Thursday, January 21, 2010

Compound Butter, your new best friend

Good day Fellow Food Lovers. You might be thinking, what pray tell, is compound butter? If you guessed some kind of butter, you are correct! As defined by The Food Lover’s Handbook, a compound butter is “butter creamed with other ingredients such as herbs, wine, shallots and so on.”

Below I have given you some ideas about sweet and savory butters and ways you can use them. As always, these are my ideas. Use your culinary imagination and come up with new flavor combos and what you would use them for.

Sweet Flavor combos:

Honey ginger

Mini chocolate chips and orange zest

Maple syrup with toasted pecans

Cinnamon sugar

Dried cranberry with clove and sugar

Spread on any breakfast breads (English muffins, toast, scones, biscuits, bagels, etc.), Pumpkin bread, pancakes, waffles, use to sauté sliced apples or bananas and serve hot over ice cream!

Savory Flavor combos:

Gorganzola (do you really need to add anything more than cheese and butter? Mmmmm)

Sun dried tomato with oregano (the best on top of grilled lamb chops)

Shallots and fines herbes (chives, parsley, chervil and tarragon)

Chile lime cilantro

Garlic with red pepper flakes and Romano cheese

Lemongrass and ginger

Pesto (basil, pinenuts, garlic and Parmesan)

Where do I begin? Melt over popcorn, stir into pastas, soups, risottos, polenta/grits (fancy talk for corn meal mush), mashed, baked or roasted potatoes, tossed with hot green veggies, cooked with scrambled eggs, spread on any breakfast breads, slathered over a chicken (over and under the skin) just before you pop it in the oven. Melt over grilled steaks, lamb or pork chops. Why not sauté some shrimp or scallops in it? Or, melt some and serve with steamed lobster tails or any seafood of your choice, yummy!

Okay here are some hints to help you along the way:
Because I am a control freak, I use unsalted butter so that I can add the amount of salt to my liking.
Use SOFTENED, not melted butter (melted butter separates into milk solids and fat and while your end product will no doubt be delicious, it will be greasy and not nearly as pretty as it could be. Softened butter is a must!)
With anything you cook, sometimes the flavors need a little something to brighten them up. In this case, a squeeze of lemon, lime or a sprinkle of vinegar will do the job.
Once your butter is made, using plastic wrap, form the butter into a log and store in the freezer until it is time to use it. Your butter can be kept frozen for a few months. But you and your fans will love it so, it won’t last that long.

I have provided ideas and hopefully inspiration, but I have not given you recipes or ratios. Here is your challenge: Go forth and conquer compound butters! Be creative. Use my ideas or even better, come up with your own, but do go, experiment and have fun. Please post about your kitchen adventures and if you can bear to share, any ideas you have come up with.
Good Luck!

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