Tomorrow is Easter, and besides chocolate eggs, many households will be sharing an Easter brunch with pancakes, or [better] waffles, or [best] French toast. Or [better best] big, soft wondrous Southern biscuits.
What do all those dishes need in common? Butter. But why just plain butter when you can incorporate the flavors of spring or summer? In her book Brunch, Gale Gand suggests you make fruit-flavored butters. She offers the five recipes you will find here:
Gale is a maven at tuning each recipe to achieve a flavor balance that is recognizable but not too penetrating. You may have had a strawberry butter served that, well, was a tad too intense. Here, Gale suggests just enough modest strawberry flavor to give you the perfume and the pleasure. You get to taste, rather than be smacked in the palette.
Her are Gale’s brunch suggestions.
Yield: ½ cup
Take a stick of butter out of the refrigerator and let it come to almost room temperature. Then whip it in a food processor, or with the whip attachment of a hand mixer, to aerate the butter and create a fluffy consistency.
Now add the flavoring, from the list below, and mix until thoroughly blended. Use a spatula to put the butter into a ceramic ramekin, smooth the surface, cover with plastic wrap, and chill until nearly ready to use. Give the butter 15 to 30 minutes at room temperature to soften slightly for easier spreading.
You don’t want to tear that pancake.
- For orange butter: use ½ teaspoon grated orange zest
- For lemon butter: ½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
- For strawberry butter: purée 2 hulled medium-sized strawberries, then add to the butt
- For raspberry butter: puree 8 to 10 raspberries
- For blackberry butter: puree 5 to 6 blackberries.
Source: Brunch by Gale Gand
Photo Credits: Canon T2i, EFS 18-55MM, F/5, 1/620th second, ISO-3200
You’re about to make a dip. What are you going to use. Onion soup mix in sour cream? Please, take a moment. Look at the post “Not Your Mother’s Onion Dip from Diane Morgan” published on April 17, 2014. There the base is sour cream but also mayo with some vinegar on the side for a dash of intense sour.
We’ll talk about dips in two steps: that base and then the add-ins. It’s just like ice cream.
Dip bases can be many things: sour cream, mayo, sour cream + mayo, mayo + olive oil, whipping cream + olive oil, yogurt, yogurt + sour cream, or crème fraiche. Those are ideas from my “go to” dip book, Delicious Dips by that same Diane Morgan. Clearly, there are more combinations available than listed here. You can play to achieve the flavor and texture you desire. And, in Diane’s book, she never goes to a triple combination, say, sour cream + yogurt + crème fraiche. It’s not just the ingredients, either, but the relative proportions.
Once you have your base, what do you put in? Again, that packaged onion soup mix should just be put aside. Cooking, well caramelizing, your own onion will create a far more satisfactory dip. I almost slipped and said “product.” Product is what you get when you use the soup mix: familiar, ever dependable, but ultimately boring. Live a little.
Dip making can be just the opportunity to empty your spice rack. Don’t be afraid to pick three or four jars of spices that really deserve a happy end of life. A combination of spices and live ingredients — diced scallions, peppers, chives, garlic, or herbs fresh from your garden — will contribute their own flavors and amplify others.
The odds are, your dip creation today will be unique. Never to be repeated. And certainly not to be forgotten.