Diving Into Butter

by on November 3, 2014

James Beard on good bread and fresh butter
My butter experience has changed, and I’ve been telling everyone about it.

The initial shift happened during my 40th birthday dinner at Coi, in San Francisco. When it was time for the bread course, about an hour into our tasting menu, our server bothered to mention that the little individual loaves of Japanese milk bread he was setting on the table were accompanied by the restaurant’s housemade cultured butter and Maldon sea salt.

The butter wasn’t just some anonymous off-white spread in a dish…they’d made it themselves, and there was rhyme and reason behind it. And it was stop-in-your-tracks delicious.

I mean, butter is usually just butter, right? We don’t think too hard about it. Restaurants rarely tell you about the butter they’re serving, and most of us keep our butter selection pretty simple at home — at most maybe a salted for spreading and an unsalted for baking. Honestly, I’m afraid we’ve been missing out.

I’m afraid I’ve become a little obsessed with butter. Not heaping on copious amounts of it…appreciating it. This isn’t about being all fancypants — the “good stuff” isn’t even all that expensive — it’s about tasting, learning, understanding, benefiting.
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Cubanos from the Chef movie
There’s a memorable scene in Chef — if you saw the movie this summer, you know the one — where John Leguizamo sways to Cuban music, massaging mojo marinade into a pork shoulder in a manner that probably deserves some privacy. When it’s falling-off-the-bone roasted, Jon Favreau, like a surgeon, shaves off a few test pieces…and determines it’s pretty perfect.

It can’t be possible to watch that movie without desperately wanting to get into that roast pork and the Cubanos they assemble from it (well, unless you don’t eat pork). So I was excited to see that chef Roy Choi, who was a consultant and producer for the movie, shared his recipe on the People magazine website…and I pretty much made it immediately.
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Why You Need This Pumpkin Muffin Recipe

October 1, 2014
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Because I’ve made them many times over the years and they’re the best pumpkin muffins I’ve tasted — fluffy, flavorful, unfussy, nice doming. Because even though baking with pumpkin can be kind of a seasonal fad, it’s a delicious one, so pumpkin on! Because now that it’s October you’re undoubtedly going to need to bring […]

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Smoked Sausage, Fig and Manchego Skewers plus Win a $100 Visa Gift Card from Johnsonville Sausage

September 29, 2014

To me, appetizers are the ultimate comfort food. They’re a treat – party food, or something to share when my husband and I are out at a restaurant. With just a few bites through which to deliver something delicious and memorable – the flavors and textures of appetizers can be bolder, more intense, maybe even […]

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A Surprisingly Good Apple Cake

September 23, 2014
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BOOM — the moment I came through the doors of the preschool my proud little boy shoved the little ziploc bag containing that day’s project right up to my face so I’d be sure to see it. “We made apple cake!!” Big grin, eyes wide and twinkling, legs jumping up and down — you can […]

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Well, hello!

September 8, 2014
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That’s me, smile-screaming on the kiddie coaster at Happy Hollow this summer. My little girl insisted we sit in the front row, for maximum thrills. I am so not a roller coaster person! But my kids got me on them at least four times over the past few months. And I have to admit, I […]

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Moving House

June 10, 2014
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An intermittent little eyebrow twitch reminds me that our departure from San Diego and move back to the Bay Area is a little more than two weeks away. I’ve been a giant ball of stress for the past few months and I have a feeling that’s not likely to change anytime soon. Selling our house […]

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Mac ‘n Cheese Grilled Cheese

April 30, 2014
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It’s the last day of April, which means that National Grilled Cheese Month is drawing to a close. We’ve got one last guest blogger today, Stefani Pollack from Cupcake Project, and she’s sharing just about the cheesiest grilled cheese sandwich possible: Mac ‘n Cheese Grilled Cheese. The mac ‘n cheese isn’t on the inside, like […]

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Texas Toast Asparagus Crab Melt

April 21, 2014
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Hello everyone! While my world continues to be overtaken by THE MOVE (there’s a gentleman shampooing the rugs at this very moment), my friend Amy Flanigan from Very Culinary is stopping by Panini Happy today to share her amazing grilled cheese — the Texas Toast Asparagus Crab Melt. She had me at Texas Toast…and asparagus…and […]

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Pickled Asparagus Grilled Cheese

April 16, 2014
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Happy National Grilled Cheese Month! I know it’s been a little quiet around here lately — my family is getting ready to bid a bittersweet farewell to San Diego and move back up to the Bay Area, so my time has been completely zapped by decluttering, packing, househunting and other relocation joys. Meanwhile, the cheesiest […]

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