aspects I loved most about it was the emphasis on life-work balance. Attaining your goals won’t be nearly as fulfilling if you don’t have the rest of the pieces of your life in place. So every week I check in with myself and ask how I’m doing in these key areas:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Spiritual/Personal Growth
  • Home
  • Health/Self-Care
  • Romance
  • Contribution

I ask myself questions for each area. For “Home,” one of the questions I ask is “Have I cooked a meal in my home at least once this week?” Well, you can probably guess the answer. 

“Cooking and eating at home are central to the well-being of an apartment. Using your apartment for daily nourishment connects you to your food and your kitchen…and spreads one of the best smells there is throughout your home.” —Apartment Therapy

I finally decided that no matter how busy I was, it was high-time I give myself and my home some tender loving care. This is not a fancy meal and certainly nothing to write home about. But for the little time I did have, I focused solely on cooking, not letting all the swirling of thoughts and to-do lists take over. I allowed myself to enjoy every minute. Is there one area in your life that needs an extra 30 minutes of tender loving care?

Grilled Salmon and Quinoa with Onions and Red Peppers

  • Prepare Quinoa according to the package (by the way, if anyone has a good trick to cleaning quinoa, please pass it along!)
  • Saute 1/2 onion and one red pepper in about 1-2 tbsp of olive oil, until they soften (about 5-7 minutes).
  • Add the onion/red pepper mixture to the prepared quinoa. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • For a time-saving measure, I purchased my salmon pre-grilled and then warmed in the oven (hey, I did say I was busy, right?!)

♦ Buttery B

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Win a Copy of Julie and Julia! March 25, 2010

Filed under: Cookbooks,Meat — butteryblog @ 11:34 pm

Read this post and learn how to win your very own copy of Julie and Julia, read and signed by both Mother Butter and Buttery B!

Boeuf Bourguignon

One day a long, long time ago (okay, maybe a year or two ago) I (Buttery B) was perusing the books at Barnes & Noble, itching for a new good book. I had just finished reading Eat, Pray, Love (which has to be one of my all-time favorite books) and nothing seemed to compare. After reading many a synopsis, something about Julie & Julia resonated with me. Maybe it was the whole “if you’re unhappy, just do something. anything. but make it big” mentality. And so I bought it, hoping for a glimmer of inspiration.

After reading it, I gave the book to Mother Butter. Mother Butter lives in Long Island City (just like Julie) and loves to cook. Who else would I have given it to?

And then when the movie came out, Mother Butter and I made a date to see it. Other than Meryl Streep’s star power, the main thing I remember from the movie was that boeuf bourgignonne. The dish I can never quite figure out how to spell or say! As the credits rolled, Mother Butter said to me, “let’s make boeuf bourgignonne for your birthday.”

And the rest is history. Here is the link to the recipe we used from Julia Child’s Mastering The Art Of French Cooking. However, we recommend you buy the book. Highly recommend.

http://cooking.knopfdoubleday.com/2009/07/13/julia-childs-boeuf-bourguignon-recipe/

Getting Ready to Make It

  • Mother Butter: “Mise en place — makes it easier when you have a lot of ingredients. Preparation is key!”
  • Buttery B: “Find a good butcher — for the slab bacon with rind, and get the best quality ingredients”
  • Find a signature cocktail to get you through because you’ll have a big time gap. We decided on a French 75 (champagne and cognac).

Making It

  • Buttery B: “Follow the directions precisely. Don’t cut corners–as much as you’ll want to deny it, you must cook the mushrooms and onions separately.”
  • Mother Butter: “Splurge on a good red wine–you’ll be using the whole bottle!”
  • Cooking with a friend is helpful since you’ll gonna need some muscles to lift the meat and strain the sauce.

Eating It

  • Think about what you want to serve it over–potatoes, rice, or noodles (something very simple).
  • Mother Butter: “The five hours was SO worth it!”
  • Buttery B: “Amazing! I will remember that meal for the rest of my life. Every bite was full of flavor.”

To win the very copy of Julie and Julia that we have had our hands and eyes on, just leave a comment on this post–any comment by April 15th! And, if you can’t think of anything, let us know what your ideal birthday dinner would consist of. We’ll pick the lucky winner at random.

Bon Appetit!

Mother Butter and Buttery B

 

Spring is in the Air March 23, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — butteryblog @ 12:41 pm

This weekend was a glorious one in New York. The weather was a perfect mid-70’s and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I say we deserved it after the blizzards and the crazy ridiculous rain storm we had the previous weekend!

I met a friend in Brooklyn and we took a long stroll through several neighborhoods. There was:

  • a stop at the farmer’s market and apple tasting
  • an iced chai from starbucks
  • a bavarian ham sandwich on “pretzel bread” at cafe peddlar in cobble hill
  • a sample-tasting at union market (my friend even bought the “baconnaise” which we were astounded to find out was safe for vegetarians)
  • a glass of wine and a tomato basil pizza to round out the day

This kind of weather inspires me to eat fresh, simple food. The vegetable of Spring is asparagus. As I wandered into my local grocery store to find that they were all out of asparagus, I realized that I wasn’t the only one with spring food fever!

So, here is my light (asparagus-free) and quick dinner (adjust the amounts to your liking!):

Sugar Snap Peas and Pasta...I just want to eat you up!

 

Sugar Snap Peas and Penne
Boil sugar snap peas for about 4 minutes (or until tender)
Boil pasta as per directions
Toss the pasta, sugar snap peas, olive oil, parmesan cheese, and black pepper. Serve immediately–this is best eaten fresh!

Enjoy!
Buttery B

 

Meatless Monday: Black Bean Chili March 22, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — butteryblog @ 10:00 am

So you may or may not have heard of this program, Meatless Monday. It’s an effort to encourage a reduction in meat consumption. I generally eat a vegetarian diet, with an occasional pescetarian day here or there. We’re in favor of whatever keeps us, our kids, and our world healthy so we at The Buttery Blog are giving this one a shot.

So, Mondays will henceforth be Meatless ones.

I’ve had a couple conversations recently about “fake meat” products and vegetarianism. A couple non-vegetarians have said they don’t get the whole trying to ape meat thing. I totally understand and appreciate this viewpoint. After all, why eat fake meat when you have so many amazing vegetables and foods at your disposal? If you don’t want to eat it, why fake it? Fair point. But sometimes, you just want a burger. And sometimes you just can’t eat another piece of tofu or tempeh. And sometimes you have a non-vegetarian in your house and you have to satisfy him too. I don’t use it all the time and I do try to use vegetables as the centerpiece of a dish, but the facts are these: I live with a carnivore. He is picky and not shy about registering his complaints. Fake meat makes him complain less.

In my effort to save money, cook more and help lower the collective cholesterol of the Butterpants household, I’ve forced Mr. Butterpants into a mostly vegetarian diet. It started with this chili recipe. It is super easy, super fast, hearty and great for freezing.

Black Bean Chili
adapted from Southern Living Magazine

3 15 oz. cans black beans
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 12 oz. package meatless burger crumbles (I use Smart Ground)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 14 oz. can vegetable broth
2 14.5 oz. cans petite diced tomatoes with jalapeños

When I can find it, I go for low sodium in any of the above ingredients.

Drain two of your cans of black beans. Leave the third one alone, for the moment.
Cook chopped onion and burger crumbles in hot oil in a large Dutch oven over medium for about six minutes. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, pepper and salt (I sometimes add a bit of extra chili powder or some cajun spice) and cook for one minute. Stir in all three cans of beans, vegetable broth, and diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then cover and reduce to low heat. Simmer for 10-30 minutes. I sometimes just cook it a bit longer…. no particular reason, just do.

Top it with some cheddar cheese or sour cream or gummi bears. I’m not here to judge.

Chili

Enjoy!

Be excellent to each other.
Ms. Butterpants

 

Buttermilk Cookies March 16, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — butteryblog @ 10:00 am

I’m terribly superstitious. I refuse to say Macbeth inside a theatre, would rather eat my face off than walk under a ladder, and once cried for days over a broken mirror. One of the things I’m superstitious about is flying. Every trip has to be the same. I get there very early (a minimum of 3 hours), buy about 40 magazines, and plop myself directly in front of the gate for the 2.5 hours before boarding. I have a couple rituals on the plane too, but you don’t need to know all those.

