The Buttery Blog

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West Coast Picnic: Dana Point August 17, 2009

Filed under: Desserts,drinks,Salads,Sandwiches,Soups — butteryblog @ 10:47 pm
Tags: , , ,
Salt Creek Beach

Salt Creek Beach

Lady Butterbuns and Mrs. Butterpants finally realized they didn’t actually live that far away from each other and scheduled a summer picnic at Dana Point, which is roughly midway between LA and San Diego. Joined by our husbands and the Butterbuns’ very large dog, we packed our coolers with Capri Sun, watermelon juice, blackberry basil lemonade, rice and artichoke salad, melon soup, pear and camembert sandwiches and fruit hand pies. The following IM took place a few weeks later.

 

Date: Sun, Aug 9, 2009 at 9:19 PM

 

Lady Butterbuns: Okay, let’s get cracking. First of all, that park [Salt Creek Beach Park] is really nice! Not too crowded and the weather was great.

Mrs. Butterpants: Yes, it really is. Gorgeous, not too crazy, lots of families, and a good amount of parking — that’s important to SoCal folks.

Lady B: So we drank …watermelon juice, Capri Sun and lemonade. I was thrilled with the Capri Sun, even though it brought up bad memories of punching my straw clean

Refreshing watermelon juice

Refreshing watermelon juice

through the pouch as a child.

Mrs. B: Yes, Capri Sun is the one of the best reminders of childhood ever. I love people’s expressions when you pull it out. The watermelon juice was tasty, but suffered from me forgetting to strain it.

Lady B: I really liked it! Very refreshing and a lovely pink color.

Mrs. B: That lemonade was seriously one of my favorite things ever.

Lady B: I’m glad you liked it! I think that’s the first recipe I ever made up.

Mrs. B: It was so good. I really just wanted to keep drinking it. The next time I come down to your house, I’m stealing your lemons so I can make some.

Lady B: Please do. I can’t use all the lemons! I even give them away, but that tree is, well, fruitful. So we ate cantaloupe soup. I thought it was tasty, but as you said, a fresher melon might have given it more flavor.

Mrs. B: Yes, I wanted to get the cantaloupe from my farmers market, but ran out of time. So I bought it from the store and wasn’t as pleased. But I think it was good. The mint and rum gave it a nice flavor.

Lady B: Yeah, I don’t always love fresh mint but it worked in the soup.

Mrs. B: Agreed.

Lady B: More rum next time!

A rhyming sandwich: pear and camembert

A rhyming sandwich: pear and camembert

Mrs. B: Done and done! Then we had the sandwiches, which I thought were excellent. I didn’t partake in the bread, but I enjoyed my fruit and cheese plate very much. I loved the sweetness of the pear and honey with the mild camembert.

Lady B: The bread was the worst part anyway! Too dry. But I did like the pear/honey/camembert combo. Camembert is so delicious.

Mrs. B: It did look sort of dry. It would be served by a thinner egg bread I think.

Lady B: Yes and technically it’s supposed to be panini-ed. That would help. Or foccaccccccio which is moister.

Mrs. B: Oooh, yes. That would be excellent.

Lady B: And we had artichoke rice salad. Did you have any of that?

Mrs. B: I actually didn’t eat any. But Mr. Butterpants liked it very much. I think he went back for seconds and thirds.

Lady B: I was pleasantly surprised. I wasn’t too sure when I was making it, but it was pretty good. I like food that can be served room temperature.

Mrs. B: It looked and smelled good; I just don’t eat rice. And I was having mouth trouble that day, but we won’t get into that. Anything served room temperature is my friend. Or cold.

Rice and artichoke salad with spinach

Rice and artichoke salad with spinach

Lady B: Easy food.

Mrs. B: Yes. I could make a quick and easy joke, but I won’t.

Lady B: We can each make one silently to ourselves.

Mrs. B: It’s better that way. What was next? The pies right?

Lady B: Yes. I didn’t have the apple, just the peach. The flavor of the filling was really good. And you know how I feel about something I can eat with my hands — LOVE IT!

Mrs. B: I like the flavor of the apple better than the peach, but I thought they were both tasty. I’d add more bourbon to the peach next time.

