How to Make Homemade Unsalted Butter (In a Blender)

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Did you know that you can make homemade butter in a blender?

No? I didn’t either until this winter.

And the good news is it’s super simple…and it’ll help you use up whatever heavy whipping cream you have left over after making a recipe (since recipes never seen to call for the amount of cream that actually comes in the containers).

Without further ado, then, here’s how to do it:

What you’ll need:

A good blender (I used a vitamix)
Heavy whipping cream

1. Pour whipping cream into the blender, close up the blender, and start blending. The cream will get thicker and thicker and eventually turn into whipped cream.

2. Keep blending, but keep an eye on the cream. Sometimes air pockets will form and the cream will stop blending. If this happens, you will notice because the top layer of cream will be still (you may also notice the blender sounds different when this happens). Keep a stirring implement on hand and stop the blender and mix if this happens (it happened to me like 10 times, so stick with it even if it keeps happening).

3. Next, the cream will start to separate into something that looks like clumps of butter (because it is) and something that looks like milky water (this is buttermilk). Keep blending until none of it looks like whipped cream anymore.

blender butter start

4. Now, stop the blender and drain the buttermilk into a container to save for pancakes or other buttermilk recipes. Hold back the butter with a spoon if necessary.

5. The next step is to wash the butter. Do this by pouring cold water into the blender until it covers the butter. Then pulse your blender a couple times. The water will turn cloudy. Drain the water (and save if you like; I saved mine and labeled it “buttermilk light”…I haven’t used it yet, but have been told it’s still good for buttermilk recipes).

6. Repeat this step until the water you’re using to wash the butter isn’t really cloudy anymore.

7. Remove butter from blender and store. You can freeze it, refrigerate it, or keep it in a container on the counter for daily use.

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All About Italian Espresso

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Espresso.

Strong. Dark. Bold. And a staple of modern-day Italy.

During my time in northern Italy just after I published my Italy guidebook, I had the distinct pleasure of touring and tasting at a balsamic vinegar producer, eating real bolognese sauce outside Bologna with a couple other bloggers, and, notably, being guided through an espresso tasting by an expert–Manuel Terzi of Caffe Terzi.

The most important thing to know about espresso is that there are essentially two types of beans. The first, called Robusta, are sharper and more oily. They’re usually dark-roasted because the more you roast a bean, the more you hide its original flavor. And since Robusta beans don’t have the best original flavor, roasters spend their time trying to hide it.

The second and more desirable bean type is the Arabica, which brew smoother and richer. This is the bean you want to look for if you want the best espresso experience.

The second important thing to know is that refined sugar masks the flavor of espresso, while raw sugar enhances it. Manuel Terzi recommends trying the espresso without sugar first and then adding raw sugar to good 100% Arabica bean espresso to get the full experience.

Finally, he adds that when searching for the best espresso in town, it’s a good idea to look at the espresso machines. Machines with small filters mask the flavor of the espresso and are a good indicator that a shop is buying cheap coffee. Machines with large filters, on the other hand, let the flavor through and are your best bet.

 


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Where to Find Great Tapas in Seville, Spain

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I know this is blasphemy for all the Spain-lovers out there, but overall, I didn’t find the food in Spain that impressive. Tapas were cheap, yes. I had some decent churros. And I certainly liked most of the food. But I didn’t love it.  Most of it didn’t wow me.

This goes for all my Spanish travels…from Barcelona to the southern coast, Madrid to Toledo to Seville.

But there was one exception.

A little local tapas place in Seville where my super interesting blogger friends, Ang and Ryan, took me for lunch one sunny February day: Catalina Casa de Comidas.

Everything we ate there was spectacular, splendidly presented and bursting with flavor. Ang and Ryan said it was their favorite place, not only because the food was so good, but because the tourists don’t seem to have discovered it yet.

I must agree.


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A Very Simple Summer Salad With Lemon Dressing

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Here’s a salad I keep coming back to.

As the spring warms and the trees outside start blooming and the sunshine hours grow long, my body longs for summery, light meals. And this little salad became an instant favorite, both for its light tart summery taste and the ease of making it.

To make it you’ll need:
Organic Baby Arugula
1 organic chicken breast
1 organic lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil (preferably extra virgin, cold pressed, and organic)
1/4 teaspoon salt
fresh ground pepper, to taste
Grated organic pecorino, romano, or parmesan cheese, to taste

First, wash (if needed) and put the desired amount of arugula in a sealable container (but don’t pack it in tightly…it’ll need room) and leave the top open.

