Butter and cheese better than trans-fat margarines, says heart specialist

Of course it is. Anything which tastes divine may have its flip side, but food (and any other vice) should be taken moderately. A moderate path is a safe and healthy path. Even The Guardian says so.

Bear in mind that when margarine is manufactured, before they put the colour in, it’s grey. I’ve said this before on here. Who wants to eat grey food?

Butter and cheese better than trans-fat margarines, says heart specialist | Life and style | The Guardian.

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!

Doing the Shrimp Fantastic

Potted shrimps is the kind of experience that hits the pleasure buds situated inside the skull, slightly above the ears but below the level of the temples.*

What is potted shrimps?

Basically, little brown, coldwater shrimps, drowned in butter. And then drowned in butter again.

Now, do not imagine for one second that these shrimps are either inferior to or cheaper than the terrifying grey slugs that sit in plastic supermarket boxes labelled Tiger prawns. Oh no. These are almost 3 times the cost, at £3.50/100g. This despite the fact they have travelled only 30 miles (not 30,000) and none of them air. According to the irrepressibly cheeky boy in the fishmongers, this is because someone had to sit and shell every one of them.  Fair enough, one thinks and shells out £5.60 for 150g.**

However, the good news is that 150g does three people very comfortably indeed. And the recipe is EASY. Easy peezy.

So, commit to the following ingredients and don’t worry about the fat content. It isn’t necessary to eat anything else that evening, provided you make enough toast to go with it.

200g unsalted butter
150g brown Morecambe Bay shrimps
1/4tsp mace
1/4tsp white pepper
1/2tsp fish sauce (the brownish Thai stuff in a bottle – nam pla)
1/4tsp lemon juice.

1. Melt the butter until it splits. Don’t bother waiting for the flecks of buttermilk to turn golden; it’s too risky, just wait for it to drop to the bottom of the melty goodness.

2. Pour off the clear (i.e. clarified) butter and ditch the buttermilk.

3. Pour two thirds of the clarified butter back into the pan and add all the ingredients except the shrimps. Simmer gently for about 5 minutes.

4. Pack the shrimps into three ramekins and pour over the spicy butter. Bang them in the freezer for no more than 10 minutes – 5 are probably enough.

5. When the butter is hardened, warm the remaining clarified stuff and pour that over the top. Back in the freezer for another 5.

5. Serve with warm, non-buttered toast and a minor side salad if you must. I had to put my shrimps back in the oven for 30 seconds to encourage them to come out of their vessels.

Result? Tasted just like the delights you can get in a restaurant, but more of it!

No picture – we blatantly ate the lot.

*this is not scientific fact, just the part of my head that feels wonderful when I eat really nice olives, or potted shrimps.
**actually ‘fair enough’ wasn’t the thought. “Oh my god” was prevalent, followed by, “is there a discount if you get more than 100g?”

Heavenly Ham Sandwich

I know I’m bragging. I know I shouldn’t. But I made the best cooked ham ever last night and I have to show it off. See it here in a tiny ham and piccallili sandwich.

Sharp, salty, acidic with the vinegar, and its background of vegetables and cider lends a savoury depth. Plus the butter and white bread combination, a guaranteed win.

Piccallili by Mum.