Category Archives: Add-ons

Buttermilk Biscuits with Havarti and Dill

Buttermilk Biscuits with Havarti and Dill

Who doesn’t love a nice biscuit?  A good biscuit, one that is buttery, tender inside, and crisp outside makes a great addition to any meal (or snack).  Even better are biscuits made with buttermilk.  There is just something about the subtle twang of buttermilk and the tenderness that it brings to baked goods that make it indispensable in our kitchen.    

The Dry Ingredients and The Cheese

Fresh buttermilk is great to have around, but if you find it goes bad before you can use it, you can also buy good quality dried buttermilk.  The taste is pretty good and all you need to do is mix with the appropriate amount of water.  But I digress… these are your classic drop biscuits with the delicious addition of Havarti and dill.  The cheese and herbs bring lots of flavor to your biscuit and also keep everything nice and moist.  However, don’t feel you have to use this particular combination of cheese and herbage.  Use whatever is in your fridge, the combinations are endless.  For example, cheddar and chives would be tasty, or how about Gruyère and tarragon.  Any cheese you can grate will work well so use your imagination and make lots of different batches. 

Biscuits Ready for Baking

Buttermilk Biscuits with Harvarti and Dill 

Adapted from Gourmet Today 

Ingredients: 

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 

3/4 cup cornmeal, preferably stone-ground (not coarsely ground) 

4 tsp baking powder 

1 tsp baking soda 

1 tsp salt 

4 tbls (1/2 stick) cold butter, cut into pieces 

6 oz (about 1 1/2 cups) shredded Havarti cheese 

1 tsp dried dill 

1 1/3 cups well-shaken buttermilk 

To Make: 

Put a rack into the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 450F.  Butter a large baking sheet. 

Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and dried dill in a bowl.  Use a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingertips to cut the butter into the flour mixture until the whole thing resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in cheese.  Add the buttermilk and stir until well combined. 

Drop dough in equal mounds about 2 inches apart on baking sheet.  Our dough mounds were about 3 inches in diameter and we made 9 biscuits.  Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.  If you make your biscuits smaller, make sure to keep an eye on the cooking time as they may bake faster.  Transfer to a rack and cool for about 10 minutes. 

To Serve: 

Serve warm with butter.  Yum.

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Filed under Add-ons, Baked goods, Bread, Recipes, Vegetarian

Cognac Butter

Cognac Butter

Want to know a secret?  Cognac butter is my latest obsession.  What the heck is cognac butter you ask?  Up until a few days ago, I didn’t know either.  Then I got my hands on this brandy butter from Thursday Cottage. 

Mmm, cognac

At my office, our vendors send us gift baskets around the holidays.  Since we work with some folks from Great Britain, we often get unique foods from across the pond.  When I saw the brandy butter in the gift basket, I snapped it up.  I wasn’t sure what to expect but it turned out to be totally delicious…  sweet and buttery with just the right amount of cognac taste.  Marc and I ate the whole jar in two days.

Sifting the sugar

Sifting the sugar

After that, I decided I best try my hand at making my own cognac butter (how else can I feed the obsession).  Using the proportions of butter, sugar, and alcohol listed on the back of the Thursday Cottage jar, I used my stand mixer to create a fantastic version.  This comes together very quickly and easily.  A couple of tips to keep in mind: make sure your butter is at room temperature, sift the powdered sugar so it is lump free, and add the cognac very slowly to make sure that it gets thoroughly incorporated.   If you want, jazz it up with a little cinnamon, nutmeg, or any other spices that suit your fancy.

Beating the butter and sugar

What to do with your finished butter… the possibilities are limitless.  Spread it on toast, english muffins, biscuits, or any other baked good you can think of.  Use it to “frost” shortbread or sugar cookies.  Smear it on pancakes or waffles.  Lick it off the knife (oops, did I say that out loud).

Almost ready, can you taste it?

Cognac Butter

For this recipe, I have given all amounts by weight.  What is important here is the proportions: 35% butter, 8% cognac, 57% sugar.  You can scale the exact amounts up or down to get the quantity you want. 

Ingredients:

57 grams (4 tbls) unsalted butter

92 grams confectioners sugar

16 grams (20 ml) good quality cognac

1/8 tsp cinnamon (optional)

To Make:

Using the paddle attachment of your mixer, beat the butter over medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.  Sift the confectioners sugar into a bowl.  Add the sugar to the butter in small batches, beating well to incorporate after each addition.  It will look crumbly at first but will get smooth again as you continue to beat.  After all the sugar is incorporated, slowly drizzle in the cognac while the mixer is running.  Allow the butter to continue mixing until the cognac is fully incorporated.  Add the cinnamon (if using) and beat until thoroughly mixed.

