Posts Tagged ‘Butter’

Beurre Noir

May 19, 2010

Do you have any idea how hard it is to make a decent sauce to go with asparagus – which isn’t Hollandaise Sauce?

Try as I might to get my boyfriend to love it, he just can’t see the point of asparagus.

“Why?  I don’t get what you lot [i.e. asparagus enthusiasts] find so interesting about this stuff.  It’s just…” he trails off, waving a fork with a pierced stalk of green about in the air with a puzzledly-disgusted expression.

Now, I can’t exactly explain it to you myself.  I claim it’s ‘delicious’ when prompted, but this isn’t necessarily what I mean.  Sure it has a lovely mild taste and all, but what exactly draws me to it?  I haven’t a clue.  Certainly not the smell in the bathroom afterwards, that’s for sure.

Yet I’m wildly enthusiastic that it’s ‘Spargel Season‘ here in Germany – the mere mention of the word on the menu outside a restaurant door draws me inside like nothing else can (except, perhaps, the magic words “Conan O’Brien will be appearing here tonight”).

In my quest to convert my less-than-enthusiastic hausherr, somehow I’m fixated on the idea that the perfect sauce will be enough to make him crave it as much as I do.  (“… and then you woke up,” I can just hear him smirking as he utters his oft-quipped aside).

Perhaps… Beurre Noir

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INGREDIENTS – 1/4 lb. of butter, 1 tablespoonful of minced parsley, 3 tablespoonfuls of vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.

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Slap butter into pan.  Heat to a very high temperature.  Let it ”smoke” for a few seconds before tossing in the parsley (I wasn’t brave enough for this, having set off the fire alarm once too many times in recent months – so I just let it get a little brown before adding the parsley).  Slosh in the vinegar (stand back, I nearly got burned by angrily-sizzling vinegar droplets) and add a pinch of salt & pepper.  Stir for a minute, then douse it over asparagus and serve.

“That’s a lot of butter isn’t it?” commented my boyfriend.

“Yeah, I’m doing Mrs Beeton again.”

“I figured, with all that butter!”

Despite the hissing and fizzling and spitting, the finished sauce is very tame indeed.  Possibly a little too tame for my liking – a mild, mild tang and a waist-taunting pool of melted butter.

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Buerre Noir (Recipe 374): http://www.mrsbeeton.com/10-chapter10.html#374

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It’s More Than Just Melted Butter, You Know…

April 11, 2010

Often when I go to the local market, I’m offered a big wad of parsley.

Occasionally, I’m at a loss to know what to do with it.  (Well, it’s not that so much, but I’ve got a fussy boyfriend who has a disconcerting tendency to exclaim ‘What’s that green thing in there?’ with a suspicious furrowing of the brows whenever I use a fresh herb too obviously or abundantly in a dish).

I’m determined not to let another bunch go to withered waste at the bottom of the fridge.

Thanks to Mrs Beeton, I think I may have struck upon a solution.

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Step 1 – Melted Butter:  INGREDIENTS – 1/4 lb. of butter, a dessertspoonful of flour, 1 wineglassful of water, salt to taste.

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This is very very easy to put together.  Everything gets added to the saucepan to boil, and stirred until melted and thickened.  4 minutes tops.  Then…

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Step 2 – Parsley and Butter: 2 tablespoonfuls of minced parsley, 1/2 pint of melted butter No. 376 [i.e. Step 1 recipe].

Well, I’d like to say oh how difficult this was, that it was a terribly complex task requiring dedication, great skill and care, etc., but I’d be lying.  Or still asleep. This is a simple recipe and, what’s more, very speedy on the preparation side, especially when the melted butter mix has been put together and ready to be added.

Once the parsley was boiled (5 minutes), it needed to be finely minced (I took extra care to make sure the herb was very super finely minced with a fork, to avoid my boyfriend pointing out ‘green bits’ when it’s served…) and added to the melted butter mix.

The resulting sauce (I use the word lightly – it’s really just green butter, in my opinion) looks a wonderfully fresh, creamy green flavour enhancer, with no obvious ‘parsley bits’ in sight.

I can see this being great with meat, as well as jacket potatoes.  I’ll give it a try tonight and see how my other half reacts…

My tip: Once the parsley is boiled, keep the left-over green water and use it in a homemade stock or soup.

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Melted Butter (Recipe 376): http://www.mrsbeeton.com/10-chapter10.html#376

Parsley and Butter (Recipe 493): http://www.mrsbeeton.com/10-chapter10.html#493

Day 25: Heavenly, Buttery Shortbread

December 13, 2009

I must say, it’s terrific fun to try so many new recipes.

At this time of year, I’m thinking of what end-of-year gesture I can make to colleagues.  The idea of baking some cakes and biscuits for everyone to share is the most appealing – it’s fun for me, enjoyable for them, and does away with the overly-commercial (and superficial) pressure to buy and give a zillion unwanted gifts.

Isabella Beeton provides a simple recipe for shortbread (see bottom of page).  I’ve never thought of making this before (I mean, doesn’t it just come in a Walker’s box?).  But, as it’s so tastily festive, I added it to my little list of goodies to bake this weekend (I’m going on holiday after this week).

Step 1: Cream the butter (by-the-by, have you ever noticed just how heavenly the smell of butter really is?  Usually I use it at fridge temperature and in small quantities but, as a lot is required for shortbread, I found myself beating a larger-than-usual quantity.  The scent is creamy, sweet paradise.

Step 2: Gradually incorporate the flour and other ingredients.  Isabella describes the result as a ‘paste’, but I ended up with a clingy, crumbly mixture.  Unfortunately I don’t have kitchen scales, so measurements were converted into cups (1 cup of flour = 120 grams and so on…).   However, the mixture stuck together when I pressed it into a square tray and pricked it all over before baking.

Step 3: Slide the tray into the oven and drool in anticipation for 25 minutes.  The recipe calls for ‘a good oven’ temperature; so I opted for 190 °C, which worked out just fine.

Despite nearly winding myself and losing an eye when cracking open the almonds (I bought them market-fresh, then crushed them in a pestle-and-mortar – those hardy shells make for determined missiles if cracked too energetically), all-in-all this was a supremely simple recipe to follow.

The shortbread, once it had cooled down, was really delicious – delicately buttery and crumble-creamily–in-your-mouth in texture.  It  was, perhaps, slightly under-sweet for modern tastes, so next time I’d probably add an extra spoon or two of sugar.  Otherwise, absolutely perfect.

Heaven.

Scotch Shortbread Recipe: http://www.mrsbeeton.com/35-chapter35.html (Recipe 1780)