Posts Tagged ‘Butter’

Maddie’s Best Ever Nut Bread

26 May 13

This is from the wonderful girl that was my first love many (many) years ago. She is right, this is pretty good stuff.

{Herself Sez: Himself has impeccable taste. Maddie is a sweetheart and VERY married for many years! :-)}

The internet is wonderful for finding and keeping in touch with people that you haven’t seen for nearly 50 years.

660 g sugar (3 cups)
190 g Crisco, plain (1 cup)
9 g vanilla (2 tsp)
4 ea eggs, large
630 g flour (4 1/2 cups)
11 g salt (2 tsp)
10 g baking soda (2 tsp)
((420
g water (1 3/4 cups) AND <<==
40 g buttermilk powder (1/4 cups)) <<== OR
2 cups
Buttermilk
160 g chopped walnuts (1 1/2 cups)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

This method assumes a decent mixer like a Kitchenaid. You can mix by hand if you like.

Cream together shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in vanilla and eggs. Now those who have been paying attention know that I seldom use shortening, I usually use butter. This is one of the places that you do not want butter. You would not get much, if any, lift. Your nut bread would be very dense and heavy. I think the best way to handle the Crisco is to get the bars. You probably already know the best way to measure out of a can, but I’ll review for you. If you need a cup of water or butter or anything else of a like consistency, then take a two cup measure and put in a cup of water. Begin adding the shortening until the water rises to the two cup mark. Pour off the water and you have a cup of shortening. As the philosopher said: “Eureka!” Of course, it is much easier to just weigh things.

Add the buttermilk and mix briefly. Now things will be better if you have some real buttermilk. I don’t keep it around, but I do keep a good grade of baker’s buttermilk powder. You can get it from King Arthur or your grocery may carry some. Bob’s Red Mill is a decent brand. At any rate, either use the fresh buttermilk or the powder and water. You will get a slightly lighter loaf with real buttermilk.

Add the dry ingredients and mix until completely incorporated. Add walnuts and mix just enough to incorporate.

Pour into three greased 9x5x3 loaf pans. I do use unsalted butter for the lube, but you can use what you like.

Bake at 350°F for one hour. Cool on a rack.

Like any other nut bread, this works well naked, spread with butter, served with ice cream, whipped cream, or whatever. Also works nicely toasted. This stuff also freezes rather nicely.

{Herself Sez: Sorry about no pictures – have to take some next time Himself makes this bread!}

Brioche

30 January 13
Brioche

Brioche (Photo credit: joana hard)

Brioche is supposed to be a difficult and intimidating bread. Well, I don’t see that unless you decide to do things the hard way. Like any other bread, brioche can be made pretty much by the numbers if you do things correctly.

This is the size for two small bread pans or one Pain de Mie pan.

520   g   bread flour
160
  g   high gluten flour
63   g   cold water
6   cold eggs
17
  g   salt
82   g   sugar
1   pkg   yeast
3   sticks
  cold butter
1   egg, beaten with a dollop of water

This stuff is not really bread. It is not really pastry either. It is a bridge between the two, and shares characteristics of both. It is rather magical the way it does. Those who are totally nuts might think about doing this by hand. Those who are sane will use a good mixer.

First rule – everything must be cold. This is not optional. You must refrigerate all ingredients overnight. This includes the flour, water, salt, sugar, and yeast. Also refrigerate the mixing bowl and dough hook. Only take things out as you need them. Work quickly and all will be well.

Mix everything except the butter on first speed until everything is incorporated, usually about 3 to 5 minutes. Mix on second speed 5 to 7 minutes until the dough is strong and tough.

Meanwhile beat the cold butter with a stick between sheets of plastic wrap until pliable (but still cold). Use a French style rolling pin (just a tapered stick), not an American, which has ball bearings. If you don’t have a good French rolling pin then use a cut off broomstick or something similar.

With the mixer still running toss in chunks of the butter. You can toss them in one after the other; you don’t have to wait for the preceding to incorporate. Another 8 minutes and the dough should be smooth, silky, slick, and deliciously buttery.

Turn it out into a lightly floured bowl and wrap with plastic wrap so that NO air gets to it. I do a wrap around the dough and then a layer across the top of the bowl secured by a large rubber band. Works well.

Rise for 1 hour. This is not going to double in size. Don’t panic, just fold it and keep on going. Rise for 2 hours, fold. Rise for 3 to 4 hours, fold and place in the refrigerator overnight. You will note that there were 3 rises, and between 6 and 7 hours rise before you put it in the refrigerator. The reason that the last one is 3 to 4 is that I won’t stay up an extra hour.

The next morning set it back on the counter and let it warm just enough so you can handle it. Fold, divide, shape it whatever you like and let it rise some more. You want about 50% of your form filled. Rise until 85% or a little more of the form is filled. Do an egg wash for anything but a Pain de Mie pan.

Bake at 375°F to 380°F. Time is dependent on the form. For a small bread loaf (this recipe makes two), you are looking at around 40 to 45 minutes. Set the pan on top of an airfoil cookie sheet in about the middle of the oven. If you don’t have an airfoil pan you can double stack just about any type of jelly pans. What you are doing is keeping the bottom from burning. Take a look at things somewhere around 20 minutes and if it is starting to get too brown tent with a bit of aluminum foil.

You really want to use a good digital insertion thermometer. That is really the best way to tell when it is done. 205°F is the target. It is not a good thump test type bread. When it is done properly it will be golden brown and smell wonderfully rich.

Last caution: Be very careful to not under bake this bread.

Squash Casserole with Mushrooms

7 December 12
Butter and a butter knife

Butter and a butter knife (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now that spring is here veggie casseroles are worth thinking about. This is just another of the 15 billion ways of serving squash. The main thing is that this one is especially good and easy. You can vary just about any part of this to suit your own taste-buds. This will serve two as a main dish or four as a side dish – just vary the amounts to suit your own needs.

2  fair-sized crook-neck squash
1  large onion
mushrooms, sliced
unsalted butter (about 1 stick)
light wine
kosher salt
pepper
tarragon
coarse crushed saltine crackers

Preheat the oven to 400F. Butter an appropriate-sized casserole dish. Put in a layer of sliced squash.  Put a layer of sliced onion on top of the squash. Put a layer of sliced mushrooms. You can use fresh mushrooms if you’ve got them or canned (usually in a jar) if not. Dot generously with butter. Lightly salt and pepper. Repeat as necessary. When you get to the top layer, then drizzle with a good light wine. A white or rose or so that tastes good to you. Sprinkle tarragon to taste. I like it just enough wine and tarragon to lend taste, but not enough to overpower.

Bake 400F for about 50 minutes to 1 hour. The veggies should be tender but not dried or burned.  Sprinkle a heavy layer of crushed saltines. Dot generously with butter. Back in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes. You want the butter melted and bubbling but the saltines should not be burned. Broil for a few minutes until crackers are lightly browned. Serve while still hot.

Zucchini

Zucchini (Photo credit: Farmanac)

As a variation you could use panko or bread crumbs – but if you do you may have to adjust the salt a bit. The saltines lend just the right amount for the finishing touch. Another variation is to use one yellow and one zucchini, or both zucchini, or whatever. (Kinda’ nice with one yellow and one zucchini).

Cream of Mushroom Soup

15 October 11

1/4 cup onions, minced
3 Tbs Unsalted butter
3 Tbs a/p flour
6 cups unsalted chicken broth, seasoned with 2 parsley sprigs, 1/2 bay leaf and 1/8 tsp thyme
salt and pepper
1 lb fresh mushrooms – save the caps, rough-chop the stems
2 Tbs unsalted butter
thinly sliced mushroom caps – from the above pound of mushrooms
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon juice
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs unsalted softened butter

cream mushroom soup

Image via Wikipedia

This is Julia’s recipe for the real French cream of mushroom soup. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Separate the mushroom stems from the caps. Rough chop the stems. Fine slice the caps. Set them both aside.

Start the stock heating up to the boil in a heavy bottomed saucepan. If you make your own stock what you want is a traditional white stock. I can’t find it in my local store, so I use chicken stock. If you are using chicken stock you will need to remove the bay leaf and parsley after boiling a minute of two.

