Kitchen Tip: Easy Melted Butter

If you are like me you like butter slathered on your toast in the morning.  Sometimes during the rigmarole of getting ready for work you don’t always have the timing down to hit that piping hot biscuit with a pad of butter in time for it to properly melt.  Well, I have a simple cure for always having perfectly melted butter at the ready.

I purchased a small (roughly 2 oz.) resealable, heavy-duty plastic container.  I keep about three tablespoons of butter in it at all times.  When I need melted butter I simply remove the lid and pop it in the microwave for up to 30 seconds.  I then paint the melted butter onto my waffle or scone or what have you with a silicon basting brush.

The silicon brush cleans up easily with hot water and soap.  The remaining butter goes back into the frig until I need it again.  If I’m getting low on butter I just lop off another knob and at it on top of the remaining butter.

Interesting food fact – if melted gently butter can me re-melted and then re-refrigerated again several times.  This method should also work with margarine but most of that junk is far worse for you than butter (see hydrogenated oil) and it never tastes as good.  Never.  Now for some pictures:

Easy Melted Butter

Review: Gabrielle Hamilton’s “Blood, Bones & Butter”

Gabrielle Hamilton chef/owner of PruneNever have I seen a contestant on Iron Chef: America become as popular as mild mannered Gabrielle Hamilton.  She has been one of the most searched for subjects on my blog for three years.  Chef Hamilton wowed judge’s Karine Bakhoum, Louisa Chu and Michael Ruhlman en route to a 53-49 victory over Iron Chef Bobby Flay in Battle: Zucchini.  Gabrielle’s modest Zucchini Tian was one of the most searched-for recipes on the Online for months after that appearance.

For those who don’t know Hamilton, she is the chef/owner of Prune, a popular bistro in New York’s East Village.  Prune is known for churning out scratch-made Continental Cuisine with an unassuming and decidedly cozy feel.  The chef draws on her travels abroad and her dysfunctional childhood for the inspiration on her menu.

It is that childhood that provides the backdrop for both her success as a chef and as the subject matter of her chef memoir Blood, Bones & Butter (available in the Wannabe TV Chef Store).  Since its release this past spring it has been one of the hottest food-oriented books on the market.  So popular in fact that the publisher actually had to dig a little to come up with a review copy to send me.

The praise for Blood, Bones & Butter has been exceptional.  Dig some of these quotes:

“I will read this book to my children and then burn all the books I have written for pretending to be anything even close to this.”
Mario Batali

“I have long considered Gabrielle Hamilton a writer in cook’s clothes and this deliciously complex…memoir proves the point.”
Mimi Sheraton

“Gabrielle Hamilton approaches storytelling the same way she does cooking-with thoughtful creativity that delights the senses.”
Daniel Boulud

“Magnificent. Simply the best memoir by a chef ever. Ever.”
Anthony Bourdain

That’s high praise from some highly respected people.  Though Bourdain’s quote demonstrates his adulation for Hamilton’s book, his own memoir Kitchen Confidential remains, for me anyway, the benchmark for all chef memoirs.  Being a guy I like a little more raunch in my chef memoirs I guess.  Still Blood, Bones Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton& Butter is a terrific read that is filled with poignant moments and emotional leeching.  It is wonderful story telling.

As with many of us in this industry, cooking did not start out as Hamilton’s Plan A.  It was simply something she could do well enough to pay the bills and maintain a steady supply of drugs and alcohol.  She worked her way to an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Michigan by working as a catering chef.  And while her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, GQ, Bon Appétit, Saveur, and Food & Wine it is for her rustic comfort food that she has gained most notoriety.

Blood, Bones & Butter may change all of that.  Hamilton’s gift with words is equal to her talent in the kitchen.  She has passages that are almost lyrical as she recites the life’s events that led to opening her renowned Manhattan eatery, her transition from lesbian feminist to loving mother and business woman not to mention the sordid affair (with a man no less) that eventually lead to marriage.

The best section of the book is at the end where she regales the reader with tales of her annual vacation to her husband’s family home in Southern Italy.  Her admiration for her mother-in-law Alda forms the heart of her love of everything about her new Italian family, the family she never had growing up.  Why don’t I let her tell you:

[mp3j track=”Excerpt-Blood-Bones-Butter.mp3″]

Blood, Bones & Butter is a great memoir, chef or otherwise, that will genuinely entertain.  Fans of Hamilton will not be disappointed.  Unless of course they are looking for the recipe to her Zucchini Tian.

