Tag: sage

Herb and Lemon Shortbread with Straus Family Butter {Sponsored}

Herb and Lemon Shortbread // Serious Crust
Herb and Lemon Shortbread // Serious Crust
Herb and Lemon Shortbread // Serious Crust
Herb and Lemon Shortbread // Serious Crust

I love butter. Let’s be clear here, I don’t like to grab a stick and eat it like a candy bar, the way my mother used to. Certainly not. But there is something to be said for a good piece of sourdough covered in melty butter. Or a roast chicken that’s been slathered in butter and salt and pepper. You know what I mean?

Recently, Jonah and I have become more interested in buying “good” butter. Butter is butter – it’s good. But we were wanting to buy butter made with milk from grass-fed cows. It started a couple months ago when our roommate’s dad, Bruce, came to visit. Bruce is very knowledgeable about diet and nutrition, and while he was here we had many conversations about foods that people think are bad for you (aka butter) but aren’t really if you eat them well. Good fats are good for you, guys! Things like good olive oil, good butter, even chicken livers (fatty, yes, but full of nutrients), are things we can enjoy without feeling guilty about it.

So when I was sent some coupons for Straus Dairy products, I knew immediately I wanted to try their butter. I started with ye old piece of toast. What better way to judge a butter’s character? It was good. It was richer and creamier than your average butter. So I took things to another level. I had bought some chicken livers the day before, so I made some chicken liver paté (Julia Child’s recipe, in case you were interested). And let me tell you, it was some incredibly creamy paté.

Let’s talk for a second about Straus Family Creamery. After spending a fair amount of time on Straus’s website, perhaps one of the things I find the coolest is that they were the first 100% certified organic creamery in the country. For real! Evolving from a family dairy farm, Straus Family Creamery was officially founded in 1994, when Albert Straus saw going organic as a way to differentiate himself and save the state of local family farming. The butter has 85% butterfat content, and is less moist than normal butter. What does this mean for us bakers? It means it’ll brown more evenly and be more flaky. And for the cooks? It doesn’t burn as easily. Now I know, this butter ain’t cheap. But when you’re making butter heavy things like paté or shortbread, I think it’s worth spending the extra few dollars. You don’t skimp on a pork shoulder or buy cheap-o chocolate for your chocolate chip cookies, do you? I thought not.

Enough waxing poetic about butter, Annie. Let’s get on to this recipe for herb and lemon shortbread. On our front steps, we have a little pot of herbs that we carried with us from our last home. Our thyme isn’t looking so hot, but the sage is coming back strong this spring. And every time I walk by that pot, I start thinking of things I could do with those herbs. This week, I had an idea for this herb and lemon shortbread. And lo and behold, I had one stick of this beautiful butter left. It was perfect.

Herb and Lemon Shortbread

Note: I used solely sage for this recipe, but any combination of sage, rosemary, and thyme would be great, I think.


1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbl plus 1 tsp sugar
1-2 tsp freshly chopped herbs (I used 1 tsp of freshly chopped sage, and wish I had used more)
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 stick (8 oz) Straus Family butter, unsalted, at room temperature


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Sift flour and salt together in a medium bowl, set aside. In a small bowl, combine 2 Tbl sugar plus chopped herbs and lemon zest. Rub these ingredients together with your fingers – this will make sure the sugar absorbs the oils from the herbs and lemon, making it perfectly aromatic. Add the sugar mixture to the flour, and stir until combined. Cut the butter into chunks, and combine it with the flour/sugar mixture with a fork or a pastry knife, blending until you’ve got a beautiful soft dough.

Gently press the dough into a 9×9 baking dish or a 9-inch pie plate. Sprinkle the remaining teaspoon of sugar over the top. Bake until it’s golden brown around the edges. Once you’ve removed it from the oven, carefully cut it into wedges or squares or whatever shape you like while it’s still hot. Allow to cool before separating it. It helps to run the knife along the lines again.

I think this shortbread would make a fantastic base for lemon bars or rhubarb bars or any kind of bar topped with curd. Just saying.

This is a sponsored post. I was given coupons for Straus Dairy products, and all of the opinions below are my own.

