Posts Tagged ‘sauce’

While I breeze through some episodes, this episode was one that took a little while for me to complete. Not only were there five recipes in this episode, but they also all contained nuts; this made for some pretty rich food, so I had to space the recipes out a little bit. First was Alton’s cashew sauce.

Cashew Sauce

This recipe is really two recipes in one:  one for cashew butter, and another for the cashew sauce that is made WITH the cashew butter. To make the cashew butter, combine 10 ounces of roasted/unsalted cashews with two heavy pinches of Kosher salt in a food processor.

Place 2 T honey in the microwave for ~15 seconds to loosen it up, and combine the honey with 1/3 C walnut oil.

With the food processor running, slowly add the oil/honey until the mixture is smooth.

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Honey/oil drizzling into cashews.

If you just want cashew butter, you can stop here.

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Cashew butter.

To continue on and make Alton’s cashew sauce, whisk 1/2 C of your cashew butter with 3/4 C coconut milk and 1/4 t cayenne pepper in a saucier over medium heat. Once smooth, use the sauce as desired.

Alton recommended serving the cashew sauce over chicken or rice. I chose to serve my cashew sauce over some sweet potato “noodles” and meatballs, along with a little bit of cilantro.

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Cashew sauce served over sweet potato noodles and meatballs.

IMG_7353First off, Alton’s cashew butter is super delicious; it’s sort of like a richer, sweeter, better peanut butter, and it is great on pretty much anything. We were also fans of the cashew sauce, which was rich, nutty, and had a perfect punch of heat from the cayenne pepper. And, if you are too lazy to make your own nut butter (it is worth it, though), you could always use purchased nut butter to make the sauce. This sauce is also super versatile, as you could use it over meat, pasta, or vegetables.

Pistachio Mixed Herb Pesto

I love pesto and it is something I make every summer. I typically make basil pesto, so I can use up the last of my fresh basil, freeze the pesto in batches, and continue to dream of summer as the weather gets colder. Sage pesto is nice to make in the fall too! Alton’s pesto recipe in this episode was a little different from the other pestos I have made in the past, as parsley was the primary herb and toasted pistachios were the nut of choice (I toasted my pistachios in a 400 degree oven for ~5 minutes).

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Ingredients for pesto: garlic, thyme, tarragon, sage, oregano, olive oil, Parmesan, parsley, and toasted pistachios.

To make Alton’s pesto, drop 1/2 to 1 clove of garlic into the lid of a running blender, chopping the garlic finely (I opted for a full clove since I like garlic). When the garlic is chopped, turn off the blender and add 2 T fresh lemon thyme (I could not find lemon thyme, so used regular thyme), 2 T fresh tarragon, 1 T fresh sage, 1 T fresh oregano, 2 C packed flat leaf parsley, 1/2 C grated Parmesan, and 3/4 C toasted pistachios.

With the blender running, drizzle in 2/3 C olive oil until emulsified.

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Pesto, after drizzling in olive oil.

Alton recommends serving his pesto on pesto or toast. I served the pesto over zucchini “noodles” with fresh Parmesan.

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Pesto over zucchini noodles.

This pesto is super flavorful, tastes like a variety of herbs, and has great color. Since everyone always thinks of basil and pine nuts/walnuts for pesto, this version really mixes things up. And, if you happen to have fresh herbs in your garden, this can also be a relatively inexpensive pesto recipe. Give this one a try for a tasty twist on pesto.

Pistachio Fruit Balls

For a sweet treat using nuts, Alton made these pistachio fruit balls.

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Ingredients for pistachio fruit balls: roasted pistachios, dates, dried apricots, orange juice, golden raisins, creme de cassis, and dried cherries.

Begin this recipe by grinding 1 C roasted pistachios in a food processor. Set the pistachios aside.

Next, in a large bowl combine 1/2 C pitted dates, 1/2 C dried apricots, 1/2 C golden raisins, and 1 C dried cherries.

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Combined dried fruit.

Run the dried fruit mixture through a meat grinder with a medium die, catching the ground fruit in a bowl.

Add half of the ground pistachios to the ground fruit, along with 1 T fresh orange juice and 2 T creme de cassis. Note:  creme de cassis is a black currant liqueur.

Using your hands, work the mixture together until thoroughly combined. Once combined, use a melon baller to form individual balls of the fruit mixture, and roll the balls in the remaining ground pistachios.

If you find that the mixture is too sticky, you can put some vegetable oil on your hands. Store the fruit balls in the refrigerator for up to a week.

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Pistachio fruit balls.

The online reviews of this recipe are mixed, which I find surprising. We thought these were a really great, healthy, sweet snack. Some reviewers complained of this being a messy or difficult recipe, but I found neither to be the case at all. You could always substitute a different liqueur if you did not have creme de cassis, but I wanted to test the recipe as written. These fruit balls had just the perfect amount of sweetness, held together perfectly, and had great crunch from the pistachios. We ate these as a snack every day for a week. I liked this recipe!

Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi

When Alton made this recipe in the episode, he used mahi mahi, but I could not find mahi mahi where I live. Instead, Ted splurged and picked up a couple halibut fillets. This recipe makes enough for four servings, so I halved the recipe for us. To make the recipe for four servings, coarsely crush 5 ounces of roasted macadamia nuts; you can do this in the food processor or you can put them in a tea towel and whack it on the counter.

Put the macadamias in a bowl and add 2 T flour, 1/2 C Panko bread crumbs, and 1/2 a stick of butter, melted. Stir the mixture to combine and set it aside.

Preheat your oven to 425, placing a rack in the center of the oven. While the oven preheats, line a sheet pan with foil and brush it liberally with vegetable oil. Place fish fillets (6-8 ounces each) on the foil and season them with Kosher salt and pepper.

