Sunday, May 11, 2008

May 11: Compound Butters of All Persuasion

I have been just a little boring lately, I know. I am finding being unemployed just a tiny bit more taxing than I anticipated. I know, poor me, right? But there's all these great meals to cook, though, and suddenly I have time to do it. I've been baking bread. I've been doing all of the running-around that had to be worked around somehow when I had a job; including quitting the bank that I have loathed for the past almost-three years and finding a new one, getting all of our accounts switched around. The upshot of all of this activity is that I am thoroughly exhausted by 9 PM. And no, I'm not pregnant, so as it turns out, all I am is a very old lady.

I will say this though: today, for Mother's Day, we went to Eamon's in Old Town Alexandria. And I ate two battered, deep-fried sausages for lunch. And they were just as good as you would think that two battered, deep-fried sausages would be. Better, even. And I don't even care how fattening they were. They were fricking amazing.

I meant to write more about compound butters yesterday, but Blogger ate my post. I hope it was delicious.

A compound butter is not complicated, but it's a thing of beauty. Fat, which is mostly what butter is, is a great vehicle for flavor. Fat picks up flavors easily and transfers them to other things. Also, fat tastes good. Compound butter is butter mixed with other things.

Compound butters are great on almost anything. Vegetables, steaks, fish, pasta, even popcorn. That one from yesterday, that cinnamon-honey butter? On a waffle? Oh mama. A lot of high-end groceries like Fresh Fields and Whole Foods are selling their own compound butters now, and they're excellent, but you don't have to be limited by what they have available.

All you need for a compound butter is softened, room-temperature butter (I like salted butter for compound butter, just because the salt makes the other flavors pop a little) and some other ingredients of your choice. Here are a few compound butters and some suggestions for what to do with them.
Here are a few of my favorites, and my favorite ways to eat them.

Compound Butter

1 stick salted butter (or 1 stick unsalted, and 1/8 teaspoon table salt), softened to room temperature
Other ingredients of your choice (see below)

Beat the butter with a fork until it's light and fluffy, then work in the other ingredients until incorporated. Store the butter in a small, tightly covered container in the refrigerator, or roll it tightly into a log in plastic wrap, store it in the fridge, and cut off rounds as needed.

Sour Cream & Chive Compound Butter
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons finely chopped or snipped fresh chives
Great on baked potatoes

Cheddar-Bacon-Scallion Compound Butter
1/8 cup finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons crumbled, crisp-fried bacon
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions (white and light-green parts only)
Potatoes of any kind--especially in twice-baked potatoes

Basil-Red Pepper Compound Butter
1/8 cup chopped roasted jarred red peppers
1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
Tossed with cheese tortellini

Garlic-Herb Compound Butter
2 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press
2 tablespoons fresh finely chopped herbs of your choice--try parsley, thyme, and sweet basil
Spread on toasted country bread for easy garlic bread

Chipotle Compound Butter
1 chipotle pepper in adobo
1 tablespoon adobo sauce (from chipotle can)
Spread on outside of chicken quesadillas before grilling

Cilantro-Lime Compound Butter
4 tablespoons lime juice
4 tablespoons finely-chopped cilantro
Melt over grilled fish--mahi-mahi, grouper, and red snapper would all be good

Lemon-Pepper Compound Butter
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon coarse-ground black pepper
Tossed with angel-hair pasta and sauteed shrimp

Gorgonzola-Worcestershire Compound Butter
1/8 cup crumbled gorgonzola or other strong bleu cheese
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
Melt over grilled steak

Sun-dried Tomato-Parmesan Compound Butter
3 tablespoons oil-packed, finely minced tomatoes
4 tablespoons finely grated parmesan cheese
Spread on white bread for grilled cheese sandwiches
Or, tossed with roasted broccoli

1 comment:

Annie K. Nodes said...

Bacon cheddar scallion butter! You're killing me, but in the best possible way. Gobble gobble gobble.