Make Your Own Butter. And Buttermilk. Then Bake With It.

The word of the day is ‘disaster’. And the lesson is that nothing in cooking is ever that much of a disaster. Oh no. It isn’t world ending, it isn’t failure as we really know it and it still probably tastes good, even if it doesn’t look how it should. Could say that about a lot of things.

Today, Magpie and her Helper (whose identity can’t be revealed for reasons which are nobody’s business) decided to have a baking session. What else productive is there to do when the sky is tipping bucket-loads of cats and dogs, rain and general nastiness? (Answers on the back of a postcard, please).

The Plan:
Strawberry Cheesecake (baked) and Chocolate Muffins (using homemade buttermilk, bearing in mind this is Kirkby Stephen and buttermilk cannot be bought anywhere nearer than Kendal), with Cheese and Onion Souffle for tea.

What Actually Happened:
Strawberry Sloop (cheesecake which wasn’t left in the oven long enough but tasted fab).
Chocolate Mini Muffins with choc chips and marshmallows that set like stringy glue… like UHU but sweeter and with less of a chemical kick.
Flapjack to use up the crushed digestives, with oats, cashew nuts, pumpkin seeds and dates.
Cheese and onion souffle, made almost entirely by Helper who mixed the greatest, smoothest ever, thick cheese sauce.
And we got two serious pats of butter out of it too (355g butter out of 600ml cream. Butter costs about 29p per 50g. The cream cost £2.16. 350g (if you could buy it in that size) would have cost about £2.06. Add in the cost of buttermilk (115ml) and you can see that we actually got two products that would have cost slightly more to buy than the cream itself did. Not bad.

How to make: butter and buttermilk out of double (heavy) cream.

Take the cream, pour it in a bowl and get out a stick blender/whisk/good whisking hand. Whisk/blend it until it’s over thick and you start to see a white liquid forming.
Keep going. The more you go, the more buttermilk you get.
Pour it off. Keep going at the butter until it forms proper globules and then pick it up and squeeze it in your fingers.
Keep squeezing. You want all the buttermilk out of the butter because otherwise it goes off quickly.

Put it into greaseproof paper – two large pats in our case – roll it up and place in the fridge to harden. Proper, unsalted, butter.

No pictures – himself has the camera and the two I took of the cheesecake disaster are on my phone with no way of getting them onto the blog. But hey ho, at least they aren’t out of focus!

The Bomb – Lentil and Lamb Casserole

When the tough get tired, they make sure they put the slow cooker on before they go out to work.

It may not be true but hell, it should be! The slow cooker is one of the best ever timesavers. At 7am, you throw in whatever you feel like eating (it all gets churned up together in your belly anyway) and I swear it will be cooked and tasty at 6.30pm.
Perfect for those nightmarish days when you just can’t face cooking but you actually want some comfort.

Comfort food. Something to replenish your soul.

So, saute 1 large onion until transluscent. Add grated garlic. Add a handful of diced lamb and brown the meat. Pour in a couple of large handfuls of brown lentils,  a tin of chickpeas, chop up any old bits of chilli and/or peppers, quarter some mushrooms,  powder up a couple of bouillion cubes and throw in the lot. Stir in a few tablespoons of harissa and add plenty of water. About 1-1.5 litres.

Bring the slow cooker into play at this point.

5-9 hours later: butter some large wedges of french baguette and spoon the casserole into bowls. Depending on how much water you started with, and how long it cooked for, it could be a consistency similar to a chunky broth, or a gungy brown taste bomb. Either way, it’s brill.

Helpful Tip: Do not hover over your slow cooker, waiting for your casserole. 5 hours is a long, long time. I am unable to use my slow cooker unless I am out for the day. All I do is hang around the appliance.

Credit to my friend Angela Morritt for this idea.