Monday, September 5, 2011

Cultured Butter

I have the most awesome, creative and inspiring friends!  This time it was Amy's fault for my current project.  She gifted me recently with a little tub of homemade cultured butter.  It was so so good!  I had stopped putting butter on my toast, and was using it judiciously for cooking, but not anymore.  This butter was butter on steroids, if you are using butter purely for its taste, like on toast and potatoes, use cultured butter!

Actually, making cultured butter is quite easy, albeit a bit messy, but no more so than regular butter and the flavor return is tremendous.

To begin, take two quarts of the best heavy cream you can find, but not ultra-pasturized.  Luckily I have a few very good local dairies and chose to use Sheeder Cloverleaf Dairy  because my favorite local grocery store carries it. By the way, their skim milk is divine, its like NOT drinking skim milk its so good! 

Mix your good heavy cream with a small container of yogurt, I chose to use a good greek yogurt, its the only one I could find for small plain unflavored yogurt.  Mix well, cover, and let sit overnight in a warm place.  I just put mine on my counter, it sat out about 12 hours or so.

After letting it sit out overnight, mix vigorously.  Amy said it won't take much mixing, but I have weak little arms and let my KitchenAid mixer and paddle attachment do the work.  Soon you will hear a sloshing and voila!  A large lump of butter will be sitting in buttermilk!  It didn't take much time at all!

Drain off the buttermilk, but keep it!  You can use it in biscuits, pancakes, and cornbread.  From 2 quarts of cream I was able to reap 1 quart of buttermilk, pretty good return!  Now put the butter in the refrigerator to let it firm up a bit and be easier to work.

After chilling for a bit, rinse and knead, then rinse and knead some more.  Your goal is to have your final rinse water very clear without a trace of cloudiness.  All the buttermilk needs to be rinsed out so your butter won't sour and taste bad.  I just kneaded it with my hands, and now my hands are literally buttery soft.

After kneading and rinsing very very well, you will now press out the water.  Using a rubber spatula, press and smooth the butter against the sides of the bowl and pour out any water that "weeps" out the butter.  Keep pressing and draining until no more water remains.  At this point, your butter is finished, or you can salt it using pickling salt or sea salt.  I chose to salt it.  Salting also may help the butter firm up a bit.

Years ago, I found a great carnival glass cow butter mold, on ebay.  I have had great luck finding good vintage items at reasonable prices on ebay, but I was probably just lucky and looking in the right place at the right time, but that's part of the charm of vintage, right?  I set the mold in one of the cream bottles to hold it while I filled it, then turned it over and set in on a saucer to firm up in the refrigerator.

The rest of the butter I put in little containers to give away.  This was really so simple, I may put into the regular rotation of kitchen chores along with canning, bacon curing and bread baking.

I do hope you will give this a try, I used 2 quarts of cream and made alot, and I'm sure it will keep well in the freezer.

Hearth & Soul Hop   

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Liver Love....

I haven't posted in weeks and all you get is a liver post?  Well for you non liver people, there's no picture!

I love liver and onions, unfortunately, my husband did not.  I didn't make this dish very often, but would try to order it whenever it appeared on a menu.

Until tonight.  This is my weekend to celebrate 47 years on earth and I decided I was going to have one of my favorite dishes.  This dish turned out so good my husband even asked if we could have it again sometime.

The liver was purchased from Ebersole Cattle Company, they are in my food coop and have some of the best beef I've ever had.  Plus Shanen is just a cool lady, she's petite, like me!

To prepare the liver, I rinsed it very well, trimmed any tough pieces(saved them for the dog), sliced it thin then soaked for a little bit in milk.  I let the liver soak while I prepared the onions and the rice.

1 lb beef liver
2 Vidalia onions
2 tsp sugar
salt (I used Sylvia's Soulful Seasoning)
1/2 c flour
lard or cooking oil
1/3 c water

Rinse, trim and slice the liver, soak in milk while you prepare the onions.

Slice the onions in half, then into very thin slices.  Melt a few tablespoons of butter in a pan and add onions.  When onions are limp, sprinkle with sugar and cook until they caramelize.

Drain liver well, salt and pepper, then toss liberally with flour until each piece is coated.  Remove onions when caramelized, and in same pan,  melt a few more tablespoons of butter and a tablespoon or two of lard, or use cooking oil over med heat.  When oil butter mixture is hot, add liver, cook until browned on one side then turn,  only turn once.  Return onions to pan with liver, when liver is just cooked, add water and let cook and bubble until a gravy forms.

Serve over steamed rice.