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Fish fillets placed on lubed foil and seasoned with salt and pepper.

Stick the fish in the preheated oven for five minutes to par cook.

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Par cooking the fish.

Remove the fish from the oven and brush it with coconut milk; it should take about 2 T.

Pat the nut mixture lightly onto the fish, crumpling the foil up around the edges of the fish to keep the nut crust from sliding off.

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Nut crust patted onto fish, and foil propped up.

Stick the fish back in the oven for 5-10 more minutes, or until golden brown. My crust took the full 10 minutes to be golden.

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Fish after cooking.

Let the fish rest at room temperature for ~10 minutes before eating. Honestly, I was worried that the time needed to make my nut crust golden would render my fish overcooked, but the fish turned out to be perfectly cooked. We enjoyed this on a warm evening, with a glass of white wine and a squeeze of lemon.

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Alton’s macadamia nut crusted fish.

This is a rich fish dish that would be worthy of serving for a special occasion. The fish was moist and the nut crust was rich, crunchy, buttery, and nutty. Great recipe. Oh, and if you don’t know, keep the macadamia nuts away from your dogs, as they are toxic.

Macadamia Nut Crust

It turns out that the macadamia nut crust above can also be used as a pie crust. So, again, to make the crust, chop 5 ounces of roasted macadamia nuts (you can roast them in the oven for about 5 minutes at 400 degrees).

Combine the chopped macadamia nuts with 2 T flour, 1/2 C Panko bread crumbs, and 1/2 a stick of butter, melted.

Pat the crust mixture into a pie plate and use with any pie filling recipe. If you need to blind bake the crust for your pie recipe, bake it at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Well, I ended up making this pie crust twice. I needed to blind bake my crust because I was making a no-bake key lime pie, but it turns out that 20 minutes is way too long to blind bake this crust. Yep, my first crust was scorched.

When I made the crust the second time, I began checking it at 10 minutes and it was done in about 15.

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A slice of key lime pie with macadamia crust.

This crust added a great crunch and nutty flavor to my pie, and it was very easy to prep with no rolling/chilling of dough. The downside of this crust was that it was super crumbly, so it didn’t make for pretty slices of pie. Other than that, though, this was a buttery, nutty, crispy pie crust.

The 73rd episode of Good Eats is all about tomatoes and different uses for them. Seeing that Ted is not a huge tomato fan, I was not sure what he would think of some of these applications, but worst case scenario would see me stocking up heavily on lycopene. Alton went over some tomato facts in the episode, stating that there are six types of tomatoes we can get commercially – globe, plum, cherry, pear, grape, and currant (in order of size from largest to smallest). A beefsteak tomato is a red globe tomato that is extra large in size. Oh, and never store tomatoes in the refrigerator, as temperatures colder than 50 degrees permanently stop a component of tomatoes that gives them flavor.

Stuffed Tomatoes

For six servings of Alton’s stuffed tomatoes, cut the tops off of six large globe tomatoes, using a serrated knife. Scrape the seeds and pulp out of the tomato, using your fingers or a grapefruit spoon.

Sprinkle the tomatoes liberally with Kosher salt and invert them on a rack for 15 minutes; this will remove excess moisture from the tomato shells.

While the tomatoes drain, combine 2 C sauvignon blanc and 1 C hot water; add 3 C dried mushrooms to the liquid mixture to rehydrate.

While Alton used a blend of chanterelles, morels, and shiitakes, I only used shiitakes. Next, heat a large skillet, adding 2 T olive oil, 1 T minced garlic, 2 T minced shallots, and 1 C finely diced onion. Cook the onion until translucent.

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Garlic, shallots, and onion, cooking in olive oil.

Using your hands, squeeze excess moisture from the hydrated mushrooms, reserving the liquid. Chop the mushrooms and add them to the pan, cooking for five minutes over medium heat.

Add a cup of your reserved mushroom liquid to the pan and bring it to a simmer for five minutes. Follow this up with 1/4 t pepper and 1 chopped tomato. Finally, add 1 1/4 C panko breadcrumbs.

By this time, your tomato shells should have shed any excess moisture and you can use a measuring cup to fill the shells with the mushroom mixture.

For a final topping, combine 3 1/2 ounces of goat cheese with 1 T parsley, dividing this mixture evenly among the tomatoes. Place the stuffed tomatoes under a preheated broiler for 5-7 minutes, and enjoy!

We ate Alton’s stuffed tomatoes as a side dish to my mom’s hearty minestrone soup.

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Stuffed tomatoes alongside hearty minestrone soup.

Ted thought this recipe was just OK, as he didn’t care for the tomato shells. As a tomato fan, however, I thought Alton’s stuffed tomatoes were delicious. The tomato shells maintained their texture and were far from soggy, contributing a bright tomato flavor. The mushroom filling had a fantastic umami flavor and slightly crunchy texture, and, well, who doesn’t like goat cheese? This recipe is a great blend of textures and flavors, and could be served as a vegetable side dish or as a vegetarian entree.

Tomato Sauce

I was curious to see how this episode’s tomato sauce would compare to Alton’s canned tomato sauce that I made over two years ago when I was writing up the second season of Good Eats. This episode is all about using fresh tomatoes, and this recipe calls for 20 fresh Roma tomatoes. In addition, you’ll need olive oil, fresh thyme, fresh oregano, Kosher salt, pepper, garlic, and onion.

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Garlic, onion, oregano, and thyme.

Begin by halving/seeding the Roma tomatoes, placing them cut side up in two 13×9-inch glass baking dishes.

Spritz (or, in my case, drizzle) the tomatoes with olive oil, and sprinkle them evenly with 1 T each of chopped fresh thyme and oregano. Alternatively, you can use 2 t of each herb, dried.

