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Back to Basics: Bread and (Macadamia Nut) Butter


Since we spent the majority of our time on Kauai lulled by the sound of the surf and napping in lounge chairs, it’s probably good that we didn’t do a ton of eating in the off hours. Most of our food came from the grocery just down the street or right from the hotel (including a fantastic dinner at the on-site restaurant, Red Salt). I ate lobster tail for the first time–an even bigger surprise, since apparently my jet lagged brain did not read the entry for the ravioli carefully enough and so I didn’t see it coming–but what I really loved was the bread, served with a delicious butter and a small bowl of red salt for sprinkling on top.

Glass Beach on Kauai

Glass Beach on Kauai (mostly black sand and scampering crabs when we visited at dusk, very sparse sea glass)

We did put on real clothes long enough to check out the beer at the Kauai Island Brewery & Grill one night and to grab a pizza at Brick Oven (which gets bonus points in my mind for their fabulous mascot). And for a big road trip one evening, we drove halfway around the island to catch a meal at the vegetarian-friendly Postcards Cafe.

Koa Kea Pool

Photo by @briansacawa

By the time we set out on the 1.5 hour drive, I think I may have built up the restaurant in my mind beyond reasonable expectation. The venue was charming and the staff excellent, but I didn’t find my entrée of tofu, vegetables, and rice in a coconut curry broth to be remarkable in any way. Perhaps that was just a poor selection on my part, but since the GF/V options seemed to be a point of pride for the establishment, I was ready to be dazzled. The trio of artichoke/mushroom/walnut, creamy roasted eggplant, and traditional olive tapenades that we started with was indeed fabulous, however. And there was another sidelight brought to the table that really captured my attention: slices of house-baked bread sharing a basket with a dish of macadamia nut butter. I quizzed the friendly waiter about the makings; this was a souvenir of island life I was intent on taking home with me.

Yes, in the midst of tropical drinks anchored down with fresh pineapple slices and excellently prepared seafood everywhere you looked, leave it to me to get obsessed with the bread and butter. Home again and dreaming of the seashore, I took to baking some rosemary bread just so I could top it with my new favorite spreads.

Macadamia Nut Butter & Red Salt

Macadamia Nut Butter

1 cup macadamia nuts
1 tsp. agave nectar
1/4 tsp. salt
2 scallions, sliced

Place nuts in the bowl of a food processor and let run for a couple of minutes, stopping to scrape down sides as needed. Once the nuts resemble a coarse meal, add agave, salt, and scallions, and continue to process until the butter has achieved desired smoothness.

The butter at Postcards is very chunky. If I had reserved another quarter cup of the nuts, I would have hand chopped those and stirred them into the finished butter before packing into a serving bowl. Next time!

Don’t Lick the Screen

[via NPR]

I know this is old in internet time, but I just can’t stop watching this butter commercial. Maybe it’s all the “Big Game” hype that has me commercially minded this week, but still. The color is obviously eye-popping and it’s about food, so there’s that connection. But I think it’s actually the sound design under the creepy vocal line that has me obsessed.

That said, director Dougal Wilson clearly has a handle on the visual. Here’s another one of his creations:

Aww…I feel emotionally manipulated, which I’m pretty sure means it worked.

Butter Me Up


Homemade bread is pretty spectacular; homemade bread topped with homemade butter is…actually maybe taking the DIY homemaking a little too far?

Nonsense, I say! Particularly if you, with all your baking prowess, own a stand mixer, simply affix the whisk attachment and toss a pint of heavy cream (leave it out on the counter for a bit to take the chill off) into that mixing bowl. Using the plastic bowl cover plus plastic wrap to completely cover any openings, run that baby until you break your whipped cream and the butter and buttermilk separate. Keep an eye on it so you can slow down the speed as soon as it comes apart.

homemade butter drain and flavor

At this point, you should strain off the “buttermilk” (more on this piece of the recipe puzzle in my next post) and rinse the butter in very cold water. You will then want to knead it well between your hands to wring out as much water as possible (I also blot it a bit with a paper towel–any leftover moisture will shorten its shelf-life) and flavor it with a sprinkle of salt (for taste and as a preservative) and whatever herbs you might want to incorporate (clearly, I went a little dill happy). That’s it! Pack it down into a jar and store it in the fridge. Then take that buttermilk and bake something delicious to put it on…

PS: I hear that, if you have access to child labor, you can nix the mixer and just pour the cream into a jar with a tight fitting lid and have the kids shake the cream until it separates. Food science is cool!