Tag Archives: Butter

Butter for Restaurant Week Winter 2013

28 Jan

Even if Executive Chef Alex Guarnaschelli (who just won Next Iron Chef) has nothing to do with Butter at this point in her career (which I am not sure about at all… I’ve heard she doesn’t do much with the restaurant anymore, but it’s hard to tell), you would never know. We have been meaning to go to Butter for years, and just never got around to it. I had heard it was good, but no one raved about it so it never made it high up on my list. But when we were trying to find a few new places to try for Restaurant Week this winter, we decided that in light of Chef Guarnaschelli’s recent win, we would check it out.

It’s right by the Public Theater in the East Village. We were seated downstairs and enjoyed the wood tree trunks and sticks that decorated the room. It had a nice, loungy feel with low couch benches in the bar areas and music playing in the rooms.

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Here was the Restaurant Week menu for dinner on Sunday, January 27th.

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And the regular menu.

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And of course, since it’s butter, here is the butter shot.

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And some more butter porn. (The butter itself was decent, but nothing too special and I could have used with a larger portion to cover off on the bread that was on the table.

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But the pumpernickel and sour dough breads were top notch.

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We decided to start with cocktails, and since they were so good, we continued drinking them throughout the meal (rather than switching to wine, which is our usual MO). I got the Pearadise with pear infused Bacardi rum, fresh pear puree, St. Germain liqueur, muddled limes and mint. It was fantastic. Perfectly sweet without being cloyingly so. Mike got the Mickey Blue Eyes, which was a martini made with Grey Goose Vodka and blue cheese stuffed olives.

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Mike started with the House Made Charcuterie Platter. This came with house-cured bacon, duck breast mortadella, and chicken liver toast with spicy napa cabbage. This was awesome. The mortadella had a great flavor, and the chicken liver was packed with flavor and had these perfect crispy onions on top. But the bacon… ohhh boyyyy the bacon.

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I got the soup of the day, which was a butternut squash soup. I have had butternut squash soup all over the world at this point, and I am a fan simply because I really love butternut squash soup. You don’t need to get fancy with it to be delicious, but that also means that most people serve butternut squash soup that tastes just like everyone else’s version. Sure, some people put in some toasted pumpkin seeds or some basil oil (and I sure do love it when they do) but the soup itself usually just tastes like squash, or squash and apples.

But this… this butternut squash was The Shit. I never knew squash soup could have this much depth of flavor. A bit of brown butter flavor and sweetness (from what I assume was brown sugar but not sure) with a layer of fresh squashy goodness. And the salted popcorn to accompany it was just perfect. I actually asked for more bread so I could lop up every last drop of soup. It was, hands down, the best butternut squash soup I have ever had.

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As we started the entree portion of our meal, the additional side of cider glazed roasted parsnips came out. These had thinly sliced apple chips on top and the cider glaze was superb. It was the perfect compliment to the roasted parsnips and it was great comfort food without being heavy.

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Mike chose the House Made Ricotta Ravioli with roasted oyster mushrooms, chili flakes (which they nicely served on the side so that I could eat it), and pecorino cheese. I thought the sauce and mushrooms went very well with the ricotta in the ravioli, which was fluffy and a tad tart, with great flavor. Though in the end, I never order cheese ravioli because I just find myself hard to impress with any version.

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I ordered the Braised Pork Shoulder with a pretzel crumb crust and buttered rutabega. This was also outstanding. A great pork flavor over a bed of creamy rutabega. The little salty crispness of the pretzel with the cabbage on top was delightful. It was perfectly tender so you could just pull it apart with your fork. Fantastic.

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For dessert, Mike chose the Ginger Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich with vanilla ice cream and spiced pecans. It was very good, with a well flavored ginger cookie and what I think were golden raisins with orange zest. The pecans were spiced with something pepper related that I couldn’t have (but Mike enjoyed) and while the cookie was a bit hard to cut, the dessert was very good.

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My dessert came out and the first thing I noticed was that it was tiny. It’s hard to tell in this shot, but the piece of chocolate cake was about 3 inches tall and wide and less than 1/2 an inch thick. But BOY was this big on flavor.

The chocolate was rich and decadent, the pomegranate seeds adding a little bit of lightness to it, and a shmear of awesome salted caramel. The entire dish was so fantastic, and so packed with flavor, I didn’t miss those additional bites.

