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Back to Butter Recipes

Cathy’s guest was Molly Chester, co-author of Back to Butter – a traditional foods cookbook with nourishing recipes inspired by our ancestors. These are recipes shared on the show:

Hot Onion Dip

Having grown up in Atlanta, Georgia, I associate summer with sweet Vidalia onions, truly nature’s candy. The onions get their name from Vidalia, Georgia, where the low-sulfur soil gives them their uniquely sweet taste, perfect for this dip. If you can’t find Vidalia, substitute some other sweet variety, such as a Maui or Walla Walla. Inspired by Jean Desvernine

Yield: 4 to 6 servings, or 2 1/2 cups (565 g)

¾ cup (175 g) Simply Mayonnaise (below)

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon hot sauce

1 teaspoon minced horseradish

2 cups (320 g) small diced Vidalia onion

1½ cups (165 g) grated Swiss cheese

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC, or gas mark 4). Have ready a 9-inch (23 cm) pie pan or an 8 x 8-inch (20 x 20 cm) glass baking dish (no need to grease). In a medium-size bowl, combine the mayonnaise, garlic, hot sauce, and horseradish. Add the onion and stir until fully incorporated. Add the Swiss cheese and stir again.

Pour the mixture into the dish and level with a spatula. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the edges have turned golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes and serve warm with crackers or veggies.


Simply Mayonnaise

If you’re ready to take on only one homemade condiment, make it mayonnaise! I know of only one commercial variety that’s reputable, and it’s only available by mail order (page 217). Store-bought varieties are made with refined oils and thickening agents, but even more important, why aren’t their mayonnaises yellow? It’s made from egg yolks, for goodness’ sake.

Yield: 3/4 cup (170 g)

2 egg yolks, at room temperature

2 tablespoons (30 ml) fresh lemon juice

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

¾ cup (180 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

1/8 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper

¼ teaspoon celery seed

1 tablespoon (15 ml) whey, optional

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the egg yolks, lemon juice, Dijon, and sea salt. Process until combined, about 30 seconds. While the motor is running, stream the olive oil through the food processor shoot drop by drop. It is important that the oil be added very slowly, allowing each addition to fully combine and emulsify before adding the next. Once ½ cup (120 ml) of the oil has been added, oil may be added at a slightly increased speed.

Once all the oil has been incorporated, stir in the pepper celery seed, and whey, if using. If whey has been added, store in a sealed Mason jar for 7 hours at room temperature before transferring to the refrigerator. Lacto-fermentation will add probiotic benefits and extend shelf life. If not adding whey , refrigerate immediately.

Chill thoroughly before use; mayonnaise will thicken as it chills. The whey-less version may be stored in the refrigerator for at least 2 weeks; the lacto-fermented version will keep for 2 months or more in the fridge. 

Recipe Notes

• Shop for an extra-virgin olive oil that is light and buttery. If the flavor is too strong, unrefined sunflower oil can be a suitable substitute.

• The key to this recipe is to very slowly drizzle in the olive oil. To make this step easy, notice the food processor chute insert has a small hole in the bottom. Simply fill with oil and watch it drip slowly.

• Sweet Mayonnaise Variation: Add 1 tablespoon (15 g) Sweet Pickle Relish and 2 tablespoons (40 g) raw honey and whisk to combine.

Roasted Corn Guacamole

Living on a farm with acres of avocado trees, I’ve had my fair share of guacamole. Although our livestock assistant, Flavio, still makes the best guacamole I know, my roasted corn version has its own fan following. Keep in mind that the lemon juice and avocado are combined in the very first step of the guacamole, because the acid prevents the avocado from turning brown. This attention to detail will preserve the beautiful green color of the dip.

Yield: 1½ cups (338 g)

1 tablespoon (14 g) butter

½ cup (75 g) corn

1/8 plus ¼ teaspoon sea salt, divided

1/8 plus ¼ teaspoon pepper, divided

2 avocados 4 teaspoons (20 ml) fresh lemon juice

1/3 cup (60 g) seeded and small diced tomato

¼ cup (40 g) finely diced red onion

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC, or gas mark 4). While the oven is preheating, put the butter on a small-size baking tray and place in the oven for 2 to 4 minutes to melt.

Once the butter is melted, remove the tray and place the corn on it. Sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon of the sea salt and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper and toss with a spatula to combine. Roast for 25 minutes, tossing once halfway through, until the corn is browned. Set aside to cool while prepping the remaining ingredients.

Peel and dice the avocados and combine in a small-size bowl with the lemon juice. Mash with a fork or potato masher , leaving the mixture slightly chunky. Add the tomatoes, red onion, garlic, remaining ¼ teaspoon sea salt, and remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper. Toss with a fork to combine, then fold in the roasted and cooled corn. Serve immediately .

Recipe Notes

• Fresh corn cut from the cob will supply the most flavor, but frozen corn may be substituted. If corn is frozen, it is best not to thaw before using.

• Guacamole oxidizes and turns brown quickly. If you need to store it, place the dip in a glass container and press a piece of plastic wrap down onto the top surface of the dip; the entire surface of the dip should be touching the plastic. Put the lid on top and refrigerate.


