compound butter

First of all I need to start this post by giving full credit to my wife Hailey who made the compound butter that is in the pictures and to be honest has made any and all compound butters we have had in the home over the years!

There really is nothing more simple than compound butter, but it tastes great and gives the impression that you are a master chef.  In simple terms, all compound butter is, is taking store bought butter, softening it up and flavoring it with whatever you really want, then rolling it up and chiiling it so it becomes hard again.  You can use it on whatever you want.

This summer we have had 3 different occassions where we have had some kind of compund butter on our corn on the cob.  If memory serves me right the flavors were: jalapeno, cilantro lime and garlic and chive.

Have fun making up your own flavors and recipes and comment below of what you have found to be the best.  In addition to topping corn on the cob you could use compund butters on pancakes and waffles, steaks, baked potatoes, breads and dinner rolls, pastas etc.

Suggestion Recipes to get your mind started:

Butter, chives, shallots, garlic, salt and pepper

brown sugar, maple syrup, lemon juice, cinnamon

cilantro, lime, jalapeno, tomato

basil, dried oregona, parmesan cheese

 

grilled pizzas

So a few weeks ago Hailey and I attended a cooking class hosted by The Vintage Mixer and SLC Foodie.  The two chefs teaching the class were Raw Melissa and Jen of Delightful Delicacies.  The class was really good but the part I liked best was the part on grilling pizzas!  If you know me you know how much I love to grill.  The thought of grilling pizza was not new, but the awesome and local ingredients they were using was certainly new to me.

So ever since that class we have wanted to host our own grilled pizza night and we invited over some good friends, the Baileys, who attended the class with us.    I am not going to really share specific recipes here, but rather some delicious pictures and some ideas to get your mind started on your own unique pizza options!

I would suggest store-bought already-prepared pizza dough, though there are tons of good recipes online.  In our class they introduced us to a local and healthy brand you can buy at good earth.  I know Caputos deli and Harmons also sell prepared pizza dough.  Other than the pizza dough, we made everything else.  Well we didn’t make like the cheese and stuff, but you get the point.  Oh, I did make my own pizza sauce!

The pizza sauce was pretty simple.  I just boiled for about 5 minutes a bunch of tomatoes and then gave them a fast ice bath.  After doing this you can peel them very easily and then I added the peeled tomatoes to a blender with garlic, onions, fresh thyme, fresh basil, and fresh oregano.  I blended it all up and then slow cooked it on the stove, covered for about 2.5 hrs.

Some hints that I may share to make your learning curve a bit less steep would be:

  • put foil under the pizza if you do not like the charred lines or smokier taste.  I actually prefer it, but it was nice to have some with foil under and some without.
  • roll your dough on the foil (oiled or buttered foil) and it will make it much easier to move to the grill, you can simply slide the foil and pizza right onto the grill.
  • If your pizza is not perfectly round or if it kind of falls apart when moving to the grill, DO NOT WORRY, it all looks great in the end, just straighten it up once it is on the grill.
  •  I like to add my basil after the pizza is cooked, it just keeps that fresh basil taste so much better.

So we made 6 pizzas, the Bailey’s made 3 and we made 3.  Here they are in no particular order or chef.  By the way, I may not remember all the ingredients, but again, have fun and experiment with your pizzas, you really cannot mess them up.

Margherita Pizza- tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, caramelized onions, fresh herbs, heirloom tomatoes

Roasted Root Veggie Pizza- beats, butternut squash, sweet potato, parsnips, carrots, smoked gouda cheese.  Slow roasted all veggies in olive oil and salt and pepper until caramelized and soft.

Pesto Chicken Pizza- kale pesto, pre-cooked chicken, roasted peppers, mozzarella cheese.

Zucchini Pizza- Grilled  zucchini, fontina cheese, mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce. This tastes like a lasagna, I loved it.

Cauliflower, Potato and Fennel Pizza- Steamed cauliflower in tiny almost fine chunks, steamed potatoes, dried fennel, fresh herbs, mozzarella cheese, and fresh tomatoes. To get that nice brown cheese as seen above, Brian broiled the pizza after drizzling with olive oil after it came off the grill, he broiled it on the top rack for about 5 minutes.  A great touch!

Bacon, Sausage and Squash Pizza- Thick cooked bacon, spicy italian sausage, tomato sauce, grilled squash, fresh tomatoes, basil, mozzarella cheese.

