I thought we could do a dive into compound butters today. Compound butters are a lazy cook's secret weapon. They're a way to add intense flavor to preparations without a whole lot of extra effort. They also freeze really well, earning them bonus points as far as I'm concerned. Thaw, stir, and you've got a powerful flavor accent at your disposal. To make a compound butter you incorporate ingredients into a butter base. As much as I love good butter, I also can't help but constantly ask myself - what can I add to this butter to make it extra awesome? I've included a few recent favorites here, and I'll also mention a few things to think about for when you set out to try out your own ideas.
Saffron Date Butter (recipe below):
Scallion Dill Butter (recipe below):
Garlic Green Olive Butter (recipe below):
Lemon Miso Butter (recipe below):
Keep in mind, compound butters are a great way to use up smaller quantities of herbs, spices, the odd clove of garlic, the bottom of the jar of sun-dried tomatoes, or capers. Melted, many are great on your favorite pancakes or homemade popcorn. They also freeze really well. I recommend freezing in small quantities, so you can easily pull just enough for a couple of days use. One other tip - concentrated ingredients with little moisture work best. For example roasted strawberries versus fresh strawberries. Orange zest versus orange segments. Have fun! -h
Compound Butter - Adding Things to Butter to Make it Extra Awesome
Lemon Miso Butter:
Use a food processor to whip 1 stick (4 oz.) of room temperature unsalted butter until fluffy. Pulse in 1 tablespoon miso, zest of one lemon (or yuzu), 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon ground toasted cumin. Taste and adjust if needed. Fold in the sesame seeds. Great on: brown rice bowls, roasted delicate squash, sautéed vegetables, roasted tomatoes...
Saffron Date Butter:
Add 1 pinch of saffron threads in 1/2 teaspoon almond extract, allow to sit for five minutes. Use a food processor to whip 1 stick (4 oz.) of room temperature unsalted butter until fluffy. Pulse in 1 tablespoon honey, and 1/8 teaspoon fine grain sea salt. Add the saffron-almond mixture, scraping down the sides of the processor bowl regularly. Pulse in five plump dates, leaving them a bit chunky. Great on: hot oatmeal, flatbreads, sautéed greens...
Garlic Green Olive Butter:
Use a food processor to whip 1 stick (4 oz.) of room temperature unsalted butter until fluffy. Pulse in 1 large clove of peeled garlic, and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Start with 1/8 teaspoon, but add more if you like. Pulse in a dozen plump green olives that you have pitted, rinsed, and dried in a clean towel. I like to squeeze the olives between my palms to rid them of as much olive water as possible before pulsing them in. Great on: pasta, polenta, a wide range of vegetables, it's easy magic.
Scallion Dill Butter:
Use a food processor to whip 1 stick (4 oz.) of room temperature unsalted butter until fluffy. Pulse in a scant 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, a large clove of garlic (or 1 head of trimmed green garlic), 2 scallions, and a handful of fresh dill you've de-stemmed. Pulse well here, until everything blends together into a vibrant, electric green butter. Great on: just about everything - grilled asparagus, to finish sautéed mushrooms, perfect on corn later in the year, or cornbread ;)....biscuits, polenta, rice bowls, potatoes, egg salad...
Roasted Strawberry Ginger Butter:
This is a bonus butter - I didn't include a photo here, but I make it on occasion during strawberry season using strawberries I've roasted and cooled. Use a food processor to whip 1 stick (4 oz.) of room temperature unsalted butter until fluffy. Transfer to a bowl and old in 1/8 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, 3 tablespoons chopped candied ginger, 15 chopped, candied pecans, and a couple of teaspoons of runny honey. Stir until everything comes together, and then loosely fold in about 1/4 cup roasted strawberries. Great with: brunch.
Prep time: 5 minutes