Sunday, 31 July 2011

Is That a Bread Crumb or Al Pacino in There?

It's peak salad season, no question about it.  At my house, we've been munching on raw veggies like bunnies in the fields at night.   Unlike bunnies, though, we've had baskets full of crusty (and non-crusty) bread, crostini, taralli, tarallini...Name your favorite gluten, it's been here. Salads, crunchy grains and, of course, Mr. BBQ's fare. My great griller of meats uses a mix of marinades, sauces and flavored butters.
Which got me thinking about our butter dish this week, how it's a magnet for gluten offspring, and what to do about it. Look into your butter dish. Can't you just hear those helpless little breadcrumbs calling out to you all-Al-Pacino-Godfather-Three-like as you dip your butter knife in?  "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!!!"  Listen to them bursting in there. They're stuck and try as we might to help them out, Well this was the week I decided enough is enough.  Fuggeddaboudem.  I'm onto something new. 

I'm mixing up some flavored butters. Why?  Because, much as I love olive oil, we still use lots of butter around here. These savory little butter cakes are easy to whip up and creative fun in a butter-as-play-dough kind of way. Not to mention, it feels so good to look into our butter dish and see stuff I wanna see! Here's what you need to make the flavored butter shown here:

  • 4 oz butter, room temperature
  • Herbs and other flavors
  • Wax paper 

Place softened butter in a small bowl.  Add flavors, roll in wax paper and set in fridge.  How much flavor are you looking for? Experiment to see what works for you. I used one heaping teaspoon of black peppercorns, two teaspoons of chopped fresh chives and a teaspoon of lemon for my first go here as I didn't want too much punch. I found it wasn't enough so next time, I'm going heavier on the flavor. Here are a few combinations I think might work and what I'll be trying next in my cucina:

  • 2 tablespoons each tarragon and chives and half a tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons each sun dried tomato, roasted garlic and finely grated parmigiano
  • 2 tablespoons each roasted garlic, fresh rosemary, thyme and basil 
  • 2 tablespoons each hot pepper seeds, parmigiano and roasted garlic
(To roast garlic, wrap several bulbs in foil and bake in a 375F oven for 20 minutes.  Freeze unused portions for other dishes.)

Keep refrigerated and slice roll just before serving.  On hottest summer days when eating al fresco, cut, rewrap and place in freezer half an hour before dinner. Try these combinations or create your own.  Let your taste buds guide you...and say arrivederci, ciao, ciao to unwanted crumbs in your butter dish.

I'm taking a break to work in my garden for the next couple of weeks. I hope you're enjoying your summer. I look forward to "seeing" you again soon.

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