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Cultured butter

August 22, 2020

Butter is surprisingly easy to make at home, and even better–you can make cultured butter with its richer and more interesting taste. This is nothing more than butter made from cream that has been allowed to ferment a bit.

  • 4 c heavy or whipping cream, preferably not ultrapasteurized
  • 1/2 c plain whole milk yogurt.
  • Kosher salt (optional)

Thoroughly mix the cream and yogurt, cover loosely, and let sit on the counter for 24-46 hours. It will thicken a bit and taste a bit tangy. Put in the fridge for an hour or two to chill down to 55-60 degrees.

Put cream mixture in a food processor. Zap it until it “breaks” — this can take as little as 2 minutes or as many as 6. When it breaks it will be very obvious–the mixture will quickly go from looking sort of like whipped cream to a bunch of small yellow globs floating in a pale liquid (that’s the buttermilk). Pour into a strainer lined with a couple of layers of cheesecloth and let drain.

Have some ice water ready. Transfer the ball of butter to a bowl and add 1/2 c ice water. Mush the butter around with your fingers to wash out remaining buttermilk. Pour off the liquid and repeat 2-3 times until the liquid runs clear. If you want salted butter, knead in 1/2 tsp salt. That’s it– you have butter. You can use wax paper to roll it into one or more logs, press it into small ramekins, etc. Keeps refrigerated for a couple of weeks and can be frozen.

Note: You can save the buttermilk and use it for all sorts of things. Apparently pigs love it. On a more realistic note, use it in baking, add to cream soups, etc. Be aware that this traditional buttermilk is not the same as the cultured buttermilk sold in markets and the two cannot be used interchangeably.

Tomato galette

August 14, 2020

It’s the peak of tomato season as I write this, and as an avowed tomato lover I am always looking for creative ways to use them. This galette is relatively simple and is a delicious and elegant addition to a summery dinner or alone as a light lunch. I think it’s best served warm–not hot–or at room temperature.

  • Your favorite homemade pie crust. If you make enough for a 2-crust pie, you will use only half and the rest can be frozen. Or, use store-bought.
  • 1-1/2 lb ripe tomatoes (about 3 medium)
  • 1-1/2 c grated or crumbled cheese (cheddar, feta, gouda, asiago, etc.)
  • 1/3 c pesto (see note below)
  • 2 large or 4 small cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 2 TB snipped chives or thinly slivered basil

Note: If you don’t have pesto, you can finely mince 1/2 c fresh basil leaves and mix with olive oil and a pinch of salt to make a paste.

Make the dough and let sit in the fridge while completing the other steps.

Heat oven to 400 degrees with rack in middle position.

Slice the tomatoes 1/4 inch thick and sprinkle with 1/2 TB salt. Let sit in a colander to drain for at least 20 min. Spread out on a double layer of paper towels and put another double layer on top, pressing down lightly with your hand. Let sit while you roll out the dough. Getting the excess moisture out prevents a soggy galette.

Put the dough on a piece of parchment paper and roll to a 14 inch circle. Trim the edge if needed–it does not have to be perfectly smooth. Trim excess parchment.

Spread the pesto over the dough, leaving 1-1/2 inches clear around the edge. Sprinkle half of the cheese over the pesto followed by half the tomatoes, half the garlic, and a grinding of pepper. Repeat.

Fold the bare edges of the dough up and over the filling. Slide the assembly onto a baking sheet and brush the edges with egg. Bake, rotating the baking sheet half a turn at 30 min. Start checking at 50 min. It is done when the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling in places.

Remove from oven, sprinkle with chives or basil, and let cool for about 10 min before transferring to a rack. Remove parchment.


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