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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Compound Butters 101!

I was bad and bought butter before my holiday, figuring I wanted to have eggs during the week, and knowing I can't afford to go out for them. And eggs, as even the most amateur of foodies knows, love butter. Not oil, not margarine; butter.

So now I have too much butter.

But I've gotten inspired, and I've made three different compound butters out of a pound. Nice!

Compound butters, of which the most famous is "garlic butter", are butters made of a variety of ingredients and used as flavour enhancers.

I made two savoury and one sweet. The sundried tomato-basil butter I've had before and love, but the toasted pecan-cinnamon butter is new and to die for, and the lemon-thyme-parsley butter will be a verdict rendered upon trying on fish or something, but it looks good and passes the licked-finger taste-test.

Steff's Toasted Pecan-Cinnamon-Honey Butter

(I'm sure there's millions of variations of this, but this was what I fucked around with and chucked in a blender, and I'm thrilled I did.)

2.5 tablespoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup butter

Toast the pecans and cinnamon over medium heat until aromatic and the cinnamon just barely begins to darken in colour.

Allow to cool for a minute or two while you get the honey, sugar, and butter ready in your food processor. Puree all ingredients until smooth.

Me, I'll mix this with pecans and candied ginger and add to wild rice, or spread on breakfast toast with a banana in the mornings, spread on pancakes, or use for frying crepes in.

Sundried Tomato-Basil Butter

1/2 cup sundried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and oil reserved
1 huge bunch of fresh basil (about 2 cups, not chopped, with some stems is okay)
3 cloves of garlic, smashed
3/4 cup butter
1/4 cup sundried tomato oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Puree all ingredients until really smooth. This, as will any butter, will keep for 2-3 months, if not much longer, in a cold fridge.

Try stuffing slits of a baguette with this butter, wrapping in foil, and baking till it melts-- it's is incredible with creamy soups-- or using it to make scrambled eggs with (I throw leftover asparagus, some shallot, and red pepper into a saute pan with some of the butter, then a couple eggs, and scramble... amazing!!) or using it to saute potatoes in, whatever... it's all awesome.

This butter is what my brother asks for every birthday now -- he uses it in everything.

Lemon-Parsley-Thyme Butter

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup thyme leaves (plus tender young stalks is okay)
1/4 cup flat-leaf/Italian parsley
zest of 2 lemons
3 tablespoons olive oil

Puree in a food processor until, well, pureed!

It'll keep for oodles too. I plan to use mine on fish with a couple slices of lemon, baked in the oven, and served with a salad and fresh parsley sprinkled over. Things like that.