Butter. I know that I’m not supposed to admit this but I love it. There are certain things that it’s impossible to make without it…..can you imagine a croissant made with margarine? Impossible. Give me a break…there’s a reason Paula Dean is always so happy and that French cuisine is still considered to be one of the worlds finest.. “Buttery” is a term that we use to describe delicious wines and creamy cheeses and even some of the worlds most gorgeous women have been described as having buttery soft skin. Could there ever be Maine lobster drenched in olive oil? Or, a clambake without those adorable little pots of drawn butter? The thought of it is simply a sacrilege. No self respecting roux will ever be made with Earth Balance soy butter so please don’t even try! In fact unless you are on a totally restricted diet it’s okay to have a bit every now and then, in fact I say that it’s absolutely necessary.
For all of it’s vilification a little bit of butter every now and then has been discovered to help a weight reduction diet produce the desired results. We need that rich and satisfying mouth feel that butter promotes because that’s the pleasure that sends the trigger to our brains letting us know that we’ve eaten enough. One of my mothers favorite cooking secrets was to melt a little bit of butter with olive oil in a sauté’ pan full of vegetables. Just a ½ a teaspoonful can easily do the trick, providing just the right flavor with all of the healthy benefits of the Mediterranean diet!
If you’ve never tried to make your own butter it’s quite an easy process and a hit with small children who just adore the process of putting a bunch of cream into the Cuisinart and turning it on to see what happens. You can also do this in a Vitamix if you’ve got one or a very high speed blender. Just be sure to start with the freshest heavy cream and please use organic because it really does make a difference!
To begin you’ll put two pints of fresh heavy cream into the bowl of a cuisinart fitted with the metal blades. Close the lid and pulse away! First you will see the fresh cream just spinning around in the bowl but suddenly the little buttery specks will start to form. Keep pulsing. Soon you will begin to see a large ball of butter beginning to form and separate from the buttermilk. Eventually you will have a large amount of fresh butter! At this point take the butter out of the bowl of the Cuisinart , shape it into a ball and wrap it in a bit of cheesecloth placing the ball of fresh butter in a small bowl to drain some more. You’ll be amazed at how much liquid will still be produced! Reserve the buttermilk for baking or feed it to your animals. My cats love it so much that they’ll fight over it! The next day you can salt your butter and mix it with fresh or dried herbs. It won’t have the same color as butter that you buy in the store because you haven’t added anything strange to it and it will be absolutely delicious! I love to season my fresh butter with sea salt, garlic and fresh herbs to brush onto grilled bread or sweet corn, or whip it up with cinnamon and raw honey for a wonderful spread for warm cornbread. This same butter , blended with a few capers and a bit of garlic and salt and fine herbs creates a wonderful finishing sauce when melted over a perfectly cooked steak or salmon filet!
For even more fun why don’t you buy a cute little butter mold and create pretty molded butter pats in whatever shape suits the season or your fancy. You can still find beautiful old fashioned butter molds in many antique stores and they are lovely to display in your kitchen when they’re not in use.Chill the molded pats of butter and serve them to your guests on individual butter plates with some gorgeous crusty bread. Delicious!
Another wonderful thing to make yourself is Ghee, one of the most mysterious and delicious staples of Indian cuisine . Ghee is actually clarified butter and it is very easy to make at home. Store bought Ghee can be very expensive though and you can make it at home for a fraction of the price. Ghee or clarified butter has many uses including drawn butter for clams and lobsters and the topping for an old fashioned British potted shrimp or beef.
Ghee makes a wonderful massage oil, especially when whipped with a beautiful essential oil such as ylang ylang or jasmine and some coconut oil. Used either directly as a soothing moisturizer or scooped into a hot bath as a fragrant bath oil it is luxurious and absolutely wonderful for your skin! Anything that you make with butter is better when made with Ghee because of the purity of its taste. Because it has a much higher smoke point than regular butter it is wonderful for sautéing . So don’t be intimidated, it’s easy to make your first batch! You’ll start with a pound of sweet unsalted butter. Remember, the fresher the butter , the better the ghee , so you might even try making your Ghee with your own homemade butter! Put the butter in a deep saucepan and bring up the heat. You’ll know that you have it right when it begins to simmer and the liquid begins to evaporate and the milk solids begin to cook and coagulate together. Keep skimming off the milk solids while the butter is simmering, you want to remove all of them ! It will take about ½ hour but you will eventually have completely clarified , golden butter that’s delicious and ready to use. Pour the hot butter into a jar and refrigerate for use as needed. I just can’t think of a better flavor than this one melted over fresh asparagus or used as a dip for a simple steamed artichoke. Squeeze a bit of lemon, add a bit of salt and pepper to taste and that’s all you’ll need!
Now why don’t you sail on buttercup petals over to Roxana Villas lovely Illuminated journal to read her fragrant musings about Butter!Photograph of Whipped Cream : http://culinarymasterclass.com