Buttermilk comes back with a big splash

June 16, 1996|By EATING WELL United Feature Syndicate

Add creamy and tangy buttermilk to the list of hot ingredients for the '90s. Plain old buttermilk now has cachet -- it's turning up on menus from the best restaurants all over the country. Years ago, buttermilk was the liquid left after churning butter. Today's commercial buttermilk is no longer a by-product of butter making: It is nonfat or low-fat milk that has bacteria added to it, which thickens the milk and imparts a mild acidity. Buttermilk has always been a friend to the baker, and it is wonderful in low-fat baking. Here are some imaginative ways to use it:

Papaya smoothie

Makes about 2 1/2 cups (for 2 servings)

1 papaya, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped (1 1/4 cups)

3/4 cup bottled fruit nectar, such as papaya, mango or peach

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 1/2 tablespoons sugar, preferably superfine

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

5 ice cubes

In a blender, combine all ingredients and blend until very smooth and frothy. Pour into 2 tall glasses and serve.

170 calories per serving; 3 g protein; 1 g fat (0.4 g saturated fat); 41 g carbohydrate; 70 mg sodium; 2 mg cholesterol; 1 g fiber

Strawberry buttermilk sherbet

Makes about 3 cups (for 4 servings)

4 cups IQF (individually quick-frozen) unsweetened strawberries (1 pound)

1/2 cup sugar, preferably superfine

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

In a food processor, combine strawberries and sugar. Using an on/off motion, process until finely chopped. Stir together buttermilk and lemon juice and, with the machine running, pour through feed tube. Process until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides of the work bowl once or twice.

300 calories per serving; 2 g protein; 1 g fat (0.2 g saturated fat); 79 g carbohydrate; 35 mg sodium; 1 mg cholesterol; 6 g fiber

Note: If the sherbet is too soft to serve immediately, let it harden in the freezer for about 1/2 hour.

Cold cucumber soup

Makes about 4 cups (for 4 servings)

1 small clove garlic, crushed and peeled

1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

4 cups peeled, seeded and chopped cucumbers (about 3 cucumbers)

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, plus sprigs for garnish

1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar

2 ice cubes

black pepper to taste

Place garlic clove on cutting board; sprinkle with salt. Mash with side of a chef's knife to a smooth paste. Transfer to blender. Reserving 1/2 cup of cucumbers for garnish, add the remaining cucumbers along with buttermilk, mint leaves, vinegar and ice cubes; blend until smooth. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls; garnish with reserved cucumbers and mint sprigs.

Note: For a smooth soup, use a blender, not a food processor.

80 calories per serving; 5 g protein; 1 g fat (0.5 gram saturated fat); 14 g carbohydrate; 370 mg sodium; 3 mg cholesterol; 2 g fiber

Creamy herb dressing

Makes about 1 cup (8 servings)

3/4 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise

1/4 cup chopped scallions

3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon prepared horseradish

salt and pepper to taste

In a blender, combine buttermilk, mayonnaise, scallions, dill, parsley, lemon juice, horseradish, salt and pepper. Blend well until smooth. (The dressing can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.)

25 calories per serving; 1 g protein; 1 g fat (0 g saturated fat); 3 grams carbohydrate; 100 mg sodium; 1 mg cholesterol; 0 g fiber

Crushed red potatoes with buttermilk

Makes about 4 cups (6 servings)

2 pounds red potatoes, scrubbed (about 6 potatoes)

1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

fresh pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, cover potatoes with cold water. Add 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Partially cover and cook until tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain potatoes in a colander and transfer to a bowl. Crush the potatoes with a potato masher or the back of a large spoon. Gently stir in buttermilk and chives. Add salt and pepper and serve.

140 calories per serving; 4 g protein; 0 g fat; 31 g carbohydrate; 380 mg sodium; 1 mg cholesterol; 1 g fiber

Pub Date: 6/16/96

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