To Serve:

Makes enough butter to fill a 1/2 pint jar.  Store in the refrigerator and let warm up a bit before using.  Feel free to get creative with the type of alcohol and spices you use.  I am sure this would be delicious with rum, Amaretto, or Cointreau.

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Smoked Trout Spread

Smoked Trout Spread

Alex, I’ll take “Fish” for $800.

A:  This fish is sustainable and starts with a “T”.

Q:  What is Trout?

Mmm, smoked trout

Great.  I love sustainable.  I love smoked.  And sometimes, I love easy.  This spread is all of those things.  Easy to make, easy on your conscience, and nice and smoky.  Who knew that spending time at the car dealership would be a good thing?  I found the base for this little gem flipping through “Bon Appetite” May 2009 while waiting for my car.  This is a handy dip to have in your recipe box.  It comes together in about 5 minutes and is sophisticated enough to serve for a fancy party (if that is your thing).  It tastes delicious spread on crusty bread, on crackers, or even with pretzels.

Trout fillets, ready to chop

To boot, I was looking for something like this.  Now that I have this spread, I’m ready to be invited to any party where people appreciate good food.

Spread Ready to Mix

Smoked Trout Spread

Adapted from Bon Appetit, May 2009

Ingredients:

8 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature

1/2 cup green onions, thinly sliced

1/4 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

5 oz smoked trout fillets, skin removed

Additional dill and minced red onion to garnish, if desired

To Make:

In a mixer, beat the softened cream cheese until smooth.  Add the green onions, sour cream, dill, Old Bay seasoning, and hot sauce.  Beat to combine.  Coarsely chop the smoked trout fillets (minus any skin or silver lining), add to the mix, and beat lightly.  Add salt and pepper to taste. 

To Serve:

Serve cold or at room temperature.  Makes about 2 cups.  Yes, it’s that simple.  Yes, it’s that good.

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Apple Cider Butter

Apple Cider Butter

So, what do you do when you get an email from one of your favorite U-pick fruit farms saying that they are closing for the season and offering buy-one-get-one 1/2 bushels of apples? If you are anything like us, you hightail it over to the farm before the apples are gone.

Fresh apples

That is just what we did last Friday. We put Thing 1 and Thing 2 in the car and drove up to Northborough to pick 40 pounds of apples. It was a little strange because the day was gray and cool and the orchard was almost empty… it didn’t feel like a typical apple picking outing. The apples, however, were fantastic; large, sweet, crisp, and delicious. I think Thing 1 ate five of them while we were picking.

Apples chopped and boiling down

Now that we have all these apples we have to figure out what to do with them. We usually cut and freeze slices for winter apple pies, make applesauce, and eat lots of them.  This season however, we are starting with apple butter. I have never made apple butter before but I really wanted something that went beyond our classic apple applications. This recipe uses fresh apples and apple cider to make a delicious apple butter that isn’t too heavily spiced. If you decide to make this fall treat, make sure to review the appropriate canning techniques, which can be found here.

Jars ready for processing

I followed the recipe pretty much as listed with some minor adjustments to the spices. The most important change I made was to keep the cores and peels on the apples for the first boil. I then used a food mill to remove the skins, seeds, and cores. The cores have a lot of pectin which helps the butter thicken nicely. However, when I did it this way I had no where near the required 12 cups of apple puree, despite using the 6lbs of apples called for in the recipe. Therefore, I have adjusted the recipe posted below to reflect my yields.

Apple Cider Butter

Adapted from Freshpreserving.com

6 lbs of apples, mixed varieties, quartered

2 cups apple cider

2 cups granulated sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp ground allspice

6-7* (8 ounce) glass preserving jars with bands and lids

To Make:

Combine apples and apple cider in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring occasionally, until apples are soft, about 30 minutes. Using the fine disc of a food mill, puree the apples, discarding skins, seeds, and cores. Measure 8 cups of apple puree.

In a clean stainless steel saucepan, combine the apple puree, sugar, and spices and stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until mixture reduces, thickens, and holds it shape on a spoon.

Prepare boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready to use (do not boil, especially the lids). Ladle hot apple butter into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Remove bubbles and wipe rim. Center lid on jar and apply band until it is fingertip tight.

