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Make Your Own Seasoned Butters

It's easy to make your own seasoned or compound butters — often called herb butters. (Compound butter is a rather scientific-sounding name for a very simple mixture.) Combine softened butter with another ingredient—usually herbs or spices—and you've got yourself a seasoned butter!

Any favorite herb or spice will do for seasoning butter, but excellent choices include black pepper, chives, chili peppers, dill, garlic powder, parsley, rosemary, sage, salt (try gourmet salts!), tarragon, and thyme. Blends such as All Purpose Seasoning, Fines Herbs, Herbes de Provence or Italian Seasoning also work well. You might add grated Parmesan or other cheeses, a splash of lemon juice or your favorite vinegar, Dijon mustard, or even horseradish.

You can use your seasoned butter immediately, or place it in a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap and roll it into a log. Then refrigerate it until firm (a few hours), and slice as needed. It will keep in the refrigerator for a week or two and in the freezer for a month.

For an extra fancy presentation, use a pastry tip to pipe your softened butter into a serving dish. Or cut the hardened butter into shapes using cookie cutters.

Dab your creation on steamed veggies, toast, or fresh-from-the-oven breads. Use it on baked or mashed potatoes, pancakes, seafood, grilled or broiled steak, hot pasta, or scrambled eggs. There are a surprising number of opportunities to enjoy an enhanced pat of butter!

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