Saturday, May 23, 2009

Butter Update - Mac&Chz

Yes, I cook real food a lot, but, yes, I often eat mac&chz when it's time for me to go to the grocery store but haven't. I just wanted to let the world know that the garlic cilantro butter that I made last week is really good in mac&chz!!

OJ Pops

Here is a weird picture of me eating an OJ Popsicle. I have a set of DIY popsicle things - so awesome in the summer and great for experimenting. Usually, they're, like, two bucks at the grocery store. Totally worth it!

Brainstorm for popsicle flavors:
  • Juice of any kind - orange, raspberry, apple, juice cocktails...
  • Chocolate soy milk (probably my favorite!)
  • Yogurt + frozen fruit - usually raspberries in my house
Speaking of frozen treats, I also totally have to encourage you to make broth ice cubes for your dog this summer. Phydeaux loves them when it's hot.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Brown Sugar Butter

Hey, nerds. Just wanted to give y'all a follow-up on my last couple of posts. I did try making some brown sugar cinnamon butter. Ate it in my Cream of Wheat this morning. Delicious! Also great on toast.

This was a little different kind of process than the other butters. I used a double-boiler set up (really just my metal mixing bowl on top of a saucepan) to melt the brown sugar down. This breaks down the crystals so it ain't so grainy. I added some cinnamon, melted the butter and then poured it into this perfect little Pyrex dish I'm so fond of.

Once it sits in the fridge for a while, it hardens back up to butter consistency.
  • hot cereals, of course: Cream of Wheat, oatmeal
  • meats?? ham - a la Honey Baked Ham
  • many different kinds of desserts - cinnamon apple pie, for instance ... melted sugar butter... mmmmm

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Garlic Cilantro Butter + Asparagus Chicken Roll-Ups

This is me at the end of my latest culinary journey, enjoying a glass of wine with a very rich, delicious meal.

It all started with
butter. I stood in the grocery store flipping through cooking magazines looking for pretty pictures to adulterate. Then: the colors grabbed me. A rich, rosy orange; a creamy white speckled with a deep green. Baked salmon with a herb-infused yogurt sauce. Yum... I think?

Somehow the wires crossed in my brain to the extra butter we had at my house -- both my roommate and I bought some the same day -- and one of my favorite flavors, cilantro -- which my roommate hates. Weirdo!
(I know quite a few people who don't like cilantro; they say it tastes like soap. I have to admit I love the taste of soap bubbles...)

I wanted to try it two different ways: with regular, store-bought butter and with homemade whipped butter. To whip your own butter, you just get some heavy whipping cream, whip it up with a mixer until it's whipped cream -- then keep whipping until it's butter. With the regular butter, it's best to leave it out until it's room temperature before the mixing.

Then I chopped up some cilantro and used my garlic press for some fresh garlic smooshies. Just mix it in!

Now, the whipped butter won't be the same consistency as real butter so I packaged these products differently. With the real butter, I rolled it up in some wax paper and stuck it back in the fridge. Once it cools off again, it'll harden up and you can take the wax paper off for a nice roll to keep in your butter dish.

I also used these two different butters very differently. The whipped butter was a delicious and light topping for Triscuits or fancy bread or something. Here's a little product placement from last Friday's ANGRY BAKING night:

The real butter was obviously too rich to be a topping right on a Triscuit, unless you're really into heart disease. I prefer to use butter when cooking so I check out what was in my fridge the next day landed on some chicken and asparagus.

I'm really into putting good food inside other food -- which is why I have a small obsession with crescent rolls. I wanted to have chicken breasts with asparagus rolled up in them -- but once I started cooking, I realized I didn't have chicken breasts, I had chicken tenderloins. What? If you're in the mood for chicken fingers, why would you cook them at home instead of just going to whatever family restaurant is closest to you?

Anyway, I took these already tiny tenderloins and pounded 'em flat and even so that I could actually fit asparagus in them. While pounding, I broke apart the asparagus and sauteed it up in some of the cilantro garlic butter. The magic of the garlic butter is that 1. I didn't have to messy my hands with garlic and 2. the kitchen instantly smelled soooooo good. Buttery and garlicy and cilantroey mmmmm.
In the MiniVideoBlog in the previous post, I talk about the genius of fresh flavored butter. I think I'll always have a stick of garlic butter ready for cooking.