Process jars in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes (adjusting for altitude). Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. For any jars that do not seal after 24 hours, either reprocess or place in the refrigerator and use.

* The total number of jars will depend on how thick you like your butter

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Quick Kimchi

Kimchi

Kimchi ready to eat, kimchi ready to store

We happen to have a lot of cabbage in the house these days.  Five heads, to be precise.  Luckily, one of these was a very fresh head of Napa cabbage which was just asking to be made into some sort of delicious Asian dish.  When I think Asian and cabbage, I think kimchi.  I happen to really love kimchi.  My first experience with it was in college.  One of my lovable-but-nutty roommates came home with a jar of this bizarre looking, spicy cabbage.  She put it on crackers with natural peanut butter and offered us all a taste.  I am pretty sure I was the only one to take a bite (surprisingly, it didn’t taste as bad as you might expect).  Fast forward a few years and we found a local Korean restaurants makes a kimchi pancake with pork that is to die for.  That was it for me… I was hooked on that vinegar-y, spicy flavor.  Now I eat it on sandwiches, eggs, noodles, use it to make a quick soup, etc.

Classic kimchi is fermented and traditionally, it is buried in the ground to ferment through the winter.  I wasn’t really prepared for that level of cooking intensity so I was very excited when I found a quick version on Epicurious.  A few modifications and we now have two quarts of delicious kimchi that tastes fantastic on eggs.

Quick Kimchi

Adapted from Gourmet, 2009

Ingredients:

1 Napa cabbage, about 3 lbs.

2 tbls chopped garlic

1 tbls chopped peeled ginger

2 tbls Asian fish sauce

2 tsp white vinegar

3 tsp sugar

1 bunch of scallions chopped

1-2 tbls hot chili paste (we used Sriracha)

Kosher salt

To Make:

Quarter the cabbage lengthwise and then cut crosswise into 2 inch pieces.  Put the cabbage in a large, non-reactive bowl and add 3 tbls of kosher salt.  Toss the cabbage and the salt and let stand, tossing occasionally, for 2 hours.

Rinse cabbage well and then drain, squeezing out as much moisture as possible with your hands.  In a blender, puree the garlic, ginger, fish sauce, white vinegar, and sugar until smooth.  Pour the mixture over the cabbage, add the scallions, and toss.  Add the hot chili paste and toss well with tongs.  We used 2 tbls of the hot chili paste.  It was pretty spicy at first but mellowed after some time in the fridge.  Add more or less chili paste depending on your taste.

To Serve:

Let stand at least one hour before serving.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge.  The flavor will get stronger as it sits.  Makes about two quarts of kimchi.

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Croutons

Finished Croutons

Finished Croutons

Alex, I’ll take “Bread” for $200.

A:  A good use for the end of the loaf of bread when there is not enough to make bread pudding.

Q:  What is, make croutons?

I am not your regular blogger, normally my role is to take the pictures.  I am pinch writing today because I created the croutons. 

We make our own bread and sometimes we jump the gun by making the next loaf before we’ve finished the current one.  Everyone wants the fresh bread, not the end of the old loaf.

What do you do with the left over bread that nobody wants anymore?  Usually, I like to make bread pudding, however when I don’t have enough bread for the pudding, I like to make croutons.  We have lots of lettuce lately and salads are better with croutons.

Preheat your oven to 375F.  In my case, the end of the loaf yielded three slices of bread, including the heel (for those of you out there that chuck the heel, shame on you!).  I liberally buttered the three slices.  I’d say that I probably used 1 tablespoon of butter total.

The Buttered Bread

The Buttered Bread

After the butter is applied, it’s time for the seasonings.  The sky is the limit here, so do what you like.  For this batch, I went simple…kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper, granulated garlic, and onion powder.  Simple is best some times.  Other spice options include cumin, curry powder, chili powder, cayenne powder, etc.

Once spiced, simply cut the bread into your desired crouton size.  Remember, similar sized pieces will cook more evenly.  Spread out the bread cubes onto a baking sheet.

Some Cut, Some on the Sheet

Some Cut, Some on the Sheet

Cook for 10 – 15 minutes, and start checking for doneness after 10 minutes.  In my oven, about 12-13 did the trick.  The end result is a nice golden brown toast to the bread; they’re crunchy without being rock hard.  They also made the kitchen smell wonderful:  warm bread, melted butter, and some simple spices… excellent.

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