One thing I love is taking something store-bought and adding a homemade touch that takes it from ordinary to extraordinary.
Now, I know embellished butters have been around for quite some time - it's no cutting edge discovery - but when I tried it the first time a couple of weeks ago it was as if someone had introduced me to a new, magical world of cooking.
Like recently disgraced cooking queen Paula Deen, I love me my butt-A. Unlike her however, I know self-control and best practice when cooking with it. I've always added a tablespoon here or there when making a particularly saucy dinner or bowl of mashed potatoes, but there was always an added step of seasoning and trying to get the two parts to mesh properly. Over-season, and you've got to add more butter, which, as I've said, I try to avoid.
The great thing about flavored butter is that it's PACKED with natural, healthy flavors. I've used everything from fresh herbs like parsley and thyme, to diced sun dried tomato, to garlic and shallot. No matter the combination though, there are two results.
Why Flavored Butter?
Firstly, I am less tempted and actually do use less. Because it's so packed with flavor, I'm not looking for more - this is especially true when I spread it on some toast. Too much butter and the taste goes into an overdrive your mouth just can't handle. When I cook with it, the butter has infused so much with the ingredients that simply melting it in the meal will add a pop of flavor in seconds.
Another great thing? You won't believe how much flavored butter cuts prep time. I can't remember the last time I cooked a meal without garlic and shallot when using butter. Since those ingredients are already chopped up and mixed in with the butter I simply slice off a chunk, put it in my pan and I've already cut my chop time out of the prep.
Now you know why I'm such a fan!
Give this DIY idea a try at home. If you're a hostess it will make your life instantly easier and if you're not -- it makes for a fantastic gift to give the hostess in your life.
Oh, and another great thing? The cheapest of butters taste better when you add some homemade embellishments to them, so you'll save money! I buy the 1 pound unsalted box at Trader Joe's and go to town.
To Make Flavored Butter
Let your butter come to room temperature. Once it does, mix in whatever ingredients you want to add with a fork. After it's combined, transfer to some wax paper, roll it up and set it in the fridge.
My Top 3 Flavor Combinations to Try
Garlic, shallot, chive, parsley
Parsley, thyme, rosemary, oregano
Sun-dried tomato, Parmesan cheese, chive
Pick up inexpensive vessels at a local drugstore and fill with your butter. Allow to set, embellish with a ribbon and gift to your hostess!