One of the simplest things you can do to preserve seasonal seasonal flavors is make compound butter and freeze it. Chive blossoms have been abundant the past few weeks so you know what I’ve been up to.
An irony of being a farmers market vendor is you get to know your fellow vendors and have access to wonderful seasonal ingredients but…you’re so busy making your own products to sell so you don’t have a whole lot of time to make and enjoy all that’s around you. I know, I know, tough problem to have.
Over the past few years I was never able to stock up on seasonal ingredients in ways like this. About the only thing I’d freeze and save for later was pureed ramps and even then I wouldn’t save a lot of them, maybe a pound if I was lucky. I’d get ramps, puree them for one of our seasonal sausages and each time say to myself ‘I really need to make a big batch to freeze, maybe the next ramps delivery…’ With our ramps sausages flying out the door I’d never get to that ‘next time.’ Anyway, with the move and break it’s the first spring in like 5 years where I’ve got some down time do these things and I’m trying to take advantage.
Right around Mother’s Day I picked up some chive blossoms at our local farmers market (Takoma Park on Sundays). Really nice flowers which are edible and very chive-y. Almost like raw onion if you eat too much of the blossom at once, a bit tannin-like. Pro-tip: don’t eat a whole blossom at once. Don’t say I never did anything for you!
While sitting in the kitchen wondering what to do with the chive blossoms I spied the ramekin of butter we leave out in the counter. What, you don’t leave a little butter out on the counter so you can spread it easily on your toast? You should, but that’s beside the point.
Softened butter spied, it hit me to make some compound/herb butter. I’ve written about this before and how having compound butter handy just makes everything nicer. It’s the little things in your cooking which make a difference. I’m sure you’ve been to a restaurant which has served you some sort of flavor enhanced butter with your bread, whether it’s olives or honey and salt, or herbs, and you were all like ‘wow this is great, I’m going to make this.’ But you don’t really bake any bread (ahem…) and by the time you’ve left the restaurant you’ve forgotten all about it and besides, who eats bread during dinner any more? Hey, compound butter isn’t just for your bread.
You can stir it into those sautéed or roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, whisk into sauces (monter that beurre!), batters, savory cookies, and last but not least throw a knob of it onto the steak you’ve got resting. It’s butter, there are many uses.
Here’s what you need to make this chock-full of herbs compound butter: 40gr chives and chive blossoms, 400gr butter, juice from 1/2 a lemon. Not into chives? Use your favorite then.
That’s it. Now watch how easy it is to make.
Place the butter in a bowl and leave on the counter to soften up. Once softened after a couple of hours, finely dice the herbs and flowers and mix in thoroughly. Squeeze in the lemon juice from half a lemon and mix hard. The juice isn’t going to want to incorporate as easily as the herbs. Butter is fatty and what do we know about fat and liquids? They don’t really mix easily. Think about making a vinaigrette or mayonnaise. You really have to work to get the acid incorporated into the fat.
Once mixed you can season with a some sea salt or leave unsalted (my preference). Pack it into a couple of 8oz containers and refrigerate/freeze.