Rosie Hawthorne’s recipes: The beurre necessities

By on October 19, 2017

I remember a tongue twister from when I was a little girl:

“Betty Botter bought some butter
‘But,’ said Bette, ‘this butter’s bitter!
If I put it in my batter, it will make my batter bitter.’
So Betty Botter bought some better butter, better than her bitter butter,
And put it in her batter and made her bitter batter better.”

Or words to that effect …

Well, there is a better butter. It’s Plugrá butter and the only place I’ve been able to find Plugrá butter is at the Fresh Market in the Outer Banks Mall in Nags Head.

Plugrá is a European-style butter made in the United States. The name “Plugrá” is from the French, “plus gras,” meaning “more fat.” And that’s the difference between regular butter and European-style — the fat content.

European-style butters have 82 percent to 86 percent-plus plus fat vs. 80 percent or less in regular butters. In addition, Plugrá is a cultured butter that has been slow-churned, giving it less moisture content and creamier texture with more fat and richer flavor.

Traditionally, the butter is fermented, giving it a slightly tangy taste. Less moisture is preferred for baking, giving you higher rising cakes and flakier pastries. Plugrá butter is a premium butter with a richer, more flavorful taste and a softer, creamier texture. It’s simply better butter.

I have three recipes for you, all of which showcase Plugrá butter. For the record, I always use unsalted butter so I can control the salt content in whatever I’m baking or cooking.

For my breakfast of champions, I turn to Eggs Hawthorne — a sautéed slice of ham, topped with steamed asparagus, a poached egg, and a glorious Hollandaise sauce made with Plugrá butter. It’s a wonderful way to begin your day.

Eggs Hawthorne
Sliced ham
Poached eggs

Toasted English muffin or toasted sliced brioche
Steamed spinach
Sautéed mushrooms

Hollandaise Sauce

You can go in different directions with this breakfast dish. I’m just letting you pick and choose. Prepare your options first; save the hollandaise and poached eggs for last.

Sauté a few slices of ham and steam some asparagus spears until just al dente. Keep warm. If you like, toast English muffins or brioche slices, steam some spinach, and sauté some sliced mushrooms for extras. For the poached eggs, bring a medium pot of water (about 3 inches) to a boil. Add in a teaspoon of kosher salt and a tablespoon of white vinegar. Reduce to a gentle simmer, then stir the water to make a whirlpool and crack one egg into the vortex. Use a spoon to contain the whites, preventing “feathering” out into the pan. Simmer for 2 minutes and 20 seconds for a runny yolk, longer for a tighter yolk. Remove egg with a slotted spoon and serve.

Prepare the hollandaise sauce.
2 egg yolks
1 TB lemon juice
4 TB unsalted Plugrá butter, cut into half tablespoons
Pinch kosher salt

Vigorously whisk yolks and lemon juice in a small pan over low heat until yolks turn lemon-colored and mixture thickens. Don’t have the pan over direct heat. Hover (or use a double boiler), so as not to scramble or curdle the eggs, and whisk constantly. When the yolks have thickened and about doubled in volume, whisk in butter, half tablespoon at a time, incorporating each pat before adding more. Season with kosher salt to taste.

To serve, make breakfast your way. Plate ham, asparagus, and poached egg with optional toast, steamed and drained spinach, and sautéed mushrooms. Spoon hollandaise sauce over top and give it a sprinkling of cayenne for good measure.

Fortified by this most excellent breakfast, you are now ready to take on the day.

Our next meal is a lovely combination of scallops and browned Plugrá butter. Browned butter is a wonderful thing and a perfect complement to scallops.

Scallops in Browned Butter
Serves 2

½ pound sea scallops (about 8)
Freshly ground pepper
2 TB cornstarch
½ tsp Lawry’s seasoned pepper
½ tsp cayenne flakes
1 TB peanut oil
1 TB unsalted Plugrá butter
1 TB chopped fresh parsley

Browned Butter:
4 TB unsalted Plugrá butter
2 TB fresh orange, tangerine, or clementine juice, along with some zest
1 TB minced shallot
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Prepare scallops: Remove that little tough tag of muscle on the side of the scallop and either discard it or feed it to your cat. Rinse scallops and pat dry with paper towels. Lightly season with freshly ground pepper. I don’t bother seasoning with salt. The scallops have been living in the ocean and are already salty.

