The Good Cook (Part One) — Simple Scratch Cooking

Meyer Lemon Compound Butter

You learn so much about people when you step out from behind the computer screen. I’ve been on tour for my debut cookbook, Homemade with Love, and it’s given me a chance to connect with readers in a way I never imagined. One person at my Chicago book signing inspired me to start a miniseries of sorts here, called The Good Cook.

Too often I hear people say they’re not good cooks. A little digging, though, and it turns out the way we see ourselves isn’t always in line with the way the people we love view us. Being a good cook shouldn’t be defined by how many recipes we know. The real determining factor in being a good cook is a rather simple litmus test: 1) do you like what you cook? and 2) do the people you prepare meals for enjoy what you cook? When I asked these questions at a few separate events, it turns out most people answer yes to both.

The real root for many people judging themselves so unfairly in the kitchen is they feel like they’re always cooking the same few favorite recipes. It’s really about expanding your comfort zone and, in some cases, learning a few new techniques. That’s where I come in. Over the next few posts, I’m going to explore techniques and tips to help get you out of your cooking rut. Please leave a note in the comments, letting me know which recipes or ingredients are on your “must-learn” wish list. Today, I’m going to start with an easy upgrade, a simple way in which you can add some oomph to your everyday meals.

Compound butter may sound complicated, but all you do is soften some butter and stir in a combination of fresh chopped herbs, citrus zest, spices and/or cheese. Add the butter to a covered container and store it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

How to Use

• This is a great finish for steaks and grilled meats — just add a pat of butter before serving for an easy, homemade sauce.

• Toss a bit with fresh steamed or sauteed veggies
• Jazz up your next mashed potatoes side dish

• Prepare homemade garlic bread, with a quick compound butter of chopped fresh parsley and finely chopped garlic

• Stuff a few pats under the skin of a whole chicken before roasting

Do you already make compound butters? What is your favorite flavor combination? Let’s learn from each other.

Here are some of my Food Network compound butter recipes:

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