Saturday, April 14, 2012

Butter - Cook It! 2012: March Resolution + Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes with Garlic Shrimp Recipe

Sweet, fresh butter
It is the simplest of foods that sometimes bring the most joy. If I would have known before now that 1 cup of heavy cream and a hand mixer could produce the sweetest, softest, freshest butter...well it would've been trouble. Butter would undoubtedly be slathered on everything. 

Thanks to month three of Grow It Can It Cook It's Cook It! 2012 kitchen resolutions, that is just what happened. Oh well, consider it a celebration of spring. Fresh cream turned into fresh butter eaten on fresh bread in the sunshine  what could be better? 

There are a few modern variations of technique for making your own butter. You can use a jar, or you can use either a stand mixer or hand mixer. I went the hand mixer route, and followed the steps described here, but for ingredients I just used 1 cup of Strauss Family Creamery heavy whipping cream. After all the buttermilk was extracted, the butter was so sweet and delicious tasting I debated whether to add salt at all. Finally I went with 1/4 tsp kosher salt (mostly b/c the bf prefers salted butter), but you could easily skip it or add more to taste.

Cream and a hand mixer is all it took

I started out on low to minimize splattering

After about 5 minutes, I turned up the speed to medium

Kept it on medium for about 5 minutes

Once it started to thicken up, I switched to high speed

At the beginnings of butter, I switched back to medium speed

Slowly you'll start to see moisture appearing

Pour off the buttermilk as it begins to separate

It looks like runny scrambled eggs at this stage, right?

Becoming creamier

Looks like butter!
Keep adding very cold water & mixing until water is clear

Once done, knead it together like dough with your hands


The final yield: a ball of butter & half a cup of buttermilk
First things first, I spread it on fresh olive bread

“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.”  - James Beard

Recipe for Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes with Garlic Shrimp

Since I had produced half a cup of buttermilk from this whole process, mashed potatoes seemed like just the thing. Topped with garlic shrimp it was the perfect easy, fast dinner.

1 1/2 lb Yukon gold potatoes
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 Tb butter
20-24 shrimp (choose quantity depending on size of shrimp; you can use fresh or frozen  either cooked or uncooked  just adjust cooking times accordingly)
1-2 Tb olive oil
2 large cloves of garlic, diced
Lemon zest 
Italian parsley for garnish
Sriracha or other hot sauce (optional)

Ready to mash
Whether to peel or not peel your potatoes when mashing them is a entirely personal preference, but I tend to not peel them if using thin-skinned, waxy potatoes like Yukon gold. Cut potatoes into 1-inch cubes and add to a large pot of boiling salted water. Cook for 15-20 minutes until soft, but before they start to disintegrate at the edges.

Light and fluffy
About 5 minutes before the potatoes are done, warm the buttermilk and butter on low heat.

Then heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat, add diced garlic and lemon zest and cook for 1 minute. Add shrimp and cook until done, approximately 3-5 minutes.

Drain the potatoes and return them to the warm pot. Add buttermilk/butter mixture and use a potato ricer to combine. If a little dry, add 2-3 tablespoons more of buttermilk if you have it on hand, or use regular milk. Add pepper and salt.

Top a bowl of mashed potatoes with the garlicky shrimp and garnish with parsley and hot sauce to taste. Eat immediately.

Serves 2, with generous mashed potato leftovers

Super easy dinner is served

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Swapper Profile: Francine Tran-Oeyo + Lemongrass Curry Chicken Puff Pastries Recipe

It's a new month already, and I am delighted to introduce Francine Tran-Oeyo in the latest swapper profile! As you'll learn below Francine was a first-timer at our February swap, where she turned the heat up with her incredible spicy, sweet hot sauce. As a real hot sauce aficionado (read: addict), it holds a special spot in my kitchen flavor arsenal and I've been torn between putting it on everything I eat, and rationing it to make it last. I also loved her contagious enthusiasm at the swap, where she eagerly connected with other swappers and showed off a real zeal for good food. Read on for some of her favorite flavor combos and for the recipe to her stellar Lemongrass Curry Chicken Puff Pastries which we savored for the potluck at the last swap.

Francine enjoying a classic coastal view
Name: Francine Tran-Oeyo (Francine’s Hot Sauce)

Home (+ hometown swap):
San Francisco

Yoga Instructor, Hot Sauce Maker and always looking for something new to create.

How did you first get involved in food swapping? How long ago?

