Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Summertime Herb Butter

While I look after my perennial garden, my husband is busy tending to the vegetables and herbs each summer.  We haven't yet created a space for a vegetable garden in the ground, but he does have an impressive collection of pots bursting with tomatoes, squash, peppers, and cucumbers.  He's also been reminding me to use up the herbs that are quickly growing larger by the day.  I find myself grabbing basil to top our pizzas and snipping chives for our potatoes.  This year we have thyme, basil, sage, parsley, and chives.  I thought I'd create an herb butter to have on hand and continue to put some of these herbs to good use.  

If you've never made herb butter, it's a simple and easy way to add a big flavor burst to your dishes, transforming the ordinary into something special.  It keeps well in the fridge for about a week, and in the freezer for a month or so.  An important tip is to make sure you start with room temperature butter.  It will be much easier to work with.  This herb butter is really just a method you could take in lots of different directions.  

In my version, I've added parsley, thyme, chives, and sage.  Dill would also work nicely.  I use  Kate's homemade butter, made in Maine.  It's already salted with sea salt.  If you use butter that's unsalted, you might want to add a little salt to taste.   Once the herbs are incorporated, I form it into a disc and transfer it to the refrigerator or freezer to chill.  Just take it out and let it come to room temperature before using.  From there, you can cut slices to add to vegetables, rice, or to top soups.  I like to add it to smashed baby potatoes with a little milk.  You could also add it to your favorite warm bread, the bread here really just acting as a vehicle to smother this tasty butter.

~Summertime Herb Butter Recipe~

1 stick good quality butter
scant 1/4 cup fresh herbs, (parsley, thyme, sage, chives) finely chopped
sheet of plastic wrap or parchment paper

Finely chop mixture of herbs.  In a bowl, combine herb mixture with butter using a spoon.  Once incorporated, drop by tablespoons onto the edge of a sheet of plastic wrap or parchment paper into a single row.  Using your hands, smooth the butter, filling in any gaps.  Create a cylinder shaped log.  Roll the plastic wrap/parchment paper around the log.  Transfer to refrigerator or freezer. 

We smothered this summertime herb butter over our grilled corn last night.  We got 14 ears in our CSA share this week!  We grilled it all up and I transferred lots to the freezer for safe keeping.  

My favorite way to use this herb butter?  On a delicious loaf of artisan bread from When Pigs Fly.  They just opened their new location in Kittery, Maine that has a wood-fired pizzeria in addition to their shop.  I made a trip up there over the weekend.  You will not have better bread.  All their breads are made from scratch each day in small batches, contain no preservatives, and are made with unbleached flour and grains.  They have locations in MA, NH, and ME.  I always bring home a savory and sweet loaf.  This time I brought back a mushroom, onion, and herb loaf... a perfect match for this butter.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ooh wow, I always see herb butter at fancy(ish) restaurants, with a slab of it melting on top of steaks or for the fresh bread... how cool! It sounds so versatile.

And on another note, I'm so jealous of you and your CSA corn! I've been eyeing that roasted corn with manchego and lime recipe from the latest issue of Bon Appetit. Now I'm really wishing I belonged to a CSA... haha!