One of my culinary shortcuts is called compound butter. Well, truthfully, just plain ‘ol butter is my shortcut to a better dish, but I want to show you how easy it is to make some fancy schmancy butter with some spices and fresh herbs.
Compound butter is just butter + stuff mixed in. Though calling it “compound butter” vs. just “butter + stuff mixed in” means you have to pay $3 more for it at the store. What a marketing gimmick! Seriously, though, compound butter is just flavored butter, and the possibilities are endless. Some of my favorites are:
butter + honey + cinnamon for toast
butter + chopped cranberries + orange zest for muffins
butter + garlic + basil for vegetables, shrimp (anything really)
All you have to do is mix softened butter with your choice of herbs/spices/sugars and you’re done. But I’ve found that shaping the compound butter into logs makes for easy storage (for the refrigerator or freezer), simple dividing, and an attractive little gift.
Here’s what I do:
Here I’m making some garlic-parsley butter for garlic bread. Take a stick of room temperature butter, a tablespoon of finely minced parsley, a garlic clove smushed through a garlic press, and just a generous pinch of salt (only if you’re using unsalted butter).
Grab a piece of parchment paper and lay it on your cutting board. I find that using a slightly damp cutting board helps the parchment stick, so that it doesn’t curl back up and over the butter (it’s a pain in the butt trying to keep that paper flat!).
Okay, now use your hands to roll up that butter. Don’t worry about getting it perfect; I’ll show you a trick in a second.
Here’s my secret weapon: a $1.50 sushi rolling mat. This mat helps me roll the butter into a tight, compact, even-shaped log. Roll the mat up partway.
Then use your hands like above to tug and pull back to tighten the log. My left hand is tugging and tightening the roll and my right hand is pulling in the opposite direction to give the mat tension.
Once you’ve tugged and evened out the log, open up the sushi mat.
Twist the ends of the parchment paper and refrigerate (or freeze).
Once the log has stiffened up, it’s ready to use! If I’m only using a bit of the butter, I like to cut them into “coins.”
Just slice right through the parchment paper.
Then pull away the paper! You can use this butter to saute vegetables, add to a sauce, slather for garlic bread, top a freshly grilled steak or mix with pasta.
As I mentioned, these rolls make fantastic gifts—just tie a little ribbon on the ends!
Jaden Hair is a food writer, television personality, and food photographer based in Tampa Bay, Florida. Find more of her recipes in her blog, Steamy Kitchen, where you can also read more about Jaden’s new book, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook, and the rave reviews it’s received!