Butter My Mochi, Please! - This Colorado Trio Blog at Allrecipes.com - 273778

This Colorado Trio

Butter My Mochi, Please! 
Apr. 25, 2012 1:35 pm 
Updated: Apr. 26, 2012 7:30 am
Ah, Butter...pure, natural, rich and creamy...providing so much discussion, debate, food idioms, quotes, sayings, analogies...I love that this is one of the focuses for Allrecipes Allstars this month. 
As a young, studious, science-minded teenager, I was enthralled over the fact that the pale yellow (usually rectangular) blocks that we kept either refrigerated or frozen, could be used as a spread, in baking, sauce making and pan frying.  To me, the science behind butter-use kept it distinct from most other cooking ingredients.  It had a definite melting point -- a point at which the butter fat would get warm enough and the emulsion would break, never to return.  If we left the butter out on the counter for too long, the excruciating Okinawa summer heat would turn the cool blocks into melted messes, completely gone.  We could rechill and refreeze all we wanted, but the butter was never the same again.  I also knew butter had a smoke point, when it would go past browning to burning.  I knew you could add air to butter through creaming it, where the whirring of the beaters would aerate the substance to the lightest texture.  It was amazing stuff, and perhaps more amazing to me because we didn't use it much, if at all, in the house I grew up in.  Neighbors would call to ask to borrow a cup of sugar and a stick of butter, and all I knew was that they would do something with it to turn it into super tasty chocolate chip cookies.   
My Okinawan mother cooked in a traditional Okinawan and Japanese style.  We rarely used butter, although it was incorporated into our culinary customs that had become more westernized.  Butter, to us, was associated with American foods, to be used on dinner rolls, or toast.  Or, it was used in French cooking, which rarely happened in our household, but if we went to a French restaurant, everyone would nod at the deliciousness and say "bata".  I remember my grandmother taking a pat of butter out of a basket of rolls given to us once when we were dining out, and tasting it, thinking it would be cheese.  Her expression was priceless and seeing it in my mind still makes me laugh today.  Butter, or "bata" as pronounced in Japanese, can definitely be considered a symbol of western influence.  If used in Japanese cooking today, it will often be found compounded or mixed with very traditional flavors, like soy sauce, miso, garlic, sake, or even something citrusy. 
As I went off to college in America, and learned to cook on my own, I began to discover the flavor that butter gives to meals and the value it serves in baking.  I learned that melted butter is great in sauces; that it is important in roux making; that unsalted butter should be used in baking because salt toughens the gluten in flour (another science fact).  I learned that a lot of men like to slather butter on steaks before grilling them.  But most importantly, I learned that the most common mistakes by cooks and bakers both is the care and handling of butter.  Butter is wonderful and best-tasting when kept fresh...cold to the touch but warm enough to spread.  I bought my first butter bell years ago where water acts as a seal in the crock to keep butter fresh, and we keep it on the counter in the winter, in the recesses of a dark cabinet during the summer. 
Even becoming a more proficient (and competent?) cook, I could never get away from the science of butter.  When my kids were old enough, I showed them how to make butter at home.  We used their little baby food jars, filled them halfway with heavy cream, and they shook them with their toddler arms until the cream turned from a whipped consistency into a solid.  We talked about how the liquid left around the solid was buttermilk, and we pressed cheesecloth around the butter to remove the last of the buttermilk.  We spread their homemade butter onto blueberry muffins, hot from the oven, and enjoyed our afternoon treat.  It was fun!      
My favorite ways to use butter?  Penne in light butter, mixing honey into butter to top the beignets or crepes we make for our big Sunday breakfasts, using it when baking banana bread (or any baked good), buttercream frosting, butter lane cupcakes (!!), butter pecan ice cream (does that count?), mashed potatoes (yummmm), French onion soup (or any soup for that matter)...the list could go on forever.  But, mostly, I have to say I go back to my roots...I love drizzling soy sauce into melted butter...and adding grilled mochi (pounded sticky rice) cakes on top of it, cooking it until it smells all caramely and fabulous.  I serve it with bits of nori, and voila...dessert!  To me, butter does not get better than that. :)
Apr. 25, 2012 2:37 pm
Great blog! Do you have a recipe for butter lane cupcakes? I've never heard of them but with butter in the title they are bound to be delicious :)
Apr. 25, 2012 2:54 pm
Very nice blog! I like the list of things you learned about butter--especially the one about unsalted butter and gluten! Very nice!
Apr. 25, 2012 3:03 pm
Good job, Diana! Isn't it wonderful how we have access to a wide world of cooking cultures through AR? But we all love to go back to our roots, for you mochi and nori with butter, for me cornbread with butter!
Apr. 25, 2012 3:03 pm
Absolutely lovely blog kid! That mochi sounds fabulous. What is your favorite Mochi recipe.....I would love to try it.
Apr. 26, 2012 2:55 am
I wish there was a picture of your mochi.
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About Me
First and foremost, I wholeheartedly believe healthy eating starts with raw ingredients! I have three teenagers - my own two children, and a foreign exchange student from Japan who is living with us for this school year. The heart of our home is the dinner table...I involve the kids in planning weekly meals, grocery shopping, and cooking. The kids all love to cook and are filling their own personal recipe books with tried and true favorites and building their own culinary repertoire! We have traveled the world with the military, and love trying all types of new foods.
My favorite things to cook
I love to make tapas and appetizers -- small dishes are fantastic because they are easy to prepare and make for fun party food, especially during football season. I also enjoy cooking Asian foods (particularly Japanese and Thai), fish (mostly salmon), soups and pastas. I'm venturing into Vietnamese, Mexican and Indian dishes. We're a very active and busy family, so recipes that use healthy ingredients, resulting in comfort (heart-of-the-home) dishes, are what we love to try!
My favorite family cooking traditions
Anything that involves family-in-the-kitchen is a favorite time for me. We are huge football fans, so kitchen and football go hand in hand to us. I'm also a fan of holiday meals because these are occasions where my siblings and parents meet for huge culinary fests that stray from tradition (anything from turkey to sushi) and bring forth new recipes to add to each of our own collections.
My cooking triumphs
Discovering this site and all the 5-star recipes! The "comfort" factor of foods is very important to me, so if I find a dish that speaks to us enough to keep the recipe in our repertoire, it's a success!!
My cooking tragedies
I went through a phase of cooking cream-based soups, and was so excited to discover a tomato bisque that I was 100% sure my nieces would love. Proudly made it for them one holiday season, only to have my oldest niece (then 5) taste it, turn to her mom (my sister), shake her head, and ask for Cambell's tomato soup (made with milk, of course). Showed up by processed...sigh...
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