So I was flying from Chicago to LA after my BFF’s wedding a couple years ago. I, of course, purchased my $737 worth of magazines. One of those magazines was the January 2008 issue of Gourmet, featuring Edna Lewis’ lovely essay, “What is Southern?” I immediately became obsessed with this incredible woman. I have her cookbooks and I’ve stalked her recipes all over the internet. Her buttermilk cookies have been on my list for ages and this past weekend, I had tons of buttermilk and nowhere to go. So I finally made them.

O.M.G.

These cookies are amazing. I love them so much, I’ll never make them again because I will never stop eating them. Okay, that’s a lie. I’ll make them forever and ever.

These cookies have a lovely cakelike texture and a fantastic flavor. The glaze adds just a touch of sweetness. Even Mr. Butterpants loved them. And he doesn’t love anything except Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs and Transformers.

The glaze in the photo at the link looks thicker than mine. This is probably because I didn’t measure my buttermilk so mine came out a little thin. I loved the glaze, but I’d probably want it thicker next time.

Edna Lewis’ Buttermilk Cookies from Gourmet Magazine

The Cookies

3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2/3 c. well-shaken buttermilk

The Glaze
1 1/2 c. confectioners sugar
3 tbsp well-shaken buttermilk
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees with your rack in the middle.
Grease 2 large baking sheets. I used my silpat and had a bit of trouble with sticking. I’ll trying greased parchment next time. Whisk together flour, zest, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add your eggs one at a time, letting each one completely incorporate, then beat in the vanilla. Mix in your flour mixture and the buttermilk alternately in batches at low speed, beginning and ending with flour, until smooth. Drop the dough about 1 1/2 inches apart onto baking sheets. Gourmet recommends a level tablespoon, I didn’t level, just dropped what looked to be a tablespoon or so on the sheet. Bake, one sheet at a time, until the cookies are puffed and the edges are slightly brown, 12 to 14 minutes per batch. Cool cookies on sheets for one minute, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool.

While the cookies are baking, whisk together your confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and buttermilk until smooth. Brush onto the tops of your still-warm cookies. Let them stand until the cookies are completely cooled and glaze is set.

Cookie Pile


Make them. Make them now.

Be excellent to each other.
Ms. Butterpants

 

A Belated Birthday Post March 12, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — butteryblog @ 7:58 pm


My birthday was last month. I turned a number I’m not going to share. This is because I’m in the entertainment business. And vain.

I am at an age where I think it’s a little ridiculous to have big blowouts, but I still believe that the entire month of February is my own personal holiday. So I had a small dinner with my closest girlfriends at my favorite Mexican place in Los Angeles, Gloria’s. Side note about Gloria’s: their food is excellent, the service is fabulous and we eat there so often they know our order and our names. I love it. Check it out if you’re in the area. You might even get served by Gloria herself.

Back to me. I’ve been possessed by the idea of a giant hostess cupcake birthday cake for a while. It just kept popping into my brain and floating there like a beautiful butterfly. A beautiful ganache covered butterfly.

This one was pretty awesome. I found the buttercream a little sweet, so I’d probably go with the marshmallow frosting I’ve seen other places.

Anyway, here you go. Make it for an upcoming birthday. Or Easter. Or Tuesday.

Giant Hostess Cupcake Birthday Cake

The Cake
from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola, soybean or vegetable blend
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cakepans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.

2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Divide among the 3 prepared cake pans.

3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely. At this point, I carved out a bit of the center and filled it with the buttercream frosting. I don’t know if I’d do this again because it turned out to be a quite a big blob of frosting. But it’s what I did and I feel I must share that with you. Keep a little of the frosting for the swirly design that goes on top of the cake.

4. When the cake is cool, top with the ganache. Pour it into the center then spread so it’s dripping down the side a bit. Let it solidify in the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour.

5. Put the saved buttercream frosting into a pastry bag or zipper bag and make your swirl across the center of the cake.

6. Shovel it into your face and the face of others in copious amounts.

The Ganache from Martha

I can’t find the ganache recipe I used anymore, but I offer this one. It looks pretty much like what I did.

The Frosting from Wilton
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine softened
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar (approximately 1 lb.)
2 tablespoons milk

Cream shortening and butter until smooth. Add vanilla. Slowly add your sugar, while beating thoroughly on medium speed. Add milk and continue to beat until light and fluffy.

Be excellent to each other,
Ms. Butterpants