11.08.2014

My Favorite Food Group

Butter. Chocolate. Sugar. Pasta. Wine. Those are the five food groups, right?

I have been intoning this like a mantra for so long, I wonder if I can even come up with the original five. (Note: I say the original five, not the correct five. I think vegetables, fruits, grains, and dairy were among them, but I wouldn't bet my life on it.)

A parcel of butter, my favorite of the five, arrived at my door recently. I was sent some samples of new butters that Beurre Président is releasing to the U.S. market this month, and I am very excited to share my findings with you. (I did, indeed, receive free samples of the butter to review, but the opinions stated are my own.)

First, I must say their packaging was stellar. As a consumer, you will probably never receive 21 ounces of butter by mail, but trust me, I have never received so beautiful, well-packed, and chilled a package in my life. It arrived on my doorstep. In the desert. On a 105° day. It waited there till I got home from work. And it was perfectly fine. (Whew! The idea of wasted butter had my stomach churning...)

A bright red, sturdy box within the corrugated brown outer box, contained myriad ice packs, thawed but still cold, some promotional materials, party decorations, and butter.

There were one 7-ounce bar (salted) and two new spreadable butters in 7-ounce tubs, one simply salted, and the other .... wait for it ... sea salt! I didn't quite swoon, but I was pretty giddy!

The planning started immediately... What would I do with each? I wanted the uses to be special, but I also wanted to put them to the test. (Another disclosure: I have been cooking with unsalted Beurre Président since I can remember. Président, to my memory, was the first European butter available in the States. This shipment is my first salted Beurre Président.)

In the end, each type would get its own vehicle - its own parade float, as it were.

The salted bar was carefully worked into flour to become a slab of quick puff pastry - rolled, cut, and baked into crescent rolls. Sublime!

The salted spreadable butter adorned pasta, flavored simply with some sage from our garden and a light grating of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Exquisite!

The sea salt? I wanted this one by itself. It would be slathered (liberally) on homemade bread. (In the almost words of Meghan Trainor, "It's all about that taste.")

As you may recall from my post, Confessions of a Salt Addict, I am a salt-oholic. I really love salt. But, oddly, I never buy salted butter, as I prefer the creamy flavor of the butter, adding my own salt according to whim or taste.

I truly liked these salted butters, and tasted each of them on its own before putting each to its intended use. The trademark creaminess of Beurre Président was consistent in all three. The bar and spreadable salted were lightly - yet perfectly salted, and close to identical in taste to my palate. The sea salt was strong; it actually surprised me. I was almost concerned it was too much. (I needn't have worried...)

The pastry was so tender and flaky. It is perfect for a savory use; I would not use this butter for a dessert pastry. The salted spreadable was amazing on the pasta - its soft, velvety feel on the tongue is just what pasta burro e salvia requires.

The sea salt spreadable butter on bread was perfection. The saltiness toned down, and it made the bread taste incredibly good. Normally, I butter my bread or toast with unsalted butter and sprinkle on my own salt, but this was not difficult to swallow!

One of my favorite qualities of Beurre Président is how it melts in the pan for sautéeing and searing. It doesn't spatter and spittle because it hasnt been padded out with water like U.S. butters. It browns chicken and meats beautifully, and imparts the flavor of pure cream. And for Sole Meunière? There is no equal.

I started this buttery journey loving Beurre Président unsalted butter, and I have opened my arms and heart to its salted kin. There is a time and place for each, and they are not interchangeable. Think carefully when using salted and unsalted butters, and how the salt will affect your final dish.

Speaking of Sole Meunière, here is my mother's recipe. A real favorite.

~ David
  
Mom's Sole Meunière

1/2 cup all purpose flour
4 sole fillets, each about 4 ounces
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 tablespoons butter, divided 
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon strained fresh lemon juice
lemon wedges
sprigs of parsley

Place flour in a pie plate. Sprinkle both sides of the fish with salt (lightly) and freshly ground pepper. Dredge fish on both sides with flour, and shale off excess. place floured fillets on a platter and set aside.

Heat oil in a large, well-seasoned skillet until it is hot, and shimmers. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter; quickly swirl skillet to coat. When foam subsides, add fish and cook until golden - about 2 minutes per side. Divide fish between 2 heated plates, tent with foil, and set aside.

In a small skillet, heat remaining butter and cook until golden - about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and add parsley and lemon. The sauce may sputter. Spoon sauce over fish, and serve with lemon wedges and sprigs of parsley.

Serves 2.


