For anyone who’s enjoying a return to real food, true buttermilk remains one of the great, undiscovered pleasures.
Many people enjoy organic produce, grass-fed meats, and artisan breads, but “real”dairy has been slower to reach a wide market. In fact, dairy products have long been pasteurized and homogenized into bland tastelessness, with no regard to where the product came from or how it was made.
On Animal Farm in Orwell, Vermont, Diane St. Clair takes butter and buttermilk production to a new level. The Animal Farm Buttermilk Cookbook explains her techniques, from animal husbandry and land management, to her creamery processes. Here you’ll learn how to make your own butter and buttermilk at home, and then experiment with the fabulous ways in which buttermilk enhances food flavors and textures.
You’ll also find practical but unique recipes for using buttermilk—everything from buttermilk doughnuts dipped in maple syrup, to salmon chowder, buttermilk ricotta gnocchi, and harissa buttermilk salad dressing. Families will love the buttermilk béchamel pizza, the spicy buttermilk gingerbread, and pork chops smothered in buttermilk sauce. Buttermilk is not just for waffles anymore—although the best waffle recipe you’ll ever find is in this book!
“Since I met Diane over a decade ago, she has shown an unwavering dedication to her family, to her farm and livestock, and most important to the quality of butter she produces on a daily basis. And over the years, she has given me a new understanding of, and appreciation for, commitment. As with anything she undertakes, The Animal Farm Buttermilk Cookbook is a product of thought and care.Through her recipes, devoted entirely to what she describes as the ‘elixir of the human race,’ Diane draws you into the rhythms of life on a farm. It is all at once introspective and celebratory. It is a lifefilled with respect.”
—Thomas Keller, The French Laundry
“The first time I tasted Diane’s butter, I was blown away. And when I later sampled her buttermilk, it was a revelation: gorgeous globs of that golden butter suspended in creamy, tangy buttermilk. Of course I wanted to put it in everything! From the moment I met Diane, I’ve been in awe of her vision, passion, and dedication. Milking cows at dawn during those Vermont winters is not for the faint of heart! She set out to do something her way—making farmstead butter and real buttermilk—and has succeeded brilliantly. I’ve been lucky enough to not only know Diane, but to have visited her farm and have her cook for me—an absolute treat. She claims the dishes are simple, but those meals have become some of my favorite food memories and I always find myself eating long after becoming full at her table because everything is so delicious. This book beautifully shares both her life as a dairy farmer and artisan, and many of her incredible recipes, and will have you seeking out great buttermilk to cook and bake all year round.”
—Barbara Lynch, chef/founder, Barbara Lynch Gruppo
Animal Farm Buttermilk Panna Cotta
Makes 6 servings
Provisions International in Vermont is the distributor for my buttermilk. They are the distributor of many fine foods and cheeses throughout New England. The company is made up of wonderful folks, and when I was looking for a distributor, I met with them to talk and taste buttermilk. They loved my product and couldn’t wait to cook with it. Provisions has a state-of-the-art, drop-dead-gorgeous test kitchen, and they whipped together some panna cotta using my buttermilk and posted it on their Web site to advertise their new product. I am sharing this recipe with you because it is wonderful.
Panna cotta made with plain cream and gelatin can be a little bland. Using buttermilk cuts through the fatty flavor of the cream and not only makes a slightly lighter version but also brings the flavors alive with zest and tartness. For the best flavor, use fresh heavy cream from a local dairy. Serve with a little fresh fruit on the side, such as a few perfect raspberries or some sliced fresh strawberries that have been macerated with sugar to make their juices run.
1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
7 tablespoons sugar
1/2 vanilla bean
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
1 Sprinkle the gelatin over 1 tablespoon of cold water in a small bowl, and let soak for about 5 minutes.
2 Mix the cream and sugar in a small saucepan. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the pan with the cream, then add the pod. Heat the cream over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the gelatin mixture to the hot cream and remove the pan from the heat, stirring to dissolve the gelatin thoroughly.
3 Stir in the buttermilk, then pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl with a pouring lip, discarding any solids (this strains out any bits of gelatin and ensures you will have a smooth, creamy result). Divide the strained mixture among six 8-ounce ramekins. Refrigerate until set, about 3 hours. (If you would like to unmold the panna cotta before serving, dip the ramekin bases into a dish of hot water and invert the custards onto plates.)
-From The Animal Farm Buttermilk Cookbook: Recipes and Reflections from a Small Vermont Dairy by Diane St. Clair/Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC