Back to…Cooking School: Easy & Flavorful Compound Butters (vlog)

Can I get a high five? It’s the long weekend! This has been an intense week for me and I am ready to relax, head to a lake with some friends and enjoy summer’s last fling. Cheesecake is on the menu, as is steak, with plenty of this grilled corn & avocado salad (my latest obsession).

Speaking of steak, I thought I’d share with you my favorite and oh-so-simple way to enjoy it. You already know how to grill the perfect steak, so why not learn how to mix up a succulent flavored butter to top your beef? I’ve even cooked up a how-to video to inspire you to try ‘compound butter’.

Believe it or not, when I was in culinary school we devoted an entire day to compound butter, butter creamed with various flavorings and aromatics, rolled in a log, and chilled until needed to jazz up a sauce, steak or vegetable. The devotion we showed to this condiment no doubt stemmed from the long-term love affair between classic French cooking and that highly-esteemed stick of dairy.

It’s a brilliant idea, really. Chop herbs, crush garlic and grind pepper into a slab of soft butter, freeze it in a log, and slice off a round as needed. Voila, an instant burst of flavor – and moisture – for a bowl of tired left-over pasta, a dried-out grilled chicken breast, or one of the many other uses listed below. [Read more…]

Foodie Facebook: Shaina

I’m slowly working my way though interviewing each of my contributors for Simple Bites and featuring them here on Foodie Facebook. There’s been Cheryl, and Cheri, also Elizabeth, and more recently, Shannon.

Today I’m honored to introduce (although she hardly needs an introduction, she’s like, the hottest thing right now) Shaina from Food for My Family. And by family we means four kids!

How Shaina finds the time to blog (and all that goes with it), write, tweet, fly around the country, run a photography business, AND mother an extremely adorable brood, is beyond me.

There must be something about that iced tea…some secret ingredient. You think she’ll ever tell?

Name: Shaina Olmanson
Place: Twin Cities, MN
Occupation: Freelance writer, recipe developer, photographer

UtHC: What is your earliest childhood food memory?

When I was one my mom was making pie crust in my grandma’s kitchen. Tornado sirens were going off. My aunt and I sat huddled on the stairs. My aunt kept taunting my mom for not coming downstairs during the tornado, but my mom insisted she finish her pie crust.

I know. Everyone wants to know whether or not the pie crust turned out and what kind of pie the crust was to hold. I have not a clue, but my mom still stresses when she makes pie crust, which is probably why I’m the cook in the family.

UtHC: What did you eat today?

For breakfast I had a latte and Greek-style yogurt with fresh fruit. Lunch was a sushi roll while out finishing up school clothes shopping with my girls, and dinner returned to breakfast. My husband graciously made me a rolled egg filled with tomatoes and peppers and onions from our garden.

UtHC: What will your kids never be allowed to eat?

I try not to set unbending limits for my kids. While there are things I’d rather they didn’t eat (HFCS, over-processed food), I know that they will be exposed to them. My goal is to raise my children to make the correct choices and to inform them of the reasons for doing so. I have already seen them pass on bags of potato chips and cheap hot dogs at birthday parties and supposedly kid-friendly fare at the buffet table. It’s those moments where I know I’m making a difference and teaching them how to eat in this world.

UtHC: What do you always have on hand in your fridge?

So many things, but I try to keep at least 2-3 types of cheese on hand, eggs, milk, butter, sour cream, mustard and iced tea. Yes. Iced tea. It is my friend. I also like to have cream in my fridge.

UtHC: What is your beverage of choice?

Funny that this question should be next. I live primarily off water, but my grandma introduced me to coffee when I was only two years old. There is also, of course, my love affair with iced tea. Unsweetened with a lemon.

UtHC: If you could have dinner with anyone in the history of man, who would it be?

My grandma. I have learned so much since she passed, and I’d love to pick her brain, ask her for a few more of her recipes and have the chance to be the one to serve her.

UtHC: OK, it’s your last meal ever, what do you have?

Food. Really, I’m terrible at favorites. I would rather not imagine my last meal ever and instead look forward to all the meals I have still left to eat.

Thanks for your time, Shaina! Now I know you have Lemon Frozen Yogurt to eat and an evening of work, so I’ll leave you to it.

Wordless Wednesday: First Day of School

Back to…Cooking School: Working with Fresh Herbs

Today in cooking school we’ll be looking at herbs and how to cut them. Fresh herbs can add bursts of flavor that no dried herb can emulate. At our house we grow them all summer long, picking off what we need for each dish, making pesto and preserving them for use during the winter.

I’ve noticed, though, that when working with fresh herbs, some people get stuck on how exactly to go about using them. It’s like you’ve handed them this plant that has no real instructions. Instead of working with the fruit or roots of the plant, they’re now focused on leaves, and they’ve probably never used them before.

So, let’s break it down. Let’s go over a few techniques for chopping herbs to add to your dishes, as well as how we can save any extra herbs for use later on. [Read more…]

Weekend Reading

Have a great weekend everyone! We’ll see you back tomorrow with an extra special post!