(Final disclosure: Please note that chocolate, sugar, and wine all come from plants, therefore they are vegetables and fruits. And pasta is made from wheat which is, duh, a grain. Need I point out that butter is a dairy product?)

50 comments:

  1. Wow!! How giddy would I be if I came home to find butter at my doorstep (or should I say with my doorman!). What a wonderful gift and you did it proud! Those little croissant puffs are adorable. I also adore butter, in fact I usually cook with butter in stead of olive oil recently, reserving my olive oil for baking and eating fresh!!! Great post David, have a fantastic weekend.

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    1. Thanks, Ahu! I think I switch back and forth between butter and olive oil depending on the finished dish, but I do use a lot of butter! By the way, I only have two more weeks to go before I have homemade vanilla extract!

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  2. Ditto what Ahu wrote about finding a box of butter on my porch! I wish I had been a house guest the week you experimenting. Each dish looks enticing! And, finally, so relieved you are indeed including something from the five food groups!

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    1. Yes, Susan, butter makes the best house guest! :)

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  3. Hi David, wow! a box of butter, I would be giddy. Very interesting about the differences and uses for each one. Great Post!

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    1. Thanks, Cheri. It was a fun post to write (and eat)!

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  4. I'm trying to figure out which one I'd be dipping into first. The sea salt, perhaps? Not that I'd be turning my nose up at the others, either!

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    1. Although shown in opposite order, John, I did try the sea salt version first with bread I'd made that morning!

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  5. Part decorations? Are we having a butter party? If so we can test my theory at your party. I (like you) buy unsalted for predominately cooking. But when I splurge for good Euro butter than I plan to slather on (you said it) homemade bread. I always buy salted. So I'm guessing sea-salted is the cat's meow. Did I say that? GREG

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    1. Butter party sounds so much better than a Mazola party, doesn't it? You will love the sea salt, Greg - and, yes, you said it, and you are right.

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  6. I have recently discovered European style cultured butter from Organic Valley. Talk about a love affair!? They have 2 kinds out there (at least around here in the Albany, NY area) I can eat this right off a spoon it's so good. Can you get this where you are? I highly recommend that you try it!

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    1. Thanks for the tip, Cathy - I will keep my eyes open and look for Organic Valley today. Have you tried any of the Beurres Président? Yum!

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  7. David, you certainly made wonderful things with the French butter that you received - all of them are different and all of them look amazing, the quick puff pastry rolls, the pasta as well as your mum´s sole meunière, all three are treats that I would love to taste!
    Euch beiden einen schönen Sonntag,
    Andrea

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    1. Andrea - I had so much fun deciding what to make! Thanks for your comment! Happy to tell you that we made our reservations for our trip to Germany in June/July. Our first quick visit will be to come to Bonn and have cocoa and pastries with you! I will message you to see if you can recommend a B&B or hotel for us for the one night! We will then either fly or train to Salzburg! We are already so excited to meet you in person! xox

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  8. High-quality butter slathered on a slice of crusty bread is a huge weakness of mine. If I don't keep myself in check, that's all I end up eating for dinner. BTW: Love the final disclosure. You're absolutely right...butter is dairy. :)

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    1. Bread and butter is also a big weekness for me. I am embarrassed to say how much I used!! Hae a great weekend, Cory!

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  9. Oh, we call European butter "good butter" in our house! I still recall the first time we had Vermont Creamery's European style salted butter - heaven and we couldn't get enough of it. What a special treat to arrive home to this package.

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    1. We used 'good butter' for the holidays when my mother or actual butter instead of margarine. It now takes on a similar meaning for us and the European butters!

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  10. Aren't you lucky! Butter is definitely a food group in my home, having been raised by a French mother! I've never purchased salted butter either, but your descriptions are great. Very tempting!

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    1. Mimi - I think YOU were lucky to have a French mother and that you always had good butter in your house!

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  11. Oh if someone sent me a box of butters, I'd be as giddy as a schoolgirl too! Now, as far as the food groups go, I'd only change out the wine with coffee:). Otherwise, you're spot on.
    There isn't anything that butter can't make perfect! I love unsalted butter because I'm not a salt addict like you, but I must have salt and can tell immediately when it's missing. But like you said, unsalted and salted butter have their uses. I'll take either butter!
    Those rolls look amazing!!! And the sole... Goodness! That's my favourite way to prepare sole. Yummy! Have a great Sunday my dear David. xx

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    1. Thanks, Nazneen! I am glad you enjoyed the post - I love the sole, too, and it really reminds me of my mother. xo

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  12. All I can think of is the scene in Julie and Julia, where Meryl (as Julia) has her first Sole Meunière, and utters..."Butter". Butter tester as a job? You LUCKY BOY!!!

