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Thursday, November 6, 2008

What To Do With…. Buttermilk

Buttermilk is a rich tasting, delicious and low fat dairy product that adds tang to foods. It is a highly versatile ingredient that is used in many applications including baking (cakes, scones, pancakes, and waffles), as a dressing, and as a tenderizer for meats.

I bought the smallest carton of buttermilk to bake a cake, but at one litre, it’s far more buttermilk than I really need…

So, here are ten ways I use buttermilk in my everyday recipes:

1. Mashed potatoes: Instead of using cream or milk, substitute buttermilk
2. Steamed potatoes: When I was in France, a friend served me this really simple dish. Season about half a cup to a cup of buttermilk with salt & pepper and snippets of chives, pour over hot steamy potatoes (quantity depends on the amount of potatoes and how much you want to use)
3. Fruit Smoothie: Blend 1½c of buttermilk with 1 cup of frozen fruit, add honey to sweeten
4. Cold avocado soup: Puree a ripe avocado with buttermilk, season with salt pepper and cumin, thin with additional buttermilk (if necessary) and garnish with cilantro
5. Marinade for breaded chicken: In a glass baking tray, marinate chicken in buttermilk overnight. Pat dry before breading and proceed as usual.
6. Ranch dressing: Mix 1 c of buttermilk, 1/2c mayonnaise, snipped chives and dill, ½ clove of minced garlic, salt and pepper
7. Buttermilk ice cream: Great with intensely sweet desserts like dark chocolate cake

For baking you can substitute buttermilk for recipes including:
8. Blueberry muffins
9. Scones
10. Pancakes

Monday, November 3, 2008

Beets Are The New Black

Just a shout out to My Kind of Food’s US readers. Happy voting. Democracy is a beautiful thing.

When I was growing up, I don’t think beets made a regular appearance at our family table, and as unfortunate as it may be, I don’t think I was the only one with such limited experience with beets. But today, beets are everywhere and I have discovered quite a fondness for them. I have noticed beets but not just the retro-chic pickles and borscht (which I love), but elevated to new heights of culinary sophistication including creamy risottos, crisp salads, and sexy sides. Even my Chinese mother serves beets when we come over for dinner these days. So if it makes it onto her table – then beets must be the new black.

I am thrilled that beets have experienced a renaissance, because they are fantastic and terribly underrated. They come in an array of colours, are relatively inexpensive, and easily prepared. They possess complex flavour in that they are sweet when roasted, but deliciously crunchy and earthy when consumed raw. And of course, they have an indefatigable colour that announces exactly where they’ve been as there is no mistaking a beet has been on your plate.

Beet Salad with Oranges and Blue Cheese

I marinate the red onions briefly to remove some of the bite. But if you slice them ever so thinly and marinate them, oh yum! It’s delicious. For this salad, I scrape a red onion over my Benriner mandolin, but a sharp knife and a steady hand will do the trick.

Serves 2

2 beets – peeled and trimmed
1 orange – peeled and segmented – or canned*
¼ small red onion
1 tbsp champagne vinegar (white wine vinegar)
1 handful of parsley
¼ c crumbled Roquefort cheese

1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp champagne vinegar (white wine vinegar)

1. Thinly slice a red onion and place in a small bowl. Sprinkle with vinegar and set aside.
2. Slice beets thinly and arrange on a platter. Arrange orange segments on top.
3. Roughly chop parsley. Sprinkle over this over the salad and dot with blue cheese.
4. Remove onions from the bowl and drain off slightly, add to the salad. It seems like a lot and some days, I put more and some days I put less. Taste the onions first and decide how much you feel like.
5. Sprinkle vinegar over the salad, and drizzle honey over top.

*This is a Hungry Gal shortcut - I use orange segments from a can. Why? …because they are easy, and inexpensive. I might concede that fresh oranges are probably better, but this is far more convenient, and supreming an orange seems to be a bit fussy. Don’t you agree?
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