Above: Tommy Bahamas Tropical Cafe serves hot, freshly baked pull-apart loaves with sweet cream butter whipped with honey, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.
The possible combinations for compound butter is confounding. Lashings of sweet and savoury spreads for breads, vegetables, seafood, poultry, beef. Herbs, spices, nuts, chilis, sugars, cheese, fruit, dried mushrooms… literally millions of tiny tweaks you can create to invent your own maitre d’ hotel butter.
We adore the idea of sitting down to afternoon tea with friends with a steaming pot of brew and slathering freshly baked scones with strawberry butter.
Or the dreamy cinnamon-nutmeg-honey number we melted on hot sourdough at Tommy Bahamas. So civilized.
Ditto for a lemon-garlic-thyme butter spread under the prised skin of a plump chicken for roasting. Gorgonzola butter melting a top perfectly grilled steak. Dried porcini mushroom and parsley atop a fancy burger. Wasabi pea butter with salmon. Chipotle-bacon butter on a baked potato. Fresh serrano chili and lime glistening on corn.
While we know our adoration for compound butter is dangerous and potentially deadly for our skinny jeans, a little goes a long way.
Shaping your butter mixture into a log and refrigerating until it’s solid enables to you slice off a disc or two for company.
Why we didn’t snap up that baby madeleine pan is beyond us. Imagine little scallop-shaped pats of compound butter for guests. Butter molds can be found at flea markets and good kitchen shops, but the thought of acquiring yet more gadgetry makes us weary. Be creative with what you have. Roll semi-hardened balls of butter down a cheese grater or rasp for texture.
Although, we are also dreaming of lining an elegant ramekin with plastic wrap, filling with soft butter until it solidifies into the perfect shape before removing and sealing tightly in a freezer bag. Thaw by popping the butter back into a room temperature ramekin in time for company.
Neiman Marcus Strawberry Butter
A lovely accompaniment to Neiman Marcus Monkey Bread, below.
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup strawberry preserves
Whip butter in a bowl with electric mixer until fluffy.
Fold in strawberry preserves.
Return to refrigerator and allow butter to solidify.
Neiman Marcus Monkey Bread
“This recipe was the late Helen Corbitt’s contribution of the Mariposa restaurant when Neiman Marcus opened at the Galleria 35 years ago.”
4 small loaves
1 1/2 compressed yeast cakes
1 cup milk
4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup butter, melted plus melted butter for dipping
3 1/2 cups flour, sifted
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place milk in heavy bottomed pan on low heat.
Stir occasionally until small bubbles appear around the edges of the pan and milk is just hot (do not boil) Remove from heat; let cool slightly.
Place yeast and scalded milk in a large bowl.
When yeast is dissolved, stir in sugar, salt and butter.
Add flour; beat well.
Cover and allow dough to rise to almost double (approximately 45 minutes).
After dough has risen, turn out onto lightly floured work surface.
Punch down and roll out to 1/4 inch thickness.
Cut into 2″ diamond shaped pieces.
Dip each piece in melted butter.
Arrange in a 4″ pie pan, 4 or 5 overlapping pieces per loaf.
Allow to rise for 1/2 hour.
Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until brown.
Remove from oven and brush with more of the melted butter.
Miso Butter for vegetables and beef
4 Tbsp salted butter, softened
5 Tbsp white miso
1 1/2 Tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
Alton Brown’s Compound Butter
1 pound butter
3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
1 tablespoon thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon sage, chopped
1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped
Parchment paper or plastic wrap
Chop the butter into uniform chunks using the dough scraper.
Place the oil into the food processor and add the chives. Process until the chives are finely chopped. Add the remaining herbs and blend until the herbs have colored the oil. Using the whisk attachment, whip the butter in the mixer work bowl at medium speed until it softens and lightens in color, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Add the herb oil to the butter and beat for another 2 minutes until oil is fully incorporated.
Remove butter from bowl and spoon onto parchment paper or plastic wrap. Roll into a log using the edge of a baking sheet to form a tight log. Chill for 2 hours before serving.
Anchovies aren’t for the faint of heart. But imagine a Caesar salad-style butter, all lemon,garlic, parmesan and black pepper goodness oozing across a grilled chicken or salmon salad.
Or you can follow Nero Wolf’s lead and fry bread triangles in anchovy butter. (8 anchovy fillets 1 juice of 1 lemon -or-
1 oz cognac 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley 1 cup sweet softened butter
•8 tablespoons softened butter
•4 salted anchovy fillets, finely chopped
•2 cloves garlic, finely grated with a Microplane
From Lucy Waverman: Anchovy bread works well with a platter of hors d’oeuvre as well as alongside steak. Substitute 2 tablespoons of anchovy paste for the anchovies if you prefer.
8 finely chopped anchovies
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Slice baguette lengthwise into 2 and cut each half into long triangular strips. Combine anchovies, garlic and melted butter and brush bread with anchovy butter on the cut side. Sprinkle with Parmesan.
Place baguette on grill and grill for 2 minutes or until the bread is browned and parmesan is melting. Serve one slice with each steak serving.