Posts Tagged compound butter

Thanksgiving Recap

I know, I know… we’ve all moved on from Thanksgiving to year-end holidays. But, after any big feast, I like to take a few days to digest (pun mostly intended) and rehash the successes and failures.

With few exceptions, the menu was pretty much an epicurious.com freak out. I’m linking to the original recipes, scroll down for my reviews:

Spiced Pumpkin Soup

  • 1½ T butter
  • ¾ C chopped carrot
  • ¾ C chopped celery
  • ¾ C chopped ripe banana
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 whole clove
  • 5 C low-salt chicken broth
  • 2 C canned pure pumpkin
  • ¾ C canned unsweetened coconut milk
  • ¼ C sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 t ground nutmeg
  • ½ t ground cinnamon
  • ½ t ground coriander
  • ½ t crumbled dried sage leaves
  • ¼ t ground allspice
  • ¼ t yellow curry powder

Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add carrot and next 6 ingredients and sauté until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Transfer mixture to processor and blend until smooth. Return mixture to pot. Add broth and all remaining ingredients except cilantro. Boil soup over medium-high heat 15 minutes to blend flavors. Cool slightly. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Return soup to pot. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly, then cover and refrigerate.)

Bring soup to simmer. Divide among 8 bowls.

Results

Do not be afraid by the long list of ingredients. This is a super easy recipe to make. Also, don’t be afraid of the banana in the soup. It works with the other flavors, and although smells weird when cooking, it works well. I like to make this recipe because I have a set of fun pumpkin soup bowls. (Thanks, Mom!)

Pumpkin soup in pumpkin shaped bowls

Porcini Mushroom Turkey with Mushroom Gravy

Mushroom Butter:

  • 1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 C boiling water
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • ¾ C (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¼ C chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 T chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 T chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 t chopped fresh mint (I know, weird, right? Don’t fret. It’ll come out OK.)
  • 1½ t salt
  • 1 t freshly ground black pepper

Turkey:

  • 1 14- to 16-lb turkey, rinsed, patted dry inside and out; neck, heart, and gizzard reserved
  • 10 fresh Italian parsley sprigs
  • 6 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 6 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 C turkey stock or water

Gravy:

  • 1 lb crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 T chopped shallot
  • 1 C dry white wine
  • 2 C turkey stock
  • 1 C heavy whipping cream
  • 2 T water
  • 5 t cornstarch
  • ¼ C chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 t chopped fresh mint

For mushroom butter:
Place porcini in small bowl; add 1 cup boiling water. Let stand until softened, at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. Drain mushrooms, reserving soaking liquid. Chop mushrooms. Transfer half of chopped mushrooms (about ⅓ C) to small bowl; reserve for gravy.

Chop garlic finely in processor. Add butter and next 6 ingredients, then remaining porcini. Blend to coarse paste.

For turkey:
Set rack at lowest position in oven and preheat to 325°. Sprinkle main turkey cavity with salt and pepper. Spread with 2 T mushroom butter. Starting at neck end of turkey, carefully slide hand between skin and meat of breast, thighs, and upper drumsticks to loosen skin. Spread mushroom butter over thighs and drumsticks, then over breast meat under skin. Fill main cavity with herb sprigs. Tie legs together loosely to hold shape. Tuck wing tips under.

Place turkey on rack set in large roasting pan. Rub outside of turkey all over with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour 2 cups stock into pan. Roast turkey until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165°F to 170°F, about 3 hours. Tilt turkey so juices from main cavity run into pan. Transfer turkey to platter. Tent very loosely with foil; let rest at least 30 minutes (internal temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees). Reserve pan.

For gravy:
Scrape juices and browned bits from reserved roasting pan into large glass measuring cup. Spoon off fat, reserving 3 T.

Heat reserved 3 T fat in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add crimini mushrooms, garlic, and shallot. Sauté until mushrooms are tender, about 6 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to bowl and set aside. Add wine to skillet. Boil until reduced to ½ C, about 3 minutes. Add reserved ⅓ C chopped porcini mushrooms, reserved mushroom soaking liquid (leaving any sediment behind), 2 C stock, and degreased pan juices. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer to reduce slightly, about 10 minutes.

Add cream and crimini mushrooms to skillet. Mix 2 T water and cornstarch in small bowl until smooth. Whisk into gravy. Continue to simmer until reduced to desired consistency, whisking occasionally, about 5 minutes. Mix in parsley and mint. Season gravy to taste with salt and pepper.

Results

First, I love this mushroom butter. (Remember, I have a love affair with compound butters). This one would taste great on toast. It also tastes great inside a turkey. Those brown bits are mushroom left over once the butter melted on the outside. Incredibly juicy and tender.

Roasted turkey

The gravy was surprisingly good as well. Kind of a modified cream sauce. I was a bit worried when the cornstarch slurry started. (I have a loathing of thickening sauces this way. It just seems like a cheater’s shortcut.)

