Archive for the ‘Basics’ Category
As you have just seen on the video, compound butter is, quite simply made up of a stick of butter combined with some finely minced herbs or vegetables. The combinations are endless. Possible ingredients include herbs and spices, such as basil, thyme, oregeno, saffron, chives, or aromatic vegetables such as shallots, garlic and ginger. You can use compound butters in a million ways. They are great to serve with fresh bread, the obvious choice, but equally great served on top of a sizzling steak, grilled chicken, fish or really any place you use butter in a savory dish. We recently made a whole nourishing meal in five minutes by adding basil butter to a pound of pasta and dumping a pint of cherry tomatoes in the bowl. It was amazing. Just remember one of the key rules to cooking: simple and fresh ingredients, always result in great food.
Start with butter. Not this much. About a stick’s worth will do. You’re going to have to cut through it, so you don’t want it to be too frozen, but not too warm because then it will get mushy. Basically just don’t wait too long after taking it out of the fridge to use it.
Then find yourself a heaping half cup of basil, and finely chop it. Remember that the amount of herbs or vegetables you use will vary greatly depending on the ingredient you choose to use. Here we are using a ½ cup of basil, but you certainly wouldn’t use a ½ cup of ginger or garlic since it would be overwhelming. In the case of garlic or ginger, a couple of tablespoons would do, depending on your taste. You’ll have to play around with it.
Using a chefs knife, cut the butter and herbs together until they come together and are well combined.
Once the butter and basil are well combined place the butter on a sheet of wax or parchment paper (use wax paper if you have it since it is a lot cheaper and serves the same purpose). Shape the butter into a log.
Cover the roll with the sheet of wax or parchment paper. Once covered, gently roll the covered butter back and forth until the log is round and looks like a log.
Twist the ends of the log to look like a candy wrapper and place in the refrigerator for one hour or longer (you may also put it in the freezer for ½ hour if pressed for time, but don’t forget it!) Unwrap the butter and place it on a pretty plate, cutting thin slices while it is still firm. Cover any leftovers with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator. The butter will keep for a week or longer.
So here’s the challenge for you. Make your own compound butter (even combine more than one herb or vegetable), and let us know how you used them. We can’t wait to see your comments!
As you can see in the video above, making salad dressing is so easy you can practically do it in your sleep! In the video you can see a demo of what making dressing looks like, and tips on what vinegars to buy – and where to get them for cheap! But here are some quick refresher notes!
The combinations are endless depending on the flavor of vinegar and herbs you choose. Salad dressing is a simple ratio of 3:1, oil to vinegar. So let’s say you want to use 1/3 cup vinegar, you would need 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil (or another oil if you like, depending on the flavor you want). If you wanted to use ¼ cup of vinegar, you would use ¾ cup of oil.
But we can’t just combine them and call it a day! That would be an unspeakably, tragically boring… and also they would separate. First we need to add salt and pepper to the vinegar. And you can throw in a teaspoon or two of anyherb you like – see what is in your fridge or garden, especially in the warmer months. It is actually a good way to use herbs that are wilting, or slightly past their peak because they are going to be finely chopped. If the fresh herb cupboard is bare, you can add a ½ a teaspoon or more of most any dried herb
If you want a dressing that stays suspended/emulsified, add a teaspoon or two of dijon or whole grain mustard and mix well. It’s the same process we use to make mayonnaise. We are essentially forcing the oil and vinegar to mix against their will… cruel, but you gotta do what you gotta do.
Now you are ready to whisk in the oil, but do it very gradually or it will not combine properly.
You did it! As you can see, the dressing looks a little cloudy. That’s how you know the oil and vinegar are suspended and will remain mixed, at least for a little while. It won’t last forever, so if you aren’t pouring the oil on right away, be sure to give it another good whisk before you pour it on to salad greens.
The great thing about dressing is that it lasts for days. Ball canning jars are great for storing and (little known fact) you can get them at Wal-Mart for just $6 for 12! If you store it, just be sure to take it out of the refrigerator about an hour before you use it so the oil has a chance to come to room temperature. Then give it a good whisk/shake, pour it over your salad and enjoy!
Learn more about nature’s most important seasoning as we go well beyond the basics in the second video in our new online cooking course! These online classes will help you go from wherever you are on your culinary journey to being the best cook you know. We may be starting with the fundamentals, but trust us, everyone has something to learn from these classes. Check out the video here!