Butter Me Up! Spread the word, our ol’ pal is back!

“If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.”

Julia Child

Nothing melts in your mouth like creamy, dreamy butter. Think: a crusty piece of garlic toast slathered in salty butter or a light and airy croissant; shrimp scampi swimming in a sea of white wine and butter; a tender lobster tail dunked in a ramekin of clarified liquid gold. After being maligned for more than a decade and given a lengthy “time out,” the golden boy is back. Here’s why:

Chef’s Choice

Butter is the cream from cows, goats or sheep that has been agitated or churned until it separates into buttermilk and semisolid butter with 80-percent milkfat content by weight.

Most chefs adore butter since it makes their dishes taste divine. They were guilt-tripped into putting the pad on sabbatical for allegedly causing obesity, high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.

After some serious gustatory rethinking, the culinary community is bringing butter back — mindfully though — from pampered grass-fed cows with a side order of standing advice: moderation.

Boons of Butter

Butter, unlike its synthetic sibling margarine, does not contain artificial trans fats. Organic grass-fed cows’ butter is a good source of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, and fat-soluble vitamins, including A, D, E and precious K2 for skin and ocular health, along with boosting brain, hormonal and immune functions, hiking up bone density and putting the skids on fractures.

Packed with the 4-carbon fatty acid butyrate (which derives its name from butter) the spread provides anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties along with a protective effect on the digestive system.

It’s also rich in conjugated linoleum acid  (CLA), a mighty fatty acid with anti-cancer properties and the ability to speed up metabolism and lower the percentage of body fat.

Finally, butter seduces the palate, fuels the body and comforts the soul.

Ghee Whiz

Ghee, a type of clarified butter that originated in India, is free of common dairy allergens along with the milk sugar lactose, hydrogenated oils, additives, preservatives and trans fats. Ghee is also a digestive aid and helps heal the gut lining.

The special fats in ghee dial up the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and minerals from other foods and drinks, boosting the immune system. Low dairy and moisture content, ghee has a long shelf life along with a high smoke point, so it doesn’t burn easily like traditional butters.

Cream of the Crop

The two main types of butter produced in this country are sweet cream and cultured cream, the former including lightly salted, unsalted and whipped. Lightly salted is ideal for all-purpose cooking from sautéing vegetables and fish to savory sauces. Unsalted is a baker’s favorite for flaky pie crusts, luscious cakes, quick breads and pastries with scrumptious taste and texture. Whipped butter is lighter in texture and calories, and is delightfully spreadable.

Stick It to Me

Two tablespoons of butter have about 8 grams of fat, even less if whipped. Thirty percent is monounsaturated, the same proportion of fat as in olive oil. One pound of butter represents the amount of cream churned from nearly 11 quarts of milk.

The color of butter is determined by the cow’s diet. The more beta-carotene consumed from grass and hay, the more yellow the hue. During the Middle Ages butter was colored naturally with marigold flowers. Today some creameries still add color to enhance the aesthic appeal.

One pound of butter measures 2 cups. Each stick is quarter pound or half cup.

WHIPPED MANGO BUTTER

Ingredients

• 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

• 1/2 cup ripe mango, finely chopped

• 4 tablespoons honey, orange blossom or chestnut

• Pinch of sea salt

• Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)

Method:

In a mixing bowl, using a wooden spoon, cream butter with honey, mango and seasonings. Transfer to a large ramekin, cover and chill. Concoct a zippy spread to enliven savory dishes by substituting orange or lemon zest for the mango.

For additional butter ideas, e-mail kitchenshrink@san.rr.com

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