Simply the Best. Period
European-style Cultured Butter
While working on a dairy farm in Brittany, France, Allison Hooper took careful note of what happened to the milk. After each milking, she set the cream aside. Natural, lactic bacteria took over, ripening it into cultured cream — or crème fraîche. When the thick result was churned into butter, she knew she had learned something valuable. Today, almost 30 years later, Allison’s company Vermont Creamery is humbled. They have won more than 100 national and international awards. “Our butters and cheeses populate some of the most prestigious cheese boards in America.”
Just as we are educating our palates to fine wines, special coffee brews and olive oil qualities, we are now exploring dairy and butter products.
Vermont Creamery has taken butter to the next level. Working with the local St. Albans Cooperative, a coop of 500 family farms in Northeast Vermont, cream is churned in small batches becoming a rich European-style butter with 86% butterfat content and unique farm-fresh taste.
What exactly is cultured butter?
It is butter, which can be used at a higher temperature than other butters. and is very baking friendly for flaky full flavor pie crusts, cookies, sauces and sautées.
And then there is the Vermont Creamery Cultured Butter Sea Salt Basket, chosen the Best Classic Product Winner at the 2015 Fancy Food Show. This butter is presented in a round basket and has the creamy richness of butter along with the fine crunch of Celtic sea salt. We smeared this on our whole wheat bread, our bagel and our favorite flagel. It is heaven! The rich consistency we assume is because of its high butterfat content. The cream is naturally cultured before churning – It is silky smooth with an extraordinary rich, nutty flavor.
Vermont Creamery produces several additional products including a tart and creamy crème fraîche, which is a thick, cultured cream with a tart, slightly nutty flavor. According the Food Network’s Dish Blog, ““crème fraîche is the richer, sexier and more talented relative” of sour cream. It can be whipped to soft peaks, scooped directly from the cup, and even piped onto desserts. It can also be mixed with a touch of sweetener to top fresh or stewed berries.” Another favorite from the Vermont Creamery is their Mascarpone – If you like Tiramisu, like we like tiramisu, you will love this creamy cheese.
Vermont Creamery products are certified kosher when labeled with Kof-k dairy. They are available at Whole Foods, Fresh Market, Fairway and supermarkets across the country.
For more information vermontcreamery.com
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Drink Remarkably! Be Remarkable!
Califia Farms premium beverages present an alternative to dairy – and a delicious one at that. We’ve all noticed that non-dairy milk alternatives seem to be proliferating on supermarket shelves. No longer are rice milk and soymilk the only non-dairy choices. There’s coconut milk and almond milk as well. And now, thanks to a reader’s recommendation, we have discovered our favorite almond milk of all. It is smooth, deeply flavored, OU kosher, parve and a ready-to-drink beverage. It can be used as a mix-in or as a cooking ingredient. You can bake or cook with it, and add it to just about anything from morning cereal to soup or hot chocolate. And, oh, one more thing, their newest product, cold brew coffee. What a convenient, delicious treat on Shabbos morning.
Califia Farms was founded in 2010 by a farmer’s co-operative based in the San Joaquin Valley and is headed by beverage visionary, CEO Greg Steltenpohl. The company is focused on creating healthy, great tasting plant-based beverages. Steltenpohl has led Califia Farms to remarkable growth, making it the fastest-growing natural beverage company in the U.S. and the leading brand in the natural products coffee drinks category. You may recognize his name, as the founder and CEO of Odwalla beverages, now owned by Coca Cola.
Califia Farms is a uniquely California company. The brand is focused on mindful nourishment, using California-grown fruits and nuts. The coffee it uses is from rainforest alliance certified farms; its bottles are recyclable. The products are gluten free, have no GMO’s, are soy-free, and have added calcium. Even the iced coffee with almondmilk has no saturated fat,and is soy-free, dairy-free, gluten-free and cholesterol-free.
We have tried these Califia Farms products and highly recommend each:
Califia Farms Almond Milk
This beverage is available in many flavors. We sampled vanilla and original.
Each variety can be exchanged measure for measure with cow’s milk for cooking or baking.
