Category Archives: odds and ends
Making butter at home is a lost art. I know it’s so easy to just plunk down your 5 bucks at the grocery store for butter and be done with it, but that doesn’t come with the same satisfaction and pride in making something yourself. Plus, on top of having some top quality butter, you’ll be left with a couple cups of great buttermilk, which you can use to make me some crazy good pancakes or fried chicken.
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It’s really not that hard, or time consuming to make a batch of butter yourself. Truth be told, half the job is just sitting around doing nothing… which is probably what you were going to do with your free time anyways, right? Slackers.
The ingredient list is admittedly daunting….
- Whipping Cream (1L)
- See above.
Ok, so maybe you’ll add 1/2- 1 tsp of salt at the end if you want salted butter, but that’s it.
Before we get started, I must tell you that my inspiration for doing this in the first place was Stephanie, whose own blog post on the joys of butter making you can find at Clockwork Lemon. She used a food processor instead of the mixer that I’m using, but it seems to work about the same.
Start by pouring your room temperature cream into your mixer and attaching the whisk.
Turn the mixer on medium speed. You can go slower, but it’ll just take longer. Too fast and you’ll be splashing all over the place.
At this point not much is required of you. Take a seat, and let the mixer do all that labour for you.
You’re going to watch the cream go from the initial stage, and gradually get thicker. It’s going to get to whipped cream stage and you’ll be tempted to throw in some sugar and eat the entire bowl over the sink like a jilted cat-lady, but you must resist. You may however scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure even mixing.
Continue beating the cream and quickly that whipped cream will start to coagulate and look more like curds.
At this point you might be thinking you’ve ruined it, but don’t panic. Just keep mixing. At this stage I’d recommend watching carefully or else this will happen…
Eventually all the butterfat will start to glob together and separate from the buttermilk. When that happens, stop the mixer and drain the buttermilk into a container.
At this stage you have your butter, but if you rinse it a few times with ice cold water to remove any remaining buttermilk it will last much longer. I tried mixing it again and splashing it with cold water, but that was a pain in the butt. I found just kneading it in ice water to rinse was an easier process. I think next time i’ll use the mixer, but put on the dough hook instead of the whisk for the rinsing process. Whatever method you want to use, the more buttermilk you rinse out the longer it’ll last.
The final step is to squeeze out as much moisture as you can. You can do this with cheesecloth, or j-cloths. This last batch, I just got my hands ice cold and squeezed with them, sans cheesecloth.
If you so desire, mix in a half tsp to a full tsp of salt.
The yield should be about a pound of butter.
Homemade Goat Cheese- Inspired by CHARCUT
A few weeks ago, Robyn, Chris, and I attended a cooking demonstration put on by former Top Chef Canada contestant (2nd runner up), and co-owner of outstanding Calgary restaurant CHARCUT, Connie DeSousa.
Connie’s demonstration was all about making homemade goat cheese. Perfect, I love goat cheese! And since goat cheese and my wallet are natural enemies, this was going to save me a bundle! But wouldn’t making your own cheese be a long, arduous, complicated process that requires years of expertise and skills?
Connie assured the crowd that it was, in fact, dead easy.
She was right!
The tables were filled with instructions sheets on how to make CHARCUT’s goat cheese and beet salad. I’m focusing on the goat cheese only, so I’ve cropped the recipe for you from the official instructions.
I made my first batch of cheese last week , using some random goats milk from Superstore. The result was ok, but very mild. In fact most of the flavour seemed to be from my seasonings, and not the cheese itself.
For this weeks batch, I used Fairwinds Farm organic goat milk. The first batch was good, but the second batch was outstanding. I was a bit stunned at just how much difference there was. Batch 2 was much more flavourful, creamier, and had a better texture. So I guess the lesson here is to not be such a cheapskate and start with quality ingredients. Heck, you’re saving tons of dough here anyways, so splurge a little.
Pour the milk, yogurt, and whipping cream into a pot. Whisk together and add a pouch of your favourite herbs. I used fresh dill stems and a bit of rosemary, because that’s what I had. To be honest, I don’t think I used enough but I wanted to be sure not to overpower the cheese flavour.