Mushroom Risotto with Pancetta and Sage

Mushroom Risotto with Pancetta and Sage // Serious Crust with Annie FasslerMushroom Risotto with Pancetta and Sage // Serious Crust with Annie Fassler

A couple weeks ago, when Jonah and I made the cleanse chicken, we decided to use the carcass to make some chicken broth. Let me say this: if you own a slow-cooker, and are not using your leftover bones/carcasses to make broth, you are seriously missing out. If you’re going to make chicken breasts, just buy bone in chicken breasts, cook them how you normally would, and then after dinner, throw the bones and scraps into the slow cooker with some onions, carrots, salt, cover it all with water, and cook it on low overnight. You’ll immediately have the beginning of a delicious chicken soup, or in this case, mushroom risotto.

(My roommates made some delicious pork ribs last week, and once they finished eating, Jonah and I told them they should make some broth with the roasted bones. They did, and had about 6-8 cups of broth, and used it to make 2 different dinners post-ribs. Talk about using your ingredients to the fullest!)

Anyway, I knew I had some arborio rice in the cabinet, and was feeling nice and wintry, so I decided to make mushroom risotto. But as I was looking through my cookbooks, I came across a variation on mushroom risotto that included sage and pancetta. I was sold.

Mushroom Risotto with Pancetta and Sage

The Best New Recipe | Serves 4 as a main course

Note: Porcini mushrooms are expensive. If you want to try using some other mushrooms instead, and also using mushroom broth rather than chicken broth to add some of that earthy umami flavor, go for it. You can also easily make this recipe vegetarian by replacing the chicken broth with mushroom broth, and eliminating the pancetta.

Note 2: My camera was dead when I cooked this, so I only have some mediocre iPhone photos. I’m sorry.


2 bay leaves
4 sprigs fresh thyme
3 sprigs fresh parsley
1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed in a strainer under running water
3 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
2 3/4 cup water
4 Tbl butter
1 1/4 lbs cremini mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed, and cut into quarters (or sixths, if larger)
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves
2-3 oz pancetta (I went with 3, because I like pancetta)
1 3/4 cups arborio rice
3/4 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp fresh sage leaves


With kitchen twine, tie together the bay leaves, thyme sprigs, and parsley sprigs. Put this bouquet in a pot with the porcini mushrooms, broth, soy sauce, and 2 1/2 cups water, and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the mushrooms are fully hydrated. Strain the broth, discard the herb bouquet, and set mushrooms aside. Put the broth back into the pot and keep warm over low heat. Mince the porcini mushrooms, and set aside.

In a non-stick pan over medium-high heat, melt 2 Tbl of butter. After the butter stops foaming, add the cremini mushrooms, half of the onion, and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook for about 7 minutes, until the liquid from the mushrooms has cooked off and the mushrooms are browned, and add the garlic, cooking for a minute until fragrant. Put the cooked mushrooms into a bowl and set aside. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of water to the pan to scrape up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, then pour this liquid into the pot with the broth.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the pancetta and 1 Tbl of butter for about 5 minutes, until the pancetta has rendered most of its fat. Add the rest of the chopped onions, and cook until the onions have softened and are translucent. Add the rice and cook, stirring frequently, for about 4 minutes, or until the edges of the rice are transparent. Add the wine or vermouth to the pan, and stir, cooking until the liquid has been absorbed. Add the porcini mushrooms and roughly 2 cups of broth (or about 2 ladles full) and cook, stirring every couple of minutes, until the broth is absorbed. Add 1/2 cup or a ladle full of broth every 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, and adding more broth when the previous broth has been absorbed. The risotto is ready when the rice is cooked but has some bite to it at the center of the grain. You may not end up using all of the broth, so be sure to taste frequently for doneness. When the risotto is cooked to your liking, add the cremini mushrooms, the remaining 1 Tbl of butter, the parmesan, and chopped sage. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and enjoy with a nice glass of wine.

The leftovers are great as they are, but if you’re interested in a little revamp, form little cakes with the leftovers, and fry in some oil over medium heat. Top with a fried or poached egg for best result.

Weekend Finds 12:15:13

It’s time for weekend finds!

1. Chefs Feed

Chefs Feed // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
The Chefs Feed homepage

My latest neat food-oriented website discovery is Chefs Feed, a website where you can look up chef recommended dishes, restaurants, and chefs in your town. Who better to trust than these experts themselves?

2. Winter Fruit Whiskey Mash

Winter Fruit Whiskey Mash from A Beautiful Mess // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Winter Fruit Whiskey Mash from A Beautiful Mess

This winter drink looks delicious. If I were in a rush, I would probably skip the persimmon simple syrup (though I think I need to give persimmons another try), and head straight for the muddled orange and pomegranate.