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Tomatoes, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with oregano and thyme.

Sprinkle Kosher salt and 1/2 t black pepper over the tomatoes, along with 2 t minced garlic and 1 C finely diced onion (any type will work).

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Kosher salt, pepper, garlic, and onion added to tomatoes.

Stick the tomatoes into a 325-degree oven for two hours.

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Tomatoes after roasting for two hours.

After two hours, increase the oven’s temperature to 400 degrees for an additional half hour.

Remove the tomatoes from the oven and run them through a food mill (I have my mom’s ancient one that she used to use for applesauce) to get rid of their skins/seeds; you can do this directly over a medium saucepan. It will take a while to push them all through the food mill and you will get very little yield.

Add a cup of white wine (Alton used “cheap Chardonnay”) and bring the sauce to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, decrease the heat and simmer the sauce for five minutes.

I served this tomato sauce over pasta, along with homemade lamb/beef meatballs (made by Ted) and Parmesan.

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Alton’s completed tomato sauce. with pasta and meatballs.

Honestly, I was disappointed in this sauce. This recipe made just enough sauce for a pound of pasta, and it was nothing special. The wine flavor seemed too prominent for my taste, so I would simmer it longer, if I were to make this again… which I probably will not do. I expected to prefer this sauce over the one from season two, especially since this one uses fresh tomatoes, but I would choose Alton’s canned sauce any day.

TBL Panzanella

The final recipe from this episode is for a TBL (tomato/bacon/lettuce) panzanella salad. In the episode, Alton demonstrates that this panzanella is a great alternative to a BLT sandwich, and that it showcases tomatoes very well. I love a good panzanella, or a good BLT for that matter, so I was enthusiastic about this recipe. Beginning the night before you want to eat this panzanella, cut a quart of 1-inch high-quality bread cubes, placing them on a pan to dry overnight.

The following day, cook six slices of bacon, saving the drippings. I used my bacon that I made from episode 59.

Cut the bacon into 1-inch pieces and place them into a large bowl.

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Chopped bacon.

In a separate bowl, toss the dried bread cubes with the warm bacon drippings.

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Dried bread cubes tossed with bacon drippings.

Next, sear 2 C of halved grape tomatoes in a hot pan, face down, for about five minutes. Add the seared tomatoes to the bacon bowl.

Halve 2 C of raw yellow pear tomatoes (I had to use yellow grape tomatoes), adding them to the bacon/tomato bowl. Next, add 2 C of chopped Romaine lettuce.

In a small lidded container, shake together 3 T olive oil, 1/4 C red wine vinegar, 1/4 t salt, and 1/4 t pepper.

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Olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper for the dressing.

Combine the bread cubes with the rest of the salad and drizzle on the dressing. Finish the salad off by adding a chiffonade of fresh basil and mint.

I thought this was a really good panzanella salad. The bread cubes stayed crunchy, the bacon added meatiness, and the tomatoes gave a super fresh flavor. I thought the vinegar-based dressing paired well also.This is also a very colorful, pretty salad. To me, this is more of a warm weather meal, but we enjoyed it nonetheless. I think this still had a few too many tomatoes for Ted’s taste, but I may make this again for myself and enjoy it on a sunny day on the deck.

Fresh Yogurt

Yogurt is one of those things that I always feel I should eat more of than I do. I tend to go in spurts with yogurt, eating it frequently for a while, and then not at all. Alton’s yogurt episode began with homemade yogurt. I made homemade yogurt once years ago when I was in grad school, as part of my food microbiology lab course. All I really remember from that experience was that I had a lab partner from Mongolia who called himself “Woody,” I could barely understand a word he said, and our yogurt was very pink. Needless to say, I was hopeful that my Woody-less yogurt would be more successful. When making Alton’s yogurt, you can use any type of milk that you choose, but Alton opted for organic 2% milk in the episode of Good Eats. Alton did say that whole milk will result in looser yogurt, while skim milk will yield yogurt with a grainy texture. In addition to a quart of milk, you will need 1/2 C of powdered milk, 2 T honey, and 1/2 C of plain yogurt, containing live cultures.

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Ingredients for homemade yogurt: plain yogurt with live cultures, dry milk, honey, and milk.

Begin by pouring your milk into a saucepan, adding the powdered milk and honey.

Meanwhile, allow your yogurt to come to room temperature.

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Plain yogurt, being brought to room temperature.

Using a probe thermometer, heat the milk mixture to 120 degrees over medium heat. Remove the milk from the heat, and pour it into a clean cylindrical container, allowing it to cool to 115 degrees.

Once the milk has cooled, whisk about a cup of the warm milk into the yogurt.

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About 1 C of warm milk whisked into yogurt.

Then, whisk the yogurt/milk mixture back into the cylinder of milk. Wrap the cylinder in a heating pad that will maintain the yogurt’s temperature between 100 and 120 degrees; you can test your heating pad first by filling your cylinder with water.

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Yogurt added to milk and wrapped with heating pad to ferment for 6 hours.

Allow your yogurt to ferment for three to 12 hours, depending on how you like the texture of your yogurt; a shorter fermentation will yield looser yogurt, while a longer fermentation will give thicker yogurt. Alton did an even six hours in the episode.

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Yogurt, after fermenting for 6 hours.

Refrigerate your yogurt overnight before using.

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Alton’s homemade yogurt.

I thought this yogurt was fine, but really nothing special. If anything, I would have liked this yogurt to have had a thicker texture, so I would possibly ferment it a little longer if I were to make it again. Honestly, I wouldn’t go to the trouble of making this again when I can easily buy yogurt that I like just as much.

Thousand Island Dressing

So, really, Alton calls this dressing “Million Island Dressing” in the episode, and it is a good use for some of his homemade yogurt. To make his dressing, whisk together 1 C plain yogurt, 2 T vegetable oil, and 2 T tomato sauce.

