Sunday, January 25, 2009

Comfort Sunday IV & Grilled Pesto Pimento Cheese Sandwich

Since this is the end of SHS- surely by now you’ve got it…Stay Home Sunday’s; I plan to relish every second of it. I will read, watch movies, listen to music (I had to include “At Last” in my repertoire), cook & sit by the fire. OMGosh, I am exhausted thinking about it & the whole point of SHS is to relax…… No problem, I will multi task as all woman are trained to do.

I learned how to multi task from my sweet Mother. She could drive carpool; no gum allowed, stop by the market, drop us off for dance lessons, pick up my Daddy’s drycleaning, return library books, run by the fabric store as she is one hellavaseamtress to make our dance recital costumes & have the car back to my Daddy (we were a one car family “back in the day”) all in an hour! Whew!!!

My BFF Kaye called last week about the new blog & said "You’ve gotta post your Mother’s Pimento Cheese." It was a staple in our dorm room back in the day, that and instant grits got that gal through 4 years of college. My response; “Ain’t no butter in pimento cheese” Kaye’s reply “Who cares; it’s the bomb!” Mother's Pimento cheese is also the reason I think my brother-in-law married my sister Claudia. I brainstormed all week, how can I pull it off???? Don’t want to let Kaye down as I featured “BT” in last week’s blog & we were the 3 Musketeers in college but it is a butter blog....

Brainstormed & pesto decided I would invent a Grilled Pesto Pimento Cheese Sandwich (lots of butter for the grilling.) Pretty, pretty, pretty & the flavors will dance across your taste buds. Happy, happy, happy; I have gotten my Mother, Sister, Brother-In-Law, Kaye & butter all into the same blog; how is that for multi tasking?

Recipe Drama.....
Here is where things got dicey; now I know how to make pimento cheese in my sleep but do I have a recipe? No. Call Mother; “Hey Sweets, I need your recipe for pimento cheese.” “Sweetie Lamb, you know how to make it, besides there is no recipe & you know I don’t like it cause it has mayonnaise & you know how I don’t care for mayonnaise. Wish I could talk but your Father & I are walking out the door to go do our volunteer work taking care of the old folks (Mother & Daddy are 80….) ” Great, now what? Call my sister Claudia, “What is the recipe for Mother’s pimento cheese?” “I never make it cause Jack will only eat her’s.” For crying out loud, work with me people! I’ll punt, here is what I did today.

Mother’s Famous Pimento Cheese
10 ounces of Sharp Cheddar Cheese- this part is all Mother- Kraft Cracker Barrel
Grate fine into large bowl, add mayo to taste (I used 1 and half cups Dukes- I like it creamy)
4 ounces of drained sliced pimentos or throw in a couple of roasted red peppers
Dash or 2 of hot sauce, dash of Worcestershire sauce, dash of salt & lots of cracked pepper.

Blend thoroughly with an electric mixer; this will break up the pimento/peppers. Scrap down & blend again. Done! Refrigerate; for use later let sit outside of fridge to soften. Makes about 2 cups.

Small Batch Quick Pesto
2 cups basil sliced & diced
1 glove garlic cut into pieces
¼ cup of grated Parmesan
½ cup olive oil
2 TBSP water
Salt & Cracked Pepper

Put in Emulsion Blender & pulse several times to break up, continue to pulse till it breaks down & blend thoroughly into a paste. Let sit to thicken.

Grilled Pesto Pimento Cheese Sandwich
French Bread- sliced ½” thick- 8 slices
Pimento Cheese
Pesto Sauce
Butter- couple of Tbs.

Heat non stick large sauté pan on medium. Add butter till bottom of pan is covered & it starts to sizzle. Spread 4 slices of bread lightly with Pesto & place pesto side down in griddle; spread with Pimento Cheese; top with another slice of bread & spread top with Pesto. Grill till golden remove from pan, add more butter & flip & grill other side till golden. Remove from heat & rest for minute or 2 or cheese will run all out when you slice. Slice & serve warm.