Bring the mixture up to 100 degrees F and remove from heat. Remove your spice pouch and stir in the dissolved rennet for a few seconds until curds start to form, then cover and let sit 1 hour.
When you come back, the curds should have formed a large mass. Slice the mass with a knife in a criss cross pattern.
Pour the curds into a sieve lined with cheesecloth. I had no luck finding cheesecloth at the first 2 stores I tried, so I took a friends suggestion and used a clean J-cloth. It worked like a charm!
Next, I folded the j-cloth over the top, and weighted the curds down with a couple soup cans in a gladware container.
After about an hour, I dumped the cheese into a bowl and mixed in some seasonings. This step is optional, and you may only want to add salt and pepper at this stage. I added a teaspoon of Herbs de Provence and a teaspoon of salt. Pepper to taste.
Mix the seasoning in thoroughly and return it to the cheese cloth. Weight it down overnight at minimum.
Next day you can give it a taste test and re-season as desired.
Pretzel buns- A carnival in your mouth
I am not a baker.
Wait, let me re-phrase that. Technically, I can bake. In the same fashion that a hockey player could do your taxes. It can be done, but is it a good idea? I think not.
My numerous attempts at bread making have been an unmitigated disaster, and my cakes and cookies turn out more like bricks and pucks. And I’ve always wanted to be able to bake bread like this.
But with the addition of this little beauty to my kitchen…
…I’m hoping to turn around my misfortunes.
My first foray back into baking needed to be delicious enough to inspire me to continue, yet easy enough that a dumb dumb like me could have success.
What I came up with was these amazing pretzel buns.
Never heard of a pretzel bun? Don’t worry, neither had I until I saw them on an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. And ever since then i’ve wanted to give them a try. I’ve made them 3 times so far, and i’ve been really impressed with the results.
So here’s the recipe and your step by step guide to not screwing it up.
- 1 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
- 1 (1/4-ounce) envelope active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
- Vegetable oil
- 2 3/4 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
- 6 cups water
- 1/4 cup baking soda
To start, sprinkle the yeast into the warm water in your mixing bowl. Leave for approximately 5 minutes until it starts to foam.
- Whisk the flour, sugar, and salt together.
- Attach the dough hook, and start on low speed.
- Add the flour mixture and mix on low/med for about 5 minutes or until the dough is elastic and smooth.
- Form the dough into a ball, place in an oiled bowl, and cover with a moist towel to rise 30-35 minutes in a warm place.
- Punch down the dough, and knead it for another minute. cut into 8 equal sized balls and cut an X in the top.
- Place dough balls on a baking sheet and cover again with the damp towel.
- After about 15 or 20 minutes the dough will have risen suitably and it’s time for the fun part.
- Boil the 6 cups of water and add the baking soda. It will bubble furiously but don’t worry, that’s normal.
- Drop the dough into the boiling mixture 2 at a time and boil for about 30 seconds per side. (some recipes call for 2 minutes per side, but I found this made the dough a bit soggy)
- Drain on a wire rack and sprinkle with salt.
- Place the boiled dough balls back on your baking sheet.
- Put the tray of buns in your preheated 425 degree oven for 10-12 minutes. In the meantime, you can do this….
They have a unique dark colour to them, and a distinct pretzel flavour that I absolutely love. I could hardly wait for them to cool enough to crack one open and butter/ devour it.
I did find a couple things of note during the making of my 3 batches. First, when kneeding the balls try not to create large folds in the dough that can trap water during the boiling process. This will lead to very soggy spots in the finished product.
Secondly, the pretzel flavour seemed to dissipate the longer they sat unconsumed on the counter. The sooner you eat them the better. Or freeze whatever you’re not using quickly.
Thirdly, they are fantastic toasted with butter, but as Robyn found out they are not good warmed in the microwave. They got spongey, and soggy. Be warned.
So go ahead and try these out, and let me know what you think. In the meantime, if anyone needs me i’ll be making myself a sandwich.