A while back, my husband and I opened a flight school, another in our long line of start ups. When we sold that beast of a business, Gary surprised me with a week of classes at the culinary institute.
“What will you guys eat while I’m gone?” I asked them.
“Cereal.” Lauren quipped. She wasn’t thrilled about the prospect of dining with Dad.
In Napa, like the other students, I donned an authentic chef outfit including the puffy hat that chefs wear and a kerchief around my neck. About ten of us, from all over the country, were in the class, and we giggled like third graders that first morning when we saw ourselves decked out in culinary white.
John Ash and his two assistants were our instructors, and they put us through the paces. I learned a bazillion ways to cut vegetables and how to add cheese to the top of a pie, but the best thing I learned was so simple it’ll bring a tear to your eyes. And it’s tasty.
Herb butter, evidence of a powerful loving God, and I’ll tell you how to make it.
Start with softened butter.
You could buy butter, but where's the fun in that? The best way to get softened butter is to send your kid to the backyard with a jar of heavy cream and have her jump on the trampoline until that cream turns lumpy. Extract the lump, rinse it off, and there you go – you have softened butter. Save the weird juice left over in the jar and use it in the morning when you make pancakes.
Now all you have to do is add herbs. My backyard is full of them, and I like to use them all. Mint, basil, oregano, tarragon, sage, thyme, rosemary, parsley – whatever’s in your garden. You could buy herbs too, but that’s like paying for weeds.
Where ever they come from, make sure your herbs are clean and dry and then mince the hell out of them. Seriously. You want the flavor, not the texture. Add garlic and lemon juice plus a lot of the zest. You can use oranges or limes too.
You've probably already figured out that juice isn’t going to want to mix with butter. Persevere. You’re the boss, and ultimately, you’ll get your way.
Mix the herbs, juice, and zest with your softened butter and wrap it up "log-style" in parchment paper.
Toss your wrapped log in the fridge, or make a lot of them and stash them in the freezer. At dinner, just before serving, slice a hunk of herb butter onto your fish, chicken, steak, veggies – whatever you’re having.
I gave a log to a friend who wanted to impress his date the first time he cooked for her. “She was powerless against the butter!” he told me the next day. Now he calls it GLB (Get Lucky Butter).
But that’s way too much information. Just enjoy it. And consider yourself lucky that you didn't have to start, develop, and sell a flight school just to learn how to make it.