3. Reclaiming Provincial

Reclaiming Provincial // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Reclaiming Provincial

I found this blog through another blog (now I can’t remember which one), and I’m pretty happy about the discovery. With recipes like smoky cardamom ginger-molasses cookies and crispy sweet potato roast with herbed coconut creme fraiche, they seem unique, interesting, and the photos are beautiful.

4. Easy roasted chicken

Chicken Legs inspired by FoodSwoon // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Chicken Legs inspired by FoodSwoon

The other day Jonah and I bought some whole bone in, skin on chicken legs, and it was my job to figure out what to do with them. After some research, I based my creation on this recipe from FoodSwoon, except instead of doing either garlic or herbs or butter, I did all three. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Peel a few garlic cloves and cut each one into a few pieces, and pick a  few herb leaves (I used sage). Peel back the chicken skin and place the sage and garlic underneath (I did probably 3 cloves and 6 sage leaves per leg), then tightly and carefully re-wrap the skin. Rub each leg with half a teaspoon of butter, and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 45-55 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. (Also, FoodSwoon looks like it will quickly become a recipe resource for me.)

5. Mulled Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mulled Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies from London Bakes // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Mulled Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies from London Bakes

I went out for drinks and a white elephant gift exchange with some former co-workers the other night, and the place we went had some mulled wine, which I promptly ordered. When they asked what I got, and I said “mulled wine!” with all the enthusiasm that one ought to have when you say that phrase, all I received in return were blank stares. THEY HAD NEVER HEARD OF MULLED WINE. I was sad for them. We’ve made mulled wine and cider a couple times this year, and I can’t get over how much I love mulling spices in anything. So this recipe for chocolate chip cookies with mulled brown butter from London Bakes seems pretty decadent and incredibly perfect. I love the idea of using orange chocolate for the chips as well, just to tie everything together. (Also, the inspiration recipe from Top with Cinnamon also sounds wonderful.)

Weekend Finds 12:8:13

Well, we’re officially over the Thanksgiving hump. In this weekend finds, we’re on to the world of Christmas, and starting to think about decorations and gifting.

1. Meyer Lemon and Sage Hot Toddy

Meyer Lemon and Sage Hot Toddy on Weekend Finds // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Meyer Lemon and Sage Hot Toddy

I’m having trouble thinking of much else other than hot, wintery, alcoholic beverages. The other day, I was cozied up on the couch with my big sweater, a blanket, some tea, and my knitting, and my roommate Sophie said to me, “You are made for winter.” I think it’s true, I am. I love being warm and cozy in big sweaters sipping warm drinks. I love this time of year because you get to drink things like this Meyer lemon and sage hot toddy.

2. DIY Limoncello

DIY Limoncello on Weekend Finds // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
DIY Limoncello

A while ago when Jonah and I went to Toro Bravo, we were gifted some limoncello after we had to wait a little bit. And I must say, I really enjoyed it. So, while we’re on the topic of lemony alcoholic beverages, I think this DIY Limoncello would make a great gift. Plus, it’ll be a nice light after-dinner drink for those heavy Christmas dinners.

3. Geometric Ornaments

Geometric Ornaments on Weekend Finds // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Geometric Ornaments featured on Design*Sponge

Yesterday Jonah and I went with our roommates to get our Christmas tree! And it is all now decorated with Carmelle’s ornaments. When I get to a point in my life where I’m collecting Christmas ornaments (maybe I should say if I get to that point), I like to think I would collect things like these beautiful geometric ornaments featured on Design*Sponge. I especially like the second ones, by FlaneursPockets on Etsy.

4. DIY Vanilla Extract

DIY Vanilla Extract on Weekend Finds // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
DIY Vanilla from HonestlyYUM

I’ve heard of lots of people gifting homemade vanilla extract for the holidays. And I think it’s a great idea. But before I read this post on HonestlyYUM, I never really thought about using a) different types of vanilla or b) different kinds of liquor. It might be cool to give people a “flight” of vanilla, as it were.

5. Winter Salad from 101 Cookbooks

Winter Salad on Weekend Finds // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Winter Salad from 101 Cookbooks

Sometimes in winter I have trouble making an interesting salad. I mostly just use mixed greens, dried cranberries, candied nuts, and some cheese. Same old, same old. BUT recently I’ve started using delicata squash in everything, including salads, after eating a delicious salad at Grain & Gristle. This salad from 101 Cookbooks not only looks unlike anything I’ve made before, but it also has delicata squash in it! Yum.