Lady B: Yes! More rum and more bourbon!

Mrs. B: The pastry was a little overpowering so I’d go for a thinner one or make larger pockets so I could fill them with more fruit. And I should have added brandy to the apples. More alcohol! More alcohol! More alcohol!

Lady B: And seriously, I’m no fan of making my own crust — get the refrigerated pie dough from Pillsbury. It’s delicious and so easy.

Pies...you can eat with your hands!!!

Pies...you can eat with your hands!!!

Mrs. B: Yeah, I’ve done it a few times and I just haven’t found my favorite. This one was definitely a victim of being overworked. If I make these again, I’ll try the Pillsbury. I love their crescent rolls, so they can’t possibly steer me wrong.

Lady B: Oh yes, those are delicious. Their biscuits are pretty tasty too.

Mrs. B: Yes and their cinnamon rolls and chocolate chip cookies. Really, I should just buy stock in Pillsbury.

Lady B: Pretty much that little doughboy can do no wrong.

Mrs. B: I concur.

Lady B: So that was all the food, right?

Mrs. B: Was that really all the food? It felt like more.

Lady B: I know. That table was covered with foodstuff. But I think that was it.

Mrs. B: Overall I was pleased with the food. Yours more than mine.

Lady B: I think we tend to be overly critical of our own cooking. I rarely think anything I cook is good.

Mrs. B: Always.

Lady B: Have you ever thought about taking the watermelon juice and freezing it into pops?

Mrs. B: Yes, we did exactly that. They work really well. The top tends to be overly sweet since the syrup settles there, but they’re very refreshing, a good sweet cold treat that is not an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s.

Lady B: B&J — I constantly have to give myself time outs from them!

Mrs. B: I know. I made the mistake of purchasing the peach cobbler flavor.

Lady B: I saw that in the store and thought of you. What do you think to just posting one recipe each? You can send me whichever one you like. I just don’t want this post to be 8 miles long, you know? Oh, send the recipe for Capri Sun!

Mrs. B.: Yes!!

Happiness in a pouch

Happiness in a pouch

1 straw

1 pouch

Punch straw into pouch

Let childhood memories rush over you

Lady B:: Yes! 5 stars!

 

Lady Butterbuns and Mrs. Butterpants are scheduled to meet up in October. Stay tuned …

 

Artichoke and Rice Salad (Martha Stewart Living)

 

Serves 6

 

* 1 1/2 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 cup Arborio rice
* 2 teaspoons coarse salt
* 1/4 teaspoon curry powder
* 12 small green olives, pitted and sliced
* 12 ounces marinated artichoke hearts, cut into 1/2-inch wedges, liquid reserved
* 1 celery stalk, thinly sliced on a bias
* 1/2 ounce baby spinach (about 1 cup)

 

Directions

 

1. Bring stock to a simmer. Meanwhile, heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook until onion is translucent. Add rice, salt, and curry powder. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.
2. Raise heat, and add half the stock. Stir 30 seconds. Stir in remaining stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, and cover. Cook 20 minutes.
3. Spread rice onto a rimmed baking sheet. Let cool. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 1 hour.
4. Combine olives, artichoke hearts, and celery in a large bowl. Add rice, and toss. Add 1 tablespoon reserved artichoke liquid, and toss. (Salad can be made up to this point and refrigerated overnight.)
5. Before serving, stir in spinach. Serve cold or at room temperature.

 

Cantaloupe Soup (Gale Grand/Food Network)

 

– 1 cantaloupe, peeled, seeded, and cubed
– 1/4 cup dark rum
– 1/4 cup cream
– 1 lemon, zested
– 2 tablespoon orange juice concentrate
– 4 mint leaves, julienned

 

Place everything but the mint leaves in a blender and puree. Strain through a fine chinois or strainer. Chill. Serve in chilled martini glasses with
juilenned mint. (I’d bump up the rum to 1/3 cup.  It definitely needed a little more kick.  And buy a super-fresh cantaloupe!  It makes all the difference.)

 

♥Lady Butterbuns & Mrs. Butterpants

 

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

 

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