Category Archives: Add-ons

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. 


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.


Filed under Add-ons, Dessert, Recipes

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


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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Filed under Add-ons, Appetizers, Fish, Recipes

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

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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Filed under Add-ons, Fruit, Recipes

Quick 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


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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Filed under Add-ons, Recipes, Vegetarian