Giving butter a dash of flavor

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August 08, 1999|By Annette Gooch | Annette Gooch,Universal Press Syndicate

A little butter goes a long way when it's lightened and seasoned with interesting ingredients. Seasoned butters -- also known as composed, compound or flavored butters -- are a blend of unsalted butter and seasonings, spices, herbs, fruits or vegetables.

Few sauces are simpler to prepare than seasoned butters: Just mix the flavoring ingredients into the softened butter by hand or mixer and refrigerate for at least an hour to firm the butter and meld the flavors.

Serving seasoned butters couldn't be easier: Bring the butter to room temperature and, at the last minute, spoon a little onto the hot food. Then watch the butter melt to an appetizing sheen.

Blue Cheese Butter

Makes about 3/4 cup, or 6 servings

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup crumbled good-quality blue cheese

2 teaspoons brandy

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

freshly ground pepper, to taste

Blend butter with cheese, brandy and parsley. Add pepper to taste.

Cover and chill. Serve at room temperature.

This combination makes a robust accompaniment for rib-eye steaks or lamb chops.

Cilantro-Lime Butter

Makes about 1/2 cup, 4 servings

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 teaspoons lime juice

2 tablespoons minced cilantro

ground cayenne pepper or hot-pepper sauce, to taste

salt, to taste

Blend butter with lime juice and cilantro. Add cayenne or hot-pepper sauce to taste, a little at a time. Add salt to taste.

Cover and chill. Serve at room temperature.

Use this spicy blend for grilled beef, poultry or vegetables.

Red Bell Pepper Butter

Makes about 1/2 cup, 4 servings

1 roasted red bell pepper, peeled and drained (see note)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 teaspoons minced shallots

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon hot-pepper sauce

Place all ingredients in blender or food processor. Puree until smooth and thick. If mixture is too thin, add 1 to 2 tablespoons more butter. Cover and chill. Serve at room temperature. (Note: Make this butter with bottled roasted peppers or, if red peppers are in season, flame-broil and peel your own.)

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