I had never been to a swap before, but  I’ve read a lot about sharing
services in the city and am very intrigued by it.  I went to my first
food swap in February after reading about it on the Bold Italic site.
I think it’s such a great way to explore and share with others all
things food related.

What did you make for the last food swap and what inspired your choice?

Spicy, fruity, magic
I just started a new hobby of making hot sauce with my mom’s home grown Thai chilis, which are super spicy and flavorful. My husband and I love spicy food and are totally addicted to my mom’s chilis. It was only recently that I had that a-ha moment of, OMG, I should make my own hot sauce. So, I did and am loving every minute of making it. I try to create a new flavored batch every other week and decided to bring my current favorite, Pineapple Xpress, to the swap.

What’s your favorite thing about swapping?

Trading of any kind is a great way to share and receive things made from the heart, or in this specific swap, from the belly.  I enjoy exploring the other fabulous products - it’s like shopping without receiving a hefty bill.

Who or what most influences your cooking?

My parents inspired my love for cooking. My dad was quite the home cook and we always had people over to our house for whatever my parents were cooking up. I was always the little helper in the kitchen from a very early age, so it has been in my blood ever since.  Now, I’m more inspired by my travels and adapting new ideas into my cooking.  I’m very into fusion cooking.

What’s your favorite kitchen tool?

My heat resistant spatula. It cooks, scrapes and cleans :)

Your current flavor or ingredient obsession?

I love lemongrass because it makes everything taste better!

Biggest food surprise?

Saffron and turmeric combo.  I use it to make for my tomato based stew/sauce which adds a beautiful color and a deliciously delicate flavor.

If the Rapture came tomorrow, what would your last meal on earth be?

It would have to be a feast of: pho, hu tieu ( a Vietnamese pork noodle soup, the best), spaghetti and meatballs, fried chicken, carnitas tacos, and a lot of champagne and wine. Finally, a yellow cake with strawberry almond filling and whipped cream.

When I'm not in the kitchen

I love discovering great restaurants in the city and doing something physical, like yoga or running, to offset the indulgences.

Favorite local food experience:

The amazing abundance of awesome farmers markets in the Bay Area is my favorite local experience, in addition to the fabulous restaurants all around us.  Listed below are places I go to nearby.  I don’t have a
favorite place because I love variety; every day, month or year is different. 

But for now:
Burgers at Marlowe’s or Serpentine
Pizza at Pizza Nostra
Pho at Turtle Tower
Tacos at the food truck on 6th & Bryant

Recipe by Francine:

Lemongrass Curry Chicken Puff Pastries = yum
Lemongrass Curry Chicken Puff Pastries

1 package of frozen pastry sheet (2 per pack)
½ lb of ground chicken (with at least 15% fat)
1 8 oz. can of water chestnut (look for it in the Asian food aisle), drained and chopped
1 cup of frozen peas, defrosted
3 green onions, chopped thinly
1 cup of cilantro, chopped (optional)
1/2 small onion, diced
2 tbsp finely chopped lemongrass (look for it at the herb section, you can also purchase pre-made lemongrass in a tube at Safeway)
1 tbsp fish sauce (more if needed)
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp curry
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 egg + 1 tbsp water for egg wash

Preheat oven to 350°

Instruction for meat filling:
1. Sauté onions in a frying pan with olive oil for 5 minutes until soft.  Add ground chicken, lemongrass, curry, turmeric and fish sauce. Cook until meat is done.  Add green onions, cilantro, black pepper, water chestnut and green peas.  Taste to make sure it’s seasoned to your liking.  Add more fish sauce if needed.

Puff pasty filling
Instructions for pastry shells and assembly:

1.  Defrost per the instruction on the package.
2.  Once defrosted, on a wood cutting board or on a clean counter, sprinkle with flour and place the pastry sheet on it, sprinkle flour on top.  Roll it out just a tad so that you can create enough for about 9  3” squares, depending on the size of the sheets you purchased.
3.  Add meat filling to center.

Use a fork to seal these tasty puff pastries

4.  Make a little water bowl.  Use your finger to lightly add water around 2 sides, fold into a v shape and press together with dry sides. Use a fork to press on the edges to seal it.
5.  Brush egg wash on top of each pastry.
6.  Bake for 25 minutes.
7.  Cool for 10-15 minutes.

Baking puff pastries
Waiting for them to cool is harder than you think!

Enjoy with a nice hot sauce :)