New Cheflebrity Alex Guarnaschelli

One of the most popular pieces I ever postified.  Oddly the most common search phrase that brought people to it was “Alex Guarnaschelli bitch.”  They said it, Alex, not me.  I think you’re adorable.  Originally published on August 28, 2008.

With her new show just weeks from airing here’s a chance to get to know The Cooking Loft’s Alex Guarnaschelli in this interview from The Next Blog:

Sautéed Florida Shrimp with Arugula Leaves, Crispy Duck Confit, Tomato-Capor Raviolini… All of those dishes sound absolutely divine; they also sound like nothing we could cook up here at ThisNext.  Good thing there are chefs out there that can cook up such delicious dishes without setting the kitchen ablaze.

ThisNext chats with Executive Chef, Alex Guarnaschelli from New York’s Butter Restaurant to find out what’s cooking in her kitchen.

TN: What is Butter’s most popular dish?
AG: My grilled halibut with roasted asparagus and a squash emulsion. It was supposed to be a soup but I turned it into a sauce and had it on the menu for four years. One time I took it off for a short period and customers started asking for it so I put it back on and it’s been with me every since. When I look back it’s always the most popular dish.

TN: What is your favorite food?
To eat: Eggplant Parmesan and piping hot blueberry pie with way too much hagan daazs vanilla and a ton of lemon zest.  To cook: fish and salads. I love to make fresh vegetable salads. I’ve always really loved seasonality of ingredients. I couldn’t live without hitting the green market.

TN: Why do you have such a green focus?
AG: It dictates what I buy. I go to the local market a few blocks away and it’s an easy way to see what people are up to and what’s growing. My favorite equipment of all are vegetables.

TN: Do you have a most memorable dish story you can share?
I went to a hole in the wall in Nice, a place called la Miranda with no phone, no reservations. It’s very informal. You go in and sit on a stool at a table it’s very informal. At the time the wife served and the husband cooked. The wife sat my colleague and I and down. I looked over and saw the cook pan-frying something in olive oil and it looked just perfect. He then took the pasta, steaming, out of the water and dropped it steaming hot into a vibrant green basil pesto and that waft of steam gushed from his bowl and into my nostrils. He quickly tossed the basil pesto with the pasta and it was the best dish I’ve ever had.

TN: What is always in your fridge?
At home I always have a bottle of champagne. I like a couple of different brands but my favorites are Camille Saves Rose or Bollinger. Both are French champagnes and I always have one or both on hand. Also 8-10 jars of mustards, none of which I can ever finish and lingenberry jam. I always have way too much brie. I’m a classic girl and don’t like the bells and whistles, just give me a slab of cheese. My favorite is straight Brie De Meux from a place outside of Paris.

TN: Being a pro chef, do you spend a lot of time in your own kitchen?
None. If I had more free time I would. I love to cook but I think it’s OK for a chef to say, “Hey I just spent 12 hours in the kitchen and for the other 12 I have left I am going to be outside the kitchen.” I just got married and my husband loves to cook so I let him do it.

TN: Which is your most important room in your house? Why?
The bathrooms because it’s quiet and cool in there, the things I don’t often get to enjoy in a [restaurant] kitchen. When I close the door I feel like everyone is going to leave me alone for a few minutes. Also, I’m a soap collector, like a squirrel in winter hording nuts. I can have up to 20 soaps on hand at any time. Roger Gallet is a favorite. They make a lot of different vegetable and fruit based soaps. One is lettuce scented and is a cross of freshly moved grass and the best salad I’ve ever eaten. He also has a tomato soap that I like.

TN: How would you describe the style of your home?
I would say it’s a mix of classical and modern. Kind of like Ikea meets the Mediterranean. It’s more on the modern size but I have my classical touches. I love a good oriental rug and some hardwood floors and maybe a scratched steel coffee table.

TN: How would you describe your fashion style?
AG: I am seven months pregnant so I am very disconnected from my wardrobe right now. Typically I buy a lot of Betsey Johnson. I also love calypso and Lolita Lempicka but I also have sweat pants from the Gap. I don’t shop at H&M and I don’t shop at Target. Not because I don’t like them but because I don’t believe anything that cheap can really be that good.

TN: Prized possession?
A Vitaprep blender. If I could bring it home and hide it under my bed every night I would feel much safer in the world. It’s looks similar to a frappuccino blender and is good for everything. I couldn’t make a soup or a sauce without it. The one at Butter is model number VM0101. This is my number one choice for a blender or food processor.

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

Stu’s Latest Kindle Single is Just $2.99

Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up


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