If you do your own pizzas in the oven or on the grill, try something unique and different; you will be surprised how good it tastes.  I promise you it is almost impossible to mess any pizza up.

 

 

Steaks with goat cheese, caramalized onions and herbs

There is nothing better to eat outdoors with friends, especially in the summer, than grilled steaks!  I have eaten steaks my entire life.  The cool thing is my kids now love steaks and I continue loving to grill them.

What I really like about steak is that there are all sorts of cuts, and all sorts of ways to prepare them.  I want to share what I feel is the best way to prepare, grill and finish steaks.

Best preparation.  It is important to bring the steaks out of the fridge about 15-30 minutes prior to wanting to grill them.  You do not want to grill a cold steak.  Just use coarse kosher salt and course fresh ground pepper.  Do not use olive oil, do not use garlic salt, or garlic pepper.  Look I use this sometimes, but keeping it simple is the key to a great steak.  Use more salt than you feel might be safe (do not go overboard, but get it on there)  also get quite a bit of the pepper on there too.  You want to apply it to both sides and make sure to rub it into the meat.

How to grill them.

You want to heat your grill on its highest setting and close the lid.  Let it get as hot as you can without killing yourself or harming others.  Once the grill is very hot, place the steaks diagonally on the grill grates.  The diagonal step will make your steaks look the best when done.  Now let them sit on the hot grill, with the lid open for about 2-3 minutes per side.  You are doing this to sear in the flavor!  Searing the meat is key.  So when you are ready to flip it over, flip it diagonally and sear the other side too.

Once searing has been done on both sides, reduce heat to low or medium and flip again but cross the meat diagonally the other way now to make the grill grate marks crisscross.  You will now cook again for 2-5 minutes per side or until your steak is done.  Maybe another time I will explain how to tell it is done, that is a tough one and takes some time.  For beginners, just slice into it when you think it is where it needs to be.

Finishing the steaks.

You need to let the steaks rest a bit before serving them.  If you cut them up right after removing from the grill you will lose all the tasty juices and ruin them.  Ok they wont be ruined but they will not be as good.  Let them sit for 3-7 minutes.  They even continue to cook a bit during this wait.

You can finish the steaks with a slice of butter.  Try a compound butter of herbs, chives and garlic if you wish.  The steaks in this photo are finished with goat cheese, caramelized onions and thyme.  I love topping my steaks with pebre too!  Pebre may be the best topping ever for a steak.  Be creative, the star here is the steak, but you can top with a cool arugala salad, a peach or mango salsa, etc etc.

I fee the absolute best cut of steak for grilling is the ribeye due to all the marbling and taste.  Marbling is the amount of fat in the meat and fat is tasty!  Happy Grilling

Chopped Salads are the Best

For the past few years I have love getting chopped salads when I go out.  My two favorite chopped salads are the Ruth’s Chris chopped salad and the chopped salad at Mastros.  By the way, Mastros has to be the best steak house ever and if you are ever near one, GO!  Get whatever you want, it is all good, but you must get the butter cake for dessert.

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Anyway, I wished more places served chopped salads and I would bet more will start.  So the basic idea of a chopped salad is taking whatever ingredients you want, and chopping them into small pea sized pieces.  You want to even dice or cut up your lettuces.  You know what shredded iceburg lettuce looks like from the bag?  That is what I did with my spinach (cut it like a chiffonade) and my arugala. So I started with my greens base.

Ingredients:

iceburg, arugala and spinach all shredded or chiffonaded.

Cucumbers diced into pea sized chunks (fresh green peas would have been good if still in season also!)

Grilled yellow and red peppers (also in pea sized bites, get the picture?)

grilled yellow squash

red onion

cremini mushrooms

tons of fresh herbs (I used basil, chives and thyme)  I grinded mine in this cool tool that my wife bought me.  I think she saw it on Oprah.

croutons

feta cheese

crisp bacon bits (fresh of course!)

So you basically take all your ingredients, and feel free to mix it up and add more.  Ideas: celery, tomatoes, almonds, hearts of palm, artichoke hearts, olives, cheeses etc.

You will want to use a light and preferably home made vinaigrette.  My wife made a great one out of herbs, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard and some lime juice.  Here is a link to a good one.