Keep a log of butter blends in the fridge or freezer and you’ll always have a handy garnish or interesting toast topping within reach...
Flavoured butters take minutes to make but they're so useful, and will add a new slant to favourite dishes. Stir the butter into veg, use to top meats or fish, add to soups and sauces for luxury and sheen, or spread on brown bread to serve with smoked salmon. The possibilities are endless, but the basic technique is the same. Bring unsalted butter to room temperature (if you are in a hurry, cut into small pieces and leave while you prepare other ingredients - by the time you need it, the butter will be soft). Beat in all the ingredients, shape into a small log, then chill or freeze. Once cold, wrap in cling film. Slice off discs as you need them. Flavoured butters will keep for a week in the fridge, or two months in the freezer.
Our favourite flavours and how to make them...
1. Blue cheese & sage butter
Use 250g unsalted butter and mix in sea salt flakes and paprika, plus 75g crumbled stilton or other strong blue cheese and 1-2 tbsp chopped sage. A super-tasty way to infuse steak or pork chops with a taste of Christmas, or even spread on toast for a late-night snack.
2. Red pepper & smoked paprika butter
Chop 1 roasted red pepper from a jar, 2 tbsp thyme and 2 tsp smoked mild paprika and beat into 250g unsalted butter with sea salt and black pepper. Lovely with chicken, on an omelette, or use to perk up everyday meals over the festive period.
3. Herb butter
Mix 250g unsalted butter, a good pinch of sea salt flaked, plenty of coarsely ground black pepper, grated lemon zest, 1/2 garlic clove, crushed, and 3-4 tbsp chopped tarragon or parsley, or 1-2 tbsp chopped thyme, sage or rosemary (it's best to limit the mix to 2 herbs). Great with meats, fish and veg.
4. Umami butter
Combine 250g unsalted butter with a good pinch of sea salt flakes, 1 tsp umami paste, pepper or dust (from large supermarkets and delis). Umami seasonings - which give a rich, meaty flavour, reminiscent of mushrooms, Parmesan and soy sauce - vary, so taste carefully. Use on meats and veg to add savouriness.
Do you have a favourite butter blend? Share your tips and recipes in the comments below...