Next, zest the lemon and keep the zest and the lemon.

Then, take a small sealable container and put the olive oil, lemon zest, salt, and a little pepper inside. Squeeze the juice from the lemon (all of it) into the container and remove any rogue seeds that fall in.

Now, seal the container and shake it up till the dressing is well mixed. Dip an arugula leaf inside and taste, then add more pepper, salt, oil, or lemon as needed for your tastes.

Cut the chicken breast into cubes and sautee on the stovetop with some of the lemon dressing until the chicken is cooked and lightly browning.

Drip some of the dressing (to your taste) into the container with the arugula. Seal the container and shake to coat the arugula with dressing. Keep in mind that with lemon dressings, a little goes a long way.

Place the arugula in bowls, shred some cheese over the top, and then add chicken cubes.

Enjoy!

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A Dinner Party for All Ages (Macaroni & Cheese Two Ways and Homemade Chocolates)

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Photo credit (sorry, this isn’t an actual photo; we devoured it before I could get a shot in).

This year, I spent four whole months in Flagstaff, Arizona. I was there to see my best friend, to focus on getting healthy after a very difficult 2015, and to take some time to just slow down and relax.

It was all that and more, and since I was staying put for such a long time, I also did a whole lotta cooking. For the first time in awhile, I could buy big bottles of olive oil and a myriad of spices. I bought bags of flour and bottles of maple flavoring. And with a big dining room table and an even bigger kitchen, I also took the time to throw dinner parties.

The largest was made up of seven adults and three kids (ranging in age from three to nine). And the challenge (which I embraced happily) was making something the whole group could eat and enjoy.

So I decided to go with that never-fail staple: macaroni and cheese.

Of course, I can’t just do regular mac and cheese, though. So I committed to doing it two ways, both with a twist on the classic recipe.

The first recipe I used was the closest to classic mac and cheese. It’s creamy and rich and has a tiny kick. It was the favorite of the night for both kids and adults. I went a little light on the cayenne pepper and heavy on the cheddar and used whole milk instead of skim and it worked out fabulously. One caution, though: it serves way less than you think. I added 50% to the recipe (which supposedly serves four adults, so adding 50% should serve six) and it still wasn’t enough. If you’re serving four, I’d suggest doubling the recipe.

The second recipe I chose because it incorporated bacon (and who doesn’t love bacon). I made my version with regular pasta (instead of whole wheat noodles) and whole milk (instead of skim). The bacon was a nice touch, but I wasn’t a fan of the panko bread crumbs. And if I had it to do over, I would replace this with Caprese Mac & Cheese.

Finally, I finished off dinner with homemade chocolates (of the paleo variety) made with maple syrup. I placed two small chocolates at the bottom of each person’s small bowl and then topped it off with a scoop of toffee ice cream (which I did not make from scratch). The chocolates weren’t my personal favorite, but they got rave reviews from the other adults, so give them a try and see how you like them.

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A Very Foodie Link Round-Up, April Edition

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Photo: Pizza in Parma, Italy.

Good morning, friends. As you’re reading this, Chad and I are packing up our spices and oils and portable hot plate for a two and a half month road trip across the US and then back across Canada. I’m looking forward to figuring out some creative road trip food and to trying some great local restaurants around North America. If you have any suggestions for me in places like Park City, UT, or Chicago or Quebec City, please leave them in the comments. Also, if you want to follow along in real time, I’ll likely be posting a lot on Instagram and Facebook.

And now, onto some amazing foodie links:

:: The secret ingredient in great tomato soup.

:: You’re right, Prague, it’s about time for doughnut ice cream cones.

:: Old, good: What can a vegan eat in Italy?

:: One of my favorite new recipes from this winter: Macaroni & Cheese with a kick. (Double the recipe. Trust me.)

:: I just grabbed Joy the Baker’s gorgeous new cookbook from the library. So looking forward to trying the tiny cookie-sized pies.

:: I use Pinterest to organize my to-try and favorite online recipes. Here’s my profile.

:: Starting your own food blog? Here’s an important question: Can I Post Adaptations of Published Recipes on My Food Blog?

:: And let’s wrap this up with something fun: 10 wines to drink with ice cream.


P.S. There are just a few days left to sign up for my quarterly travel boxes. If you’re intrigued, now’s the time to sign up.

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