Sauté the onions in 3 Tbs of unsalted butter. Do not let them brown, what you want is just nice and softened. Probably about 5 to 8 minutes depending on your stove’s low setting. Once again: DON’T BROWN.

Make a pale roux: add the flour and stir or whisk over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Don’t get it brown.

Remove the pan from the heat and add boiling stock a cup at a time, stirring continuously. When the roux has been completely liquefied and absorbed add all back into the liquid.

Add in the rough chopped mushroom stems and simmer partially covered for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. If there is any scum on the surface skim it off.

Strain the mixture through a sieve. Squeeze the juice out of the mushroom stem pieces. The easiest way is just prop a sieve over a pan, pour the juice through and let it sit for a few minutes. Dispose of the remains of the mushroom stems and onions that are left in the sieve.

Slowly sauté the sliced mushroom caps, lemon juice, and salt in the 2 Tsp of butter for about 5 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and their juices to the strained soup base and simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes.

Beat two egg yolks and 3/4 cup heavy cream together. Temper by adding hot soup about ½ to 1 cup at a time while whisking constantly and vigorously. When the mix has been tempered add it back into the soup. Stir over very low heat. Do not let it come to a simmer. All you want to do is let it thicken a bit – about 2 minutes.

Taste and correct seasoning. Off the heat stir in 1 to 3 Tbs of butter to taste.

If you want to impress your dinner guests reserve some of the prettier mushroom caps, flute and sauté in lemon and butter. What is fluting you say? It is just carving a pretty curved pattern with a small, very sharp knife. If you don’t want to flute – or don’t know how, you can use a zester to make a pretty pattern, or skip the pretty pattern bit and just serve the caps undecorated. Anyway – float the sautéed caps in the bowls or cups just before serving.

This stuff is easier than it sounds, and doesn’t take all that long.

This lot will feed 4 to 6 depending on whether you just want a small soup course or more of the main meal. Really outstanding with a crusty French bread for dunking.

Oh yeah – for those who are used to the canned cream of mushroom that is kind of stiff this will seem a bit liquid. You can stiffen/thicken it up by adding a small amount of arrowroot or cornstarch before serving. On the other hand – if what you are after is the taste of the canned junk then just serve it and don’t go to this trouble. But – my taste buds claim that this well worth the minor effort.

Final note: You could probably use any mushroom that tickles your fancy, but for the best results the plain old button mushroom just can’t be beat. This is a rather balanced and delicate taste and the stouter mushrooms just overpower everything in my opinion.

Mushroom Duxelles

13 October 11


1/2 lb mushrooms, chopped fine
1 Tbs unsalted butter
3 Tbs shallot, chopped fine
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 Tbs unsalted butter
1/4 cup dry sherry

Chop up the mushrooms very fine. If you’ve got good knife skills – go for it. If your life skills are on the blink or your get up and go got up and went then use a food processor. You probably want to do about 1/3 of the mushrooms at a time. You can also chop the shallots in the processor if you like. Use any kind of mushrooms that you really like, but I advise that you do not use those that are too strongly flavored. Good old button mushrooms work very well indeed.

Wring the moisture out of the chopped mushrooms. If you haven’t done this before you are likely to be plumb amazed at the amount of liquid that comes out. For those who haven’t done this before – take a clean non-fuzzy kitchen towel, place the mushrooms on it, fold the towel so that you’ve got the mushrooms in a ball. Start twisting the ball around while holding on to the towel with the other hand. Continue wringing until you’ve gotten all the water that you can. Be amazed. If this is still unclear look around on YouTube and you can probably find a video showing this. This same technique is useful for wring out frozen spinach. If you like you can save the mushroom juice for use in a stew or sauce. I don’t usually bother.

Add a bit of oil and a tablespoon of butter to a good, heavy skillet. When the butter is ready add the mushrooms and shallots. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add thyme. Sauté over medium high heat stirring frequently for about 8 minutes. At that time the mushrooms should be nicely browning.

Add another tablespoon of butter and stir. Add the dry sherry. You can use any dry wine or vermouth that you have. Keep the heat up and keep stirring until the liquid has evaporated.

Remove from the heat, let it cool down, and cap it in a jar. This makes about a cup. You can keep it in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. Makes a nice addition to many things.


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