Archive for: browned butter
Brussel sprouts are one of those vegetables that have a reputation of being difficult to like. The leafy green vegetables look like miniature cabbages – mostly because they are related to cabbages – with a mild, cabbage like flavor. They can be prepared in a number of different ways, but the best way to prepare them, without a doubt, is to roast them in the oven until they’re crispy. Oven-roasted brussel sprouts have mild, slightly nutty flavor and a good balance of tender interior and crisp exterior. Served with a little salt or a little Parmesan cheese, they can be delicious. In fact, they’re good enough to make you wonder how they got a reputation of being difficult to like.
They can be even more delicious when you introduce a little browned butter to the equation. Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Browned Butter are one of my favorite ways to prep these vegetables. I split the brussel sprouts down the center and roast them, cut side down, on a baking sheet until they’re crispy. While they cook, I prepare a little browned butter on the stove top and simply toss the roasted brussel sprouts in the butter before seasoning and serving them. The browned butter adds a wonderful toasted flavor to the sprouts and makes them taste much more complex than they would on their own.
I like to buy my brussel sprouts on the stalks, partly because those huge stalks look cool and partly because I feel that the sprouts are fresher when they’re still attached to the stem. Choose brussel sprouts that are small, with tightly wrapped leaves and no discoloration. These will be milder and more tender than larger brussel sprouts (although those are perfectly good roasted, too). This recipe can be adapted to any amount of sprouts, whether you’re serving them as a Thanksgiving dish or simply making them as a side for a dinner for two.
Thanksgiving is stuffing season as far as I’m concerned. I occasionally make it during the rest of the year, but I always do several batches around Thanksgiving and between Thanksgiving and Christmas. A basic stuffing (or dressing, if you come from a region where that name is more widely used) is a seasoned bread (or other starch) and vegetable mixture, cooked inside the turkey or in the oven alongside the bird. Like a basic bread pudding recipe, stuffing is almost like a blank slate that you can put your own spin on easily with different breads, vegetables and seasonings.
I’ve done Bacon, Pumpkin and Pecan Stuffings, Caramelized Onion Stuffing, Roasted Garlic Stuffing and Vegetarian Stuffing. This year I’m doing a Browned Butter and Sage Stuffing with Walnuts and Cranberries, where simple ingredients come together to deliver a stuffing with a lot of flavor.
I usually like to use either a relatively plain sandwich bread or a whole grain bread for stuffing. Sandwich bread typically is a blank canvas that allows other flavors to stand out. Whole grain breads add a deep, nutty flavor and can add a lot of dimension and heartiness to stuffing. Since browned butter is an element that I like to use in desserts, I wanted to use a richer and slightly sweeter bread for this particular stuffing to highlight the sweetness of the butter. I used my homemade No Knead Pumpkin Dinner Bread. If you are using that recipe, you’ll need a bit less than 3/4 of the loaf. You can use any bread, but I recommend choosing something slightly rich, such as challah, so that the browned butter has a good base to work with.
The bread cubes are tossed with cooked onions and celery, toasted walnuts and dried cranberries. The mixture is seasoned with fresh sage, then doused with browned butter and chicken stock (vegetable stock or any kind of stock could be used) before being pressed into a casserole dish and baked. The stuffing has a nice crunch from the walnuts, a crisp top and an almost creamy center from the tender bread. And, of course, you get a nice note of browned butter that makes the dish taste rich and complex.
Leftovers go very well in turkey sandwiches, too.
Muffins are usually studded with berries, speckled with chocolate or laced with generous amounts of spices. They are rarely left plain because, well, plain muffins can be pretty boring. These muffins look plain and don’t have anything like berries or coconut or chocolate mixed into the batter, but when you take a bite you’ll discover that they are far from a plain muffin. These Brown Butter Brown Sugar Muffins pack an unexpected burst of flavor from both brown sugar and browned butter.
Brown sugar is often included in muffin recipes, but the caramel and molasses notes of the sugar are rarely allow to take the spotlight in favor of other ingredients in the muffin. Here, brown sugar is the main flavoring agent and, while the muffins aren’t overly sweet, you can taste the sweetness and complexity of the sugar. Dark brown sugar will give them a more distinct molasses flavor, while light or golden brown sugar will make a milder muffin. I took a few minutes to brown the butter before adding it to this recipe, and that adds a nutty, toasty flavor to the muffins that boosts the brown sugar flavor even more. I also used buttermilk in the recipe, for a buttery note and yet another layer of flavor.
The finished muffins are tender and fluffy, with a soft, moist crumb. They’re great when served plain and they’re even better when they’re split and smeared with butter. The batter is thick and will fill up standard muffin cups just about all the way to the top. This allows the muffins to get a good rise and have nicely domed tops, so don’t worry about overfilling when dividing the batter. The muffins keep well for a couple of days when stored in an airtight container. These may look plain at first glance – but they definitely don’t taste plain!
Browned butter is a flavor that goes well with just about everything, adding an extra toasty, nutty and rich flavor to almost any dish. There are a few flavors that it goes particularly well with and banana is one of them. The sweet flavor of a very ripe banana is greatly enhanced buy the savory notes that browned butter adds, and that is what inspired me to make this alliteratively named Browned Butter Banana Bundt Cake
The bundt cake uses browned butter, bananas, sour cream, brown sugar and vanilla to create a delicious cake that is easy enough to make for everyday snacking. The cake is moist and tender, with a soft, light crumb. It isn’t heavy or dense, as some banana breads can be. None of the flavors overwhelm the others in this cake. Instead, they all seem to come together and blend seamlessly. This means that it will be hard for anyone you serve it to to put their finger on exactly what makes this cake so good.
I added a browned butter glaze to the cake to add a little extra sweetness and further enhance the browned butter flavor in the batter. I browned the butter on the stovetop for the cake and made a little bit extra, so I could set some aside for the glaze. If you do this, your reserved butter might firm up while you wait for the cake to finish baking. Don’t worry if this happens, as the butter can be easily remelted in just a few seconds in the microwave. If you have a large microwave-safe container, you can actually prepare all of your browned butter in the microwave instead of on the stovetop to save a little bit of time (although you will still need to keep a close eye on it as it cooks and take care to use a large bowl). The glaze is so good that I will definitely look for other cakes and cupcakes to top with it – and might just start putting it on my regular banana bread, too!
A Dutch baby pancake is a big, puffy, custardy pancake that is baked in a skillet in the oven. If it came down to it, I would say that it’s a little bit like a cross between a pancake and a popover, only better. The babies are easy to make, but take a little longer than regular pancakes to cook, so I tend to save them for lazy mornings when I am planning to sit around and enjoy a leisurely breakfast. I like a basic Dutch baby with lots of maple syrup, but I gave this one a little more depth of flavor by adding browned butter to the recipe. It only took a couple of minutes to brown the butter and add it to the batter, so not much extra cooking time was added for a lot of extra flavor.
Since you need to brown the butter for this recipe, it doesn’t really make sense to brown the butter in one pan and preheat another skillet up in the oven, a step which is typically part of the technique used to get a high rise on these pancakes. Instead, just prepare the pancake batter and preheat the oven, then the brown the butter in the pan you intend to use to bake the Dutch baby. Whisk the browned butter quickly into the rest of the already made batter, then transfer everything back into the hot and greased pan (with all of that nice browned butter flavor there, too) and slide it back into the oven to finish cooking.
The dutch baby will sink a bit as it cools, so don’t worry if it deflates a little before you serve it (although like a souffle, you basically want to serve it as soon as it comes out of the oven). The pancake will still have nice crisp edges and a firm, yet slightly custardy, center to it.