Sugarlaws: Living Sweetly.

Entries Tagged as 'condiments'

Make Your Own Butter

October 6th, 2008 · 13 Comments

Many of you have probably already made this by accident and just thrown it away, but I suggest doing it again on purpose.  This butter beats stick butter hands down, so I thought I’d spread the knowledge around.

Because what happens when you overwhip unsweetened whipped cream? You get delicious, soft, spreadable, unsweetened butter (and a little buttermilk as an extra bonus).

(How, you might ask, do you whip unsweetened cream without getting to the butter stage?  Add something to stabilize it — cream of tartar or gelatin powder disolved in a tiny bit of cold water, but that’s a post for another day.  Today, butter.)

How to make it?  So simple.  Pour some cream into mixing bowl, and mix it until it becomes whipped cream.  Then keep mixing it until it separates, and you can hear the butter solids sloshing around in the buttermilk. Pour out the buttermilk (save it for pancakes!) and pour 1/2 cup of water into the bowl with the butter solids.  Beat the butter again until any remaining buttermilk has released from the butter, and pour out the water.  Save the butter in the refrigerator, or spread it on toast immediately.

Last, check out this Q&A feature of me on the Whole Foods website!  And if you haven’t already, click here to vote for my recipe!

Tags: condiments · food

Rhubarb Jam

June 8th, 2008 · 32 Comments

I have a soft spot for foods that are pink.  Gorgeous summer berries, pink frosting on cakes and cupcakes, and jam, jam, jam.

If I’m really being honest, I’d admit that my love of all things pink extends beyond the culinary realm.  My sister and I once spent a very long Sunday painting my entire law school apartment a really gorgeous shade of (you guessed it) pink.

Oh, it was good to be a 22 year old girl.

I was actually a little worried that my jam wouldn’t turn out as pink as I wanted it, because I bought my rhubarb from the farmer’s market, and all the rhubarb there was early in the season and at least half green.  But I went forward with the jam anyways, since I figured I could write a very amusing post about it if I ended up with green jelly.  Fortunately, once the rhubarb boiled down, the green disappeared, leaving me with a yummy, thick, and very pink jam.

I used pectin to set the jam because, well, what else am I going to use my box of pectin for?  But I think you could probably go without it — the jam would be a little runny but still really good.

Rhubarb Jam

INGREDIENTS:
1 pound rhubarb (about 4 stalks)
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tsp pectin*

DIRECTIONS:
Trim the ends off the rhubarb stalks and cut the stalks into 1/2″ slices.

In a medium saucepan, cook rhubarb, sugar and water on medium/high heat until rhubarb breaks down into mush, about 8-10 minutes.  Add the pectin* and cook the rhubarb, while stirring, until it’s thick enough that you can see the bottom of the pan when you move the jam aside.  This should take about 3-5 minutes.

Remove rhubarb from heat, put the jam into a food processor and puree quickly for about 30 seconds.  Place the jam into a container and refrigerate for about 3 hours, or until jam is set.

Makes about 12 ounces of jam.  Use within 3 weeks refrigerated, or within one year if canned properly.

* For adding the pectin, follow the directions on the pectin box — mine also calls for calcium water, which I keep in my fridge.

Tags: breads · condiments · food

How To Render Duck Fat

March 20th, 2008 · 120 Comments

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I think it is probably hard to convey, in writing, exactly how giddy this photo makes me. Do you see that beautiful, clear, golden liquid? That’s duck fat. Otherwise known as, “one of the most delicious substances you could possibly ever consume.” Also known as, “nearly impossible to find without paying a fortune.” Finally, known as, “the substance Katy is so in love with that her parents worry she will die of a heart attack at 26.”

Heart heath aside, I am so incredibly excited to have this little jar in my fridge (and two others in my freezer). And I am extra, extra, extra excited to share it with all of you! So let me start at the beginning.

Sometime in early 2008, I came to the conclusion that many dishes, be they vegetable, soup, or sauce, could be improved with a richer, more flavorful cooking fat. I like olive oil as much as the next girl, and I’ll use butter on occasion, but I was intrigued with the idea of cooking with other types of fat. I experimented with sesame oil, dabbled in truffle oil, but finally I realized what my dishes were lacking: duck fat.

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So, I started looking. None of the grocery stores in my neighborhood sell duck, except in the prepackaged D’Artagnan ziplocs — no duck fat scraps to be had there. But in the back of my mind, I remembered the meat sellers at the farmer’s market. If you can buy a duck breast or leg at the farmer’s market, I figured, the rest of the bird is pretty likely to be for sale as well (the same is probably true of a good butcher, if there’s not a farmer’s market near you).

Sure enough, the following Saturday, I asked at the farmer’s market if the duck meat vendor had any fat for sale. The man gave me a curious look, and said, “we don’t bring it every week, but if you give me your name a week in advance, I can take an order.” I gleefully gave him my name, and asked for a pound of duck fat. And as I was about to walk away, he called out, “I’ll just get you the actual fat — you’ll have to render it yourself, is that ok?”

Brightly, I responded, “of course!” Inwardly, I thought to myself, “um, what is rendering, exactly?” And, I will admit, I was a little bit intimidated when I was handed this:

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Somehow that is not exactly the culinary delicacy that I had in mind. But after a little bit of research, I did figure out how cooks render what’s pictured here into that gorgeous golden liquid that one can actually cook with.

And now I’m going to share it with you, because it’s actually quite simple.

Take the fat from the animal, and put it in a flying pan. Cover it with about 2 cups of water per pound of fat, so that the fat is entirely submerged in water. Turn the heat on the burner as low as you possibly can, and just barely simmer for about 60 or 90 minutes, until the water has cooked off and you are left with a beautiful golden fat.

Here’s what it looks like after about five minutes:

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After fifteen minutes:

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After forty five minutes:

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When it starts to look as though the simmer is dying down, watch the fat very, very carefully. It should be a warm golden color, with little lighter-colored bubbles emerging from the center of the pan where the heat is strongest (the water). As there is less and less water, those bubbles will become closer and closer to a boil, and the remaining liquid will turn a darker golden. Eventually, the boiling bubbles will suddenly become much smaller, just back to a bare simmer, which means all the water is gone. At that point, remove the fat from the heat immediately — if you burn the fat, it’s useless and you have to start all over.

In my (humble) opinion, it’s better to have a slighly watery duck fat than to lose a whole batch that you burned, so once it hits the right color and the bubbles start to die down, you’re done.

Next, let the fat cool in a heat-proof container, uncovered, for about fifteen minutes. When it has cooled slightly, strain it through a fine mesh strainer at least three times, and pour it into a small glass container or two.

Allow to the rendered fat to cool, uncovered, for about 2 hours at room temperature, than transfer to the refigrator for 24 hours (it will solidify again). After 24 hours, move any containers that you plan to freeze to the freezer.

My pound of duck fat made about 1 cup of rendered fat. It will keep several months in the refigerator or up to a year in the freezer.

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Tags: condiments · food · main dishes · other