My inspiration for cooking is spurred by many things, one of them being curiosity. That’s what led me to make my own butter almost five years ago. My intention was not to start whipping batches of homemade butter for cooking or baking; that would be a far too expensive endeavor. I simply wanted to know if it was as easy as it sounded, and how different it would taste compared with what I could easily buy at the supermarket.
Inevitably, making butter from scratch brings out the kid inside of us all too. Imagine pouring a container of heavy cream into a food processor and watching it magically transform from one ingredient into another. There’s no magic, of course; it’s all science, but that doesn’t take away from the wonder of it all.
What about the taste? I’ll never be able to 100 percent replicate the butter I gorge on in France, simply because the cream here in the U.S. is different in flavor. I can get pretty darn close, though. All I need are two key ingredients: good-quality heavy cream from a local farmers market and fleur de sel. The result is a rich, yellow-hued fresh butter, laced with crunchy bits of salt. It’s the perfect companion to a crusty baguette and it even elevates ordinary toasted white bread.
You learn so much about people when you step out from behind the computer screen. I’ve been on tour for my debut cookbook, Homemade with Love, and it’s given me a chance to connect with readers in a way I never imagined. One person at my Chicago book signing inspired me to start a miniseries of sorts here, called The Good Cook.
Too often I hear people say they’re not good cooks. A little digging, though, and it turns out the way we see ourselves isn’t always in line with the way the people we love view us. Being a good cook shouldn’t be defined by how many recipes we know. The real determining factor in being a good cook is a rather simple litmus test: 1) do you like what you cook? and 2) do the people you prepare meals for enjoy what you cook? When I asked these questions at a few separate events, it turns out most people answer yes to both.
The real root for many people judging themselves so unfairly in the kitchen is they feel like they’re always cooking the same few favorite recipes. It’s really about expanding your comfort zone and, in some cases, learning a few new techniques. That’s where I come in. Over the next few posts, I’m going to explore techniques and tips to help get you out of your cooking rut. Please leave a note in the comments, letting me know which recipes or ingredients are on your “must-learn” wish list. Today, I’m going to start with an easy upgrade, a simple way in which you can add some oomph to your everyday meals.
Are butter sauces healthy? They can be! Let’s be honest, butter makes sauces silky and smooth. But that doesn’t mean you need the whole stick. The key is adding just enough to make the sauce richer, allowing...
Last year The New York Times and other news outlets reported a scary statistic: Americans throw out approximately 40 percent of all the food we purchase. Let’s say you spend $100 a week on groceries — that’s like taking $40 and just tossing it in the trash. If you’re one of the many of us who are resolving to spend money more wisely in the new year, then taking a look at your grocery shopping and food storage habits and making some improvements will help stretch your food dollar even further. Over the next two weeks, we’ll be sharing helpful tips to make the most of the food you buy and help you avoid having to throw anything away.
1. Don’t let oil or nuts go rancid. Whenever I cook in a friend’s home, rancid olive and vegetable oil is the number one food sin that I see committed. Many people don’t realize that oil goes bad, so it’s very important to keep it (especially pricey olive oil) in a cool, dark place. Take the sniff test to determine if yours has gone bad: if it smells musty and off, it’s time to say goodbye. (And here’s an important food disposal tip: if you must throw it away, don’t pour oil down the drain; it’s terrible for waste-water treatment plants.) If you don’t use a lot of oil, avoid buying giant bottles so it won’t go bad before you use it up.
People are passionate about their baked potatoes, some like it with butter — others sour cream. For many, there’s no middle ground. You absolutely love one and vehemently loathe the other. Which side of the spectrum do you fall on?
Fair question, especially since ghee is going to be more trouble to find (it’s hidden in your grocer’s international or natural foods aisles) and you’ll pay way more for it ($5 or more for a 7½-ounce jar).
Despite that, it’s an easy answer: — because ghee is a rich indulgence that is so totally worth the effort and expense.
Ghee is a form of clarified butter. Which means it is butter that was heated until the milk solids separated from the liquid. Then it was heated some more, until the liquid evaporated and the solids began to brown.
The result is a thick yellow-brown paste with a nutty and intensely — Are you ready? — buttery flavor. But it’s true. This is butter on steroids.
Confession — my biggest weakness is sweets. I love to bake — cookies and cupcakes every day if I had time! I’m not afraid to use obscene amounts of cream, butter and sugar. Sweets lie ahead. Read more.
Contrary to popular belief, FN staffers are not treated to mind-blowing tastings and delicious snack breaks daily. We pack lunches or grab take-out like everyone else. However, special occasions sneak up on us and when they do, they are not to be missed.
Food Network recently launched its brand-new magazine (which makes me insanely hungry every time I thumb through it). To celebrate, our test kitchen chefs served up one feature called 50 Toast Toppers. It’s my guess that our diligent cooks actually tackled all 50 but I lost count somewhere around 27.
The spread was bountiful and impressive which triggered a somewhat embarrassing stomach growl when I walked in. The base for each app was a baked round of French bread, brushed with creamy salted butter. Atop each was a tiny explosion of flavor, whether a bite of gorgonzola, fig jam and prosciutto or hummus with olive tapenade. Sweet and savory made appearances as the team served up tender blue crab with wasabi mayo, an addictive Nutella with tangy orange marmalade and butter-sautéed apples with thinly-sliced ham. The formula was only broken with bite-sized versions of Tyler’s Ultimate Pumpkin Pie. (the dessert featured on the cover). Silky. Sweet. Tart. Crunchy. YUM!
The spread looked complex for a beginner cook like myself. However, a chef confided to me that prep was actually simple. Apparently, I could knock out these toast toppers without issue (or fire alarm). With the holidays around the corner, I’m looking for easy.
Better yet, they are all featured in a pull-out booklet that can live with your cookbooks. Get details on the new FN magazine here.
And don’t miss when Bruce sits down with the magazine’s Editor-in-Chief, Maile Carpenter, on Monday.