Tag Archives: butter

How To Preserve Radishes

Radishes aren’t really a vegetable that screams out for preservation.  They’re usually eaten raw, after all.  The problem is that I compulsively preserve all of the produce we grow, and in the springtime this invariably means that there will be the odd bunch of radishes that goes unsold at the farmers market.  The unsold produce usually makes its way into our meals for the week, and yes, baby greens with thinly sliced radishes and mustard vinaigrette tastes wonderful after all of the kale we’ve been eating all winter, but we can only eat so much salad before that gets old.  True, you can also roast them in the oven and toss them with brown butter for something more unexpected.  When the temperature starts to spike up into the 80s during the day, however, roasting things for dinner just doesn’t seem very appropriate.

Over the years, I’ve managed to find a few ways to preserve the bounty of spring radishes.  Radishes are so delicate that one heat wave can ruin them —  leave them in the garden a few days too long and they turn tough and unpleasantly spicy.  It’s much better to pick them at their peak, right away, and turn them into something tasty while they’re still fresh and perfect.  These preservation methods will help extend the season a little bit, so that you don’t have to figure out how to do crazy things like eat a whole bed of radishes in four days.

Refrigerator PicklesRadishes make perfect pickles.  They’re so crunchy already, and when you put them in a brine in the fridge they’ll stay crisp for weeks.  Spiced with white wine, green garlic and fresh herbs from the spring garden, these pickles are majorly addictive.Pickled Radishes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Makes: 1 quart

Ingredients:

  • about 2 bunches of radishes
  • 1 c. pinot grigio
  • 1 c. white vinegar
  • 1 c. water
  • 3″ section of stem from green garlic  (or fresh garlic tops, or scapes would work too)
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 small sprig of fennel
  • 1 sprig marjoram
  • 1 sprig oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 tbs. kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tbs. sugar

In a nonreactive pot, combine all of the ingredients except the radishes.  Bring everything to a boil and then let it simmer for a five minutes to infuse the brine with the fresh herbs.  Turn off the heat and let it cool down a bit after this- warm is fine, but boiling hot could cook that radishes a little bit, and we don’t want that.  Meanwhile, cut the radishes into smaller pieces.  Depending on the size and shape, you can cut them into halves, quarters, wedges or rounds (whatever makes you happy).  Pack the radishes into a clean quart jar.*  Remove the cooked herbs from the brine and discard. (If you want, you can throw a sprig of something in the jar, but I like to grab a fresh sprig).  Pour the brine over them.  Screw on the lid and store in the fridge for up to 1 month.  (The radishes take about three days to taste properly pickled.)As the radishes sit in the vinegar, the red from the outside of the roots will dye the whole thing a vibrant shade of hot pink.

*Sterilize the jar to make the pickles last longer in the fridge.

Radish ButterThis is my most favorite radish recipe ever.  This year, I used it for our ugly radishes that didn’t make it to the market.  Any that are split, cracked or sat in the garden a few days too long can just be thrown right in with everything else to make this delicious spread without compromising the quality of the final product. It’s simple, too.  Just puree the radishes with your favorite kitchen appliance for pureeing things and then mix them together with softened butter and fresh herbs.  Basically, the plan is to cram the whole early spring garden into one compound butter and then eat it on toasted sourdough bread.

This lasts for a week in the fridge, and we’ve had success freezing it but I’m not sure how long it really lasts yet. (I’ll come back and update, I promise!)  So far, those jars only sit in the freezer for a week or two before we’ve polished them off.

Radish Compound Butter

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Makes: 3 half pint jars

Ingredients:

  • about 16 radishes
  • 1 1/2 c. salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tbs. chopped fresh marjoram
  • 1 tbs. thinly sliced garlic greens (from the growing tops of the garlic in the garden)
  • 2 tbs. chopped fennel fronds
  • fresh cracked black pepper

Puree the radishes in a food processor (or whatever you use.)   Add in the butter and the fresh herbs and mix until everything is thoroughly combined.  Season with fresh cracked black pepper to taste.

Paula Deen Would Be Proud Of Us

The time sure flies when you’re having fun…

So far, Cook it! 2012 has brought us all shapes and sizes of handmade pastas, a beautiful assortment of breads, and the most recent undertaking, fresh sweet butter.

Truly, nothing really says luxury like warm bread slathered with butter made from the best grass-fed cream.   I still haven’t found a local source for dairy other than the natural food store, but hopefully something will appear soon.

Or…

Maybe I need to get a cow?

