Saturday, August 04, 2007

Making butter out of it

When my wife and I were first dating she was living with her grandparents in Mill Valley. Her grandfather Al was a foodie before there were foodies. He would throw lavish Sunday dinners that included all sorts of gourmet foods. We would arrive in the early afternoon to begin preparations for dinner. Most meals centered on huge cuts of beef from Jerry the Butcher, whose shop was located where Whole Foods in now. Most of the preparation was done by my wife and her grandmother Margaret. Al, however, was hovering near by supervising.

Five o’clock signaled cocktail time and the Bombay martinis appeared with my favorite garlic stuffed olives. Snacks were served with drinks and dinner soon followed. It was the desert course that inspired today’s blog. Most all deserts were topped with fresh whipped cream. My wife hauled out the ancient Sunbeam Mixmaster and whipped the cream. Al liked his whipped cream the thickness of sour cream while everyone else preferred a thicker whip. He would peer over my wife’s shoulder and announce “you’re making butter out of it!” This phrase became a trademark at every meal.

Recently I read an article by Daniel Patterson in the New York Times titled Curd Mentality. He explained how to make butter. The link for the article has expired. You can Google butter making recipes and come up with several methods. I never really thought about butter making before. I envisioned an old fashion wooden butter churn with me slumped over, plunging until my back ached. No so, with a mixer it’s dead easy, a bit messy but still easy. You just whip the heavy cream until the solids separate from liquid. As Al would probably say if he was still with us “you’re making butter out of it!” Yes, sir we’re making butter.

The resulting butter is amazing! It is a beautiful gold color, silky and creamy. It beats any fancy butter I’ve ever tasted. Four cups of Clover organic heavy cream yielded thirteen ounces of butter and almost two cups of buttermilk. The buttermilk is different than the usual as well. We used it in a homemade ranch dressing. My son, the ranch dressing aficionado, pronounced it great.

Homemade ranch dressing

2 cups mayonnaise
2/3 cup homemade buttermilk
4 tsp chopped chives
4 tsp chopped flat leaf parsley
2 large cloves garlic
3 tsp chopped shallots
2 tsp seasoned rice wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste.


Anonymous said...

I tried your ranch dressing and it is fantastic ...

kudzu said...

Just wanted to let you know that Jerry (when last I checked) is working the butcher counter at Mollie Stone in Sausalito....I'm now an ex- but longtime Mill Valley denizen who used his wonderful service on Miller for years. Each year I would drop off a list for a humongous order of items for an Italian open house we always hosted on Christmas Eve...Am glad someone else remembers those days...As Bob Hope would say, you know ..
"Thanks for the, etc."

TasteTV : Life Never Tasted So good said...

I've never tried to do anything like this...yet