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Yogurt, tomato sauce, and vegetable oil.

Once combined, add 2 t lemon juice, 2 t dry mustard, and 2 t sugar.

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Lemon juice, dry mustard, and sugar added to dressing.

Next, whisk in 1 t Kosher salt and 1/2 t pepper.

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Kosher salt and pepper added to dressing.

Finally, fold in 1/2 C diced onion, 1 T relish, 1 T chopped green olives, and 1 minced jalapeno.

I enjoyed this dressing more than I thought I would. It has a really good kick from the jalapeno, tang from the yogurt and lemon, and bite from the onion. It also adds a lot of texture to a salad. We actually liked this enough that I made it a couple times in one week for us to eat on our lunch salads. This is a really good salad dressing.

Tarragon Yogurt Sauce

If you are looking for another savory application for plain yogurt, this tarragon sauce is one to try. This sauce is very versatile and could be served over many things, including fish, eggs, and vegetables; in the episode, Alton says that his favorite use of this sauce is over braised carrots, so that is how I opted to use mine. For this sauce, begin by heating a saucier over medium heat, adding 2 T olive oil, 1/2 t Kosher salt, 1/2 C finely chopped onion, and 1 1/2 t minced garlic.

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Olive oil, Kosher salt, onion, and garlic in saucier.

I did not have a saucier until recently, but I inherited my parents’ copper-bottomed Calphalon saucier when my brother and I finished sorting through our parents’ belongings; thankfully, my parents are still living, but they really do not cook anymore. Yes, I have learned that a saucier is a very nice tool to have for a job such as this tarragon sauce. While your onion and garlic saute, combine 2 T cornstarch and 1 C chicken stock in a lidded container, and shake to combine. This slurry will help to thicken the sauce, and will also prevent over-coagulation of proteins, AKA curdling. Cream-based sauces have enough fat to prevent curdling, but yogurt-based sauces do not. Anyway, add the slurry to the pan, increase the heat, and add 1 1/2 T dried tarragon, whisking.

Remove the pan from the heat and temper 1 C of plain yogurt by gradually whisking in some of the sauce mixture. Finally, add the tempered yogurt to the pan, whisking.

Heat the sauce over low heat, just until warmed through. As I said before, we ate this sauce over carrots as a side dish.

The tarragon flavor in this sauce is quite strong, giving a real anise-like flavor, and you also really taste the yogurt. This is a sauce you could make with other herbs too; I think a dill version would pair terrifically with salmon. Either way, this is an easy sauce to dress up veggies or protein.

Yogurt Cheese

What is yogurt cheese? Yogurt cheese is yogurt that has been allowed to drain, removing whey. While cheese has had its whey removed, regular yogurt has not. Allowing yogurt to drain results in a thick yogurt that has a consistency similar to cream cheese. To make yogurt cheese, line a strainer with two layers of cheesecloth, setting the strainer over a bowl. Add a quart of plain yogurt to the strainer, folding the cheesecloth over the top.

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A quart of plain yogurt in a cheesecloth-lined strainer.

Weigh the yogurt down with the lid of a pot and a can, refrigerating it for four hours.

Yogurt cheese can be used plain as a spread, or in Alton’s recipe for frozen yogurt, which I will write about below. I tasted the plain yogurt cheese, but opted to use it for Alton’s other recipe; it tasted like plain yogurt… just much, much thicker.

Herb Spread

This herb spread is basically the same recipe as the one for yogurt cheese above, but with added seasonings. To a quart of plain yogurt (I used homemade) add 1 1/2 t cumin, 2 T chopped parsley, 1 t Kosher salt, and 1/2 t pepper.

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Cumin, parsley, Kosher salt, and pepper added to a quart of plain yogurt.

As with the yogurt cheese above, place a cheesecloth-lined strainer over a bowl and add the yogurt mixture.

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Seasoned yogurt poured in cheesecloth-lined strainer to drain.

Weigh the yogurt down with a pan lid and can, allowing it to drain for four hours in the refrigerator.

The resulting spread is tangy and has a punch of cumin, and it is great with crackers or on sandwiches.

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Herb spread with crackers.

Talk about an easy hors d’oeuvre, and it is even easier if you use store-purchased yogurt!

Lemon-Ginger Frozen Yogurt

This recipe is the perfect use for Alton’s yogurt cheese. Combine in a bowl 4 C plain yogurt cheese, 3/4 C sugar, 1/2 C light corn syrup, 2 t lemon zest, 1 T minced fresh ginger, and 3 T lemon juice.

Whisk the yogurt mixture until smooth and freeze in an ice cream mixture per the manufacturer’s instructions.

In the last few minutes of churning, add 1/4 C chopped crystallized ginger.

Freeze the frozen yogurt in the freezer until firm.

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Alton’s lemon-ginger frozen yogurt.

This frozen yogurt is super refreshing and reminds me of warmer weather (as I type this, it is snowy outside and the Christmas tree is illuminated). The first time we ate this frozen yogurt, the crystallized ginger seemed too chewy, but after freezing the yogurt for a longer period, the chewiness went away. I definitely foresee making this again, as it is packed with ginger and lemon flavor, and is a relatively healthy treat. This is worth making.

 

It is hard to believe that this post will mark the end of the 4th season of my Good Eats project. Only 10 seasons to go, plus some special episodes! It is also hard to fathom all that has happened since I started this blog 19 months ago. In addition to moving to a new house, Ted was diagnosed with cancer and underwent 5.5 weeks of chemo/radiation, along with two major operations. Thankfully, he just began (what should be) the final phase of his treatment:  12 rounds of chemo that should finish up at the end of June. One down… 11 to go, and boy are we counting down. This project has served to be a great distraction for me when I have had the opportunity to put time into it. Here’s to hoping that the next several months fly by!

