The Buttery Blog

Everything's better with butter.

A Perfect Spring Treat April 6, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — butteryblog @ 11:23 am

When it comes to dessert, I am generally a chocolate girl. Eating it, and making it. If a recipe doesn’t have chocolate in it, I will find a way to sneak in some chocolate chips. Recently, however, I was watching Giada on the Food Network and she made these. They looked so light and delicious and perfect for Spring. And just right for a lazy Easter afternoon with friends. They are great with a pot of tea…or, in our case, a glass of prosecco!

Lemon Ricotta Cookies

Ingredients
Cookies:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 lemon, zested

Glaze:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 lemon, zested

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cookies:

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the large bowl combine the butter and the sugar. Using an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Beat to combine. Stir in the dry ingredients.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon the dough (about 2 tablespoons for each cookie) onto the baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, until slightly golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 20 minutes.

Glaze:

Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Spoon about 1/2-teaspoon onto each cookie and use the back of the spoon to gently spread. Let the glaze harden for about 2 hours.

♦ Buttery B

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Passover April 1, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — butteryblog @ 10:30 am

Passover is my favorite holiday.  I love the Seder, I love the stories, I love the spirit of the holiday.  At Passover, we retell the story of the exodus of the Jews from Egypt. What I love most is that Passover is about remembering, about fighting against tyranny, and helping anyone and everyone in need. From Elie Wiesel’s foreword in the Haggadah I used this year, “I love Passover because for me it is a cry against indifference, a cry for compassion.”

Side note about Elie Wiesel- I had the opportunity to see him speak about 15 years ago. My father got to meet him- the picture of the two of them still hangs on my wall. He is an astounding, beautiful human being. Read his books, if you haven’t.

Elijah's Cup

Growing up, we always had Seder at my Nana’s house.   We sit at this long table in their dining room and everyone sits in the same spot every year.  My Papa sits at the head of the table, I sit to his right.  He is the leader, but pretty much everyone reads.  He just goes around the table one by one.  My favorite thing to read is this poem… I think it’s called “G-d’s Greatest Riddle”.  I almost never actually get to read this- it depends on the number of guests and the order in which people read and all that. Even as a grown woman, I still skip ahead to makes sure the section I get to read is cool. It usually isn’t.

At the end of dinner, we all look for the afikoman (a hidden piece of matzah) and one of us (not me, since I am genetically unable to find things that are hidden) leaves about $20 richer.  There are always chocolate covered marshmallows, fruit jellies, and angel food cake for dessert.  And wine.  Served in tiny glasses for the grandkids.  Note: all the grandkids are now in our 20s and 30s so we also get a grown-up glass. We’re not dumb.

Since I can’t always go back to my family for Passover, I’ve started the tradition of doing it at my house.  I am usually the only Jew or at the least, we are certainly in the minority.  I love having my friends over- I appreciate their generosity, their willingness to participate in a tradition that is not theirs, for their compliments on the food, even if I think it wasn’t so hot…..

Last night we had a small gathering.  Mr. Butterpants made the traditional brisket and I made kugel, matzah stuffing, and for the vegetarians, spinach and matzah pie.  Oh yeah, there were also some vegetables- oven roasted carrots and asparagus.  So here are some pictures and a couple recipes at the bottom.

Kugel

I’ve used Deb’s recipes twice in a row now- I love them!

Spinach and Matzah Pie

This was a repeater. It was so popular last year, I brought it back! I mostly use Amy Sedaris’ recipe for Spanakopita and replace all the phyllo with matzah. All the cheeses I used came from the farmers’ market. I really recommend this when you can. Everything tasted so fresh and was so creamy. Really excellent. Even better the second day.

Matzah Stuffing

For me, it’s not Passover without Matzah Stuffing. This is a bit different from my grandmother’s and it was minorly improvised, but it came out well.

Cake

Another recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I had raspberries on hand from the farmers’ market (yeah, I’m a fan) so I made the frosting with Chambord instead of Grand Marnier and topped the cake with raspberries just before serving. I served the leftover whipped cream with strawberries. I’ll be dreaming about that whipped cream. The cake was good, but I prefer another one I made last year.

Spinach and Matzah Pie
Adapted from Amy Sedaris’ I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence

5 eggs
3 10-ounce packages of frozen, chopped spinach, defrosted (make sure you get rid of all the excess water)
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 ounces crumbled feta cheese (I bought this in a block and crumbled it myself- save a bit so you top the pie with it)
Olive Oil
2 bunches of chopped green onions, sauteed
1 tbsp chopped parsley
Dill, fennel (optional) – I went with dill here.
3 tbsp of Parmesan cheese
Dash of nutmeg
8-10 pieces of matzah
1/2 cup butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. In a mixer or food processor, beat the eggs until fluffy. Add all ingredients, except matzah and butter.

3. Butter a 9 x 13 x 3 inch pan. Lay down enough matzah to cover the bottom of the pan. I like them to overlap a bit so the spinach mixture doesn’t seep through. Brush the matzah with butter. Spoon about half the spinach mixture on top of the matzah. Lay some more matzah down, butter it and top with the rest of your spinach mixture. Top with the remaining matzah, brush with butter, and top with a bit of crumbled feta.

4. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until top is brown and crispy.

Matzah Stuffing

1 c. chopped celery
1 c. chopped onion
2 cloves minced garlic
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
8-10 pieces of matzah
2 eggs, beaten
olive oil

1. Preheat your oven to 350.
2. Saute your onions, celery and garlic in the olive oil until light brown.
3. Break up the matzah and dump it on top of your vegetable mixture.
4. Pour your broth over the top and let the matzah get soft.
5. Transfer to a bowl and mix with the eggs.
6. Dump it all in casserole dish (mine was 8×8) and bake for about 30 minutes or until brown on top.

Whatever holiday you may or may not be celebrating this week, I hope you have a good one.

Be excellent to each other,
Ms. Butterpants

Seder table

 

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

 

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