Thursday, February 18, 2010

Buttah!

Butter. I can never think about butter anymore without remembering this story...

A while back, when I was home in Chicago, an older Assyrian woman said to me (after finding out I can cook dolma):

"You're smart, beautiful AND can cook. Women like you are like butter on a warm piece of bread."

I can just imagine all the feminists out there getting their panties in a tizzy with a statement like that, as the compliment semi-implies that I'll make a perfect (subservient) domestic house-wifey one day, even with all my brains and beauty.

But I'd have to disagree. I took that phrase as a great compliment, implications and all. I guess I just realize that we're raised in very different cultures/eras. So while I don't ever quite see myself as the barefoot and pregnant type, that doesn't mean I don't take pride in the fact that I CAN make a mean Assyrian meal.

And honestly, Middle Easterners LOVE their bread. And what's the best thing on bread? Butter! (Buttah makes it bettah.) So how on earth could I take offense to being compared to such a wonderful thing??

Anyways, I digress. The reason I bring up this story is that today I made butter!

I bought heavy cream to make blood-orange caramels but only used 1/3 cup of it. As I'm trying to eat a bit healthier I didn't really want to start making a ton of meals using the leftover cream.  Plus, I hate throwing food away, so what to do with all that heavy cream? Make butter! I've always wanted to try it so this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Butter success.

Delicious, home-made butter.

Read along to find out how to make your own butter. And trust me, it's ridiculously easy. (Ummmmm, that is one way in which I am NOT like butter...)



First you need some cream.

Pour cream into a mixer fit with a whip attachment, add salt and whip on high for ~3-5+ minutes (i.e. whip the living daylights out of the cream).

You'll notice the evolution of the cream above. First it takes on the consistency of perfectly whipped cream. Then it becomes thicker, almost like a buttercream frosting. Then it starts to deflate and starts taking on a more yellow-ish appearance.

Then, at a certain point, it breaks!


Hot tip: ever try to make some whipped cream and accidentally over-whip it? Well, my advice to you at that point is to screw the whipped cream and just keep whipping to make some sweet butter. :)

The solids are the butter. They look like a yellowish cottage cheese to me.


And the liquid in the bowl is the residual buttermilk.

First thing you want to do is strain the buttermilk.

So now we technically have butter! But the buttermilk surrounding the butter will cause it to spoil quickly, so if you want your butter to have a long shelf life, you have to "wash" the butter.

Place the strained butter in a bowl and cover with ice-cold water. You can see here how the liquid still looks pretty milky.

Use a fork or pastry cutter to work the butter (to remove as much buttermilk as possible).

Drain butter, add ice-cold water, use pastry cutter/fork and repeat. After a few times (this was rinse #4) the water should be clear.

BUTTER!

At this point I grabbed the butter, and working quickly, I squeezed it into a ball to remove as much liquid as I could. I say working quickly because you don't want the heat from your hand to melt the butter.

If you want, feel free to add any herbs, honey, citrus, garlic, whatever you want to flavor your butter. I kept mine plain...this time.

To store the butter, wrap in wax or parchment paper and keep in the fridge or freezer.  BUT if you have a sushi roller, use that to easily form pretty little sticks of butter.

Here's 1/2 of the butter I got from my prep (post-squeezing), ready to be rolled.

Not too shabby for my first time making butter.

And just compare the color. Homemade butter definitely has a richer color and creaminess to it.

mmmmmm, butter...

So how was it?? Delicious and smooth and creamy and delicate. But just like me, I think it deserves the best piece of bread. (hahaha)

Which brings me to my next culinary goal: homemade whole-wheat bread. Adventures for this weekend!

Buen Provecho,
Jackie

Homemade Butter

Ingredients
16 oz whipping cream
1 tsp salt (see note below)

Directions
Using food processor or a mixer with a whip attachment, whip the cream until solids form. At this point you'll have butter (solid) and buttermilk (liquid).

Strain the butter to remove buttermilk. Place butter in a bowl and rinse in ice-cold water to remove all residual buttermilk. (This prevents the buttermilk from spoiling the butter.) Use a pastry cutter or fork to break apart the butter to thoroughly rinse it. Repeat until liquids run clear (3-4+ times).

Using your hands, form the butter in a ball and smash together to squeeze out the water. Divide in half and roll each piece of butter in wax or parchment paper (use a sushi roller if you have one). Freeze or store in fridge. Enjoy!

Note:
The recipe I used asked for 1/2 tsp, which I felt was not enough for a salted butter. Add as much/little salt as you want. If you're making this a sweet butter (i.e. honey butter) you may want to eliminate the salt or use very little.

Feel free to add honey, herbs, etc to the butter after the rinsing stage. It's definitely a blank canvas for flavors!

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