Better With Butter

I am unable to resist.

I feel like this summer has all but passed us by. Between our move, getting settled in our new home, keeping up with an increasingly mobile and ever-changing soon-to-be-one-year-old, and last weekend’s trip to see Mike’s family in Indiana, I feel like we have had very few of those “lazy days” people talk about. No trips to the beach, not a single lobster roll, no barbecue or bluefish.

But we do have tomatoes. Every chance we get.

baby heirloom tomatoes in brown butter

Some of the best tomatoes we’ve had recently were these brown butter tomatoes. I saw the post on food52, and I couldn’t not try it. But tomatoes and butter do not a complete meal make, so I spooned them over some herbed farro, and topped each serving with a ball of creamy burrata.

Dinner: August 29, 2012

I may never eat another caprese salad again. (Julian was also a fan.)

The long-awaited butter post

homemade butter

At some point last year, I decided to try my hand at making homemade butter. Now, for most people, butter is something you buy, not make, particularly once your summer camp days are behind you. But we got hooked on some fabulous artisanal butters when we lived in New York, and it was a bit surprising when we moved here that, with all of the wonderful local foods produced here in Rhode Island, there was no Rhody butter to be had.

butter mise

So I took matters into my own hands. I played with different methods and had varying results, then this Atlantic piece changed everything. I’d culture the cream I was using, from Christiansen’s Dairy in North Providence, with some tangy Narragansett Creamery yogurt, and instead of using our stand mixer, I’d try the food processor. It couldn’t be easier, and the result was just what I was looking for – butter with a rich flavor and a bit of tang that came together in a matter of minutes.

butter, pre-pressing

The recipe below makes a double batch, which is the amount I made in advance of our 100 Mile Thanksgiving feast. You may want to halve the recipe to start, as butter this fresh shouldn’t linger in the fridge.

Cultured Butter

4 cups heavy cream
1 cup yogurt
(optional: flaky sea salt, like Maldon)

Combine the cream and yogurt in a large, non-reactive bowl. Cover the bowl with cheesecloth, and set it in a cool, dark place for 24 to 36 hours.
Churn in a food processor until the buttermilk separates from the butter curds.
Pour into a cheesecloth-lined strainer set over a bowl, fold the cheesecloth over the butter, and gently weight down with a plate. Set the bowl back in the fridge until very cold, about an hour.
Remove and press any remaining buttermilk from the butter. Store the buttermilk in a clean glass jar.
If you’re salting the butter, place it on a clean sheet of parchment or waxed paper, sprinkle the salt on top and gently knead it in.
Press the butter into a disc or roll, then wrap tightly and refrigerate for up to a week. The butter can also be frozen.

Yield: about 1 lb. of butter, plus 3 cups buttermilk