Salsa

I love spicy food, and thankfully I have a relatively high tolerance for it. The final episode of season four was all about chile peppers and the Scoville unit of measurement for their heat levels. Always remember the general chile heat rules that smaller peppers are hotter than larger peppers, longer peppers are hotter than short ones, and green peppers tend to be hotter than other colors. To demonstrate the variations of heat and flavor among different chile peppers, Alton whipped up a batch of his salsa. To make Alton’s salsa, you will need 6 Roma tomatoes, 4 cloves of garlic, 1/2 a red onion, 1/2 a red bell pepper, 1 T olive oil, the juice of one lime, chili powder, Kosher salt, black pepper, 4 jalapeno peppers, 1 dried New Mexico chile, and something green (scallions, cilantro, and/or parsley). Note:  the online recipe calls for dried ancho chiles, but Alton used a New Mexico chile in the episode.

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Ingredients for Alton’s salsa: red bell pepper, Roma tomatoes, scallions, garlic, jalapenos, red onion, lime, olive oil, chili powder, Kosher salt, and pepper. Not pictured: dried New Mexico chile.

You will need to roast two of your jalapeno peppers. If you have a gas range, you can do this right over the burner, rotating the pepper over the burner until blistered on all sides. Alton placed his jalapenos on a collapsible stainless vegetable steamer to do this. We do not have a gas range, so I roasted my two chiles on a baking sheet under the broiler, turning them until all sides were roasted.

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Roasting jalapenos under the broiler.

Whichever method you use, watch your peppers carefully! Once your peppers are roasted, place them in a plastic wrap-covered bowl or in a paper bag for a few minutes; this will steam the peppers, allowing their skin to come off easily. While your peppers steam, place your chopped tomatoes, minced garlic, chopped red onion, diced bell pepper, olive oil, lime juice, and chopped scallions (or parsley/cilantro) in a bowl.

As for the two raw jalapeno peppers, seed them both, as the seeds are not digestible. Finely chop one raw jalapeno, leaving its white membrane in place; the membrane will add more heat. Remove the white membrane from the second raw jalapeno and chop it into slightly larger pieces. The second jalapeno will serve to add more fruity notes to the salsa. Add both jalapenos to the bowl.

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Season the salsa to taste with chili powder, Kosher salt, and pepper.

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Salsa seasoned with chili powder, Kosher salt, and pepper.

Next, cut the end off of your dried New Mexico chile, and shake it to remove the seeds. Using scissors, cut the dried chile into strips, and then fine pieces. Mix the dried chile pieces thoroughly into the salsa. They will initially be chewy, but will hydrate from the liquid in the salsa.

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Dried New Mexico chile, snipped into small pieces with scissors.

Finally, remove the skins from your roasted jalapenos by rinsing and rubbing them under running water. At this time, open the peppers up and pull out the seeds. Roughly chop the roasted peppers and add them to the bowl. They will add a sweetness to the salsa.

Taste the salsa again, adjusting the seasoning if needed. Cover and refrigerate the salsa for at least an hour before eating, so the flavors can blend and the dried chile can hydrate.

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Alton’s finished salsa.

I made this salsa early in the day, and we had it as an appetizer (with tortilla chips, of course). We actually ate it two nights in a row, and it was just as good the second night, though Ted insisted it was less hot the second night.

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A perfect bowl of Alton’s salsa with tortilla chips.

We like homemade salsas in general, though we do not make them enough, and this recipe ranked right up there with some of our favorites. Though this salsa has a lot of chiles in it, it really only has a moderate heat level, which really allows all of the varying flavors to shine. While I like really hot salsas, sometimes hot salsa is only that – hot. This salsa is a perfect balance of heat, freshness, and acidity, and really does showcase the ways chile peppers can be used to create different effects. Plus, it’s super colorful. I mean, really, salsa is a cheery food. This one is a keeper.

Spicy Pineapple Sauce

The second, and final, recipe in this episode is for a pineapple sauce with habanero pepper. To make the sauce itself you will only need three things:  a can of pineapple tidbits, a habanero pepper, and 2-3 sprigs of mint, bruised.

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Ingredients for Alton’s pineapple sauce: 1 can of pineapple tidbits, fresh mint, and a habanero pepper.

The online recipe calls for pineapple chunks and for you to cut your mint into chiffonade, but I prepared the recipe as done in the episode. Simmer the pineapple, habanero, and mint together in a saucepan for five minutes.

Cool the mixture to room temperature and remove the mint.

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The sauce, after removing the mint.

As a serving recommendation, Alton recommends frying some corn tortilla wedges in corn oil, dusting them with sugar while they are still warm; though there is cinnamon in the online recipe, Alton did not use cinnamon in the episode.

Serve the pineapple sauce and warm, sugared tortilla chips with vanilla ice cream.

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A fun and tasty dessert.

We ate this two nights in a row for dessert and both thought it was great. The sauce packs a good punch of heat, but is also sweet from pineapple. Honestly, the mint really did not come through much for me. The sauce on its own would be quite hot, but the ice cream really cools it down, and the chips add a completely different textural component. This is a fantastic combo and I think I will make this again. This is a fun, easy, and unusual dessert.

 

While I have adored mustard for as long as I can remember, I have never been a fan of mayonnaise. That is to say, I have never liked store-bought mayonnaise, for I still remember the first time I tasted my dad’s homemade mayonnaise. I was skeptical when Dad insisted I try his mayo, for I had already convinced myself that I would not like it; I could not have been more wrong, for his mayo was completely different from every mayonnaise I had ever had. The problem was that it only further poisoned my taste for store-bought mayo! If you have never had homemade mayonnaise, it is a must-try!

