It doesn’t take much to spruce up a refrigerator staple into a chic accompaniment. Take butter, for example. We all know it, use it and love it, but probably don’t tend to think of it as the star of a meal. Shelby reminds us below that dressing up butter is delicious and fun and the reason you should raise your hand to bring the bread for your next potluck. -Maggie
Have you ever been invited to a potluck dinner and somehow been assigned the task of bringing the bread? For many, this would be a huge relief–avoiding the trouble of planning a dessert or a leafy salad that will satisfy a crowd–but for people like me (and probably you, if you’re reading this site), this assignment might actually bring on a bit of hand wringing.
Of course, you could buy (or even make) really excellent bread and great quality butter. But where’s the creativity in that? How will you flex those culinary muscles of yours? Oh, but wait… there are just so many things you can do with that butter!
This was how I was first introduced to compound butter–a friend of mine offered to bring the bread and butter to accompany a dinner we were attending. The herb butter she brought knocked my socks off and truly brought the meal to the next level. Soon, we were adding that butter to pretty much everything at the table. Healthy? Not especially. Delicious? YES.
As it turns out, compound butter is extremely simple to make, and the combinations are endless: herbs, spices, citrus, fruit and the list goes on. Compound butter is obviously a great addition to crusty bread, but it can also be a fantastic topping for fresh radishes, which is how we enjoyed them on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
We won’t stop there, though. The lemon-mint and red scallion-honey butters that I made this weekend will liven up almost any dish. I plan to use up our extras by tossing it into pasta, potatoes, or spring peas all week long.
Take it to the next level:
While I used little salt and pepper bowls for my compound butter, the recipe can easily be doubled for a ramekin-sized serving. I like the look of the little bowls, but there are ways to be quite creative with the presentation. Using parchment paper, you can roll the butter into a log, chill it, and then cut it into little rounds. This technique works especially well for making herbed butter toppers for steak or other meat. If you have small molds, like leaves or flowers, you could also experiment with compound butter shapes. Just plan ahead: it will take about two hours to chill the butter long enough to make clean slices.
Now that I’ve started, I’m not sure I can stop experimenting. I’d love to try a strawberry-mint sweet butter for biscuits, but I’m also intrigued by the idea of topping a steak with a savory butter mixed with blue cheese and parsley.
Tell us, have you tried making compound butter before? What should we try next? What are your favorite combinations?
Compound Butter: Lemon-Mint and Red Scallion-Honey
Ingredients:For the Lemon-Mint Butter
- ½ a stick unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest (from half a lemon)
- Pinch of sea salt
- ½ a stick unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon minced red scallion (shallot would be a great swap here)*
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Pinch of sea salt
Directions:Making the Lemon-Mint Butter
- Allow the butter to come to room temperature (it takes about an hour out of the refrigerator for it to soften).
- Add the butter, chopped mint and zest to a bowl. Use a small scraper or back of a spoon to mix together well. Scrape into a small bowl.
- Press the mixture into the bowl and level it off with scraper or with a butter knife. Chill.
- Before serving, sprinkle a bit of sea salt on top.
- Follow the directions above, but if the taste is too intense, add about a tablespoon of white vinegar to the minced scallion or shallot and put aside for about 20 minutes to temper the bitterness. Rinse and drain the scallion and allow time for it to dry off a bit– it will be hard to combine with the butter if too wet.
Eat Boutique is an award-winning shop and story-driven recipe site created by Maggie Battista–shop girl, writer, author, and creative business coach. After hosting pop-up markets for 25,000+ guests, Maggie is working to open her first permanent Eat Boutique–a food-retail concept space with a new way to the very best food–as well as coaching women in food to reach life and business goals. Her second cookbook, A New Way to Food: 100 Recipes to Encourage a Healthy Relationship with Food, Nourish Your Beautiful Body, and Celebrate Real Wellness for Life, will be published by Roost Books on February 5, 2019.