November 14, 2012

Easy steps add pizazz to potatoes, asparagus

By Alison Ladman / The Associated Press

Want to truly elevate your mashed potatoes? Make them with your own butter and buttermilk.

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Handmade mustard butterand buttermilk mashed potatoes.

Photos by The Associated Press

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Asparagus and haricots verts with goat cheese and pine nuts.

The process is ridiculously simple. After culturing heavy cream, you run it through a food processor for several minutes until it separates into the solid fat (the butter) and the liquid (the buttermilk).

If you have excess buttermilk, refrigerate it and use it to make pancakes the next day.

HANDMADE MUSTARD BUTTER AND BUTTERMILK MASHED POTATOES

Serves 8

2 cups heavy cream

1/4 cup fresh buttermilk with live cultures

2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds

2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds

Salt

4 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and halved

In a clean, 2-cup liquid measuring cup, combine the cream and buttermilk. Cover tightly and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours.

To make the butter and buttermilk, place the cream mixture in the bowl of a food processor. Process on high. The mixture will initially thicken into a whipped cream, then it will separate into a liquid and solid. This process can take several minutes of processing, so be patient.

Once the mixture has separated into a solid (the butter) and a white liquid (the buttermilk), set a strainer over a bowl and pour the mixture through it. Set aside the bowl of buttermilk.

Fill a medium bowl with ice water and place the butter in it. Use your hands to gently knead the mixture together to create a large lump of butter. Remove the butter from the water and add fresh ice water to the bowl. Repeat the kneading process until the water is clear.

Remove the butter from the water and set aside in a clean, dry bowl.

With a mortar and pestle, crust the brown and yellow mustard seeds. Stir the crushed seeds into the butter. Taste and season the butter with salt. Set aside.

Heat the oven to 350 F.

Place the potatoes in a large pot, then add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Salt the water, then bring to a boil. Cook until tender when pierced with a fork, then drain and transfer to a sheet pan. Bake for 10 minutes.

Using a food mill or a ricer, process the potatoes into a large bowl. Stir in 3/4 cup of the reserved buttermilk, 2 tablespoons of the mustard butter and salt, to taste. Serve with additional mustard butter on the side.

Nutrition information per serving: 390 calories; 210 calories from fat (54 percent of total calories); 23 g fat (14 g saturated; 0.5 g trans fats); 85 mg cholesterol; 42 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 7 g protein; 270 mg sodium.

This simple dish of blanched asparagus and haricots verts is a great example of a recipe that can impress with its flavors without requiring endless hours of prep.

The vegetables get nothing but a quick blanching in boiling water, then are dressed on a platter with olive oil, golden raisins and goat cheese. That's it.

ASPARAGUS AND HARICOTS VERTS WITH GOAT CHEESE AND PINE NUTS

Serves 8

1 teaspoon olive oil, plus additional for drizzling

1/2 cup pine nuts

1 tablespoon ground coriander

Salt

1 pound haricots verts, trimmed

2 pounds asparagus, trimmed of woody ends, sliced lengthwise

1/4 cup chopped golden raisins

1/2 cup grated firm goat cheese

In a medium skillet over medium, heat the 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Add the pine nuts and cook just until fragrant and lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with the coriander and season with salt. Set aside.

Prepare a large bowl of ice water. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Blanch the haricots verts in the boiling water until bright green and just tender, about 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to immediately remove them to the ice water. Repeat the process with the asparagus, cooking it for 4 to 5 minutes depending on the thickness of the stalks.

Drain and pat dry the vegetables, then arrange them on a serving platter. Drizzle with olive oil, then top with the pine nuts, raisins and goat cheese.

Nutrition information per serving: 180 calories; 90 calories from fat (50 percent of total calories); 10 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 5 mg cholesterol; 17 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 10 g sugar; 6 g protein; 160 mg sodium.

 

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