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Archive for June 29, 2012

JULY 4th: Bipartisan Truffle Party Favors

Party line party favors for July 4th. Photo
courtesy Choclatique.


If your crowd spends a preponderance of time discussing politics, serve some of these clever chocolates for July 4th.

Made by the creative L.A. chocolatier Choclatique, white chocolate shells are filled with chocolate ganache and topped with colored white chocolate donkey and elephant medallions in party colors.

They are sold in two-piece party favors (one elephant, one donkey per box in a 12-box package) and boxes of 8, 15 and 30 pieces, all ranging from $18.00 to $55.00.

And of course, given party politics, each size is available in all-donkey or all-elephant.

Head to and search for “Capitol Collection.”

Find more of our favorite chocolates.



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TIP OF THE DAY: Compound Butter For “Instant” Sauces

Want to become a more impressive cook instantly? Use compound butter! Also known as finishing butter, or beurre composé in French, it’s unsalted butter that has been blended with seasonings.

There are endless variations. Escoffier published 35 combinations in 1903, and cuisine has evolved in many directions since his classic renderings of anchovy butter and beurre à la maître d’hotel (lemon parsley butter).

In Continental cuisine, compound butter is added to the pan to finish a sauce, placed directly atop meat, fish or vegetables to create a flavorful garnish, or mixed into pasta and rice. Just a dab transforms a dish: If you think butter makes everything taste better, think of what butter infused with great seasonings will do.

Herb butter (most often served atop steak), Roquefort butter (ditto) and anchovy butter (a classic with grilled seafood) are staples at fine steakhouses. Read a French restaurant menu and maître d’hôtel butter (lemon parsley) is certain to be garnishing some dish. And that delicious sauce of butter, lemon juice, parsley and garlic served with escargots? Compound butter.


Compound butter made with crawfish and herbs. Photo courtesy Chicken Fried Gourmet.


Compound butters are an easy alternative to more complex sauces. Make them ahead of time and keep them in the freezer, slicing off a pat as needed. They can be modestly to highly flavorful to enhance the main ingredient.

Compound butters are meant to be decorative: not simply melted butter, but punctuated with seasonings and/or color. In addition to the recipe below for crawfish butter, try these compound butter recipes: citrus butters, savory butters, spiced butters and sweet butters.

Served with anything from toasted French bread to grilled fish, oysters or shrimp, this delectable butter will spice up your meal with a Cajun zest. Thanks to chef Michael O’Boyle of Chicken Fried Gourmet in Shreveport, Louisiana, for the recipe.


  • 3 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 pound crawfish tails (if you can’t find crawfish, substitute another shellfish)
  • 5-6 cloves of whole garlic
  • 1 shallot diced
  • 3 tablespoons Cajun seasoning*
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon of dried basil
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
    *You can make your own: Combine 2 tablespoons paprika, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon black pepper, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, 2 teaspoons onion powder, 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon dried oregano and 1 teaspoon dried thyme. Use leftover spice on popcorn.

    1. Leave butter to soften at room temperature for 1 hour before starting recipe.

    2. Sauté crawfish with 1 tablespoon of Cajun seasoning over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add wine and garlic and simmer till evaporated. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

    3. In a food processor combine butter, crawfish and rest of ingredients. Process until all ingredients are incorporated evenly throughout butter.

    4. Spread butter mixture out on a plastic wrap and roll into a log. Wrap with a second coating of plastic wrap and seal the ends by twisting. Place in a sealed bag and freeze till solid.

    5. Slice off as needed and think of different ways to use it in your everyday cooking: fry breakfast eggs in it, flavor mashed potatoes and cooked vegetables, use on sandwiches instead of mayonnaise.


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    PRODUCT: Grow Back To The Roots Mushrooms In Your Kitchen

    Here’s a fun, educational and tasty summer activity for adults and kids alike: Grow mushrooms in your kitchen.

    Back to the Roots shows the joy of home farming via a small cardboard box that produces two micro-crops of mushrooms.

    Two UC Berkeley students came across the idea during a class, which mentioned the potential to grow gourmet mushrooms entirely on recycled coffee grounds.

    Inspired by the idea of turning waste into fresh food, they succeeded in growing oyster mushrooms on recycled coffee grounds. With some initial interest from Whole Foods and Chez Panisse, and a $5,000 grant from the UC Berkeley Chancellor for social innovation, they decided to forgo their corporate job offers and become urban mushroom farmers.

    Now, everyone can enjoy freshly-harvested oyster mushrooms with a Grow-Your-Own Mushroom Garden. That which is not edible is compostible or recylcable.


    Our kitchen mushroom farm. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.


    Last year, the kit helped families grow more than 135,000 pounds of fresh mushrooms at home, reusing one million pounds of coffee grounds from Peet’s Coffee & Tea. This year, the company expects to reuse 3.6 million pounds of coffee grounds.

    A sustainable project that yields good, healthy food: This is a feel-good purchase and gift.

    The kits are available at some Whole Foods Markets and online.


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