Apple-Raisin Stuffing

This was the only recipe I used from the Food Network. I have re-formatted it from their site as it was impossible to use the way it was presented.

  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 red onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 apples, peeled and diced
  • 1 T fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 t aniseed
  • 1 C golden raisins
  • 4-6 C chicken broth (I used just 4 C as that’s all that would fit in my pan.)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 scoop grainy mustard
  • 3 T fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 T fresh tarragon, chopped
  • 8 C pumpernickel cubes, toasted (about half a rustic loaf)
  • 8 C sour dough cubes, toasted (about half a rustic loaf)

In a large deep skillet, sauté onions, garlic and celery stalks in butter for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper and add apples, thyme, aniseed and raisins; cook 5 minutes. Pour in chicken broth. Simmer until needed in next step.

In a large bowl, mix eggs, parsley and tarragon. Add bread and hot broth mixture to the bowl to the bowl.

Gently toss the stuffing, then spread in a buttered 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Dot the top with butter or turkey pan drippings, cover and bake 30 minutes at 350°. Uncover and bake until golden, 20 more minutes.

Results

On the surface, I liked the idea of two types of bread—especially the pumpernickel. (The leftover loaves make for great turkey sandwiches the next day.) But, this recipe had too much tarragon for my liking. I felt that’s all you could taste, even over the sweetness of the apples and raisins. I feel like this was the biggest failure of the meal. (And, nope… I don’t pre-test my recipes before subjecting guests to them. That’s the kind of mean chef I am.)

Roasted Sweet Potato Rounds with Garlic Oil and Fried Sage

Sweet potatoes:

  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • ¼ C olive oil
  • 2½ lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into ½”-thick rounds

Fried sage:

  • ⅓ C olive oil
  • 24 sage leaves

Roast sweet potatoes:
Preheat oven 450°F with rack in upper third. Purée garlic with oil and ¾ t salt in a blender until smooth. Toss sweet potatoes with garlic oil in a large bowl, then spread in 1 layer in a 15-by 10-inch shallow baking pan. Bake until golden in patches and cooked through, 20-30 minutes.

To fry sage leaves:
Heat oil in a small heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then fry sage leaves in 2 batches, stirring, until crisp, 30 seconds to 1 minute per batch. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.

Serve sweet potatoes with sage leaves scattered on top.

Results

And, this was the second disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, they were good. I like the garlic oil for roasting the potatoes. I’d just leave off the fried sage as it didn’t really add anything to the dish.

Sweet Potato Rounds

That would be Mr. Moo pointing to the sage asking, “What that?” He was not impressed when I gave him some to try.

Green Beans with Lemon and Pine Nuts

  • 1½ lb green beans, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch pieces
  • ¼ C pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 T finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1½ t finely grated fresh lemon zest
  • 4 t extra-virgin olive oil

Cook beans in a 4-qt saucepan of boiling salted water until just tender, about 5 minutes, then drain well in a colander. Transfer to a bowl and toss with nuts, parsley, zest, oil, and salt and pepper to taste.

Results

My sister was mightily peeved that this wasn’t green bean casserole. I thought it would be a tangy alternative to the heavy dishes on the table. Boy, that lemon zest goes a long way. Super duper lemony (so lemony that people thought I had put lemon juice in the dressing). Also, the pine nuts just sort of sat there. Next time, I’d use walnuts or another toasted nut and then chop them.

Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad

  • ¼ C fresh lemon juice
  • 2 T Dijon mustard
  • 1 T minced shallot
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely grated
  • ¼ t kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large bunches of Tuscan kale (about 1½ lbs total), center stem discarded, leaves thinly sliced
  • 12 oz Brussels sprouts, trimmed, finely grated or shredded with a knife
  • ½ C extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • ⅓ C almonds with skins, coarsely chopped
  • 1 C finely grated Pecorino

Combine lemon juice, Dijon mustard, shallot, garlic, ¼ t salt, and a pinch of pepper in a small bowl. Stir to blend; set aside to let flavors meld. Mix thinly sliced kale and shredded Brussels sprouts in a large bowl.

Measure ½ C oil into a cup. Spoon 1 T oil from cup into a small skillet; heat oil over medium-high heat. Add almonds to skillet and stir frequently until golden brown in spots, about 2 minutes. Transfer nuts to a paper towel–lined plate. Sprinkle almonds lightly with salt.

Slowly whisk remaining olive oil in cup into lemon-juice mixture. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.

Add dressing and cheese to kale mixture; toss to coat. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Garnish with almonds.

Results

Oh, this is good. So very very good. I’ve been on a kale kick lately (which is good because I overbought kale and now have a ton in my fridge). And, I’ve never thought of raw Brussels sprouts, but it worked. Imagine this picture with the nuts on top (I added them after I took the pic.)

