Monday, April 16, 2012

Fancy Schmancy Butter

Lemon dill butter (top)

Remember having honey butter on warm biscuits or cornbread at your great aunt's house? Oo, I do.
 I think she bought it in a jar, but I have made it since and was surprised at how EASY it is.

My first introduction to a COMPOUND BUTTER was that silky, drippy honey butter that got all over my fingers, the tablecloth, and my shirts as a child. I don't eat a lot of butter and have reduced it significantly in baking/cooking, so I don't think of making butter recipes as a healthy practice in my attempt to eat whole foods. HOWEVER, in small amounts, a bit of a compound butter can significantly kick up the flavor in mashed potatoes, a fish dish, or other meal. They add moisture and a bit of creaminess to leftover chicken, rice and pastas, as well. My photo examples aren't the prettiest, which means practice makes perfect, but they taste pretty darn good. :)

Strawberry butter
Varieties of compound butters and their parings:

Honey Nut Butter (2 sticks butter, 3 TB chopped nuts, 4 TB honey): on toast, waffles, pancakes, or English muffins

Berry Butter (1 stick butter, 2-3 TB berry jam): on toast, in oatmeal (a dab!), on crackers, rolls, waffles or pastries

Pesto Butter (1 stick butter + 2 TB pesto spread): on chicken, fish, pork, in rice, pasta, on a baguette, roll, or breadstick, onto corn on the cob, broccoli, asparagus, add in olive oil- or broth-based sauces

Citrus Butter (2 sticks butter + zest of 1 lemon and 1 lime): on fish, scones, biscuits, in rice, risotto, on cornbread or pastries, on veggies

Lemon-Dill Butter (2 sticks butter + 1/4 cup fresh chopped dill + zest of 1 lemon + 2 TB lemon juice + dash of salt and pepper): on fish, chicken (adds moisture to leftovers!), pork, pasta, breads, and veggies, add in olive oil- or broth-based sauces, on baked potatoes and in mashed potatoes

Honey-Sage Butter (1 stick butter + 2 TB honey + 1 1/2 TB dried sage): on fish, pork, breads, carrots...experiment with this one, which is a little different!

Directions for all varieties:

Step One and Only: Soften butter, don't melt it. In a bowl, combine all ingredients and use the back of a large spoon to work the toppings into the butter until all blended.

Storage: Keep in a sealed container OR wrap in wax paper and store in a small box container (butter will mold into the shape of the container) OR wrap in wax paper and roll into round logs.

Fridge or Freeze? Either one works well. With the recipes with fruits or fresh herbs, I'd freeze them and just slice of a TB or so when you need it. If you (or your kids) are a lover of plain jane noodles, add a pat of the pesto or lemon-dill butter for a little kick of flavor.

Compound butter (in little jars or in wax paper "sticks") make great gifts for dinner party guests.

Special thanks to these folks for the ideas and lessons on compound butter:
A beautiful mess
Alton Brown
Serious eats
Simple bites

I'm in Waco this week, in the next-to-last week of my formal education career. Hope you're having fun wherever you are!

Happy eating!

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