These are perfect for chasing away winters chill & would pare nicely with mushroom soup. I am going to try this one from the Alchemist Chef's Blog.
Off to take in my last SHS!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Comfort Sunday III & Cheesy Buttery Bread Casserole

OMGosh be careful what you wish for! After lamenting the heat wave last weekend I am sure I am totally responsible for the arctic temperatures over the past few days. Jiminy it is cold as shitake here…. totally conducive to SHS (Stay Home Sunday) and actually Stay Home Saturday! I stocked up Friday in anticipation of the frigid weekend. I have books, movies, Target jammies, rabbit slippers & the robe; a smorgasbord of lay around, keep warm & relax material plus a roaring fire!

Friday I loaded up my shopping cart with fresh eggs, milk, cheeses & French bread in preparation for Cheesy Buttery Casserole. Okay I’ll admit not a very sexy name but calling it by its name on my torn & tattered recipe card from 1974: Cheese Pudding, may have you running for the Food Network & as far away from this blog you can get. Then you would miss out on this easy to make, fast to disappear, sure to induce a food coma, comfort food. That would break my heart as this dish is supercalifragalisticexpealidocious. I think Mary Poppins would for sure agree!

Thanks go to my BBF Betsy Tom (Elizabeth Thomas Lawrence Homewood- gotta love Southern names and this was before she married!) who made this recipe every time we had a brunch (often) when we lived together in college; way back in the day. It continues some 30 + years later to get rave reviews. Updated the cheeses to make it more current; try your fav hard cheeses as it is easy to adapt to your own personal taste & it called for soft loaf bread, I subbed a hearty French loaf.

Layers of cheese, bread and buttery goodness stack up against any cheese soufflé you may ever attempt with none of the stress and hassle of such soufflés. Heap on custard of eggs and milk with some simple seasonings, bake & dig in! Crossover appeal at breakfast, brunch or sits proudly next to a nice Rosemaried Pork Roast, Baked Apples & something green; buttered spinach or perhaps some wilted buttered broccoli rabe; you decide.

Heap it all in a casserole dish or make individual servings in little ramekins to fancy it up – cut back on time; bake til set & puffy, about 25 minutes.

Jazz it up with a nice Pepper Jack Cheese or perhaps 1/2 cup of chopped jalapeños; layer with the cheese; YUM!!!

Mam Flo's Cheesy Buttery Casserole

1 loaf soft bread- I used French Bread sliced 1/2” thick

12-14 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated (I used white cheddar & havarti)

6 eggs

3 c. milk

Salt & pepper to taste

1 t. dry mustard

1 stick butter

In a greased casserole alternate bread & cheese (begin and end with bread.)
Beat eggs & milk together & add seasonings. Pour over casserole.
Melt butter and drizzle over top. Let stand covered overnight or all day in fridge. Bake 45 min @ 375.

Decorate with paprika.

While I partake and savor this indulgence I will contemplate a more appropriate name; perhaps Faux Cheese Soufflé….. Has a nice ring; don’t ya’ think? BT (gotta love she has that long name & goes by BT….. go figure) wants y’all to know this is her beloved Grandmother Mam Flo’s recipe & has been around since at least 1948!


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Comfort Sunday II & Vidalia Onion Tart

So wouldn’t you just know we are having a heat wave in Richmond (it is 46 degrees at 8 AM) & it always puts a damper on Stay Home Sundays when it’s warm in the winter. Not to be swayed from the plan I cut the heat back to keep the house as cold as possible so I can light up the fire. I am determined to keep on my new Target flannel jammies & fluffy rabbit slippers so I will just shed the robe.

Lick your plate & beg for more Vidalia Onion Tart is courtesy of my buddy Ashton Harrison who serves this dish up for breakfast, lunch or as a side dish at dinner when entertaining guest at her ski lodge in Wintergreen, Va. Yesterday in preparation for SHS (Stay Home Sunday) I made my list for SUS (Stock Up Saturday.) Now I realize that you aren’t going to find Vidalia Onions in the middle of the winter & I did consider holding off on this recipe till the season came upon us but this one is just too good to wait & is a great cold weather dish. Always one to find creative solutions to a challenge I sub sweet yellow onions for the Vidalia’s and we’re good to go.