Or a goat?

As usual, I loved reading the collection of everyone’s projects.  It is a constant inspiration to see the great things that other people are cooking.

Belated Bread and Butter, from Snowflake Kitchen: a touching post about making bread and butter as kitchen therapy during sad times.

Butter, and Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes with Garlic Shrimp, from Homemade Trade:  Aimee, you had me at mashed yukon gold potatoes with fresh buttermilk.  That should be a food group all to itself.

Buttermaking, from Oh Briggsy: green garlic compound butter sounds like something I could eat on pretty much everything.  More importantly, this post managed to find the theme song for the March challenge: C.R.E.A.M., from the Wu Tang Clan.  (In case you don’t have it on your iPod already, it stands for “Cash Rules Everything Around Me,” which is perfect since making good butter requires the best quality cream, which really does involve shelling out the big money.  Nice song choice, Briggsy…)

Calendula Butter, from Bunchberry Farm and Dogwood Designs:  Lots of nice ideas for using calendula in this post, including a charming calendula butter.   (Scones + calendula butter + jam =  sure sounds good to me)

Homemade Butter and Buttermilk Rum Pound Cake, from Adventures of the Kitchen Ninja: that pound cake looks divine, and that stoneware bundt pan that you scored for free at the dump? I’m jealous.

(On How Not To) Make Butter, from Grow and Resist: My favorite part of this post is that me and Meg’s four year old had the exact same thought process.  Shaking the cream in a jar = boring.  KitchenAid mixer = powerful superior technology.  You could have had the exact same shot of me dumping the jar of cream into the mixer….
And with that, we move on to the April project: cheese!

Happy cooking, everyone…

Cook it! 2012 March Resolution: Make Butter – Part 2

The New Year’s Resolution that I’ve been working on this month is making butter.  It’s a pretty great theme and has inspired several epic cooking projects.  A few weeks ago we used the buttermilk that was leftover from the butter making process to make buttermilk-marinated-bacon-fat-deep-fried-chicken that was ….too good for words.  It was dreamy.   My arteries whispered things to me about how they wanted me to do it and they didn’t care what happened.  I wish I had more of that chicken on a plate next to me right now.  We have 100 baby chicks down in the coop, and now that they’re a couple months old I’ve spotted a few roosters.  Sorry guys.  A few of you are gonna be dinner.  The post that I meant to write, before I got distracted by that fried chicken, was….

(just as ridiculous)

Buttercream frosting.

Oh yeah.    It’s not so much that I want to make a bunch of really unhealthy food, I’m just really interested in learning new things in the kitchen (I swear).  Up until this month, I had never made frosting before in my life, ever.  I don’t even really care about eating it (I have a fried chicken tooth, not a sweet tooth), but I want to know how to make these things from scratch.  I’ve worked as a professional cook in the past, and the fact that I can make really, really fancy savory things but literally cannot bake a simple chocolate chip cookie without totally ruining it somehow seems really absurd to me. I turned to Martha for a starting point, since her recipe for Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting was something that I’d noticed in the past. (Before the days of pinterest, back when you just bookmarked stuff in your web browser.)

So.  What happened, even though these pictures make it look like a continuous sequence, I completely ruined the first batch of buttercream since I have zero experience doing this.  My first batch turned out like runny pudding, which made me cringe since I just used my precious homemade butter for it.  (It won’t go to waste, though, I think it will be great on something like cinnamon french toast).  That means that the finished frosting that you see in these pictures is made with store-bought butter since I was worried about wasting a bunch of expensive cream making messed up batches of frosting.  The moral of the story:  It is so super important to follow the recipe and not change anything.  If it says “stiff glossy peaks” it means “stiff glossy peaks,” not “until you get sick of listening to the stand mixer running on the highest setting,” (Yeah, I know).

The first step in this frosting is whisking together egg whites and sugar in the mixing bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Easy enough.  (I’m assuming that most people don’t have the intermediate steps of going outside, turning on the generator for 15 minutes since power’s not set up to use a stand mixer right then, fending off the cat who is highly interested in frosting, and then bringing the whole deal back inside once it’s properly mixed.)Beat the egg whites and the sugar in a stand mixer set on high speed for 10 minutes, and it magically turns into beautiful, snow-white meringue. Once you see those stiff, glossy peaks, you can start adding in the butter, a little bit at a time.  The frosting will look like it’s broken, but if you have faith in the power of the stand mixer and just let it keep going, eventually the frosting smooths out and becomes this lovely meringue buttercream.  I was inspired by the orange tree blooming in the greenhouse and decided to scent this frosting with orange blossom water.  The scent is so bright and ethereal, somehow, and so intoxicating. and the second confession of this post:

This frosting is good and all, but it’s really not my thing.  I know, that’s weird.  These cupcakes, though-  even though I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, I’m crazy about them.  For one, I baked something, and it actually worked.  That in itself is a victory.  What’s even more exciting is the way they came out.  They’re not just good, they’re delicious, easy to make, and a great way to use up marmalade.  The texture of the rinds mixed into the cupcake batter reminded me of pannettone, an sweet Italian bread that my mom makes every Christmas.  I had debated puréeing the marmalade before I put it in the batter but I’m really happy I didn’t, because those toothsome slices of rind are what made these cupcakes so exciting. Oh, and I’m fairly certain you could call them muffins and serve them with breakfast if you want, and I can’t emphasize enough: the frosting is entirely optional.  I think they might even be better with a simple powdered sugar glaze brushed on while they’re still hot than with all the fancy looking stuff I did this time. All I did yesterday was do my taxes and pay bills, so it seemed logical that I should spend the afternoon making cupcakes today.  If you’re trying to waste time in the kitchen, it only makes sense that you should take this whole thing a step further and candy a bit of lemon rind to top off everything nicely. (Some people might do the dishes while the cupcakes are in the oven- I find a way to dirty even more of them). And there you have it! Make butter: check.  Make frosting: check.  Bake actual cupcakes that taste good and aren’t burned: check!

Orange Blossom Meringue Buttercream Frosting 

This is adapted from Martha Stewarts recipe.  The main reason I’m rewriting it here and not just linking to her recipe is that I shrank the size of the batch way down (since the last thing I need around is a giant bowl of frosting…. a small bowl is bad enough).   If you want a big batch, just use her recipe here and add orange blossom water.

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Makes: frosting for 7 or 8 cupcakes

Ingredients:

Heat a pot of water up to a simmer on the stove.  Combine the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Set the bowl over the pot of water and whisk together the sugar and egg whites until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture feels hot to the touch.  Put the mixing bowl back in the stand mixer.  Use the whisk attachment and beat the egg whites on high speed for about 10 minutes, or until you get stiff, glossy peaks.  Keep the mixer going and add the butter, one piece at a time.  The frosting will appear to have separated or broken, but just keep whisking on high for a couple more minutes until it smooths back out again.  Switch to the paddle attachment and mix at the lowest speed for five minutes to get rid of any air bubbles.

If you’re using the frosting within a few hours, leave it out, covered, at room temperature so that it stays soft and spreadable.  If you make it in advance, store it in the fridge and give it a few minutes in the mixer on low to soften it back up when you’re ready to use it.

*FYI: one stick of butter has 8 tablespoons or 1/2 cup.  The original recipe didn’t really divide into perfect even numbers here, unfortunately, hence the 1/3 stick of butter.
Marmalade Cupcakes

This recipe came out so well – I’ll definitely be making it again. I used another Martha recipe here as a framework since, well… I don’t have my own secret cupcake recipe perfected.  Soon.

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Makes: 7 cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 4 tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c. meyer lemon marmalade (or really any marmalade….)
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/3 c. milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place cupcake liners in a cupcake tin and set aside.

Cream together the sugar and butter until it’s light and fluffy.  Add in the egg and mix well.  Add the lemon marmalade and mix well.  In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. Combine the flour mixture into the marmalade mixture, alternating flour with milk and stirring after each addition.  Stir gently just to combine everything.  Spoon the cupcake batter into the muffin tin, filling each cupcake liner about 2/3 full of batter.

Candied Lemon Peel
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Makes: garnish for above cupcakes
Ingredients:
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 2/3 c. sugar + 1/4 c. sugar
  • peel from 1/4 of a lemon

In a small saucepan, combine the water and 2/3 c. sugar.  Cook on high heat, stirring occasionally, to dissolve the sugar.  Meanwhile, use a sharp knife to a cut a few strips of peel off a lemon, trying to get only the yellow zest and little of the white pith.  Lay the peel on a cutting board and slice it into very thin strips.  Once the sugar has dissolved and the syrup is boiling, add the strips.  Cook for a few minutes on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. When the lemon strips turn translucent, turn off the heat and use a fork to remove them from the syrup. Toss the candied lemon strips in the remaining sugar and then lay them on a paper towel to dry.  The candied lemon is ready to use once it’s cooled down.