Califia Farms Coffee Creamer
Original, Pecan Caramel, Hazelnut, Vanilla
What a rich complement to hot or iced coffee; and a creamy luscious addition to mixed drinks. Along with adding the creamer to our morning coffee, we also tried the original flavor in a cocktail with Amaretto and ice. Fabulous!
Califia Farms Concentrated Cold Brew Coffee
This can be mixed with water for black coffee, mixed with almond milk or creamer, served hot, blended, shaken, or simply poured over ice. Our special treat: For Shabbos morning we mixed 1 part concentrated cold brew coffee with 1 part hot water from our water boiling urn. Tip: If you like your coffee very hot, warm the mug first by filling it with hot water; leave for 1 minute, pour out the water and follow above instructions. All Califia coffee is from rainforest alliance certified farms. This Cold Brew Coffee has 60 percent less acidity than hot brewed coffee. Excellent!
Califia Farms Cold Brew Coffee with Almond Milk in 3 flavors:
Double Espresso, Café Latte, Mocha
Pour over ice and enjoy, or add to your favorite cake or dessert substituting for other liquids. What a great pick me up in mid – afternoon on a hot summer day.
KosherEye is always delighted to find an excellent brand that just happens to be kosher certified. Thanks Califia for joining the kosher food community! Califia Farms products are found in the refrigerated section of most supermarkets across the U.S. Visit Califiafarms.com for more information.
A conversation with Greg Steltenpohl, CEO of Califia Farms
KosherEye: We know that you previously led Odwalla; How and why did you transition to almond milk from fruit juice?
GREG: I was actually interested in Almondmilk during my years at Odwalla; I knew that plant-based foods were the future, and I learned a lot about pressing fruits and nuts into drinks as a leader in the fruit juice and smoothies business. After leaving Odwalla, it was a natural transition to follow my passion for producing healthy, great-tasting beverages to the California Central Valley, where Califia Farms began producing citrus juice and Almondmilk from the natural bounty surrounding us.
KosherEye: Why did you make the decision that Califia should go kosher?
GREG: We want our products to be a part of as many people's lives as possible, so it made sense to get our products certified so shoppers choosing Kosher would have an easy decision.
KosherEye: How is the drought in California impacting almond production?
GREG: Like all Californians, we're very concerned about the lack of rainfall, which is causing the drought. It takes significant amounts of water to grow all the food we put into our bodies, and we think that sustainable water practices are critical to our state’s ongoing success in agriculture. While the almond crop has grown significantly over the past decade, we think that most almond growers have done a great job of installing drip controlled irrigation to the point where total water usage to produce the almond crop has actually declined.
KosherEye: Would you share a couple of your family's favorite recipes using Califia almond milk?
GREG: We really like making overnight oats to save time in the morning but also ensure a nutrient-packed start to the day; soak 1/2 c steel cut oats in 1/2 c of our Unsweetened Almondmilk overnight, top with blueberries or other fresh fruit and a drizzle of maple syrup and you're good to go! (Greg enjoys this no cook oatmeal at room temperature.) We also like making smoothies with our Almondmilk by blending it with frozen fruit and unique ingredients, like half an avocado or chia seeds, for nutrient-dense delicious on-the-go drinks.
KosherEye: What's in the pipeline?
GREG: We're always expanding our offerings to provide more nutritional benefits to families: think ancient grain almond shakes, or special blends of herbs and almond milk for great-tasting health drinks.. Besides continuing to innovate in the wonderful way our milks combine with coffee, we're really excited about our new line of Horchata products which bring a new healthful twist to a great tasting traditional latin beverage.
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By Guest Columnist Diane Schnier
In addition to enjoying all the luscious fruits available in abundance this time of year, why not prepare a few simple and refreshing treats that the kids - or anyone for that matter - will love? Taking just a few minutes to make these treats yourself allows you and your family to “indulge” while avoiding various unnatural and unhealthy additives found in most store bought varieties. I use a Vitamix, but a Blendtec or a similar power blender to make these treats will work well with these recipes.
If purchasing ice pops from the grocery store, you're very likely to end up with an item that's mostly water and sweetened with high fructose corn syrup – a definite no-no for those who value their health. Why go that route, when it takes only minutes to make your own natural pops at home? It can be as simple as pouring fresh fruit juice into ice pop molds, or using various whole fruits blended with yogurt. Of course, no one will complain about a handful of high quality chocolate chips thrown into the mix! If you'd like to use a sweetener, try adding a bit of honey, pure maple syrup, or stevia. Experiment with various real food combinations that appeal to you and enjoy!
