I've always been a big fan of sour dairy products--I will reach for plain yogurt over flavored any day, and my favorite part of eating Mexican food is the sour cream I pile unapologetically on top. So, needless to say, buttermilk and I are good friends.
I think buttermilk is such an overlooked dairy product. Sure, we use it all the time in baking to bring richness and moistness to pumpkin and zucchini breads and fluffiness to birthday cakes. But you can't exactly taste the buttermilk in these recipes. So I've been experimenting lately with giving buttermilk more of a place of honor in my recipes, and I'm loving the results.
I first realized that buttermilk is a worthy flavor in and of itself when I made this Buttermilk Pudding. This is a silky smooth pudding with just the right balance of sweetness and tartness. The vanilla is a lovely compliment to the buttermilk without overpowering it. I think this would be a beautiful addition to a Christmas Eve dinner, or a Christmas day brunch, if you're looking for an easy, unusual, and highly delicious recipe to try.
I also like using buttermilk in place of milk for simple, everyday foods. Whisking some buttermilk into my scrambled eggs makes them creamier, richer, with just a hint of that tang I love. I've also started making mac and cheese with buttermilk in place of milk. The sharpness of the cheese and the sourness of the buttermilk make excellent partners, and the end result is the most decadent mac and cheese you'll ever eat.
There was a time when I would buy a quart of buttermilk to make pancakes or muffins and then the rest would go bad in the fridge. But those days are very much over, and buttermilk is now one of my favorite ingredients to cook with. (And a confession: sometimes I'll even pour a tiny glass of it and drink it straight up! Does that make me an old person?)
What about you? How do you use buttermilk in your kitchen? Sparingly or with abandon?