Tag Archives: butter

A question for chef-types

If butter is made from cream, then why is it “unofficially” improper to add cream to a buerre blanc?

Just curious.

Butter Tips and Hints

Here’s a bit about butter. Use or disuse as desired.

  • Refrigerate salted butter for up to 1 month.
  • Refrigerate unsalted butter for up to 2 weeks.
  • If you refrigerate your butter, avoid the butter compartment as it’s too warm. Store in the back of the refrigerator if possible.
  • As butter can absorb flavors from nearby products, it should be wrapped airtight.
  • Salted and unsalted butter can be frozen in freezer-proof wrapping for up to 6 months.
  • Unsalted butter allows for better control of the final flavor of a dish.
  • Unsalted butter is better for greasing pans than salted, as salted butter can make baked goods stick to pans.
  • To cleanly cut cold butter, wrap your knife in cling wrap, or heat a butter knife with hot water and dry off the water.
  • To measure butter trhat does not have a wrapper, partially fill a measuring cup with water, then add butter until it reaches the amount you need. For example, fill a cup with 1/2 cup with water. If you need 1/2 cup of butter, add butter to the water until the water line reaches 1 cup.
  • Soften butter by placing it in a microwave oven for 30 seconds at half power.
  • Another way to soften butter is by slicing or grating butter and letting stand for about 10 minutes.
  • Butter has a narrow melting range, 82.4°F to 96.8°F, so it will melt quickly even at low temperatures. To avoid burning, melt butter on low temperature settings.
  • To prevent scorching when using butter as an oil, replace 1/4 of the butter with olive oil.
  • Scorched and/or burnt butter is unrecoverable. If looking to cook with butter at high heat, it’s best to use clarified butter.
  • Do not use whipped butter for anything other than spread, or oiling pans. Whipped butter is incorporated with air and/or nitrogen which can adversely affect the taste of baked recipes.
  • To cut butter into flour without a pstry cutter or food processor, grate frozen butter into the flour, periodically the flour together to prevent sticking.
  • To make clarified butter,take need about 1 1/4 lbs. of unsalted butter. Melt butter over moderate heat but do not allow to boil, stirring often, but gently. The butter will separate into three distinct layers – foam on top, clarified butter in the middle and milk solids on the bottom. As the butter continues to warm, skim the froth from the surface and toss. When the froth is gone, pour off clear, melted clarified butter into another container, but leave the solids on the butter on the bottom.

As always, feel free to add your own tips and hints in the comments.

Beurre Blanc

This weeks recipe makes me wonder how the heck the French have less of a problem with heart attacks than the United States. Beurre Blanc is a butter sauce made with a lot of butter. One pound to be precise. Sure there’s a bit of a white wine/shallot reduction, but that’s simply a distraction from the main ingredient.


Did I mention that there’s a lot of butter in this dish?

Much like a great many recipes, there’s a decent story on how Beurre Blanc was discovered. About.com gives the details:

The story takes place around the turn of the century in the kitches of château of the Marquis de Goulaine. His kitchen staff was preparing for an important dinner under the direction of his head cuisinière Madame Clémence Lefeuvre. She was very busy preparing the pike and asked an assistant to make a bérnaise sauce, which she liked to serve with the fish. The assistant forgot to add the tarragon and the egg yolks but there was no time to start over, so Clémence decided to serve the sauce as it was. After the meal, the Marquis asked Clémence to come into the dining room where of course she expected to be reprimanded. Instead, he praised her new preparation and gave it the name of “beurre blanc”. Clémence soon took her new creation and opened her own auberge. Although they can’t agree on the actual birthplace of the sauce, both will tell you that the inclusion of cream is not an “authentic” beurre blanc.

As for what kind of white wine to use, I’d use a sweeter wine, to contrast nicely against the tart of the vinegar. Anything too oakey might be a tad odd to the taste.

  • 4 oz shallots, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 lb unsalted butter, chilled and chopped into 1″ cubes
  • Salt and (white) pepper to taste

Place the shallots, vinegar and white wine in a sauce pan over medium heat. Reduce the wine/vinegar concoction to somewhere between 75-90% of its initial volume.

Turn the heat to high and add the butter all at once. Continously whisk the sauce until all the butter has melted. Be careful here as there is a point of no return where if you heat the sauce too long it will break down into a sort of “infused” clarified butter. Once you get the point where the sauce is creamy in consistency yet still opaque, remove it from the heat.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over your favorite fish.

Technorati Tags: Recipes, sauce, Beurre Blanc

Butter Chicken

My knowledge of Indian cuisine is fairly minimal, so forgive me if my ignorance shows with this recipe. In looking over various recipes, I’ve noticed a distinct lack of butter in most butter chicken recipes. Oh there’s some, to be sure, but only a tablespoon or two. I’ve remedied that below.

As with most stew-type recipe, this isn’t the end-all be-all recipe for butter chicken. There are many ways to alter this for your own taste – less tomatoes, more spices, etc., etc.

Also, you can use strictly white meat if you wish, but I’m fond of dark meat, and it works well here. Serve with basmati rice.


  • 1 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Chili Powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. garam masala
  • 1 tsp Coriander Powder
  • 1 Tbl. garlic paste
  • 1 Tbl. ginger paste
  • juice from one lemon
  • 1 tsp. salt


  • 4 Tbls. butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 Tbls. ginger paste
  • 1 Tbls. garlic paste
  • 2 cups tomato puree
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1 tsp. garam masala
  • 1 tsp. Coriander Powder
  • 1 tsp Red Chilli Powder
  • 4 tsp. clover honey (optional)

In a large glass bowl, mix in the yogurt, chili powder, garam masala, coriander, garlic paste, ginger paste, lemon and salt. Add the chicken to the yogurt melange, coating thoroughly. Cover the glass bowl with saran wrap and place in the refrigerator. Allow the chicken to marinate for a minimum of 3 hours.

Pre heat oven to 300 degrees. Place marinated chicken in a glass baking dish and place in oven for 15 minutes.

Place large skillet over medium heat. Melt the butter. Sautee the onions until translucent. Add the ginger and onion paste and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the tomato puree and cream. Add the masal, coriander and chilli powder. Add the chicken, and allow to cook for 10-12 minutes. At this point, add the honey if you’re so inclined.

Serve over rice.

Serves 4

UPDATE: LT from the comments stated “Tried this out last night. While I wouldn’t have called it butter chicken, it was quite good. A little more Tikka Masala like than Butter Chicken like. Also, after the 15 minutes in the oven and then the 10-12 minutes on the stove, the chicken was not cooked through and required another 10 minutes on the stove.”

Technorati Tags: recipes, Indian Cuisine, Butter Chicken, Chicken

Types of Butter

There are several different ways to produce butter. Yesterday, I could have named two. Today, after reading up on the subject, I can name a few more. My appreciation of Harold McGee grows by the day.

These are types of butter production, rather than a complete list of butter products. That’s why I haven’t listed Brown butter, or clarified butter. I’ll get to these types of butter at a later time.