You might not believe me when I say you can make an utterly creamy, sweet and delicious ice cream using nothing but bananas and a little milk or juice. What’s even better is the fact that it can be done, literally, in one, measly minute. As long as you’ve got chopped, frozen banana chunks on hand, there’s nothing to it if you have a Vitamix, Blendtec, or another powerful blender brand. And of course, it’s easy to elaborate, making any flavor ice cream you desire by adding fruits, nuts, chocolate, whatever you’d like! This can also be made using a food processor. My favorite 1-Minute Ice Cream recipe.
Warm spring and summer mornings are a great time to enjoy a refreshing fruit smoothie. By keeping just a few staple ingredients on hand, you can make a delicious, nutrient–packed drink in a flash. Simply combine milk or juice with various seasonal fruits. Once again, there are many optional add–ins when you’re in the mood to change things up. Try a dollop of natural nut–butter or a tablespoon of hemp seeds for extra protein. Smoothies are even a great place for an egg (a-la Rocky) if you’re trying to sneak extra nutrition into a picky eater. Make note that raw eggs should only be consumed if they came from naturally raised, healthy chickens. Get to know your local farmers and make it real! One of our favorites is the Coconut Milk Smoothie. Another favorite - very simple, delicious and out of the ordinary – Cinnamon Pear Smoothie.
Additional Info that might be helpful:
Non–Dairy Milk Options: Coconut milk, Hemp milk, Almond milk, and of course any natural juice will work in these recipes as well.
My favorite Ice Pop Molds:
- Orka by Mastrad Popsicle Molds
- Tovolo Green Groovy Ice Pop Molds
- Tovolo Blue Rocket Pops
- Tovolo Star Ice Pop Molds
About the Author
Diane Schnier grew up in Long Island, NY. In 1991, she received her undergraduate degree at the University of Buffalo, a Bachelor of Science in Communication, and in 2009 was awarded a Master of Science in Holistic Nutrition with highest honors by Clayton College of Natural Health. Her interest in wellness and nutrition grew when she become a mother, and expanded when her second child was diagnosed with Autism. She delved further into nutrition research, and was able to help her daughter progress tremendously by implementing a gluten and casein free diet. Diane is a self-taught musician on piano and drums, as well as a singer/songwriter who enjoys creating music as a means to share and feel connected with the world. She has independently released three solo albums, as well as one made with her band, Before Cowboys. Visit Diane on her website, RealFoodTastesGood.com.Add a comment
The Barbecue Guru
If you were stranded on a desert island and needed to come up with just one person to help you with barbecuing and grilling, we think that there is no question as to who that would be…Grillmaster Steven Raichlen. In conjunction with our weekly Cookbook of the Week feature, we are spotlighting Steven Raichlen, award–-winning author, journalist, cooking teacher, and TV host. He is the best–selling author of 28 cookbooks including The Barbecue Bible, (4 million copies in print). He hosts the informative and entertaining TV shows Primal Grill and Barbecue University, and is considered the “go to” expert on grilling. And then there are his TV guest appearances on many national TV shows, including the Today Show, Good Morning American, CNN, Oprah, The View and more. Raichlen also created the Best of Barbecue line of grilling accessories.
Raichlen’s passion for “live fire cooking” began with his book The Barbecue Bible (Workman, 1998), which is a study of global grilling, chronicling his “4-year, 200,000-mile odyssey around the world”. In 2000, Workman published How to Grill, a step-by-step guide to live fire cooking, with more than 1000 color photographs, How to Grill won an IACP Award (International Association of Cookbook Professionals) and has more than 1.5 million copies in print. BBQ USA is Raichlen’s 780 page, 650 photograph, 425 recipe ode to regional American barbecue. His newest cookbook, Best Ribs Ever (Workman, 2012), celebrates ribs, with many tips and recipes that kosher eaters can enjoy. In all, Raichlen has won five James Beard Awards and three IACP awards, and his books have been translated into 12 languages, including French, Russian, and Japanese. Wow – Raichlen is certainly sizzling!Add a comment