Spread the Word

Posted on: Tuesday, August 25, 2015

While on the topic of butter - I recently discovered Black & Bolyard’s artisanal brown butter and have been adding it to everything since. The geniuses behind the jarred spreads are New York chefs, Andrew Black and Eric Bolyard. The duo met while working at Eleven Madison Park in New York, and later traveled abroad together in search of culinary adventure. After returning from Southeast Asia a few years back, they decided to create the Tasting Society, an underground, supper club in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to show off their combined gourmet talents inspired by their travels. At these buzzworthy meals that attract an array of local chefs, celebrities, and creative types, they noticed one dinner staple in particular that left a lasting impressions on everyone - their whipped brown butter served with rustic bread at the beginning of the meal. This product needed to be celebrated and shared.
Kara and I grew up eating brown butter tossed with spaghetti and Mizithra cheese, and as of recently, only bake chocolate chip cookies with brown butter for an enhanced toasty and almost nutty flavor. The browning process can be quite lengthy, stirring the yellow melted butter constantly on the stove until it's a nice, light to medium amber hue. I didn’t think anyone could share a passion for brown butter until I met Andrew, who has mastered the browning technique with Eric.
Over Brown Butter Rice Krispies Treats at Flour Bakery in Cambridge, Andrew explained the approach he and Eric share for the amped up butter. They take high-grade organic butter from upstate New York and slowly toast it to create the rich, deep color speckled with browned milk solids, and the pronounced flavor. Fortunately for us, Andrew and Eric discovered a way to package and preserve the butter in jars. They sell the dairy product as is or infused with bay leaf or with aleppo pepper, all available for order here: http://blackandbolyard.com/.
You can use the brown butter just as you would any butter - spread atop sliced bread, poured over popcorn, stirred into pasta, or slabbed atop steak. This past weekend, I added a couple tablespoons to some fresh corn pancakes with a drizzle of maple syrup for a rich and savory start to the morning.
Savory Brown Butter Corn Pancakes
3/4 c all-purpose flour
1⁄2 c yellow cornmeal
1 T granulated sugar
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 T Black & Bolyard brown butter, melted (plus more for serving)
1/2 c whole milk
1 large egg
1 c fresh corn kernels (about 1 ear)
vegetable oil for frying
maple syrup for serving

Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. 


In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
In a small bowl, whisk together the melted Black & Bolyard brown butter, milk and egg.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and combine with a wooden spoon until a few small lumps are left. 


Heat a griddle or cast iron skillet over medium heat. After 5 minutes or so, add a 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable oil to the griddle and spread with a paper towel. Spoon about 1/4 cup of batter onto the griddle, spreading it with the back of the spoon to create an even circle. Sprinkle with about 12 corn kernels. Repeat with the batter and kernels to fit as many pancakes as you can without them touching (careful, they spread as they cook!). Once the pancakes begin to bubble after 2-3 minutes, flip the pancakes with a spatula. Allow to cook for 1-2 more minutes longer, and then transfer the cooked cakes to a baking sheet and place them in the warm oven. Repeat the process with the remaining batter and corn kernels. 


To serve, place a couple of pancakes onto each plate with a generous spread of Black & Bolyard brown butter and drizzle of maple syrup. Makes 10-12 pancakes.

You could also prepare these thick, fluffy cakes later in the day and top with salsa, cheese, and chopped scallions - super versatile!

Feta Herb Butter

Posted on: Monday, August 17, 2015

After visiting Copenhagen, I became fixated on smørrebrød. The open faced sandwiches feature all kinds of toppings and spreads atop thin slices of bread. Walking through the Copenhagen markets, I was in awe of the tiny works of Danish food art. The simplest versions have two ingredients -rye bread and a thin layer of mayonnaise. The more creative versions feature such combinations as smoked salmon and cucumber, fish cakes and dill mayonnaise, or thinly sliced meat and horseradish cream atop various kinds of bread. The layering of different colors and textures creates a snack that is both aesthetically pleasing as it is delicious.
When I arrived back in Pomfret, I ventured into my herb garden and local farmstand for inspiration. My pots were overflowing with mint, basil and parsley so I whipped them into an herb compound butter with a Greek twist. The buttery spread had a tang from chopped capers and an added salty creaminess from crumbled feta.
For toppings, I drove down to Lapsley Orchard in Pomfret Center and found overflowing barrels of gleaming multicolored heirloom tomatoes. I knew they would be the stars sliced atop ciabatta with a slathering of my compound butter and a sprinkling of Fleur de sel (a purchase from Paris). I practically ran home in anticipation to begin slicing my snack.
Heirloom Tomato Open Faced Sandwich with Feta Herb Butter