Sunshine and Citrus

The sun is finally out!  The daffodils are blooming….


 

And right when I should be out in the garden, pulling up bolting winter greens and replanting with spring crops, a friend with a backyard full of citrus trees dropped off these lovely presents….

 

So, sometimes I have issues with how much sugar is in jam, and I feel bad that I’m basically making candy.  Sometimes I think I should be making raw vegan soups or something.

The answer?

Butter, and eggs.  Lots of eggs.

Bright orange, creamy yolked, laid-this-morning, free range spring eggs…

This is hands down, the most delicious thing in a jar that I have ever made.  I want to put on sweatpants and lie on the couch and watch tv and eat the whole thing right out of the jar all by myself.  Seriously.

GRAPEFRUIT SCENTED LEMON CURD

makes: 4 1/2 pint jars

cook time: about 45 minutes


People get all crazy about canning lemon curd, the butter and the eggs being the main safety concern.  Recipes run the gamut- some claim that it’s never safe to can at all, that you have to freeze the curd or use it immediately.  Other recipes say that lemon curd is safe to can if you use bottled lemon juice, for the reliable acid content.  Here’s my two cents (follow at your own risk):

  • I found a recipe for lemon curd that was developed by the National Center for Home Food Preservation.  It uses the boiling water processing method and was deemed safe for canning. “National Center for Home Food Preservation” sounds really official so I’m going to trust them.
  • I used fresh lemon juice instead of bottled lemon juice.  Careful though: Meyer lemons are not acidic enough, so don’t use them.
  • The National Food Preservation people are saying that canned lemon curd has a shelf-life of 3-4 months, much shorter than the multiple year shelf life of jam or jelly.

After all that background information, let’s get to the recipe. The ingredients are only slightly adapted from the official recipe that I mentioned earlier, but the cooking technique is much different.  Most recipes call for a double boiler (to avoid curdling the eggs and ending up with chunks of cooked egg whites) but I think that makes everything overly complicated.  I’ve made it twice now without a double boiler, and no curdled eggs.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 c. fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 3/4 c. unsalted cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 c. grapefruit zest
  • 1/4 c. orange zest
  • 4 whole eggs, beaten thoroughly (they should be airy and light, with no little bits of white floating around any more)
  • 7 egg yolks

Bring boiling water canner to a boil. Wash jars and lids in hot soapy water.  Put lids in a bowl and cover with boiling water from the canner.

Zest your fruit.

Combine zest and sugar in a bowl, mix well, and set aside for 20 minutes to let the flavors meld.  At this point, you will be surprised at how amazing everything is smelling.  Your kitchen will be an explosion of grapefruity brightness.

Juice your lemons while the sugar is doing its thing…

Prep your eggs: thoroughly beat 4 whole eggs until they are light and airy, with little bubbles from the intense whisking you’ve done.  Make absolutely sure there are no little bits of white floating around still.

Separate out seven egg yolks, and whisk them into the beaten egg mixture.  (Set aside the egg whites for something else, like angel food cake).

Now combine all the ingredients in a medium-large non-reactive pot.

Now turn the burner on as LOW as it will go, and whisk like crazy! We’re trying to incorporate the ingredients together slowly and consistently, avoiding high heat that could cook curdle the eggs. It’s hard work, but think of the sexy, rippling arm muscles you’ll have! And the smooth, luscious curd.

Once the butter has melted, turn the heat to medium and keep whisking.  Do not stop whisking.  Civilization could collapse while you’re making this, but if you want a smooth curd, you must not get distracted and stop whisking.  It will seem like nothing is happening and you will curse yourself for deciding to make this recipe because your arms are getting tired.  But then….  the mixture will start to thicken, and start to seem more like the consistency of pudding.  After another minute or two, the mixture will be thick enough that when you pull the whisk across the bottom of the pan, you will see the metal for a few moments because the curd is starting to hold its shape.

about the right consistency

Remove the pot from the heat. If you want, you can run the curd through a metal strainer at this point to remove the zest. Some people find the texture off-putting. I don’t, so I left it in.  Ladle hot curd into hot jars leaving 1/2″ headspace. Wipe jar rims clean and attach lids. I processed the half pint jars for 30 minutes, which is a little more than the National Center for Home Food Preservation recommended, but I figured “round up, just to be sure.”

Serving recommendations:

This curd is amazing with almost anything.  Mix some into yogurt.  Fold it into whipped cream and top with berries. Spoon some over angel food cake or pound cake.  The possibilities are endless!