Posts Tagged ‘buttermilk’

Zucchini Fritters

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Have you ever seen the rock musical, Little Shop of Horrors?  I suspect that Audrey II (a plant that thrives on human blood and has aspirations to take over the world) may have been a zucchini plant. Every morning when I run out to my garden to pull a few weeds before work, I’m always amazed at the zucchini’s ability to grow overnight. I always try to pick them while they’re small, but every now and again one will escape my attention and grow into a baseball bat.  I’ve got a friend who says during zucchini season the people in her town have to lock their cars when they visit people, or a few zucchini will be slipped into their car while they aren’t looking.

Every year, as my zucchini start setting fruit, I go on the hunt for new ways to use it. I sauté it with other veggies, pasta, and feta for quick meals and use it raw with vinaigrette in salads. Ever since I was a kid, my mom has always made a “pickle” relish using the prolific veggie. I recently made zucchini fritters based on my recipe for potato latkes. Because zucchini doesn’t contain the starch found in potatoes, I did bump up the amount of flour. I really liked these, but my guys are veggie challenged and weren’t big fans.  I probably won’t make them as much as I would like to.

Zucchini Fritters (makes 8 to 10 fritters)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 medium zucchini, about 2 pounds, shredded
1/2 small onion, shredded
2 tablespoons yogurt, buttermilk, or sour milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
Olive oil

1. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

2. Place grated zucchini on a piece of cheesecloth or a dish towel and twist to wring out as much excess liquid as possible.  I use a dish towel and place the zucchini in a long strip (lengthwise) down the middle of the towel. Next, I fold the sides of the towel over the zucchini, grasp the ends of the towel, and begin twisting.

3. Place zucchini in a bowl with the shredded onion.

4. Combine  yogurt or buttermilk and egg to the zucchini mixture.

**Chemistry Alert** Using baking powder and some type of acidic milk will provide a little leavening in the fritters.

5. Stir flour mixture into the zucchini.

6. Heat olive oil in a skillet.  A note on olive oil … don’t use your good extra virgin or virgin grade olive oil for cooking. Instead, use the pure grade olive oil which is more refined, and has a higher smoke point.

7. Using about 1/4 cup of the mixture, form zucchini patties in the skillet.  Cook fritters for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until firm. Turn again, cooking about 30 seconds more on each side until golden.

8. Remove from skillet to a paper towel lined plate.  Season with salt and pepper and serve with yogurt dill sauce or Tzatziki, a traditional Greek cucumber-yogurt condiment.  I’ll try to remember to post a Tzatziki recipe in the next couple of weeks.

Yogurt Dill Sauce
Thin some Greek style yogurt down with a little milk, or use plain yogurt. Mix in some snipped dill and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Homemade Buttermilk

Saturday, July 17th, 2010

As much as I use and reference the buttermilk I make, I figure I had better hurry up and show you how I make it. After all, the name of the blog is Birdworms & Buttermilk.

I’m one of those nut jobs who likes to drink buttermilk, and it’s all my dad’s fault (yes, I just heard your collective “Eeeeewwwww!!!!”). He introduced me to buttermilk when I was a very little kid, and didn’t know that buttermilk is supposed to be icky. Even worse, he taught me to drink it the way Southerners and hillbillies do, with salt and pepper.  And, before anyone thinks of writing me to chew me out for saying “hillbilly”, you need to know that I think hillbillies are awesome people…. one of my favorite people is a self professed hillbilly from the hills of Kentucky, a really cool guy.

Before getting into the how-to part of things, I’d like to highlight a couple of points. To begin, the buttermilk I’m referring to is cultured buttermilk, not churn buttermilk (the watery stuff left over from making butter).  Also, I make my buttermilk from whole milk, so it’s not low fat. If you want to try making your own buttermilk, feel free to use low fat or skim milk. Next, with the whole probiotic craze we’re seeing in the media these days, it’s worth mentioning that buttermilk is a great source of these beneficial bacteria, and WAY less expensive than yogurt.