Feta Herb Butter
1/4 lb farm fresh butter, softened (I used Wildowsky Dairy’s)
2 t lemon zest (1 t for butter, 1 t for garnish)
1 t chopped capers
1 t fresh parsley, chopped
1 t fresh mint, chopped
1 t fresh basil, chopped
1/3 c crumbled feta cheese

salt and pepper throughout

4 medium-sized heirloom tomatoes, sliced in 1/4-inch rounds
1 loaf of ciabatta, sliced thin and toasted
Fleur de sel and fresh black pepper for garnish 


With a wooden spoon, mix the butter, 1 t lemon zest, capers, and herbs in a small bowl until fully incorporated. Fold in the crumbled feta cheese and season with salt and pepper. Set aside at room temperature until ready to spread.
To assemble the sandwiches, toast each slice of ciabatta and spread a generous layer of the Feta Herb Butter across each surface. Next arrange a couple slices of tomatoes on each piece and sprinkle with Fleur de sel, more black pepper, and additional lemon zest.
The ultimate salty snack! If you do not use all the compound butter, it's wonderful atop baked fish or poultry or stirred into fresh pasta.

Copenhagen

Posted on: Thursday, August 13, 2015

We made our way from one of the finest food capitals in the world to another foodie spotlight city, Copenhagen. Having never travelled to Scandinavia, we were intrigued by this alluring Northern region of Europe and were excited to explore Denmark’s hip capital. We decided to tour the city mainly by foot and were overcome by the unique architecture that mixed modern with 17th century palaces and landmarks. We spent the weekend weaving through busy bike paths, sampling smørrebrød and other innovative cuisine, boating through the Nyhavn canals and conversing with the friendly Danes. Here are some of our favorite highlights:
First, we scaled the external spiral staircase atop the Baroque-style Church of our Savior and were hit by a truly breathtaking aerial view of the city.
Then we entered the Tivoli Gardens - a whimsical setting with fantastic lights, thrilling rides, and decadent sweets. We had to try the famous waffle cones filled with rich and creamy vanilla ice cream and covered in chocolate cocoa powder. 
We walked around in awe of the produce and baked danishes at Torvehallerne, the city’s wildly popular upscale market. We also sampled smørrebrød which are open faced sandwiches. We each had a traditional layering of a fish cake atop rye bread with a light spread of mayonnaise.
While we did not make a reservation, we stopped by René Redzepi's renowned noma. We were greeted by a simplistic setting with bee hives at the front door and fresh plants on the patio outside of the prestigious restaurant specializing in Nordic Cuisine.
At Neighborhood Organic Pizza and Cocktails in the up and coming Meatpacking District, we nibbled on thin, creative combinations of pizza like the Spiced Lamb and Pork Meatballs with Fried Slices of Aubergine, Tomato Passata, Pecorino Cheese and Mint Skyr Pizza. We also sipped on cocktails with organic London dry gin, fresh thyme and sage, lemon, shaken and served over ice, and topped with organic Bombay Pale Ale.
We ended the weekend with a trip to Paper Island. Located across from the Royal Danish playhouse, the converted warehouse is filled to the brim with creative food trucks and stands from all over the world. We sampled gazpacho dotted with mozzarella balls and chopped tomatoes and cucumbers from The Spoon Company and a plate full of Brazilian spicy sausages, pork neck, and chicken legs served with tangy chimichurri salsa, fresh bread, and a slice of watermelon from BRASA.

We left the tasty, incredibly friendly and charming city with great admiration and intrigue.

