Butter Variations

Experienced chefs know a little trick that you might want to add to your repertoire -- flavored butters. You can freeze different butter variations and bring them out for yummy toppings on grilled fish or meat or for a tasty and unique bread topping.

Creating a flavored butter is simple. All you do is combine the ingredients with an electric mixer, blender or food processor until thoroughly blended and smooth. Ingredients will include butter or margarine and added foods and flavorings.

Versatile butter variations

The four recipes below are tried and true, but you can also experiment with other combinations. The one cup of butter or margarine used for each recipe should be set at room temperature before mixing.

  • Citrus butter: Add two tablespoons thawed frozen orange juice concentrate (or fresh squeezed), one tablespoon of freshly grated lime peel and a pinch of ground nutmeg.
  • Pesto butter: Combine 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil, 1/4 cup finely chopped walnut pieces, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese and one teaspoon minced garlic. (You can also substitute fresh spinach leaves combined with dried basil leaves.)
  • Curry butter: Add 1+1/2 tablespoons curry powder, one tablespoon lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger.
  • Avocado butter: Take half of an 8-ounce ripe avocado that's been peeled and pitted, and cut into small pieces. Add one tablespoon lime juice, one tablespoon chopped parsley, one teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic and a drop or two of hot-pepper sauce to taste.

Once you've blended your preferred ingredients, you can create a homemade butter log by placing a 16-inch long piece of plastic wrap on a cookie sheet. Begin two inches in from one of the long sides and scrape the butter mixture along the length of the wrap to within two inches of the other end. Chill until just firm enough to handle and then shape the mixture into a 12-inch long, thin log. Roll it up, twist the wrap ends to seal the package and refrigerate two hours until firm (for use right away) or freeze it (for later use).

Serving is simple. Cut off as many half-inch thick slices as you need. If the log is frozen, simply warm your knife under hot water first. Then re-wrap the log and return it to the freezer for future use. Bring the slices to room temperature before placing them on top of your hot meat dish or warm bread.

If you don't want to make a large batch right away, you can also make flavored butters in smaller portions for one meal. Experiment by reducing the ingredient amounts. Turn ordinary meals into something special when you discover a few different butter variations that your family loves.

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