Herb and spice butters

Herb and spice butters looks at imaginative ways to use probably the oldest spread since Adam. Avoid at all costs the margarines that consist of hydrogenated fat; it's positively dangerous.

And that is most margarines except for some very special ones that are made from cold pressed oils; nothing wrong with them except the price.

By Bernard Preston

  1. Bernard Preston
  2. Best medicinal herbs
  3. Herb and spice butters

It's been a huge relief to those of us who detest margarine that researchers doing a massive meta analysis of 70 of the best studies have found that in fact there is absolutely no conclusive scientific evidence that changing from margarine to butter has any benefit whatsoever. In short, butter is back.

Take a pound of butter, and cut it into fifths for these herb and spice butters; roughly 100g each.

I might add an opinion that it is almost certainly dependent on enjoying a well rounded diet. Those who only like meat and potatoes, cookies, donuts and ice-cream should avoid these herb and spice butters, and margarine too. Black and white TV went out a long time and as with food, it's time to step up to colour.

It's interesting that one can train the tongue to enjoy almost anything given a bit of motivation. Astonishingly some have even come to relish margarine over butter.

Recently I met a couple who's children were wild and untamed; they were continually shouting at them; it came as no surprise, though I confess with some dismay, to watch them give the kids white bread and margarine for breakfast. Little wonder they were so hyperactive and obnoxious. Like attention deficit Bernie they were simply suffering from a crap diet. Could it possibly be the daily offering, or only on holiday?

Herb and spice butters

Herb and spice butters are back in vogue since we discovered just how bad the hydrogenated fat in margarine is.

Simply take a lump of butter at room temperature, soften it with a wooden spoon and squish in the your chosen ingredients; then roll it into a log of sorts and freeze it in the wrapping it came in.

Avoid where possible all the cling wraps that are around today; I seriously believe they should not be near food, and in any case they contribute to the crud that is smothering our planet. Unless we wean ourselves of plastic soon, or use it far more judiciously, our grandchildren won't have a home as we know it to enjoy.

Then it's easy to cut that roll into circles and serve it up; they look and are fantastic.

Maitre d'Hotel

Probably the oldest herb and spice butter has the cordon bleu name Maitre d'Hotel; it's simply a butter flavoured with finely chopped parsley and freshly squeezed lemon juice.

  • 100g butter
  • Handful of parsley
  • 1 TBSP of lemon juice, including the pulp.

You could also squeeze it into ice cube trays if you have lots of energy, but that means a lot more washing up; better than cling-wrap mind you.

Drop it onto your hot boiled potatoes to lower their glycemic index and, in any case it tastes sublime. Butter your toast with it and plop a wet and slushy scrambled eggs on it; simply divine.

Control the amount of lemon juice to suit your purpose for your Maitre d'Hotel. The taste of freshly baked bread and butter is as old as that of ice cold water bubbling from a spring gurgling up from the ground.

The ice-cold water harvested from the rain, and stored in our underground reservoir, would be just as good.

Sardine butter

Probably my favourite butter of all time, and the easiest.

  • 100g butter 
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped baby sardines 
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley.

Enjoy your sardine butter (you could use anchovies) on crispy hot wholewheat toast, but equally you could enjoy it on any vegetables.

Sweet basil butter

What is basil?
  • 100g butter 
  • 4 tbsp grated cheese
  • A dozen finely chopped sweet basil leaves 
  • 1 tbsp finely sliced sun-dried tomatoes 
  • S&P to taste.

Use any hard cheese that you fancy; in fact, I never tried it with a Camembert or Blue cheese; something to try tomorrow.

Again, use one of these herb and spice butters on your starches; it lowers the glycemic index and lessens any surge in blood glucose. It's lovely on pasta and butternut, and of course on rice or potatoes.

As I'm sure you know, those carrying a lot of unwanted extra pounds should be minimising all their carbohydrate, but particularly those that are refined like virtually all breads, white rice, scones and cakes.

Never follow any recipe slavishly; it stifles your own creativity. Add some garlic if that's to your fancy today, or a teaspoon of freshly chopped chilies.

Horseradish butter

And now for something different, try this horseradish butter.

  • 100g butter
  • 2 tbsp horseradish
  • A good grind of black pepper
  • 1 tbsp  of finely chopped spring onions or chives
  • A sprinkle of sea-salt

Use this horseradish butter with any of your meat dishes. It's also great with fried fish and grilled chicken wings.

Again, according to your mood and the dish, add chili, parsley or garlic as you fancy.

Chili butter

Chili, garlic and lemon butter is just delicious in a hundred different ways. Since I myself don't eat crackers, because of what they do to my blood glucose, I'm not going to recommend them, but you indulge by all means, unless you too are prediabetic.

But on a sourdough bread, new potatoes or with lightly boiled lima beans, it is simply terrific.

Now that butter is back, we can use it without fear provided we enjoy those foods that lower cholesterol on a daily basis.

  • 100g of butter
  • 1 TBSP of hummus
  • Half a peppadew including the seeds and placenta
  • Half a clove of garlic
  • And handful of finely chopped spring onions or chives
  • 25g of grated cheddar
  • 1 tsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice and some of the zest.
  • Salt and pepper

Simply mash the whole lot up with a fork, and hey presto, you have one of the best herb and spice butters in the world.

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Residential solar panels at Bernard Preston's home

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Harvesting rainwater to a reservoir in the garden means a steady supply that is unpolluted by environmental toxins.