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    1. I almost included that scene in the post, Karin! She was probably used to some oleo before that.... just like me!

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  13. Oh, gee, how I love butter, too! They tell me that when I was about two I crawled up onto the kitchen table and was busily squashing butter into my mouth when I was discovered. Then there is the story of my son when he was two years old. He talked quite a bit for a two year old and so one day he said,
    "Mama, I don't need any more bread with my butter."
    Also....did you know what Andreas Viestadt of Scandinavian Cooking show said? He said "Butter is Norwegian oil." I love that.
    I have been buying "Kerry Gold" from Costco but I am going to look for President butter, too.

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    1. I love the Kerrygold, too - I hope you find the Président there so you can try and compare! ... I have to say that I think I would get along well wit your son. I only use the bread to carry the butter. :)

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  14. Is there anything better than good butter? I think not! How wonderful that the product was so well packed. Loved what you'd did to celebrate... I'd have a party too! : D

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    1. Liz, I wish I had photographed the package but, for me, it was as if I was 3 years old on Christmas morning. I wanted to get to the present - who cared about the wrapping??

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  15. LOVE this philosophy David!!! You definitely speak my language (particularly in relation to the butter!). What a gorgeous recipe... I can't wait to make this gorgeous fish now that I am back in my own kitchen! Sorry about getting so behind on my blog reading, we still don't have internet at home so I am relying on my phone and cafes. Never mind... I will have a very good read soon! Hope that you two dashing gents have been well! x

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    1. Thanks, Laura! It is nice to have you back a - and I hope you collected a lot of good recipes while you were traveling!

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  16. Now YOU are the lucky one! All that gorgeous butter delivered to your doorstep? I'm green!

    My mother and I always argue over salted vs. unsalted butter. As she grew up in Italy, she prefers unsalted, but I tell her that the salted has so much more flavor because salt obviously brings out the flavor, but I think she likes what she grew up with and the unsalted reminds her of Italy, so who can blame her. Lovely dishes of food you made, but I don't know if I could bring myself to bake with that butter...I'd treat it like gold! :)

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    1. I agree that salt brings out the flavor, but (having major control issues - just ask Mark) I want to add the salt when I want and control the quantity. That said, I still never say no to butter, salted or unsalted!

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  17. Btw, I didn't see a problem with those 5 food groups!

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    1. Knowing my readers, I had a feeling there would be some solidarity on this front, Christina!

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  18. Wow, David! Fabulous post! Will you be sharing your puff pastry recipe? This is the best butter I've ever tasted - and I love all the uses you put it to.

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    1. Susan, the puff pastry recipe will be posted in late December when I present my Galette des Rois. I hope o can wait! :)

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  19. Haha I love your 5 food groups and I agree with your thoughts on butter - everything tastes better with butter :) I will keep checking my doorstep maybe one day a beautiful box of butter will appear. Have a great week!

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    1. I hope the butter arrives, Karen! Tell me about Australiam butter - what is it like?

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  20. I would definitely be giddy if that butter arrived on my doorstep! Now I need to start looking for the butter with sea salt…omgosh! Sounds divine! Your puff pastry looks perfect!! Have you shared your quick puff pastry recipe…I would love to try it! Have a great week, David! Fun post!

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    1. Thanks, Kathy! I am planning to share the puff pastry recipe in late Decemer when I make a Galette des Rois. In fact, I just purchased some ceramic fèves from France to put inside the galette!

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  21. Meunière is very popular dish too here in Indonesia, but we used to use snapper on it....
    i guess my fave food was chili peppers....

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    1. I would love to see what your other "food groups" would be in addition to chile peppers, Dedy! I can't imagine meunière with snapper, but if you say it's good, I trust you!

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  22. It sounds like you made very good use of your butter gift. You must have had a smile on your face for a week…all of your uses sound perfect.

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    1. Yes, Karen, I think I was smiling a lot all week! Glad you are able to post you (very nice) comments!

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  23. oh we nodded our heads agreeing with the first four food groups...add fruits and we too can hardly think of the original fives...and what gorgeous treats you have made,they will make anyone hungry for some and some more...thanks :-)

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    1. Thanks, Rakesh and Swikruti! I love how everyone has their own special five food groups! Hope you are having a good week.

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  24. Your little crescents are just gorgeous! I can see all the beautiful flaky layers and crannies thanks to the fresh butter. What a package to receive.

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    1. It is plain and simple, Yasmeen - butter is good!

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