Raw Chopped Salad

We tire quickly of carrot and celery sticks, don’t we? This raw salad is a wonderful and convenient solution. Before you begin, though, know that small, consistent dicing adds to the allure of this dish. And if you can find unfiltered and unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, buy it! Don’t fear the pasteurization omission, which allows the “culture” (probiotics) to grow. Probiotics found in organic and raw foods help give the digestive system a much-needed boost. 

Yield: 6 to 8 servings 

For dressing :

¼ cup (60 ml) apple cider vinegar

¼ cup (60 ml) unrefined flax oil

1 tablespoon (10 g) crushed garlic

1/3 cup (20 g) fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley

½ teaspoon poppy seeds

½ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon freshly cracked pepper

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional


For salad :

½ cup (80 g) finely diced sweet onion

½ cup (75 g) finely diced red bell pepper

½ cup (60 g) finely diced celery

½ cup (50 g) sliced green olives

½ cup (50 g) sliced sun-dried black or kalamata olives

1 cup (130 g) finely diced carrot

1 cup (120 g) finely diced zucchini

1 cup (120 g) finely diced yellow squash

1 cup (75 g) thinly sliced fresh snow peas

½ cup (50 g) small cauliflower florets

To make the dressing : In a small-size glass jar with a tightfitting lid, combine all the dressing ingredients. Shake well. Set aside, and allow the flavors of the dressing to marry while chopping the vegetables.

To make the salad : In a large-size mixing bowl, combine all the salad ingredients. With a large-size spoon, stir well. Pour the dressing over the top and mix until thoroughly combined.

Chill in a covered glass container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.




This dish was first named Maple Dijon Chicken, but you’ll see why it quickly became Sticky Chicken! Perfect for a cookout, football game, or casual dinner, it is delicious whether hot right from the oven or sliced cold and stuffed in a sourdough sandwich the next day. The sauce is rich and flavorful, and the meat is fall-off-the-bone moist. Kids love this meal.

½ cup (112 g) butter

½ cup (120 ml) maple syrup

½ cup (88 g) Dijon mustard

4 teaspoons curry powder

2½ teaspoons (15 g) sea salt, divided

¼ teaspoon cayenne

4 bone-in chicken breast halves, skin on (2 whole breasts, split)

½ teaspoon freshly cracked pepper 

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC, or gas mark 4). Combine the butter, maple syrup, mustard, curry powder, 2 teaspoons (12 g) of the sea salt, and the cayenne in a 9 x 13-inch (23 x 33 cm) glass baking dish. While the oven is preheating, place the dish in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the butter fully melts but does not brown.

Remove the pan from the oven and whisk the ingredients to combine. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then liberally dredge each piece of the chicken in the sauce. Gently slide your fingers between the skin and the flesh of the chicken, being careful not to tear the skin. Using a pastry brush, coat both the flesh and the skin thoroughly with sauce. Gently pull the skin back into place.

Arrange the chicken in a single layer in the pan, skin-side up. Sprinkle with the remaining ½ teaspoon sea salt and the pepper.

Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Remove and baste with the pastry brush using the pan sauces. Bake, uncovered, for an additional 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and preheat the broiler. Baste the chicken one final time, then broil for 2 to 3 minutes, until the chicken skin browns nicely. Be careful not to burn.

Cool for 10 minutes, then place on a serving platter. Whisk the pan juices and pour over the chicken. Serve!

Yield: 4 servings


Balsamic Vinaigrette with Raw Honey

Quick, classic, and delicious. Consuming raw honey from local beehives can actually help a body adjust to seasonal allergies. A cold dressing is a seamless way to add raw honey to the daily diet.

Yield: 3/4 cup (180 ml)

3 tablespoons (45 ml) balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons (22 g) Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon raw honey

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper

½ cup (120 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

In a small-size bowl, combine all the ingredients except the oil.

Pour the oil into a liquid measuring cup, then slowly whisk into the balsamic mixture.


Sweet Onion Dressing

This old family favorite appeals to all kinds of taste buds. It’s a hearty dressing consisting of very basic ingredients—if you’ve got an onion in the pantry, chances are you can pull this off without a hitch. The dressing takes on a slight pink color when using a red onion. A sweet white onion, like a Vidalia, is a nice substitute and will result in a whiter dressing.

Yield: 1½ cups (355 ml)

½ cup (80 g) roughly chopped red onion (about 1 medium)

1/3 cup (80 ml) apple cider vinegar

¼ cup (40 g) honey granules (below)

1 teaspoon celery seed

1½ teaspoons powdered mustard

1 teaspoon sea salt

¾ cup (180 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

Place all the ingredients except the oil in a blender and blend until creamy. Slowly drizzle the oil into the chute with the blender on medium speed. Continue to blend until the oil is incorporated.

Use immediately or refrigerate if not using the same day. Allow refrigerated dressing to warm to room temperature for 10 minutes before serving. Shake well before pouring.


Honey Granules: The White Sugar Substitute

Honey granules are a unique sweetener made from a combination o f unrefined sugar cane juice (Sucanat) and honey, which is added to lighten the color and texture of the final product. Honey granules are the most accurate 1:1 natural sweetener swap for white sugar. The color of the final product will be earthier, resulting in a cream/eggshell color over a pure white.


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