Mayonnaise

Though I already knew I loved homemade mayonnaise, I had never actually made it before watching Alton’s mayonnaise episode of Good Eats. A little over a week ago, I set out to eliminate my “mayonnaise virgin” status. The ingredients you need for Alton’s mayo are an egg yolk, salt, dry mustard, sugar, lemon juice, champagne vinegar, and safflower or corn oil.

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Mayonnaise ingredients: corn oil, salt, egg, sugar, lemon juice, champagne vinegar, and dry mustard.

Mayonnaise is an emulsion of oil in liquid. Lecithin, a phospholipid in egg yolks, allows the emulsion to form because its phosphoric acid end dissolves in water, while its lipid end dissolves in oil; this keeps the oil droplets suspended in their surrounding liquid, rather than allowing them to pool together. Fresh eggs have higher amounts of lecithin, so it is best to use very fresh eggs for mayonnaise making. To begin Alton’s mayo, combine 2 t lemon juice with 1 T champagne vinegar.

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Champagne vinegar and lemon juice.

Next, in a glass bowl (do not use an aluminum or iron bowl, as they will turn your mayo gray), combine one egg yolk, 1/2 t salt, 1/2 t dry mustard, and 2 pinches sugar.

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One egg yolk, 1/2 t salt, 1/2 t dry mustard, and 2 pinches of sugar.

Add half of the lemon/vinegar mixture to the bowl and whisk everything until it is frothy.

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Half of vinegar/lemon juice added to bowl, and whisked until frothy.

Once frothy, slowly begin adding 1 C corn or safflower oil to the egg mixture a few drops at a time, whisking constantly. A plastic squeeze bottle is ideal for adding the oil slowly.

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A squeeze bottle for corn oil.

When about 1/4 of the oil is in the bowl, you can begin adding the remaining oil in a slow, steady stream, still whisking constantly. Once half of the oil is incorporated, add the remaining lemon juice/vinegar.

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My mayo after about 1/2 of oil incorporated. Remaining lemon juice and vinegar added.

Finish by adding the rest of the oil, still in a thin stream, whisking steadily until it is all incorporated. Your arm will have to whisk a lot, but it will be worth the effort! It is necessary to add the oil slowly and to whisk quickly to avoid having your emulsion break, or separate. Once your mayonnaise is complete, let it sit at room temperature for 4-8 hours. After that, refrigerate any remaining mayonnaise for up to a week.

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The delicious completed mayo.

This mayonnaise is delicious. We ate it primarily on sandwiches and it was gone within a matter of days. The mayo is tangy and has a rich mouthfeel. Aside from the whisking labor, this is easy and definitely worth the effort.

By the way, should your mayo happen to break, all is not lost. To fix a broken mayonnaise, whisk an egg yolk in a bowl until it is frothy. Slowly add the broken mayo to the egg yolk, whisking until incorporated. Ta-da!

Party Mayonnaise

As I type, I am closely monitoring a batch of my dad’s smoked salmon that I am smoking in my Alton Brown cardboard smoker. My dad traditionally serves his salmon with his “Dog Shit Sauce,” which is a fabulous aioli. Seeing as an aioli is essentially a mayonnaise (or at least a close relative), perhaps we will have to sample our freshly smoked salmon this evening with some Alton Party Mayo. Since we plowed through our first Alton mayo really quickly, I was onto making the second recipe from this episode a mere five days later. This recipe for mayonnaise uses a food processor, which I welcomed after making the first mayo by hand.

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Ingredients for party mayonnaise: corn oil, eggs, chile oil, salt, dry mustard, lime juice, champagne vinegar, and sugar.

To start Alton’s party mayonnaise, to a food processor add 1 t salt, 1/4 t sugar, 1 t dry mustard, 2 T champagne vinegar, 2 T lime juice, 1 egg, and 1 egg yolk.

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Salt, sugar, dry mustard, champagne vinegar, lime juice, one egg, and one egg yolk in food processor.

Pulse the mixture five times.

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After five pulses in the food processor.

Next, using the feeding tube, slowly add 2 C corn or safflower oil minus 2-3 T. In addition, add 2-3 T chile oil. I added 3 T.

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Oil slowly being incorporated through feeding tube.

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Alton’s party mayo.

Again, let the mayonnaise sit at room temperature for a few hours before refrigerating for up to a week. We liked this mayonnaise even more than Alton’s first mayo. This one has the added kick from the chile oil, which just pumps it up a notch. Plus, using the food processor makes this one come together in a snap. It has a slightly pinkish hue from the chile oil, which is kind of nice, along with the tang from the lemon and vinegar.

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This mayo is wonderful.

Again, we have used this mayo mostly for sandwiches so far, but I do think we will test some with our smoked salmon this evening. It would also make a great base for a killer tartar sauce. Do not miss making this mayonnaise. It is fantastic.

Since I last posted, Ted has continued to have a rough time, resulting in a second major surgery on November 2nd and six more days in the hospital. With a grand total of 26 days (divided among three visits) in the hospital, he finally came home November 7th. We are crossing our fingers that we are hopefully on the real road to recovery this time.

Sweet and Sour Dessert Sauce

I prepped the recipes from the 49th episode of Good Eats over the course of a couple weeks. This episode was all about honey, or as Alton referred to it, “bee backwash.” After hearing that quote, I think I shall perhaps never look at honey quite the same again!

The first recipe in this episode is for Alton’s honey dessert sauce. Really it does not get much simpler than this one. To make Alton’s sauce, you will need only honey and sour cream.

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Honey and sour cream.

For the honey, Alton recommends a light honey, such as wildflower honey. I will confess that I used the honey I had on hand, which had no specific varietal on the label. To make the sauce, pour 1/4 C honey in a stainless steel bowl and heat it on a burner, just until warm.

