In the spirit of competition, or something, the Accidental Locavore decided to add homemade butter to the better butter comparison. Making butter is pretty easy, you just abuse heavy cream long enough and it starts to separate into butter and buttermilk. You may have experienced this if you’ve ever made whipped cream and let it go a little too long. The toughest part of the butter-making process is that you need to have heavy cream that’s not ultra-pasteurized and that’s become harder to find in your local supermarket. Luckily, and in the spirit of keeping it local, Hudson Valley Fresh has a heavy cream that’s not ultra-pasteurized. Unfortunately, three out of the four cartons I bought turned out to be past their expiration dates – not so “fresh.” However, they tasted fine so I proceeded on.
There are lots of ways to make your own butter, but they all end up being “beat it” or “shake it.” Taking the beating path: put four half pint cartons of heavy cream into a mixer and let it go on medium high for about 8 minutes until it starts to look like whipped cream. Then, turn it up to high and in a few more minutes it will start to separate into butter and buttermilk. You’ll know when this happens because if you don’t cover the top of the mixing bowl, buttermilk will start spattering all over the kitchen (there’s a lesson here…).
Once you’ve got separation, line a colander with a layer of cheesecloth and place over a bowl. Pour the contents of your mixing bowl into the colander. You’ll end up with buttermilk in the bowl and butter in the colander. Pick up the butter in the cheesecloth and squeeze as much of the buttermilk as you can out of it. Store the buttermilk in a container in the fridge and use it for biscuits, salad dressing, or crème frâiche.
If you would like to salt your butter, put it in a bowl, sprinkle a little (1/4 teaspoon) salt on it and knead it until the salt is well mixed in. Now just form it into logs, wrap in plastic or waxed paper and foil, serve and enjoy. My 4 cups of heavy cream made about 12 ounces of butter and 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk.
My verdict: It’s certainly easy enough and it was tasty. Possibly better milk (i.e. cream) would have made a better product. However at $2.99 per half pint, my 12 ounces of butter cost $11.96 – almost a dollar an ounce, about what the expensive butters cost. So, in terms of time and cost, I think I’ll stick to Cabot for daily use and one of the “better butters” for the good stuff.
The Accidental Locavore has been meaning to make ricotta for a long time now and the ricotta ice cream was just the excuse to give it a shot. It’s always fascinating what “spoiling” milk does, from yogurt to ricotta and other cheeses. This is super-easy to do and tastes great.
The Accidental Locavore shares a recipe for homemade ricotta. An easy recipe to make your own ricotta.
- 1/2 gallon whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice (if using for ricotta ice cream, zest a lemon and set aside)
|Line a colander with a double layer of cheesecloth and put in the sink. In a 6 quart pot (you need space for the boiling milk to expand) slowly bring the milk, cream and salt to a rolling boil, stirring occasionally to keep it from scorching. Reduce the heat to low and add the lemon juice. Stirring constantly, simmer until the mixture curdles, about 2 minutes. |
Carefully pour the mixture into the colander and let it drain for an hour (I put my colander over the pot). Discard the liquid. Put the ricotta in a container and chill until ready to use.
After being inspired by the ricotta ice cream at Junoon, the Accidental Locavore decided that the end of summer (sob, sob) deserved some homemade ice cream. Turns out that the ricotta version is much easier than making classic ice cream. You don’t need to make what is essentially a custard, let it chill and then freeze it, a two to three day process (if you have the patience and time) to do it right. With the ricotta, you just run it through a food processor and ice cream maker. This, I’m guessing, makes a little more than a quart
Ricotta Ice Cream
The Accidental Locavore shares a recipe for ricotta ice cream. Easier to make than traditional ice cream, ricotta ice cream is delicious.
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta
- 1 cup sugar
- 3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
- pinch salt
- 1 cup heavy cream (preferably not ultra-pasteurized)
|Place all the ingredients in the work bowl of the food processor and process until smooth. |
When it’s done, place in the ice cream maker and process until it’s frozen.
Put in a freezer container and freeze until firm. Serve and enjoy!
My verdict: Super easy and delicious! Unfrozen it tastes like cannoli filling (which it almost is). I used this as an excuse to finally make my own ricotta (easy and delicious, give it a try) and used the whole batch of ricotta for the ice cream. Since I forgot to zest my lemons (used for the ricotta) I used the zest of ½ lemon and most of a lime, which was fine. I think the finished product is a little sweet and next time will start with ½ cup of sugar and go from there. You can add liqueur, rum to the mix and pistachios or chocolate bits at the end if you want. Next time, I think I’ll add some chocolate bits just for fun. If you’re new to making ice cream or are looking for an excuse to get an ice cream machine, this is a great jumping off point.
The Accidental Locavore loves harissa, a spicy North African condiment, usually red, so when I saw this recipe in bon appétit for a green version, I had to try it. I used it to make merguez, but if you’re not into making sausage, use it for lamb or chicken. It would probably work really well on zucchini too. Makes ½ cup and adapted from bon appétit:
- 1 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped ( I probably used 1 ½ cups because I love cilantro)
- 1 cup spinach, roughly chopped
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 jalapeno or serrano chile, seeded
- ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Kosher salt to taste
Combine all ingredients except salt in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Add salt to taste and check seasonings for taste. If it’s too spicy, add more spinach, cilantro and a little more olive oil. Serve and enjoy.