Herb and spice butters

This page on herb and spice butters looks at imaginative ways to make probably the oldest spreads since Adam. Avoid at all costs the margarines that are made from hydrogenated-fat; they are 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.

Maitre D'hotel salad.

It's been a huge relief to those who detest margarine that researchers doing a massive meta-analysis of the 70 best studies have found that in fact there is absolutely no conclusive scientific evidence that changing from butter has any benefit whatsoever[1]; certainly not in relation to heart disease and stroke.

And actually butter gives protection against diabetes.

In short butter is back. Julia Childs[3] is smiling someplace; she died aged 92.

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

I might add an opinion that the goodness of dairy is almost certainly dependent on enjoying a well-rounded platter. Those who only like meat and potatoes should probably avoid these herb and spice butters, and margarine too for that matter.

Equally if you are into donuts and ice cream daily, then there is less certainty about the benefits of butter.

Black and white TV went out a long time ago and, as with food, it's time to step up to colour, starting perhaps with the green in parsley.

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 whose children were wild and untamed; their parents 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 meals based on awful food. Could that have been the daily offering, or only a holiday treat?

Herb and spice butters

Herb and spice butters are back in vogue since we discovered just how bad the hydrogenated-fats in margarine are; they are highly inflammatory.

Simply take a lump of butter at room temperature, soften it with a wooden-spoon and squish in 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 shouldn't be near food, and in any case they contribute to the crud that is smothering our planet. Unless we wean ourselves off plastic soon, or use it far more judiciously, our grandchildren will not 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 is simply flavoured with finely-chopped parsley and freshly squeezed lemon juice.

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. We just keep it in a small reusable plastic container.

Ingredients

  1. 1/5th 500g block of butter
  2. 1/2 cup finely-chopped parsley, or other herb in season
  3. 1/2 tsp lemon-zest
  4. 1/4 lemon including the pulp; remove the pips obviously.

Go for it

  • Finely chop the parsley without the stalks.
  • Add the lemon-pulp and zest.
  • S&P.
  • Use a stick-blender, or just a fork.

Today our Maitre d'Hotel is made with coriander and lime instead.

Ingredients Maitre D-hotel.

Drop it onto your hot boiled-potatoes to lower the glycemic index and, in any case, it tastes sublime. Butter your toast with Maitre d'Hotel and plop wet and slushy scrambled eggs on it; simply divine.

Forking Maitre d'Hotel.

Control the amount of lemon juice to suit your purpose for the 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.

Sardine butter

This is probably my favourite butter of all time, and the easiest.

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

Enjoy your sardine butter on crispy wholewheat-toast, but equally you could melt it onto any vegetables; you could use anchovies instead.

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 have never tried it with a Camembert or Feta; something to try tomorrow.

Use one of these herb and spice butters on your starches; they will lower the glycemic index and lessen any surges in blood-glucose. It's lovely on pasta and pumpkin and, of course, rice or potatoes.

Did you know that diabetics should eat small amounts of butternut and pumpkin regularly?[2] One of these herb and spice butters will not only improves the flavour but also any undesirable effect for those who are insulin-resistant.

As I'm sure you know, those carrying a lot of unwanted extra pounds should be reducing all their carbohydrate, but particularly those that are refined like virtually all commercial breads; white rice, scones and cakes too. Herb and spice butters will not minimise the devastating effect of these fake-foods.

Unashamedly I am punting for whole-grains and recommending you bake your own artisan bread.

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

Sweet-basil and thyme butter

This sweet-basil and thyme butter is so easy to throw together, remembering that the latter has a much stronger flavour and should be used sparingly.

Ingredients

  1. 100 g soft salted-butter
  2. 1 TBSP of sweet-basil leaves
  3. 1 small sprig of thyme
  4. 1/2 clove of garlic
  5. Twist of black-pepper

Go for it

  • Wash the basil and thyme-leaves
  • Strip the leaves from the stems
  • Chop the herbs finely
  • Fork the herbs and pepper into the soft-butter.

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.

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

Chili butter

Chili 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 am not going to recommend them, but you indulge by all means, unless you too are prediabetic.

But on a slice of 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
  • A clove of garlic
  • A handful of finely-chopped spring onions or chives
  • 25g of grated-cheddar
  • 1 tsp of lemon pulp and some of the zest.
  • Salt and pepper

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

Lemon pulp

Use the lemon pulp too with your cooking, and not just the juice; it contains more than half of the nutrients.

  1. Is butter back? A systematic review and meta-analysis.
  2. Anti-diabetic effect of pumpkin
  3. Julia Childs: "If you're afraid of butter, use cream.

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