Ghee

Sorry for my absence yesterday, but I’ve just been incredibly busy.  You may notice, however, that I did manage to get the March theme up, and since green is my absolutely favorite color, I’m quite happy with it.

But onward and forward.  Today what I have isn’t so much a recipe as a procedure:  how to make ghee.

Clarified butter and ghee are often used interchangeably, but they’re not exactly the same thing.  Clarified butter is butter that is melted and has the water and milk solids removed (and thereby removing the lactose and casein), leaving only the butterfat behind.  When prepared properly, clarified butter is more stable than standard butter containing water and milk solids – it has a higher smoking point and a longer shelf life.  (Supposedly, clarified butter will last for up to a month without refrigeration if it is kept in an airtight container, although my personal experience shows that to not necessarily be true.)

Ghee has quite a long history, as it has been used in Indian cooking for many thousands of years, and can be fairly expensive in stores.  It is merely clarified butter that is simmered for a period of time, allowing the milk solids to gently brown, giving the butterfat a slightly nutty taste and a lovely golden color – it is simply delicious.  It is also incredibly easy to make yourself, although you must watch it carefully so the milk solids do not burn.

And since the lactose and casein are (mostly) removed, it doesn’t bother me as much as standard butter does, allowing me to enjoy it occasionally.  Which makes Jan a very happy camper – I’ve missed butter more than I realized!

Ghee
Ghee
Serves: 64
2 pounds of butter yields 1 quart of ghee; a serving is 1 tablespoon.
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds unsalted butter
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in a large, heavy, non-reactive saucepan over medium-high heat and continue heating until foam begins to appear on the surface. You can skim the foam off, but it is not necessary.
  2. Lower the heat slightly, and simmer the butter for 45 to 50 minutes, or until all of the milk solids sink to the bottom of the pan and become brown, and the butterfat turns golden and has a slightly nutty fragrance.
  3. Line a mesh strainer with a triple-layer of cheesecloth, or an unbleached coffee filter, and strain the butterfat into a clean, 1-quart glass jar, taking care to keep the milk solids out of the ghee.
  4. Cool completely and cap tightly; the ghee will keep for many weeks if refrigerated.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 102 calories, 11.5g total fat, 30.5mg cholesterol, 1.6mg sodium, 3.4mg potassium, <1g carbohydrates, 0g fiber, <1g sugar, <1g protein.

 

Seared Scallops with Spinach, Cranberries and Citrus Beurre Blanc Sauce

I recently announced that we’re changing the way we eat here at the Sushi Bar.  I’m moving away from the government-sanctioned, high-carb, low-fat, overly-processed Standard American Diet and venturing out into what some people would consider dangerous dietary territory.  That’s okay…but hold on to your collective arteries, because I have an announcement to make.

Fat is not bad for you.

Okay, okay; yes, some fats are bad for you – hello, trans fats – but that’s a subject for another time.  For the purpose of this post, though, we’re talking butter.

Wonderful, glorious, golden, delicious, fat-laden butter.

I’ve always loved it.  When I was little, I smothered anything I could in it – my mother was fond of asking me, “Would you like a little muffin with your butter?”  No one said much of anything else until I was a teenager, when the low-fat craze cranked up in earnest and butter became a forbidden pleasure.  Then, like a lot of people, I purchased, consumed and fed my kids margarine and “buttery spreads” for years.  My bad, my bad.  However, when I met Beloved he declared his disdain for margarine and I began my love affair with butter all over again.  And I’m glad I did.

Because butter is good for you, folks.

This recipe is the most wonderful vehicle for butter I’ll probably post all year.  The three principal ingredients, besides freshly squeezed orange and lemon juice, are butter, heavy cream and white wine.  Poured over pan-seared scallops and fresh spinach garnished with slivered almonds and dried cranberries.

I’ll just wait here while you drool.

Scallops with Beurre Blanc Sauce

Seared Scallops with Spinach, Cranberries and Citrus Beurre Blanc Sauce

serves 4, with sauce to spare

1 pound sea scallops, rinsed and patted dry

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil or clarified butter

salt and pepper, to taste

8 cups fresh spinach

1/2 cup dried cranberries (preferably processed without added sugar)

1/4 cup slivered almonds

Sauce

The juice of one large orange, freshly squeezed

The juice of two lemons, freshly squeezed

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 small shallots, finely chopped

1 2-inch strip orange zest

1 2-inch strip lemon zest

1 garlic clove, minced

1 sprig fresh thyme

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

1/3 cup heavy cream

2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed, cold

Place all the ingredients for the sauce except the heavy cream and butter in a 1-quart saucepan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil and reduce until the liquid is nearly evaporated, 12 to 14 minutes. Reduce the heat a bit and add the heavy cream to the pan; reduce by half, 1 to 2 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat and reduce the temperature to low.

Add a few cubes of the butter to the pan, return the pan to the heat and use a whisk to stir constantly until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat and add a few more pieces, returning the pan to the heat and whisking until the butter is melted. Continue to place the pan on and off the heat, adding a few cubes of butter to the pan each time and whisking until all the butter is used.

Remove the sauce from the heat and strain through a fine-mesh strainer. Keep warm until ready to serve — do not allow the sauce to boil or it will separate.

Heat a small, heavy (preferably cast iron) skillet over high heat until very hot.  Add the olive oil or clarified butter to the pan and sear the scallops about 2 – 3 minutes on each side.  Be careful not to over-cook them or they will turn rubbery.

Divide the spinach between four plates and top each with an equal amount of the scallops.  Scatter the almonds and cranberries equally over each plate, then drizzle with the beurre blanc sauce (you don’t have to use all of the sauce unless you want to – it’s very rich).

Serve immediately.

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Seared Scallops With Spinach, Cranberries and Citrus Beurre Blanc Sauce on Foodista