Kale and Sprouts

I’m going to deal with the dessert in a future blog as I think it could work for any winter holiday—not just Thanksgiving. So, that’s it for my favorite holiday until next year.

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A Better Butter

Cow in a green field

As a lactose-intolerant person, butter is probably the best thing that comes from a cow. OK, maybe not… maybe it’s steak. But, I’ve been thinking a lot about compound butters lately and I had this hysterical picture of a cow. So, that’s the tie-in.

Anyway, I know I don’t have much of a life if I’m spending my brain power working out compound butter recipes. But alas, world peace will have to wait! I need to indulge in the glories of butter.

Quite simply, compound butter is butter with some other stuff in it. What other stuff is really up to you. Hence, the joy one can gain from delving into the butter creation realm. You can make any number of varieties of compound butter. Although it helps to have an electric mixer, you can use just a wooden spoon or whisk.

This most recent jag of mine started on Easter when I made maple butter for the cornbread muffins. While staring into the mixing bowl, I thought, “I haven’t made compound butter since culinary school. What a shame.” Then, the recipes started in my head.

Here is the basic formula:

  1. Take a stick of butter and let it come to room temperature. Follow this step exactly. That means use REAL butter (if you’re going through the trouble, why skimp and use margarine?) and let it fully come to room temperature (don’t get impatient). It should be soft (not liquid) so that step 2 is easier.
  2. Put butter in bowl and whip it. Whip it good. This is where the electric mixer and Devo come in handy. This is also why room temperature is ideal. Refrigerated Devo is so not fun. Seriously, you need the butter soft enough that whipping doesn’t become a tennis elbow inducing chore.
  3. Mix in your chosen stuff. (More on that in a bit.)
  4. Take a rubber spatula and put the butter in a mold. Don’t have a butter mold? Plop the butter on a piece of plastic wrap and roll into a tube.
  5. Pop in the fridge or freezer for later use.

That’s it. One of the easier things you can do in the kitchen. The key is proportions. Don’t use too much liquid. I would say, if you have 1 cup of butter (two sticks), you shouldn’t use more than ¼ cup of liquid. That’s an awful lot of butter so if you start with one stick make sure you use less liquid. You’ll see what makes a good consistency after one batch.

Finally, make sure to chop, dice, or mince any non-liquid stuff you add. You just don’t want big bits in your butter.

So, what is the stuff in step 3? Well, it depends… do you want a sweet or a savory butter? Here are some ideas to get your started:

Sweet Stuff

  • Maple syrup
  • Citrus: Lemon, lime, or orange (zest or juice)
  • Alcohol: Rum, tequila, bourbon, or Scotch
  • Vanilla
  • Sugars: Granulated, brown, or powdered
  • Coffee (liquid, not powdered) or tea (green tea powder or brewed liquid)
  • Chocolate (powder, melted, or chopped)
  • Fresh berries (or lacking that the jam version): Raspberry, strawberry or blackberry
  • Dried fruits: Cranberry, prune, cherry, or raisin (I’d soak them in water or rum before chopping.)
  • Spices: Cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin or apple pie spice, poppy seed, or cardamom (be careful, it can taste soapy if you use too much)
  • Crystallized ginger

Savory Stuff

  • Fresh herbs: Basil, parsley, cilantro, chives, rosemary, tarragon, thyme, sage, or dill
  • Garlic
  • Onions, scallions, or shallots (you can caramelize the onions to make them a bit sweeter) and then mix them with an herb
  • Capers, pickles, or other vinegared items
  • Spices: Mustard (either in liquid or powder form), paprika, curry powder, or toasted sesame seeds
  • Salted items such as anchovies or prosciutto
  • Sauces: BBQ, Worcestershire, soy, or Tabasco
  • Salt and pepper
  • Toasted nuts: Pine nuts, walnuts, pecans, or pistachios
  • Roasted peppers: Bell, jalapeño, or otherwise
  • Bacon, ham, or pork belly

You get the idea why this starts to become a fun project. Decide if you want a sweet or a savory butter and then just pick one, two, or three items from the list (or more… what do I care?… go nuts… the above list is just a sample of what can be done).

Or, get crazy and pick an item from each: Lime and jalapeno butter could be great on fish tacos. Bourbon and ham butter would rock sweet potatoes.

Which brings me to the question: What do you do with compound butter? Just about anything you want. I like sweet butters for breakfast pastries, muffins, bagels, and toast. But, you can also make a compound butter and put it on a cake. (The recipe for buttercream frosting is pretty much butter and powdered sugar with a touch of vanilla.)

Savory butters make great sauces when melted. I like to cook fish in a compound butter of herbs and shallots. You can also put it on top of steaks and/or potatoes. Let’s not forget savory butters for your toast when you have omelets.

The whole idea is to experiment because this is definitely a “recipe” you can do without an actual recipe. What’s the worst that can happen? At the end of the day, you still have butter. So, be bold and compound your butter!

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