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David Lissner
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Eat this! Add flavor with compound butters

Use Jane Johnson's tomato-basil butter on fresh vegetables.

Use Jane Johnson's tomato-basil butter on fresh vegetables.

What it is: Compound butters are fresh butters mixed with seasonings, such as herbs and spices, used for enhancing foods. They typically provide a finishing touch to a dish or sauce.

Where it comes from: French cuisine leads the practice of making flavored butters, beurre compose in French. Auguste Escoffier listed some three dozen versions in his 1903 Le Guide Culinaire, including such classics as maitre d’hotel butter (herbs, lemon and pepper) and anchovy butter.

What to do with it: Use flavored butters as a topping on vegetables, meats or pastas and stir them into soups and sauces. Sweet versions can enhance baked goods. You can slather them on bread or toast, too. Anything you like can go into a compound butter — spices or herbs, minced vegetables, grated cheese, fruits, honey, even wine or beer. Pipe it out into attractive mounds and chill for table service and garnishes or roll into a log and slice into rounds.

Jane Johnson, who makes a variety of compound butters under the brand Twisted Butter, based in Northbrook, shares her recipe for tomato-basil butter. Twisted Butter is sold at local groceries, including Garden Fresh Markets, Jerry’s Fruit & Garden, Joseph Caputo & Sons, Produce World, Shop & Save, Strack & Van Til, Tony’s Finer Foods, Treasure Island, Ultra Foods and Valli Produce.

Tomato-basil butter
Jane Johnson, Twisted Butter

1 pound salted butter at room temperature
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed tightly

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process till smooth. Pack into a container or form into a log on waxed paper and refrigerate. Makes 1 pound.

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