One Thing Better than Buttah’


garlic bread compound butter herb baguette thyme rosemary coriander oregano fresh chopped homemade italian food snack tasty

Cape Cod Entertaining is about knowing where to go and what to do when friends and family come to visit.  We like to entertain at home, generally we keep it simple so we can have fun too!  We are fortunate to have a home on an ocean inlet (we call them ponds on the Cape) and it makes for the perfect backdrop for outdoor summer parties.

For those new to my column, I’m the GM here at CCB Media and I love to entertain with my grill-man husband, Stephen.  I assigned myself the best second job possible: writing about entertaining.

We love to cook fish year round, but most of all we like to cook it on the grill.   There’s the simple grill the swordfish or salmon right on the grates with olive oil and there’s the plank option for more delicate fishes, adding a delightful cedar, alder or maple essence.  We place delicate fish on top of vegetables, wine and herbs, wrap them in heavy foil and steam them on the grill.  We put the clams directly on the grill and remove them to toss in a bowl of seasoned bread crumbs.

They’re all great ideas, but there’s one thing that always takes the effort to the next level.

Butter.  Yes “Butttaaaaah”

My husband always says the reason I like fish or meat in a restaurant is not so much the fish or meat, but the butter they put on it.   The good news is for those watching their diets, a good butter with lots of flavor means a little can go a long way!

I’m not talking about a pat of butter, I’m talking about flavored butter.  They call it compound butter and it’s not only fun to make and keep in the fridge or freezer, but it makes all the options for fish (or anything) taste even better.  I’ve heard it’s been called the lazy cook’s secret weapon but I prefer the “Keep it Simple” cook’s secret weapon.

Compound butter is what it sounds like, butter “smooshed” with any of a variety of herbs, seasonings, vegetables, dried fruits and even meat (think anchovies, clams, cheese, bacon or sardines.)

How to:

Think of everything compound starting with a stick of butter at room temperature and approximately a teaspoon to a tablespoon of additions.  Dried powder spices use less, fresh herbs can be more.  Cheeses and fruits more. Taste test!

Once you have it thoroughly smooshed and tasted, next is readying it for serving or cooking. Either roll the compound butter into a log and wrap it in plastic wrap to store in the freezer and slice as you need it, or whip it into a spread for serving.  Let the ingredients spend some time getting to know each other for at least a day before you serve it as the flavors intensify.

Here’s some savory ideas I’ve tried:

  1. Rosemary and Shallot
  2. Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil
  3. Anchovy and Chive
  4. Blue Cheese and Chive (potatoes or steak)
  5. Roasted clams and garlic  (crusty bread or fish)

For a different twist, you can also go sweet:

  1. Cinnamon and brown sugar  (french toast)
  2. Chai: cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and brown sugar.
  3. Miso and Lemon
  4. Dates, nuts, nutmeg

Or fruity works too.

  1. Roasted Strawberries, orange zest, pecans  (waffles)
  2. Roasted Blueberries, lemon zest, walnuts
  3. Ginger, Lime, Cilantro

Convenience

There are more good reasons to make compound butters, use up left over herbs or olives, some extra roasted garlic or the last of the dates.  The convenience of something pre-made that makes a dish extra special and as close as your freezer is all I needed to get started!

Serving

When not using compound butter in the kitchen, forming the butter into rolls or sticks makes them a beautiful addition to the table when serving bread.  Or serving several flavors whipped and served in ramekins is another great touch.

Tips

Concentrated flavors do best.  Zest vs. lemon, Roasted vs. Fresh.  Fresh herbs vs. dry.  Butter is your canvas…the additions are your paint!

Remember, if you can put butter on it, it will be better with Compound Butter!  See the gallery for basic steps and ideas!  Here are some recipes:

Spiced Chai Butter

  • ⅓ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ teaspoon golden brown sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon each: ground cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger

Ginger Lemon Herb

  • 2 limes
  • ¼ pound (1 stick) butter
  • 1 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
  •  fresh cilantro
  •  Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Lemon Miso Butter:

  • Use a food processor to whip 1 stick of room temperature unsalted butter until fluffy.
  • Pulse in 1 tablespoon miso
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground toasted cumin.

Blue Cheese Butter:

  • 6 ounces of butter at room temperature (softened)
  • 1/2 pound Bleu cheese of your choice, crumbled (try a fairly strong blue cheese, maybe a Roquefort or Stilton)
  • 3/4 teaspoon Worcestershire
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • chives

Roasted Strawberry Butter:

  • One Stick unsalted butter room temperature
  • Roast ¾ C. Strawberries on a cookie sheet for 15 min at 375 degrees and cool
  • Roast ¼ C Pecans the same way
  • 1 T. orange zest
  • Whip together all cooled ingredients with the butter.

Roll for easy freezing or refrigerating – slice and use as needed

Use a cake decorating bag to create a beautiful table presentation

Just enough extra flavor to bring out the best of salmon

Corn loves compound butter!

Ready to add to a hot steak or seafood

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