Frenchie Inspired Pea Soup

Posted on: Friday, July 31, 2015

Our culinary vision in Paris was to sample classical French dishes, sip local wines, rank our favorite croissants, and also to experience the relatively new bistro movement. Gregory Marchand is already a pioneer in this new take on dining in Paris which emphasizes fresh, local ingredients and preparations that celebrate them. A trend we can relate to. His eatery Frenchie Restaurant is an adorably charming neighborhood bistro set on a cobble stoned alley in the Garment District. While the eatery is renowned internationally, it maintains its modest, relaxed atmosphere with a vibrant, fresh, focused, innovative, and ever-changing menu.
Upon entry, a lovely braided-haired hostess led us to a corner table. Our incredibly charming checkered-clad server explained the menu in broken English while pouring us chilled glasses of Rosé. After we ordered, he shared some complimentary smoked pork pâté with crusty artisan bread, served on a beautifully oblong earthenware plate. To start, we shared smoked octopus, caponata, eggplant and coriander; duck foie gras, chanterelle mushrooms, apricot and fresh almonds; and confit white tuna, avocado, and cucumber. For main dishes, codfish with green beans, mussels and verbena white butter for Kara and guinea fowl with beetroots, broccoli, blackcurrant and stilton cheese for Marni. We don’t always order dessert but there was no doubt we had to here. We split a red fruit tart with exotic cream and sorrel ice cream and a Brillat-Savarin Mille-feuilles, cherry and herbal ice cream. Talk about an eye-popping overload of textures and taste!
Looking back, we could not even attempt to replicate these mastered dishes but we did leave inspired to create and share. One dish that we didn't mention above was this wonderfully chilled green pea soup sprinkled with creamy goat cheese, red grapes and roasted shallots. Our take incorporates fresh mint and parsley for brightness. The stunning soup is a burst of color, with freshness from the herbs, a pop of sweetness and crunch from the grapes, and a nice soft tang from the chevre. Top with a simple drizzle of EVOO and you’re good to go.
Chilled Fresh Pea Soup with Red Grapes and Chevre

2 T unsalted butter
1 T EVOO, plus more for drizzling
2 shallots, chopped
3 c low sodium vegetable broth
4 c shelled fresh peas
1/4 c fresh mint leaves
1/4 c fresh flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
salt and pepper throughout
1/2 c chevre cheese, crumbled
2 dozen red grapes, halved

Heat a large pot over medium heat and add the butter and EVOO. Once butter is melted, add the shallot and saute for 4-5 minutes until slightly golden and translucent. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in the broth and increase to medium high to bring to a boil. Once at a boil, add the peas and cook for 4-5 minutes until tender. Turn off the heat and add the mint, parsley, salt and pepper. 
With a slotted spoon, remove 1/2 cup of fresh peas from the broth and set aside. 

Puree the soup in multiple batches or with an immersion blender. When blending, fill the blender halfway with the pea mixture (keeping an even ratio of peas/herbs to liquid) to create a smooth puree. Pour the thick, pureed liquid into a large bowl and continue with the remaining soup. Stir in the lemon juice, reserved whole peas, and season to taste. Once cooled slightly, pour the soup into a tupperware container and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour before serving. Serves 6.

To serve, pour a couple of ladles of soup into each bowl. Sprinkle with about 1 T chevre (more or less depending on your cheese taste), sprinkle about 6-8 halved grapes on top and a drizzle of EVOO.

We never thought we could beat gazpacho as our go-to cold soup dish for summer, but this sure does beat the heat!

Paris

Posted on: Monday, July 27, 2015

The travel bug in both of us led us to Paris. Fortunately, our parents were renting a beautiful, artist’s loft in Le Marais, so we used it as base for our Twin Tastes travels. We spent a week filled to the brim walking along the Seine, picnicking in the Place des Vosges, frequenting daily street markets, lounging at cafes overlooking the Eiffel tower, basking in art and culture, drinking Rosé like it was water, and of course, sampling some of the best cuisine in the world. Here are some of our favorite highlights:
Cappuccinos and people watching at Café Hugo.
Warm croissants and baguettes from La Tradition du Pain. Madeleines at La Cure Gourmande.
Daily groceries like roasted chicken, Niçoise olives, Camembert, fresh figs, macaroons and picnic fare from the Marché de la Bastille.
Onion soup gratinée, and steak frites at Restaurant Chez Paul.
Coq au vin, frog legs and shredded artichoke salad at Auberge de la Reine Blanche.
Croque monsieur (grilled ham and cheese sandwich topped with béchamel sauce) and smoked salmon crepes in the St. Germaine neighborhood.
Art fixes at the Musée de l'Orangerie for Monet's expansive water lilies, the world renowned Louvre, the Centre Pompidou for crazy post-modern and contemporary installations, Museo de Orsay for extensive impressionist collections in a converted train station, and Au Palais de Tokyo for some more innovative post-modern contemporary collections.
Retail fun on Rue de Rosiers.
The ultimate meal at Gregory Marchand's renowned Frenchie. We will relive our time at this modern bistro and its stunningly crafted dishes in the next post.
Merci to our parents for hosting a trip of a lifetime and for also capturing some shots of the two of us!

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