Flavored (aka compound) butters are a sophisticated way to enrich a recipe, especially when made with heady fresh herbs like basil.
Soften a stick of butter at room temperature and then blend with chopped fresh basil, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Place butter on a sheet plastic wrap and form into a log, wrapping tightly with the plastic. Refrigerate until firm. Cut the log crosswise and use pats of butter to garnish baked potatoes, steamed vegetables, crusty bread, or roasted fish.
Sweet basil jelly
Try this delicious condiment with roast chicken or on a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich.
Rinse, drain, and coarsely tear enough unblemished basil leaves to make 1 1/2 cups lightly packed. Chop basil in a food processor, put in a large saucepan, and crush it well using the bottom of a glass or bottle. Add 2 cups of water and bring slowly to a boil; boil for 30 seconds. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 15 minutes. Strain 1 1/2 cups of the basil liquid through a sieve into a saucepan. Add 2 tablespoons vinegar, a pinch of salt and 3 1/2 cups sugar and bring to a hard boil, stirring. When the boil can’t be stirred down, add 3 ounces liquid pectin. Return to a hard boil and boil for exactly 1 minute, then remove from heat. Skim off the foam and pour jelly into hot, sterilized jelly glasses, leaving 1/2 inch of headroom. Seal at once with melted paraffin or sterilized two-piece lids. Makes four 8-ounce glasses.
Flavored vinegars are practically effortless to create. Fill a fancy bottle with them and they make excellent housewarming gifts, too.
Pour two cups of white-wine vinegar into a large mason jar, add 8 to 10 fresh basil leaves, two cloves of garlic, and sliced peel from an orange. Place the jar in a dark, cool place for two weeks to allow flavors to develop. To use, strain vinegar through a sieve and store in a cruet or a clean mason jar. Use for salad dressings, marinades, or to drizzle lightly on vegetables, chicken, and fish.