COOK’S CORNER

Easy Hack Makes Butter Better

By Jean Redstone

Memorial Day is around the corner, issuing in the outdoor parties and barbecues and the search for fancy fixin’s with minimum fuss.

Would you believe there’s a genuinely easy cooking hack that will spark up a party, a picnic, a quick family meal or a routine dessert?

It’s the butter hack, because Julia Child was right – butter makes everything better!

Butter’s secret is the very same secret that lets bacon improve the taste of soups, stews and salads. Fat.

Fat carries flavor molecules from food and bathes your taste buds in them. But butter is more versatile than bacon because its own taste is so mild and slightly sweet. To quickly add a specific extra flavor, add that flavor to the butter then add that butter to the food.

There’s a name for this, “Compound Butter”, which simply means butter (usually unsalted) mixed with other ingredients. Compound butters can be mixed with herbs, spices, flavor extracts, nuts, honey, olives, seeds — the possibilities are vast.

That versatility is precisely the value of adding the flavor to the butter. You can control the portion of different tastes and save the mix for future use in the fridge or freezer, handy whenever you want to impress an unexpected guest or mother-in-law.

Bring out the mix of honey, lemon, poppy seed butter and serve with a warm roll, instantly upgrading a cup of coffee with a friend to a cozy occasion of tastefulness. Or spread berry butter between chocolate wafers or gingersnaps, set a few out on a fancy plate, and voila, a special dessert in under a minute.

Experiment with these basic compound butters for sweet or savory foods to see which butter hacks you may want to store in your own refrigerator.


cooking fresh strawberry butter webBERRY BUTTER

A dessert butter that’s great with pancakes, scones, strudel and more

½ C fresh berries, such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, diced, strained

1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
¼ C powdered sugar
Cream butter in a large bowl with a hand mixer until whipped and smooth. Stir in powdered sugar. Fold in diced strawberries and mix until butter is light pink and creamy. Mound in a butter bowl or serve in individual bowls.
Stores, covered, in the refrigerator for a week or more or can be frozen.

NOTE: Any soft, sweet berry or fruit will do, such cherries, peaches, cranberries or mix the fruits!  Squeeze citrus fruits to reduce excess liquid before adding to the butter.


LEMON HERB BUTTER

A light touch for seafood, rolls, grilled veggies and more

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 Tbls. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 Tbls. chopped fresh chives
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine all but the salt and pepper in a bowl. Add salt and ground black pepper to taste. Spoon mix onto a square of plastic wrap or divide the mixture in half (about 4 tablespoons each). Roll the plastic wrap around the butter, forming a cylinder, then twist the ends closed. Next, wrap the cylinder in parchment paper, twist the two ends and tie them with twine. Refrigerate until the butter is firm ({about 2 hours) or put in the freezer to be used at a later date. To serve, unwrap and slice into circles for spreading on breads or melting over seafood or veggies.


cooking savory herb butter webBASIC SAVORY BUTTER

Just right for steak, fowl or vegetables

1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

1Tbls fresh rosemary, finely chopped

1 Tbls fresh thyme, finely chopped

5 cloves garlic, finely minced

In a large bowl, combine softened butter, rosemary, thyme, and garlic. Using a spatula, combine all ingredients well. Scoop the mixture onto a sheet of wax or parchment paper. Roll into a log and twist the ends shut. Place in the refrigerator for 2 hours, or until the butter is firm.

To use for turkey or chicken: carefully lift up the skin on the breast of the turkey and place slices of the butter between the meat and the skin. To use for steak, place desired thickness of slices atop steaks right after they come from the grill. Let butter melt before serving meat. You can also use this on corn, other vegetables, and bread.


ALTERNATE SAVORY BUTTER

1 C unsalted butter, softened
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbls finely chopped fresh oregano leaves
1 Tbls finely chopped fresh chives
1Tbls finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare as for basic savory butter.

 

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Swedesboro NJ
October 21, 2020, 3:31 pm
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