Thursday, August 21, 2014

Miso Compound Butter

I saw this in a recent issue of Bon Appetit.  I saw it, and I wanted it.  And it stuck there, in the back of my brain, waiting for a good reason to jump out and get made.  And then I saw an opportunity.  A couple friends invited us over to grill, and I was thrilled to ask to bring corn on the cob (with miso butter, of course!).  Now if you haven't heard of compound butters before, be prepared to have your world rocked.  They are the easiest, most low-maintenance way to add some incredible flavor to your food.  And all you need is a bowl, spatula, softened butter, and your flavorings.  Some of my favorites are anchovy compound butter (on steak!), or cilantro-lime compound butter (corn, chicken, fish, shoe leather).  You could go any direction with this though.  If you use a small food processor, you can even incorporate fairly large amounts of liquid (think white wine/lemon/dijon).  But let's get back to the issue at hand... how to make it.

Start off with some good butter.  Really.  Something like Kerrygold has an appreciably better consistency, flavor, color, etc.  Store brand has a high water content and overall is just not as tasty.  But if not buying fancy butter is going to get in the way of you making compound butter, some compound butter is better than none!

Soften that butter, thoroughly.  During the summer, I can leave it out on the counter.  During the winter, our house hovers around 60 degrees, and it's just not warm enough to sufficiently soften butter.  But luckily our microwave has a "butter soften" setting - no joke.  And it works like a champ.  However you generally soften butter, it should work.  But you want it a hair softer than what you'd aim for in most baking recipes.  Makes the mixing portion a little easier.

Put the butter in a bowl.  Put your flavors in a bowl (if they're very wet, you'll need a food processor), mix.

8oz butter
4 Tablespoons miso
pinch red pepper flakes

miso compound butter

That's it.  Compound butter.

To store, my favorite method is to roll it into logs.  When serving, you can either slice off hunks, or unwrap the waxed paper and use them like a grease pastel to butter corn or rub a piece of toast.

To make a log:
Make a blob in a square of waxed paper
miso compound butter

Fold over one side of the paper, then use a straight edge (I use a bench scraper) to push the blob into a more loggy shape (loggy is totally a word, right?).

miso compound butter

miso compound butter

Then you just roll up the rest of the waxed paper and twist the ends.  I ended up making half a pound of miso compound butter, so I made 2 logs.  One went directly into the fridge, and the other got vacuum sealed, labelled, and frozen.

miso compound butter

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

We slaughtered 2 of the ducks - proceed with caution.

I just want to preface this post with notes that it will probably be upsetting to many people.  If you don't want to read a vivid recollection of a less-than-perfect slaughter (or see photos of slaughter), please do not read further.  If you are planning on judging me, please do the same.  If you want an honest recollection of what happened, please continue on after the break.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

I found out what was digging all those &*$#@ holes in my duck pen!

A few weeks ago, I shared a couple photos of the tunnels that had been appearing in my duck pen.

A few days ago, I drained the stinky duck pond, and when I went to refill it, I decided to flood the tunnel.  But you know what?  That tunnel tool so much water!  I couldn't get it full the the top.  There's some volume in that bad boy.  Getting discouraged, I decided to at least make it an unattractive place to tunnel by locating some stinky dog poop and burying it several inches down from the entrance to the tunnel.  So I grabbed a shovel and went on the hunt.  Several seconds later, a large rodent sprinted from the corner of the yard near the duck pen towards our deck.  Boris, of mouse-hunting fame caught that M F-er before it made it under the deck.  A few pointed bites and it stopped moving.  A firm "LEAVE IT." and he backed off to let me snap the neck with my shovel and pick it up for disposal.  I was so proud of him.  Once I got it out of the yard, I set it down for further inspection.  It appears to be a mother rat, as it had swollen udders (I assume I drowned the offspring in my tunnel flooding).  And that sucker was big.  Think of all the free duck food it's been eating! I was so proud of Boris that I took a photo and texted it to Craig.  His response?  "WTF"

Anyway, Boris got extra treats and an invitation onto the bed that night.  You know, after I cleaned the blood off his lip.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Cold Peanut Sesame Soba Noodle Salad

This was incredible!  As part of my cold-food push last week, I made a soba noodle salad.  And it was delicious.

cold peanut sesame soba noodle salad with avocado

The great thing about salads like this is that you can usually make them with stuff you have lying around the house.  I did pick up some scallions and a bell pepper for this, but everything else is generally a staple in our house. Your mileage may vary.

Ingredients for Cold Peanut Sesame Soba Noodle Salad

Cold Peanut Sesame Soba Noodle Salad (serves 4-6)
1/2 english cucumber, cut into 3-4" matchsticks
1/2 red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, cut into thin slices
5 scallions, white and light green parts sliced on a bias

9 oz package (or similar) dry soba noodles, spaghetti, udon, whatever kind strikes your fancy.

2-3 T peanut butter
1 T sugar
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 T sesame oil
2 T neutral oil (I used avocado)
4 T soy sauce
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 T hot chili oil
1" fresh ginger, peeled & grated
2-4 cloves garlic, peeled & grated

Toasted sesame seeds or furikake seasoning

dressing ingredients for Cold Peanut Sesame Soba Noodle Salad

*Prep your veggies and set them aside
*Toss your sauce ingredients all together and whisk to combine.  If your peanut butter won't break up, microwave for 10-30 seconds and whisk again.  Taste.  You may need more acid (vinegar) or salt (soy sauce).  Continue to taste and adjust until things seem good.
*Boil your water for your noodles, cook according to package directions (my soba noodles took 4 minutes), drain, then rinse under cold water
*Toss your noodles with the dressing, then mix in your veggies.  Taste again, you may need to adjust seasonings once again.
*Plate your noodles, top with some sliced avocado (if you like) and a sprinkling of sesame seeds/furikake seasoning.
*Enjoy, also, this makes rad leftovers and is good at room temp too, so would probably be a good picnic candidate

Cold Peanut Sesame Soba Noodle Salad

Cold Peanut Sesame Soba Noodle Salad

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

This week's meal plan - OR - Try not to heat up the house!

So it's been pretty hot in Washington this year.  Today Seattle experienced it's 10th day in a row with temperatures topping 80 degrees.  This summer, we have had 28 days over 80, with many of them in the high 80s and 90s. It's more than our poor, pale, PNW bodies can handle!  I have some enormous tomatoes in the garden, but generating heat inside the house, especially our house, which gets baked with hot sun from dawn til dusk, is a surefire way to make the rest of the evening miserable.  We have air conditioning, but avoid using it unless we get just too uncomfortable.  So in the dog days of summer, we try to avoid cooking inside. For the first couple weeks that it's really hot, I find cooking outside-only to be a really fun and neat way to challenge myself, but by week 3, I am DONE with it and just want to turn the oven on and bake something!  Unfortunately, all of this week and the next 10 days are forecasted to be in the 80s and above.  So I am meal planning to avoid getting takeout.  Hopefully my list helps to inspire something other than a boring salad for you this HOT HOT summer!


Dinners this week:
Turkey Sammiches w/ mushrooms & olive tapenade
-olive tapenade
Tuna Sammiches w/ lettuce & tomatoes
Wedge Salads w/ bleu cheese
-bleu cheese dressing - need bleu cheese
Peanut Sesame Soba Noodles
-soba noodles
-peanut butter
-avocado oil
-sesame oil
-english cucumber
Fresh Spring rolls w/ shrimp
-english cucumber
-bell pepper