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Honey, heating slightly on a burner.

Into the honey whisk 1 C sour cream.

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Sour cream added to warm honey.

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Sour cream and honey, whisked together.

Serve the sauce over fruit, cake, or anything else you can think of. I served the sauce over the orange cake that was also featured in this episode (see below).

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Alton’s dessert sauce, served over cake.

The sauce had a nice balance of sweetness and tartness and was pretty thin in consistency. I thought this sauce was just okay; it did not wow me in any way and I probably will not be making this one again.

Honey Mustard Dressing

Growing up, my brother would order honey mustard dressing every time he ordered a salad at a restaurant, so I instantly thought of him when making Alton’s honey mustard dressing. This is another super simple recipe, requiring only three ingredients:  honey (medium-bodied like sourwood), Dijon mustard, and rice wine vinegar.

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Rice wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, and honey.

For this dressing, I used the same honey that I used in my dessert sauce (above). To make Alton’s dressing, whisk together 5 T honey, 3 T smooth Dijon mustard, and 2 T rice wine vinegar.

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Honey in a bowl.

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Dijon mustard and rice wine vinegar added to honey.

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Alton’s honey mustard dressing.

Serve this as either a dressing or dipping sauce. I eat a lot of salads, so I served this over a large entree salad I made for myself.

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A salad with Alton’s honey mustard dressing.

I thought this dressing was really quite nice. I have found some honey mustard dressings in the past to be too sweet, but this had a nice balance of sweetness, acidity, and tang. As a bonus, this dressing does not separate in the refrigerator as oil-based dressings do. If you’re a honey mustard fan, this is one to try. I served it to my brother, the honey mustard expert, when he was visiting and he seemed to really enjoy it.

Honey Plums

The third honey recipe Alton made was for honey plums. Again, this is another simple recipe. For this one, you’ll need wildflower honey and under-ripe plums or figs. I could not find plums or figs at my grocery store, so I opted for firm D’Anjou pears.

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Honey and pears.

Begin by covering the bottom of a pan with honey and heat over low.

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Honey covering the bottom of the pan.

Add your fruit, cut side down, and cook for 5-6 minutes. Increase the heat to high for a minute before removing from the heat.

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Pears added to honey in pan.

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Pears after cooking in honey for several minutes.

Serve the honeyed fruit over ice cream.

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Honeyed pears served over vanilla ice cream.

I liked this and it reminded me of the poached pear phase my mom went through. This was another one that was just okay for me, but I think I’ll have to try this again when plums are back in season.

Aunt Verna’s Orange Cake

Of the recipes featured in this episode, I was most excited about this one. Alton claims that this cake recipe came from his Aunt Verna, but who knows if he really had an Aunt Verna?

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Orange cake ingredients: eggs, flour, orange zest, baking powder, butter, baking soda, and orange blossom honey.

For the cake, begin by whisking together 1 C orange blossom honey and 4 eggs.

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Eggs and honey.

To this mixture add 1 T orange zest.

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Orange zest added to honey/egg mixture.

Sift together 1 1/2 C flour, 1 t baking powder, and a pinch of baking soda, and slowly add the flour mixture to the liquid ingredients.

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Flour, baking soda, and baking powder sifted together.

Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until a wooden skewer comes out dry.

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Batter poured into the pan.

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Alton’s orange cake.

My cake took about 45 minutes to be done. I sliced my cake and served it with Alton’s sweet and sour dessert sauce (above).

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Alton’s orange cake, sliced.

I found this cake to be highly disappointing. It did have a lot of orange flavor, but the cake was quite dry and the outside of the cake was a bit darker than I would have liked. For me, this one was a bit of a flop, and I will not be making this one again. In fact, I would say that this episode of Good Eats (and the recipes featured) was one of my least favorites thus far.

 

Ah, butter, I have loved thee for as long as I can remember. Conversely, as a kid, my brother refused to eat butter, and would only eat margarine. Nuts, I know. I seem to remember something about him being disgusted by the fact that butter was animal-based fat. I think it is safe to say that the anti-butter trait is not genetic, as I saw my niece lick a stick of butter with pure delight last week when she was visiting. Thank goodness because butter certainly belongs on the list of “good eats.”

Raymond Beurre Blanc

Monday evening seemed like a good time to have the first recipe from this episode, which was for Alton’s beurre blanc. I have had beurre blancs in the past, but always in a restaurant.

Beurre blanc ingredients:  shallots, white wine, lemon juice, heavy cream, unsalted butter, Kosher salt, and white pepper.

Beurre blanc ingredients: shallots, white wine, lemon juice, heavy cream, unsalted butter, Kosher salt, and white pepper.

To make Alton’s sauce, add a couple of small chopped shallots to a pan, along with 8 oz. of white wine and 2 oz. of lemon juice.

Chopped shallots.

Chopped shallots.

Shallots and wine in the pan.

Shallots and wine in the pan.

Lemon juice added.

Lemon juice added.

Increase the heat to high, and reduce this liquid “au sec,” or until almost dry; you will have about 2 T remaining.

Shallots, lemon juice, and white wine.

Shallots, lemon juice, and white wine.

Beginning to reduce.

Beginning to reduce.

After a few minutes.

After a few minutes.

Reduced "au sec."

Reduced “au sec.”

Add 1 T of heavy cream to the pan, and decrease the heat to low as soon as the cream starts to bubble. The cream, as Alton says, is your “emulsion insurance.”

Cream added to pan for "emulsion insurance."

Cream added to pan for “emulsion insurance.”

Cream bubbling, so heat turned to low.

Cream bubbling, so heat turned to low.