Quick & easy as Ashton always does quick & easy; this dish is sorta like French Onion Soup in a pie crust; yummy to the tummy & great served with a good winter salad. I am going with this beautiful Crispy Kale & Pomegranate Salad from Food Rockz Man.

This week SHS – Stay Home Sunday- keep up! will be a reading day for me so on SUS- Stock Up Saturday- got it…..geez; I picked up Plum Spooky the new Stephanie Plum novel from author Janet Evanovich. Easy recipes; I was going to say KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) Recipes but then that would be rude & I am never rude, always work best on SHS reading days.

Ashton’s Caramelized Vidalia Onion Tart

1/4 cup butter
4 cups (I used 2 large onions) thinly sliced Vidalia onions – it’s winter I subbed sweet Peruvian Yellows
1/2 cup dry white wine* - leaves a good ¾ of the bottle for the chef so use what you like to sip!
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1 pie crust (Pillsbury All Ready Pie Crust)** pressed into 11" tart pan or use a 8/9" pie pan
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese (I used 8 ounces of Gruyere)

Melt butter in skillet.

Add & sauté onions on medium/high til they begin to caramelize- about 10 minutes, until they begin to turn golden -do not stir too much as this will slow down the caramelization.

Stir in wine & parsley; simmer till onions are nice & caramelly (spell check hated this one!) about 15 min. Cool slightly as this will keep the crust from getting soggy.

Layer cheese, onions, cheese, onions into crust.

Bake at 450º until cheese is melted, about 20 minutes.

*for bolder flavor use a hearty red wine
** Make it or fake? fake it is fine for this recipe; tips for a flakier crust; Pillsbury Pie Crust Facts.

I plated it up with a balsamic reduction glaze & it was superb!

Update; I am just getting around to posting & happy to report the temp has been going down! Keep the home fires burning & enjoy this butterific recipe. I am off to the chaise lounge to find out what Stephanie Plum is up to.


Sunday, January 4, 2009

Comfort Sundays I & Caramel Corn

I love January Sundays!!! The colder the better for me as I never leave the house (well it’s a goal…. sometimes life gets in the way). Not leaving the house on Sundays led to "Stock up Saturdays." Stocking up for me means what will I cook & will I read or watch movies???

This Sunday is Movie Day! The SUS (Stock Up Saturday- work with me people….) ritual begins with a stop at the coffee shop for a double shot Venti latte. Being from the “old school” I head off to the Video store to scour the shelves. I luck out finding a copy of Rear Window and being in dire need of comedy I pick up Bringing Up Baby with Cary Grant and Airplane; obviously in a nostalgic mood.
Sunday AM begins; I am building the fire & contemplating food for the day. Oh how I love this part!!! My pantry resembles nothing short of a “fall out shelter” so my choices are endless. For Movie Time I am going with Kitchen Sink Caramel Corn which has nuts and cranberries; be still my heart! I hear nuts & cranberries are healthy so I am comforted those will balance out the butter and sugar.

Kitchen Sink Caramel Corn

Peanut Oil (can sub vegetable oil but peanut oil rocks)
2 1/2 cups unpopped popcorn – I use yellow
1 cup butter
2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup – tip- grease cup with butter & you will get more back out of the cup
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or jazz it up with orange liqueur or almond extract
1 cup jumbo salty peanuts ~ I love Hubs
1 cup pecans - I use Mascot
1 cup almonds
1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

Step I
For perfect pop corn, place ½ cup kernels in a heavy-bottomed large pot and cover them with oil. Put the lid on and cook on high until you hear the first pop. Immediately take pan off the heat and let it sit 1 minute. Return pan to the heat and finish popping, shaking the pan the whole time. Remove unpopped hulls and place popped corn in oven to keep warm. Repeat until all corn has been popped.

