As an apprentice, the first thing I was taught is butter tastes better. Nothing beats salted butter on a crusty piece of sourdough, or cultured butter slathered over warm fruit toast. There are a few different types of butter from which to choose - unsalted, cultured and salted.
A few small producers in Australia are making butter using top-quality cream and adding a culture that produces a butter with so much flavour, once you have tasted it, there is no going back to the mass-produced supermarket version.
This frangipane recipe is a base to so many dishes, it's a good one to know. Frangipane is used in fruit tarts, cakes and the filling for this almond croissant.
Montpellier butter is full of wonderful fresh flavours that can transform a simple piece of grilled fish, with the addition of a green salad, into an excellent light lunch. A slice on top of a grilled steak is also great, or add some to a pan of sauteed prawns and toss until well-coated.
120g unsalted butter
150g castor sugar
200g ground almonds
3 tbsp brandy
6 day-old croissants
1/2 cup flaked almonds
To make frangipane mixture, cream butter and sugar in a food processor. Add ground almonds, eggs and brandy and blend well.
Leave mixture in the fridge for about 10 minutes to firm up.
Slice croissants in half horizontally. Open them and smear one tablespoon of frangipane in each croissant.
Replace the top, smear another half a tablespoon on top, then sprinkle some flaked almonds over the frangipane.
Bake at 170C until golden and nuts are well coloured.
6 spinach leaves
1.5 cups watercress leaves (from half a bunch)
2 tbsp flat parsley leaves
2 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
2 eschallots, chopped
2 cornichons, rinsed and chopped
4 anchovy fillets
2 tbsp capers
1 garlic clove, peeled
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
3 hard-boiled egg yolks
2 large raw egg yolks
250g unsalted butter, at room
temperature, cut into 2cm cubes
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp white wine vinegar
Blanch spinach, watercress, herbs and shallots in boiling water for one minute. Drain, refresh under cold water and squeeze dry.
Place mixture in a food processor. Add cornichons, anchovies, capers, garlic, cayenne, salt and pepper. Process to a smooth paste. Add egg yolks, cooked and raw, and butter and process again until thoroughly mixed.
If butter is still a little chunky, transfer mixture to a blender and beat in oil in a thin steady stream while blender is running. If mixture is perfectly smooth in the food processor, transfer it to a bowl and whisk in oil by hand.
Beat in vinegar and adjust salt and pepper to taste.
Makes 2 cups
Note: The butter will last for two weeks in the fridge, or six months in the freezer - divide it into small amounts before wrapping in plastic to freeze.