Combine cornstarch, Lawry’s seasoned pepper, and cayenne. Lightly dust the dried scallops with this mixture.

Prepare the browned butter: In a small, light-colored skillet (so you can see the process of the color change), melt the butter over low heat, along with the shallots, swirling the pan continuously. Butter is made up of fat, water, and milk solids, and what you’re doing is allowing the water to evaporate and browning the milk solids to give the butter a deep, nutty flavor. When the butter is foaming, the water is evaporating. When the foaming subsides, watch it closely since it can go from browned to burned in a heartbeat. Tiny specks will settle to the bottom. Those are the milk solids which give the browned butter its characteristic color and flavor. As soon as the butter turns a light chestnut brown and smells toasty, it’s ready. Remove from heat. Stir in the citrus juice and zest.

To cook scallops:
In medium skillet, melt the butter with the oil over medium high heat. Butter is for flavor; oil is to raise the smoke point. At 350° (The butter will be bubbling.), add in the scallops, one at a time. Cook about 2 minutes on each side, until lightly browned. Remove from skillet.

Plate scallops, drizzle the browned butter over top, sprinkle with parsley, and enjoy.

To me, there’s nothing better than fresh bread straight from the oven. It’s a primal thing. I’ve come up with a sandwich loaf that’s foolproof and can go from mise en place to sur la table in under three hours. Actually, I’ve made this bread in two hours, but then I’m an over-achiever.

Rosie’s Sandwich Loaf
1 ¼ cups warm water
1 package yeast
1 tsp sugar
3 TB unsalted Plugrá butter, melted
2 TB wildflower honey
3 ¼ cups King Arthur unbleached bread flour (available at Fresh Market) plus extra for dusting the work surface
1 tsp kosher salt
A little oil for greasing the bowl
Egg wash (one egg mixed with 1 tsp water)

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, pour in the water. Sprinkle in the yeast and the sugar. And wait. For the yeast to proof. The yeast needs to “prove” it’s alive by eating the sugar (Yeast is hungry!) and producing carbon dioxide and alcohol. In other words, the mixture will get bubbly and foamy and poofy. It’s alive! Pour in melted butter and honey, preferably honey that comes from hives about ½ mile away from you that’s produced by bees who’ve feasted in your garden. But that’s just me.

Stir in the salt, then slowly and gradually add in the flour with the motor running at low speed. When all the flour has been added, increase speed to medium high and knead for about 3-5 minutes. You want the dough to pull away from the sides and bottom of the bowl. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead by hand for a couple of minutes. The dough should be pliable and elastic. Pour a little oil in a bowl and place the ball of dough in, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise about 40 minutes or so, until almost doubled.

Here’s a Rosie Tip: Wet a kitchen towel, nuke it for 2 minutes, then place the bowl of dough in the microwave on top of the hot towel and close the door. The heat and steam from the hot towel will give the dough a little boost in rising.

After rising, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead again, by hand, for 2-3 minutes. Form dough into a tight elongated shape and place, seam-side down, in an oiled 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Let rise until dough is slightly above level of pan. (You can use the microwave trick again.)

While the dough is rising, heat oven to 350°.

Gently brush top of dough with egg wash and place in oven.
Bake 7 minutes, then rotate pan halfway.
Bake another 7 minutes, then cover loaf with foil.
Continue baking for 20-25 more minutes. If you have an instant-read thermometer, internal temperature should be 200° and the crust will be a lovely golden brown. Remove from oven and leave in pan for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack.

I like to slice while the bread is still warm from the oven and slather on some softened unsalted Plugrá butter, letting it melt into the nooks and crannies of the crumb. This is divine.

If you want to go from divine to sublime, squish a few tablespoons of Plugrá butter into a ramekin and stir in a few drops of black truffle oil, from Fresh Market. Truffle oil is intense, so go easy on it and taste test. Once you get the right combination, spread on the warm bread and experience a profound taste sensation. You may thank me later.

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