  • Raw Cream Butter – Alas, it is unlikely that you will ever have this kind of butter, especially here in the United States. The reason? It’s made from unpasteurized milk. Well, that and it has a shelf life of only ten days. This type of butter is said to taste more of cream and less of the salty fat that we’re used to here in the States.
  • Sweet Cream Butter – Often called “unsalted butter” here in the States, it’s the kind I buy most often (There was has been as much as three pounds in my refrigerator at one time). Good butter is typically white with a slight yellow palor, as well has having a higher fat content. Without the salt added, there’s a purer taste of butter.
  • Salted Sweet Cream Butter – This is also typically what is found in the grocer’s dairy section. This is Sweet Cream butter made from pasteurized cream with salt added. The salt was initially added because it helped fight off bacteria when folks would leave the butter out. But now that we typically keep our butter cold (at least here in America), it’s there because we believe it should be there. When I realized that salted butter is to be avoided when baking at home, and that salted butter scorches in the frying pan more readily than unsalted butter, I fuond myself purchasing less and less of the stuff.
  • Cultured Cream Butter – This is butter that has had a fermenting agent added, most likely lactic acid. The fermentation adds a more discernable (some would say ‘tangy’) butter flavor. This is very much a European style of butter that is now gaining popularity over here.
  • European-Style Butter – A butter that has a lower moisture percentage and higher butterfat content than the typical sweet-cream butter (which is about 20% water, if I recall correctly). Due to the lower moisture content, it makes this the butter of choice for pastries and sauces. Plugra is the brand most often recognized as “European-Style”.
  • Whipped Butter – Butter made to be spread. It is aerated with nitrogen gas, giving the butter a more maleable and smoother texture. This type of butter should be avoided for almost all functions except for topping foods and spreading on toast and muffins.
  • Beurre Cuisinier, Beurre Pâtissier, Beurre Concentré – These are specialty butters with even less moisture and/or more butterfat. These are also typically unavailable for the common consumer, and are most often found in bakeries and patisseries.

Technorati Tags: Food, Butter

Boutyrophagoi – The Butter Eaters

Sometimes my complacency with living in the 21st century makes me forget certain facts that were somewhat important back in the day. Butter provides an excellant example of this. I buy butter, I take butter home, I place said butter in the refrigerator for later use.

Back in the time before refrigerators, butter was a product that had to be used sooner than later, as it tends to turn rancid after a set period of time. Because of this, butter, as we know it, never really took off in areas of Mediterranean Europe. This, even though the butter making process had been known since as far back as perhaps 8000 or 9000 BCE. Butter did take off in areas of the world where either…

  1. …had a cooler climate which prohibited butter from become rancid at an advanced rate, or…
  2. …developed a process/technology that removed the water content from butter, essentially removing any risk of spoilage.

This simple difference in climate and technologies helped shaped a great many food cultures we take for granted today. Southern Italian, Greek and Mexican cuisines get their fats from places other than butter. German, Northern French, and a great majority of Indian cuisines (in the form of Ghee) have a great many dishes where the fats come from butter. I love this kind of “cuisine etymology”, where the type of food one eats is dependant upon such a minute variable as the ability to store butter for an extended period of time.

Speaking of Ghee (and how many times have you heard THAT segue? None, I bet), when talking about butter in history, ghee has to be mentioned. It was recognized early as a very important component of life in what is now present day India and Pakistan. So much so, that it made it into various religious rituals. Sound familiar? That’s because the Catholics ascribed the same level of significance to olive oil. You can say a lot about human nature, but one thing is for certain – We humans love our fats.

Expect more on butter (including a few select recipes) over the next few weeks.

Technorati Tags: Butter

Niter Kebbeh: Ethiopian Spiced Butter

I include this as another ethiopian spice that you may need if you wish to cook within their cuisine. It is clarified butter simmered with various spices, dependant upon the taste of the person who makes it. So consider this a recipe for Niter Kebbeh, rather than the recipe, as there are as many types of this recipe as there are types of marinara in Italy.

  • 1 lb Butter
  • 1/4 red onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek
  • 1/4 teaspoon tumeric
  • 3 crushed cardamom seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon Ground nutmeg

Combine the onions, garlic and ginger into a bit of a salsa. Set aside.

Melt butter over low heat and stir, making sure the color of the butter does not change. Skim the foam off the top of the butter completely and add the onion/garlic/ginger melange and the rest of the ingredients to the butter. Allow to simmer for 15-30 minutes.

Remove from heat and allow the solids to settle to the bottom. Strain into a storage container. Use as needed.

Technorati Tags: recipes, butter, clarified butter, Nitter kebbeh, Ethiopian Recipes