The rolling was fun. It'd have been easier with chicken breasts. A lot of toothpicks later, here are the tiny roll-ups just in the frying pan, seasoned with Tony's, of course.

I let these cook on pretty low heat with a cover.

The result was really rich, seemingly fancy finger food! Here's the beau enjoying. He doesn't look like he is, but he is.

So, here's to butter. I know it's not the healthiest food, but, god, it tastes soooo good. There are a few things I never ever compromise on, even though there are low-fat alternatives: butter, sour cream and mayonnaise. May you allow a little bit of fat into your life.

Monday, May 18, 2009

MiniVideoBlog: Fun with Butter!

Butter! - Experimental Cookery MiniVideoBlog from Molly O on Vimeo.

Hey, food freaks!
What's the one thing that makes everything in your kitchen taste better? That's right! Butter.
(Other acceptable answers: Tabasco, Tony's, basil, garlic. But this post is about butter.)

I bought something cool at the grocery store today, and it set all sorts of ideas buzzing in my head because of a meal I made last week. Here's a quick minivideo of me... talking about butter. = Dorktastic! ... Maybe I shouldn't be posting this on the Internet... I'm looking for a new job.

I'm not going to lie -- I sort of stole this whole idea from my parents and their awesome neighborly holiday presents. They made some sort of seasoned butter for their friends. But intellectual property rights be damned! That's what I love about cooking. Did you know that you can't copyright an ingredient list? You can only copyright the actual 'how-to' text part of the recipe. Don't know how I know that.

Brainstorm time! Other flavor variations to try:
  • brown sugar/cinnamon
  • red curry!
  • basil/pesto

Get ready for another exciting recipe! Coming soon. haha.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I'm back! + Haystacks

Hey, Internet! Man, 'Real Life' is so annoying. If only I could just stay at home and cook and then blog about it and then paint and then maybe blog about that too and then tweet about it all... but instead I have to work like the schmoe I am. (psst! Follow me on Twitter!)

The point is - I'm still here. I know I've been gone for a good while, and truth be told it's partly because I haven't been cooking much, at least creatively. Winter gets me down, I guess. Hadn't been feeling too creative. (Been eating lots of mac&cheese...) But golly does it feel good to be a genius. Today I remembered this (and I say this in the humblest way I can): I am a culinary genius.

Don't fret, I will show you exactly why I am a culinary genius. But first - a quick detour into the past a la Hiro Nakamura for Haystacks.

I had been wanting to make these since I visited my extended family in Louisiana after Christmas. My Aunt Tammy has the insanest repertoire for sweets and cakes and candies and pies, and she loves whipping out the favorites for the holidays. I guess Haystacks are kind of a classic but I had never had them before.

So once I got back to Minnesota, the next week I spent my birthday doing my hair ALL DAY and then hanging out in the afternoon with my friend Erin. (Seriously, it took me, like, two hours to do my hair. I have a lot of hair anyway and now it's super long. ugh.) We made Haystacks and brownies from scratch, but holy cow did the brownies go south. You won't find pictures of that on here.

Haystacks are super simple. Tell me this isn't the easiest and most delicious looking recipe you've ever seen:

Yummmmm. You take a stick o' butter and a bag of butterscotch chips and melt them in the microwave. Stir it up. Here's me all did up for my birthday, stirrin'.

[One loaf bread. One green bean. Stir it.]

Then you coat some shoestring potatoes in the delicious doublebutter mixture. This is where I learned my lesson. I had just dumped the potatoes into the bowl and the proportions just weren't right. Aunt Tammy's Haystacks were totally coated in butterscotch... maybe she takes a stack and dips it? They're supposed to look a little more like this:

These Haystacks (via Google Images) look like they're made out of crispy noodles or something, but you see the ratio difference of butterscotch to crunchy stuff? Erin's and mine didn't look like that. Maybe it was just too many shoestring potatoes off the bat. Maybe add a few and then fish 'em out.

Whether you dip them and get your fingers messy or mix them in and grab them out, once you have them coated, you just set them out to dry. Wax paper is best... but Erin didn't have any so we used plastic wrap. Too sticky but it did the job.

So they didn't look as lovely as my Aunt Tammy's, but let me tell you -- they were still freakin' delicious. Butter + butterscotch + fried potatoes cannot equal anything but deliciousness.

Stay tuned for something that I really think has revolutionized my kitchen and the future of my cooking. And some yummy stuff I did with it.