Monday, October 31, 2022

Butter Boards - Why?

I used to think that Instagram was bad because it created a market for outrageous foods: multiple-patty smashburgers oozing lobster mac and cheese; garbage can nachos; and milkshakes topped with slices of cake and served in mugs with cereal, cookie crumbs, candy, or other do-dads cemented to it with frosting or chocolate. <insert eyeroll here>

I personally witnessed an "influencer" order a burger simply because the patty was deep fried (and perhaps stuffed with was a while ago), pose it for photos, take one bite, and leave the rest behind. The burger was ridiculous and thankfully has been removed from the restaurant's menu. Also ridiculous was the waste created by the douchebag influencer who ordered something that he then did not eat. As for the nachos...there are restaurants that pack nachos in a mini trash can and tip them onto a plate at tableside. WHY? Has it suddenly become desirable to eat out of a garbage can? It seems like mocking the unhoused. And the milkshake thing...ugh. Do people actually eat the crap stuck to the glass? I feel bad for the dishwashers at those establishments. 

Lest you think I'm kidding, here's a chicken and waffles milkshake from
Brownstone Pancake Factory in NJ. This is one of their tamer offerings.
(Check out their IG account!)
While all that Instagram stuff is stupid, Tik Tok presents worse things to an increasingly larger audience. I can't believe that major newspapers need to tell readers that it's dangerous to cook chicken in Nyquil. WHO WOULD DO THAT TO BEGIN WITH? (Perhaps the same people who would take Ivermectin to battle COVID?) And then there's the newest thing to sweep Instagram and TikTok, though it's merely dumb and not ridiculous: the butter board. For those of you who make their dwelling on the nether side of a boulder and didn't see the trend mentioned in the New York Times, CNN, and Bloomberg, it involves softened butter and a serving board. The butter--either flavored or plain--is smeared over a piece of wood, and then littered with whatever debris the creator fancies--honey, nuts, jam, garlic, fancy salt, etc. I've seen versions with cream cheese, and with brie. No matter the fat, it's served with a bread product of some sort to drag through the muck. No doubt early man once served his dairy products in such a manner, smearing wild ground sloth butter on a sun-warmed rock and decorating it with the petals of foxgloves and hemlock and perhaps a soupcon of crumbled smilodon scat. 

My issues: 1) Nobody needs to indulge in this gross amount of pure fat. Ok, maybe one of my neighbors, who resembles a stick insect, could use a cup of butter now and again. However, it's silly to make a butter board for less than ten people. Most recipes recommend using 2 sticks (one cup) of butter, which contains 1620 calories (a cup of cream cheese or brie has about half as many) and no nutritive value. 2) That fat is going to seep into the wooden board it's schmeared on, making for difficult clean-up. And maybe even a rancid-smelling board in the future. Yum. 

So why do it? Beats the hell out of me. Sure, a butter board can be pretty, so it will look good on IG or TT. And that's really all people care about. It's all about the engagement. 

If you're hell-bent on achieving lemming-hood and creating your own shingle plastered with schmutz, why not use something that has nutritional value, and spread it on an easier-to-clean substance. Like a plate. Or a bowl. You know, things that are not porous and meant to be used for wet food. And that are dishwasher-safe. How about hummus, which can be topped with olive oil, roasted chickpeas, herbs, pesto, roasted tomatoes, artichokes, olives, figs, etc.? It tastes yummy, has beneficial protein and fiber, and while it's fine with breadlike products, it's even better when used as a dip for raw vegetables.

Or is hummus too 2021? 

Because it's pumpkin season, I'm giving you a recipe for a pumpkin hummus that's somewhere between sweet and savory. It can be eaten with ginger snaps or with carrot sticks, or both. The garnish can also go both ways. Crunchy roasted nuts are a must, and pomegranate arils or dried cranberries add a punch of tartness as well as color. A drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of harissa powder can take you to the savory side along with a scattering of chives, but maple syrup and finely chopped crystallized ginger will lead you in the opposite direction. Or do all of the above (in which case, I'd leave out the garlic and add the maple syrup in the following recipe)! It's your spread. My only rule: use a fucking plate. There's 0 reason to splodge anything on a wooden board unless you've suddenly time-traveled from the prehistoric era and haven't yet encountered a stone chipped into the form of a butter knife. 

Pumpkin hummus topped with extra-virgin olive oil, dried cranberries, chives, walnuts,
sunflower seeds, and a sprinkle of harissa powder, served with baby carrots,
Mary's Gone Crackers flax crackers, and apple chips.
Pumpkin Hummus "Board"

1 15-ounce can white beans or garbanzos, drained and rinsed
1 15-ounce can pumpkin purée 
1/3 cup hazelnut butter, almond butter, or tahini 
Juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon real maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
Ice water

for savory hummus: 1 clove garlic
for non-savory hummus: additional maple syrup

Toppings (optional):
maple syrup
extra virgin olive oil
chopped toasted walnuts or hazelnuts
roasted pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds
pomegranate arils
dried cranberries
finely chopped crystallized ginger
finely chopped chives
harissa powder

baby carrots
apple chips
pita bread or crisps
ginger snaps or those tasty Trader Joe's crisps things in any flavor

Pop the beans, pumpkin, and nut butter into a food processor and pulse a few times until combined and the beans are broken down. Add the lemon and seasonings, including the garlic or additional maple syrup. Blend the mixture until smooth and creamy, at least 2 minutes. Taste for seasonings and add more salt if needed.

The mixture will probably seem pretty thick, so this is where the ice water comes in. While the machine is running, drizzle in 1 tablespoon of the water which will not only thin out the sauce but also make it lighter and fluffier. Add more water to get the desired consistency, and blend until the mixture is super smooth. 

Time to use your palate. Taste the mixture. Is it salty enough? Can you taste the lemon tang? If not, add more juice. Want it more spicy? Duh...add more spice! Want a kick? Add a pinch of your favorite hot pepper (cayenne, chipotle, or urfa biber would work well here).

Once the hummus is flavored to your liking, scrape the mixture into a wide bowl. Drizzle with maple syrup or olive oil (or both) and sprinkle with the remaining ingredients, if desired (maybe not both chives and ginger, but it's your call). Take photos. Post on Instagram and TikTok. Or don't. In any case, enjoy!

* Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats. Amazon links earn me $! Please buy!

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