A Quartet of Compound Butters

A Quartet of Compound Butters Recipe

I saw an old painter's palette at a flea market the other day smeared with vibrant shades of sunset oranges and cornflower blues. Later that day Wayne and I were sharing a gelato in North Beach and he was telling me about a gelataria that serves a sampler on a painter's palette, six tiny scoops for seven dollars - your choice of flavors. It all got me thinking about color. I got home and had a few sticks of butter in the refrigerator and decided to make a spectrum of compound butters. Compound butter can bring an explosive burst of flavor to a recipe and I don't use them nearly enough. My goal was to create butters that vibrant, colorful, and unique - I didn't want to make any I had tried in the past. I ended up making the following flavors: Dry Desert Lime Butter, Raw Serrano Butter, Dehydrated Strawberry Butter, and Smoked Paprika Butter.

Dry Desert Lime Compound Butter: I've been playing around quite a bit lately using tea as a seasoning. Many times I'll grind up tea leaves in a mortar and pestle and use it the way you might use a pepper. The fragrance that comes off the ground leaves is wonderful and brings an unexpected element to many preparations. Depending on the tea I am using this can range from smoky to floral to fresh and bright. In this case I choose a dried lime tisane (or herbal tea) instead. There is something haunting, vibrant and ancient in the taste of dried lime and I thought it might lend itself nicely to a compound butter for use on a range of foods like: sweet potatoes (mashed/roasted), grilled corn, as a spread on sandwiches, etc.

Dehydrated Strawberry Compound Butter: These little guys come in tubs that are sold at many natural food stores. You can also get raspberries, blueberries, blueberries, and one of my tiniest friends, Julian, loves to snack on the peas. Chop up the strawberries, whip them into the butter and you get a textured, color-flecked spread perfect for pancakes, toast, muffins and the like. The strawberries on on the very tart side of sweet so I sweetened this one up with a bit of sugar - I used Florida Crystals because I didn't want a browner sugar to impact its bright color.

Raw Serrano Compound Butter: This one is for the cornbreads of the world. It has a little heat and a lot of flavor. I used 2 medium serrano chiles, but you can scale up of down on the chile scale depending on your tastes. A pretty pale green butter flecked with dark green freckles I'm going to use it on crepes, and corn, and to toss fresh summer shell beans, and for pasta....really versatile. I think a great variation on this one would be to add roasted garlic and pan-toast the chiles before blending them in.

Smoked Paprika Compound Butter: Fragrant, delicious, and a stunning rusty-orange color a little of this butter goes the distance. It will lend itself nicely to brown rice, certain kabobs, sandwiches, corn soup (I'm setting myself up for a corn bender), toasted artisan breads, and zucchini muffins.

A couple other ideas I had in mind but didn't get around to:
- toasted, shredded nori with sesame seeds
- dried fig and Balinese long pepper
- harissa

Compound Butter: (clockwise) Serrano, Smoked Paprika, Strawberry, Desert Lime

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A Quartet of Compound Butters

These recipes make batches of roughly 1/4 cup each. Feel free to double or triple batches depending on the quantity you are after.

Dry Desert Lime Compound Butter Recipe

4 tablespoons unsalted organic butter, room temperature
1 or 2 Numi Desert Lime tea bags (depending on how strong you want it), cut open and the contents ground in a mortar and pestle
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

Combine in a small bowl and refrigerate.

Dehydrated Strawberry Compound Butter Recipe

4 tablespoons unsalted organic butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon organic cane sugar (I used Florida Crystals)
1/3 cup dehydrated organic strawberries, minced

Combine in a small bowl and refrigerate.

Raw Serrano Compound Butter Recipe

4 tablespoons unsalted organic butter, room temperature
2 serrano chiles, deveined and seeded, loosely chopped
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

Combine in a small bowl and puree with a handblender until the chiles are fully incorporated. Refrigerate.

Smoked Paprika Compound Butter Recipe

4 tablespoons unsalted organic butter, room temperature
1 - 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

Combine in a small bowl and refrigerate.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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