Next, you will need 6 oz. of cold, unsalted butter, which you will want to cut into tablespoon-sized chunks.

Butter cut into chunks.

Butter cut into chunks.

You will add the butter chunks one at a time, first on the heat, and then off of the heat, until incorporated. If the sauce gets above 130 degrees, the membranes around the fat globules will collapse, so you do not want the sauce to get too hot.

First chunk of butter being added.

First chunk of butter being added.

Stirring the butter first on the heat...

Stirring the butter first on the heat…

...and then off of the heat.

…and then off of the heat.

To scale the sauce up or down, Alton explains that you want to use about a stick of butter per tablespoon of reduction. Once all of the butter has been added, season the sauce with Kosher salt and white pepper, to taste. You can serve the sauce as is, or you can strain it for a perfectly smooth sauce.

The finished beurre blanc.

The finished beurre blanc.

Since the beurre blanc will not hold well, you will want to serve it immediately or store it in a thermos for later use. We had the beurre blanc over steaks and asparagus for dinner, and it paired greatly with both.

Alton's beurre blanc over a steak and asparagus.

Alton’s beurre blanc over a steak and asparagus.

As someone who prefers to have some sort of sauce with steak, I really enjoyed this. I loved the slight sourness of the sauce, as it contrasted nicely with the richness from the butter. I will be making this one again for sure, as it would also be great over poached eggs or fish. This is a simple way to dress dinner up.

Compound Butter

Next up in Alton’s butter arsenal is a recipe for compound butter. I remember having compound butter at some restaurant when I was little, with my mom explaining to me that there were endless possibilities for flavor combinations you could achieve. Alton’s version is pretty straight forward.

Ingredients for compound butter:  olive oil, chives, thyme, rosemary, sage, and salted butter.

Ingredients for compound butter: olive oil, chives, thyme, rosemary, sage, and salted butter.

To start, cut a pound of salted butter into tablespoon-sized chunks and set it aside. Salted butter is used here because it has a longer shelf-life; the salt in the butter helps to prevent oxidation. This is why unsalted butter is typically wrapped in foil, while salted butter is not.

Butter chunks in mixer.

Butter chunks in mixer.

Next, pour 3-4 T of olive oil into your food processor, add 2 T of chopped chives, and chop.

Chives and olive oil in the food processor.

Chives and olive oil in the food processor.

Chopped chives in olive oil.

Chopped chives in olive oil.

To this, add 3 T of mixed herbs; Alton likes a tablespoon each of sage, thyme, and rosemary. Process this herb mixture until the oil is green.

Chopped sage, thyme, and rosemary.

Chopped sage, thyme, and rosemary.

Herbs chopped in oil.

Herbs chopped in oil.

Using the whisk attachment on your stand mixer, beat the butter until fluffy, starting on low and increasing the speed to high. The butter should be fluffy in 5-7 minutes.

Butter whipped until fluffy.

Butter whipped until fluffy.

Once fluffy, add the oil to the butter and mix until incorporated evenly.

Herb/oil mixture added to butter and mixed.

Herb/oil mixture added to butter and mixed.

Spoon the butter onto the end of a sheet of parchment, and pull the far end of the parchment over the butter.

Compound butter on one end of parchment.

Compound butter on one end of parchment.

Far end of parchment pulled over butter.

Far end of parchment pulled over butter.

Place the edge of a sheet pan against the butter (on top of the paper), hold the bottom piece of paper, and press the butter into a log shape. Roll up the ends of the parchment, secure with rubber bands, and chill the butter until firm.

Compound butter rolled into a log to be chilled.

Compound butter rolled into a log to be chilled.

Slice the butter and serve as a sauce for meat, chicken, fish, bread, vegetables, or anything else you can think of. I first tried the butter this morning on half a bagel, and I could smell the fresh herbs as soon as I unrolled the parchment.

Compound butter, sliced.

Compound butter, sliced.

Compound butter on a bagel.

Compound butter on a bagel.

I liked this particular combination of herbs because none of the herbs overwhelmed the others. The butter looks really pretty and is super flavorful, so it would be a great thing to serve to guests. I look forward to trying this as a simple sauce for many things in the coming weeks.

Honey Butter

For a sweet finish to the episode, Alton makes honey butter. This recipe is really similar to the compound butter recipe.

Ingredients for honey butter:  salted butter, honey, cinnamon, and vanilla extract.

Ingredients for honey butter: salted butter, honey, cinnamon, and vanilla extract.

To start, cut a pound of salted butter into chunks and beat it with the whisk attachment of your mixer until fluffy.

Butter cut into chunks.

Butter cut into chunks.

Butter beaten until fluffy.

Butter beaten until fluffy.

Once fluffy, add 1/4 C honey, 1/2 t cinnamon, and 1/2 t vanilla extract. Mix until evenly distributed.

Honey.

Honey.

Cinnamon, honey, and vanilla mixed into butter.

Cinnamon, honey, and vanilla mixed into butter.

Put the butter on parchment, use a sheet pan to push the butter into a log, and roll up the ends.

Honey butter on end of parchment sheet.

Honey butter on end of parchment sheet.

End of parchment pulled over butter.

End of parchment pulled over butter.

Honey butter log.

Honey butter log.

Chill the butter until firm, and slice to serve. Again, to first try this butter, I had it on half a bagel.

Sliced honey butter.

Sliced honey butter.

A pat of honey butter.

A pat of honey butter.

Honey butter on a bagel.

Honey butter on a bagel.

I was pleasantly surprised by the level of sweetness in the butter, as I was concerned it would be cloyingly sweet, but it was not. The flavor of the honey definitely came through, as did the vanilla and the cinnamon, but nothing was overpowering. This would be great on pancakes or waffles, and I think I will be trying that this weekend… with Alton’s pancake mix, of course!