Step II
Melt butter in a medium saucepan, and then stir in brown sugar, syrup, and salt. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly; boil without stirring for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Step III
Stir baking soda, vanilla, peanuts, pecans, almonds and cranberries into brown sugar mixture. Quickly pour nut mixture over warm popcorn in a gianormous bowl and toss until well coated with a greased spatula. Spread on several greased cookie sheets.

Step IV
Bake for 45 minutes, stirring well every 15 minutes. Cool on aluminum foil; any leftover or for gift giving store in an air-tight container. This makes a crap load but does half nicely! FYI; I do not halve nuts & cranberries.

Now I get it's the first Sunday in the New Year, you are worn out and not up for all the fuss??? Honey, just pop some corn, cover in yummy butter, add some grated Parmesan and for a kick use the pepper grinder liberally, relax and tune into Lifetime.

This is the first in a series of Comfort Sundays… sure to tune back in!


Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Butter World; The Blog Is Born!

Welcome to A Butter World; The Blog! Take a ride on the journey of My Love Affair with Butter! Join the fun & shenanigans as we create a “Butter” World one recipe at a time. I’ll introduce you to my family & friends as we explore the wonderful world of delicious, creamy, cow created, 100% butter! If you love butter you are in the right place; PLUS you are my new best friend!

Anyone who has ever asked me for a recipe will tell you it usually begins with “A Stick of Butter.” I say this with no apology or shame ( several years in therapy helped.) Truth told I say it proudly; here, online, millions of viewers ( a broad can dream) I love butter!!! No margarine or some chemical derived make believe butter; no way! I want the real deal, cow to the churn; give me butter!

I began cooking around age 5; that would be some 40+ years ago..... Around our house I was known as the “Famous Child Cooker.” My Daddy at 80 years young still calls me that! I loved whipping up French Toast. A favorite part of my Saturday morning ritual was melting the butter & heating up the syrup to serve in gravy bowls. As I recall I thought for sure I would end up Julia Child's assistant at the very least when I thought that up.....

While my tastes have matured I still love me some French Toast. To kick things off I want to share a recipe from my good friend Boo Parker from Raleigh, NC who serves up “Company French Toast” whenever she has overnight Guest. A perfect “Do Ahead Dish” for the holidays. This a definite keeper and loved by all; kid’s included. Now Boo wanted me to be sure and tell you to have your finest linen napkins handy to wipe the butter & syrup from those chins; pleezzz no paper napkins. She is a one fine Southern Lady and Hostess who prides herself that every Guest in her home deserves the finest. Go on make her proud!

Boo Parker's Company French Toast
Serves 8/10

Step I
1 Large Loaf day old French Bread* - slice thick; about 1½”

Step II
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup orange juice
2 Tablespoon light corn syrup

Step III
1 ½ cups whole milk
6 eggs
1 tablespoon orange juice or Grand Manier
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. orange rind
¼ tsp. salt

Combine ingredients from Step II in a heavy small pan. Stir mixture over medium low heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil. Pour into a 13×9 casserole dish. Tilt dish to coat bottom evenly, cool.

Arrange the bread slices in the dish; if they don't all fit make some croutons!

Whisk Step III ingredients in a bowl to blend. Pour over the bread. Cover and chill overnight.

Preheat oven to 350F. Bake uncovered until bread is puffed and slightly golden brown, about 40-45 min. Let stand 5 minutes and cut into serving portions. Take a large decorative platter & cover dish & invert onto platter; caramel side will end facing up.

* if bread is fresh slice earlier then you plan to begin & leave on the counter for several hours till crusty.

Serving Suggestions
Melt 1/2 stick of butter & serve in gravy boat! For those “die hards” you may want to include some heated maple syrup. If you are into appearances arrange orange slices decoratively around platter. Serve with lots of crispy bacon & large glasses of milk.

Come back often!