Because I make so many cultured milk products (buttermilk, sour cream, yogurt), I invested in an insulated container call a Yogotherm in which to make my yummy goodness.  I get most of my cheesemaking supplies, including my cultures, from New England Cheesemaking Supply. I love their direct set cultures, which make cheesemaking and culturing a no-brainer-snap. Honestly, you don’t need a fancy piece of equipment to make buttermilk. If it’s summer time, you can make it in quart canning jar and find a spot (out of the sun) where the jar will maintain a temperature of about 80 degrees.  Another great option is a Rubbermaid  1/2 Gallon  Thermal Jug. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if you already have one lurking around in your garage or basement. Just make sure you sanitize it first. Another thing you’re going to need to make buttermilk is a culture to add to your milk. I use New England’s direct set buttermilk culture. Lastly, you will need a thermometer. A standard meat thermometer should do the trick.

Homemade Buttermilk
1 to 2 quarts whole, skim, or low fat milk
1 packet direct set buttermilk culture

1. Heat milk to 85 degrees. I do this in the microwave, but you can also do it by placing your container in a sink full of hot water.

2. Sprinkle buttermilk culture over the surface of your warmed milk and wait a couple of minutes for the powder to rehydrate.

3. Stir milk until culture is thoroughly dissolved and mixed into the milk.

4. Pour milk into your insulated container or canning jar.  Let milk sit at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours, or until thickened. Because I use 2 quarts of milk at a time, I allow mine to sit for up to 36 hours.

5.  Once your buttermilk is finished culturing, refrigerate and use within 2 weeks.

Just for a little fun, if you leave a comment at the bottom of this post, I’ll draw from the names and send someone a 5 pack of buttermilk starter culture. Deadline to enter your comment is this Sunday evening, July 18th at 8 PM.

Chilled Avocado Soup

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Temperatures are creeping back into the 90’s and the warmer the weather, the less I feel like eating hot food. One of my favorite cold meals this summer has been chilled avocado soup and BLT sandwiches.  It’s so easy to cook some extra bacon over the weekend and keep it stashed in my refrigerator for use later in the week.  One of my favorite ways to make a BLT is with a little softened goat cheese spread on my toast, instead of the usual mayo. The soup takes 10 minutes to make, including the time it takes to clean up my food processor.  I’ve even been known to whip up a half batch in a large Pyrex measuring cup using a hand held immersion blender.  The ingredients are so simple.

Chilled Avocado Soup
2 ripe avocados, halved and pitted
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 small onion
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar, lemon or lime juice
1/4 cup fresh dill sprigs
Salt to taste

Scoop avocado flesh from skins with a spoon into a food processor or blender.  Add buttermilk, onion, vinegar, and dill.  Puree until smooth.  Add salt to taste.  Cover mixture and refrigerate until well chilled. Serves 4.

Creamy Buttermilk Lemon Pops

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

I am not a hot weather person.  Add any humidity to the equation and I turn into the world’s biggest whiner.  Over the last few days we were hit with wonderful humidity and temperatures in the 90’s, and I’ve been so grumpy my family is about ready to ship me to Siberia.  This type of weather drives me to eat things like chilled avocado soup and these luscious sweet-tart freezer treats. I know you may think buttermilk sounds weird, but trust me, these are fantastic! I suppose you could flake out on me and substitute yogurt, but I encourage you to give it a try.  I think you’ll be surprised. My guys are not huge fans of buttermilk, but they love these.  The whole time they’re eating them they gripe and complain about how much I use buttermilk.  But, if I tell them that I’d be more than happy to take the pop off their hands, they shoot daggers at me with their eyes.

Since I make my own buttermilk and lemons are a staple in my refrigerator, I always have the ingredients on hand. These are a snap to make, taking very little time. Simply mix the ingredients together in a 4 cup measuring pitcher, pour into freezer pop molds, and freeze.

Creamy Buttermilk Lemon Pops
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
Juice of 2 lemons (approximately 1/3 cup)
1 cup sugar

Seriously, it’s that simple!

I’ve got quite the collection of freezer pop molds, and my favorites are those made by Tovolo