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As the meal ended, I told Mike how I wanted to lick my plate for every single dish I had. (That is one of the highest compliments I can give a place!) The execution was flawless and I didn’t feel like we lost anything by ordering off the Restaurant Week menu. Portions weren’t huge, but I walked away totally satiated.

Overall, this was a standout meal not just for Restaurant Week, but overall. I was truly impressed and look forward to returning again in the near future. I can’t believe it took us that long to go!

Total Nom Points: 8.5 out of 10

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Mike’s Birthday Dinner Part 2: Black and White Cookies

17 Nov

The second part of Mike’s birthday dinner had to be dessert.  I tried to think of something new to make that Mike loved.  He always seeks out black and white cookies, so I decided to try my hand at them.  I also decided to try to take a lot more “making of” pictures for this recipe.

Here is the ol’ melted butter in the mixer pic.

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I then creamed said butter with sugar.

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And then started adding eggs.  Here went #1 of 4.

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As you are looking at the picture below, I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself “why on earth is that egg so happy?”  I’ll tell you… I tried to take a picture of these eggs with my camera about 400 times. It couldn’t find a single surface to focus on, however, so I got crafty.  And… named him Fred.

Say “hi” to Fred!

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And then… Fred had to die.

Goodbye Fred.

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I mixed the eggs in with the butter/sugar and then added in milk, vanilla extract, and lemon extract.  That is when it got scary.  It looked curdled.  I’m sure the lemon extract had something to do with it.

I paused for a moment, but then decided to continue and see how it all turned out.

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Next up came the cake flour, salt, and baking powder.

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Which, when all combined, looked like something edible again.  (Oh boy and it was good eatin’ batter!)

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This here is moments before I licked it completely clean.

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I dropped the dough onto a pan by an ice cream scoop, aiming for bigger cookies than the 1 Tablespoon suggestion would have brought.  I wanted bakery size!

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Then I used the back of a spoon to swirl the top to make them flatter.

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Using my trusty Silpat all the way.  Well… half of the way.  I only had 2 mats and 4 pans.  D’oh.

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And then into the oven they went at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.

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And if it wasn’t clear why Silpats rock, here is photographic evidence that Silpats are pretty much the best invention ever.  THOUGH, after the suggested 30 minutes, both trays were still pretty raw.

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I actually stuck them back in the oven and checked on them about every 3 minutes for the next 15 minutes.  It was now 50% longer than the original recipe called for and I started to get nervous.  I took them out and they were less raw, though still quite white on the bottom.

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I took a bite and figured it didn’t matter so much since they tasted awesome.  And onto the cooling rack they went.  (Though, as mentioned in the previous entry, some came into work with me.)

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When I came home (prior to making dinner), I started glazing the cookies.  The bottom shows the white glaze, which basically just looks half shiny.

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Then I added chocolate glaze.  I was in WAY too much of a rush so I didn’t spread these out enough.  So they weren’t nearly as neat as I would have preferred.  I was also pretty bummed at the transparency of the chocolate glaze and could not for the life of me figure out how most places get it so dark!

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But they tasted great!  Though not bakery great.  I guess there are just some things you should leave to the pros!

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RECIPE
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Black & White Cookies
(original recipe was from AllRecipes.com, however, I read the notes and tweaked it accordingly)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/3 cup boiling water (just add until it’s the right consistency)
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (good quality)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Butter/spray 2 baking sheets or use a Silpat.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the milk, vanilla, and lemon extract. Combine cake flour and all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt; gradually blend into the creamed mixture. Drop tablespoonfuls of the dough 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.
  3. Bake until edges begin to brown, about 20 to 30 minutes (or more?). Cool completely.
  4. Place confectioners sugar in large bowl. Mix in boiling water one tablespoon at a time until mixture is thick and spreadable. (Add more than the indicated amount if you need to).
  5. Transfer half of the frosting to the top of a double boiler set over simmering water. Stir in the chocolate. Warm mixture, stirring frequently, until the chocolate melts. Remove from heat. (or do it slowly in the microwave)
  6. With a brush, coat half the cookie with chocolate frosting and the other half with the white frosting. Set on waxed paper until frosting hardens.