Everything’s Better with Butter

cauliflower with golden nutmeg butter

Mmmm… butter. Every cook knows that adding a bit of fat to a dish makes it fuller and more satisfying, and sure butter’s not exactly a health food, but as long as you use it wisely, I think you’re okay. It also depends on the type of butter you use. All butter is not created equal. For example, European butter. Thanks to the fact that it’s churned longer, it has a slightly higher fat content than your average stick of American butter. Sometimes it can be a bit of a hunt to find this rich, ultra-flavorful butter in your average grocery store, but recently Land O’ Lakes caught onto the trend and now they’re starting to offer European sweet cream butter as part of their product line. I’m down with it.

Since European butter is so rich and flavorful, it’s the perfect fat to use when you’re cooking something simple and you just want that touch of luxury. Case in point, this cauliflower recipe from LOL (haha – Land O’ Lakes – do you think they call themselves LOL? Probably not. lol!), you really don’t need much besides the vegetable, the butter, and a few seasonings. Butter!

Cauliflower with Nutmeg Butter

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High-Dollar Holiday Alternative: The Special Salt-Encrusted Sirloin Sensation

Prelude- Let me explain why this particular recipe contains no accompanying pictures; the reason is that THIS year I am planning to make this dish for my New Years Night Party, and I feel that this is such a great alternative to lavish, overdone traditional holiday meals that I didn’t want to wait until after the new year to post the recipe. Plus, I can usually only afford to make this dish once a year so please accept my picture-less apology.

When I was growing up I always looked forward to the holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter were ‘The Big Three’ when all of the aunts, uncles and grandparents would gather each of the extended families of cousins and other in-laws, and would have a huge afternoon-into-evening dinner party. This went on from the time that I was a baby into my early teens and, although I loved those times, the one thing that always bugged me was this; the menu never changed. Because it was always the same group of people, and because everyone had to make or bring their own special ‘signature’ dishes, it was a constant combination of all three holiday menus. There was always a massive turkey, a giant ham and 2 different types of polish sausage (pork and beef), along with the green bean casseroles, creamed corn, pumpkin pies, crescent rolls, etc. This happened three times a year, EVERY year from my birth until I obtained a drivers license. (Yes! Thank you Jesus!)

This is why I prefer to have non-traditional menus during MY holidays.  I want something that I don’t eat during the year but that I look forward to making and consuming. Something laid back and casual, but decadent, naughty, rich. Something that that is so expensive to make, you couldn’t afford to eat it out at a restaurant. I’m going to share one of those recipes now. This particular one works great with any of the ‘Big Three’ holidays, but is also perfect for poker parties or during the playoffs–provided you collect a cover charge at the door. It’ll feed at least 8 so plan accordingly. This ain’t cheap, but it’s worth every cent!

Presenting, what I like to call “The Special Salt-Encrusted Sirloin Sensation” or, “Some Real Expensive Meat Thrown In a Bunch of Butter.”

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Plate It or Hate It

Recent food world discoveries the ES crew is loving and hating…

Plate It: Stacker Mallows

We’re usually not partial to Rachel Ray-esque products that dumb down food to the lowest common denominator, but anything that gets s’mores in our mouths quicker is fine by us.

Hate It: Paula Deen’s Butter-Flavored Lip Balm

If you felt the need for a taste in your mouth to remind you all day long that you are an insatiable glutton. (Photo: Holly Bailey, via Grub Street)

Plate It: Ramen to the Rescue

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The Endless Road Trip: Philadelphia’s Top 10 Eats 5. Pretzels, Pretzels Everywhere

New York can have its bagels, Chicago its hot dogs, LA its churros and  I will even spot NOLA its delectable beignets. For me, Philly’s signature on-the-go edible blows them all out of the water. I’m not talking about cheesesteaks or even wudder ice, but pretzels.  You can find Philly soft pretzels on just about every corner in the city and everyone has their favorite place to pick them up. The city even has a park named after the doughy treats!

Like any signature city snack, there’s significant debate about which variety is the very best. There are a few different styles you can find, so here’s a crash course for next time you’re in town.

1. Philly Soft Pretzel

This is the traditional version. A slab of pretzels shaped in figure 8s, baked and sold in multiples of twos. Fresh, soft and chewy, there is just the right amount of coarse salt. Walk on by the ones that look moist, as they have been sitting around too long, but just try to resist a batch of these fresh out of the oven. All these beauties need is a squirt of yellow mustard (forget about Grey Poupon). To this day, I am convinced these pretzels actually taste better when they are bought and then wrapped in a brown paper bag, which many mom-and-pop shops provide.

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7 Food and Drink Kickstarters You Never Knew You Needed But Definitely Do

Crowdfunding phenom Kickstarter has helped indie projects raise more than $50 million, launching everything from debut albums and documentaries to pop-up cupcake shops and European vacations. They have also brought the world 7 amazing foodie inventions we never knew we needed but definitely do.

7. Microwave Popcorn That’s Not Gross

When you think about it, microwave popcorn is really a quite ingenious invention. But why does it have to taste like licking the top of a paint can? The Quinn Popcorn Kickstarter came up with a way to make micro popcorn that strips it of all that chemical crap and covers it in natural flavors like parmesan-rosemary and lemon-sea salt.
Result: Success! $27,880 raised. Au natural popcorn to hit shelves soon.

6. Edible Jello Cups

Death to plastic cups at keg parties. One day, every disposable cup will be an edible, disposable vehicle made out of Jello.
Result: Raised $10,429; Edible cup molds currently in testing stage.

5. Pedal-Operated Butter Churner

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been sitting in the kitchen, struggling with my appliances and wondering, why isn’t there one simple machine that allows you to pedal a bike that powers a toaster AND churns butter to put on the toast?
Result: Success! $1,505 raised. Butter bike officially invented.

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#1 Most Invaluable Kitchen Tool

Wherever you’re reading this, put down your laptop and go buy this now. At only $104.40, this butter spreader is worth every penny. It does it all: it spreads butter on hamburger buns, and spreads butter on lots of other shit, and turns like a little hamster wheel, and looks incredibly cool. Simply put the butter in the bottom of the well, place it on some heat to melt, and the butter spreader does the work. You might even be able to use it as a cheese grater or a food mill for those lumpy mashed potatoes. Forget my Staub or my Beka pancake pan, my entire collection of chef’s knives, or even all of my culinary knowledge. Put me in kitchen stadium with this thing, and I am good to go.

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Carb Attack: Mac ‘n’ Cheese Grilled Cheese

As some of you may know, our very own gansie has been on a mission to find the best grilled cheese in DC. One place she hasn’t yet ventured is my kitchen. What you see above is a mac ‘n’ cheese grilled cheese. Only you ESers would appreciate something as beautiful as this and wouldn’t mind that it means you have to hit the gym or an extra hour or two (or in my case actually going for once).

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