I can’t believe it’s…. butter

It’s been a while since the little Chef and I have had a good kitchen adventure; our schedules rarely line up these days. So we decided on a quick, inexpensive experiment that could be done with minimal ingredients/preparation. Something that could be done while dinner was cooking.

Butter. Smooth, creamy butter.
The ingredients are simple enough: Heavy Cream.
The preparation is simple enough as well; put the cream into the kichenaid mixer and whip until the butter solids have separated from the butter milk.

I ran the mixer on a medium/fast setting (six, I believe) and did kitchen busy work while it whipped. (ok; I sat there watching it like a hawk as it thickened) First came whipped cream; a familiar texture and color. But as it whipped the color and consistency started to change. White became yellow and fluffy became chunky. The butter solids were pulling away from the buttermilk which is when I knew that the whipping phase was completed.

The next step was fairly “icky”. I pulled all of the solids out of the buttermilk (which hasn’t been fermented like storebought buttermilk) and began expressing the remaining milk from them. The heat of my hands/friction started melting the butter as I “squished” out the excess milk. Once all of the liquid was expressed, we pulled it into two batches to be seasoned.

I used slightly more than 1/4tsp of sea salt in the first ‘butterball’ and a little over 1/4tsp of truffle sea salt in the second. Claire had stepped out to buy a loaf of crusty bread, so by the time the butter was finished we were ready to try it out. For our first attempt I’m happy to say that it came out perfect.


Late Night Cravings- an update

Update on my Late Night Cravings post:

Cured beef.
Wow. I didn’t expect my first attempt to come out this flavorful. The curing solution of sugar/salt with the worcestershire black pepper and truffle salt gave the meat a very distinct taste; leaving a softer than jerky texture and dark brown/purple-ish color. I sliced it on the meat slicer into 1/4″ wide strips after rubbing it with a black pepper rub. Next time, I’ll use a thicker steak. Total cost on this was about $3.50 sugar/salt use included.

Chai Tea Ice Cream.
It came out great. Spice-full. Maybe too much. I haven’t decided yet. I used six Tazo tea bags and I think four or five might have been enough. But the finished product is still immensely good. I could see eating it with a slice of pumpkin pie.

I’m thinking about making pickles this week; if it works out, expect an update!

Duck Prosciutto

I first tried duck prosciutto at DiBruno Brother’s in the Italian Market here in Philadelphia. Thinly sliced; salty, fatty and perfectly paired with melon or a nice strong cheese. The downside was price: $35/lb or thereabouts.

My cooking partner/Little Chef Claire and I took the bull by the horns and decided to try our hands at home curing our own prosciutto. My New Years Resolution for 2010 was to get into dry curing, so this simple project was a good starting point. The recipe we used was taken from Ruhlman’s excellent “Charcuterie: The craft of salting, smoking, and curing”.

We headed back to the Italian Market and stopped into D’Angelo Brothers. Sonny set me up with a nice fatty Moulard Magret duck’s breast. These ducks are raised to produce Foie Gras and are extra fatty. The breast itself was just over a pound and came from a local organic farm.

Total cost: $19.

The breast was packed in kosher salt and allowed to sit for 24hrs. I mean packed. I used half a box of salt to make sure the meat was fully covered. Wrapped the container in plastic wrap and placed in the refrigerator to start the curing process. I was like a kid at Christmas waiting the 24 hours. Patience when it comes to delicious foodstuffs is not exactly my strong point. Once the clock hit 24hrs I removed the breast from the salt, washed it thoroughly and started the next step: Seasoning.

We mixed cracked black pepper corns and course sea salt and rubbed the duck down with it. Claire topped it with a fresh sprig of Rosemary, wrapped it with one full wrap of cheesecloth and tied it with butcher’s twine in preparation for the drying process.

This is where patience came back into play: The duck had to cure a week. Seven days with it hanging in my basement (which is luckily temperature and humidity controlled) before I could cut it down, unwrap it and get to the business of eating it. Every day I watched the butcher’s string getting looser; over the course of the drying process the duck breast loses about 20%+ of it’s weight. I had to make adjustments to the wrapping, check the heat/humidity and check the time to see how many days were left.

At seven full days I finally got a chance to unwrap it. I shaved a few thin slices off and decided that it could stay hanging an additional day or two. We re-wrapped it and put it back on the hook. Two days later it was ready to go. Tangy. Pungent. Gamey. We served it for the first time with a few cheeses and dry cured salami. The taste was spectacular as was knowing that Claire and I made it.

Subsequent breasts have been rubbed with truffle salt and other spices to vary the taste.

This is a simple process that’s very fun to DIY…. why buy it when you can make it!