On Saturday night we had some friends over for dinner. The conversation inevitably turned to food. In particular, the old question of ‘what to choose for your last meal on earth’ came up.
My Irishman made the bold statement that for his ‘last supper’ all he wants is a big bowl of romesco sauce. Although that was quickly amended to ‘romesco sauce with a generous side of potatoes roasted in duck fat with garlic and rosemary’.
I made my usual attempt to avoid such difficult questions. But when forced to answer on the spot, I came up with ‘multiple varieties of cheese and roast beets’.
Since then I’ve been thinking more about what I really would choose for my last meal. To be honest I don’t think I’ll ever be able to settle on a definite answer. But there is something I’d like to add to my current, rather odd sounding list of cheese and beets.
And that, my friends, is good old-fashioned butter.
I still remember the first time I consciously appreciated the beauty of butter. My great-aunt Madge had come to stay. I noticed that she was being quite heavy-handed with the butter on her toast. So I asked her about her butter to bread ratio, not in those words, of course.
She said she just adored the taste of butter. When she was in England during the war, it was almost impossible to get butter. So she promised herself that after the war and the rationing were over, she would never limit her butter intake again.
Aunt Madge was a very wise woman.
I’m assuming that, like Aunt Madge and Julia Child, you don’t need convincing of the deliciousness credentials of my favourite fat.
But I’m also pretty sure there are quite a few of you out there who are still living in the ‘low-fat-is-healthy-dark-ages’.
So here are 6 reasons to eat more butter, just to get you thinking that maybe fat isn’t as evil as we’ve been led to believe. There’s also the recipe for one of my all-time favourite butter-based sauces that I like to think of as my ‘rolls royce mayonnaise’.
6 reasons butter can be healthy
1. fat soluble vitamins
Butter is a source of vitamins A, D, K and E. It’s an especially rich source of Vitamin A in the form that is easiest for our bodies to use.
2. helps absorption of vitamins and minerals from vegetables
When butter is used in cooking with vegetables, it helps our bodies process and use the water soluble vitamins and minerals found in the veg.
3. can be a source of ‘omega-3 fatty acids’
This is a great tip for those of you, like me who don’t eat as much fish as you’d like. When cows are fed on grass, their butter contains more omega-3s. When cows are fed grains, however the omega-3 levels are greatly reduced. So it’s important to buy good quality butter from grass-fed or ‘pastured’ cows.
4. helps protect against gastrointestinal infections
This protective function comes from a type of fat in butter called ‘glycophingolipids’. It’s been attributed to the reason that children who drink whole milk have lower rates of diarrhoea than skim milk drinkers.
5. can help protect against cancer
CLA, another type of fat that is only found in butter from grass-fed cows is attributed to having anti-cancer properties as well as preventing weight gain.
6. trace minerals
Butter is also a source of minerals that are required only in tiny quantities by our bodies. These include manganese, zinc, chromium & iodine.
source: ‘Nourishing Traditions’ by Sally Fallon & Mary Enig
Keen to discover more delicious foods that have been unfairly tarred with the ‘unhealthy’ label?
Then you’ll enjoy my latest eCookbook ‘How to Love Your Waistline and Your Food’.
To find out how it can help you eat healthier:
rolls royce mayo
makes about 2 1/2 cups
I just love this cross between mayo and hollandaise sauce. It’s super versatile and works pretty much anywhere you’d use either sauce. Feel free to play around with the ratio of butter to oil, remembering that the more butter the more ‘solid’ your mayo will be after it’s been refrigerated.
I usually just use straight from the fridge. But if you feel the need for a warm sauce, best to warm gently over a double boiler as it will split if it gets too hot.
If you’re a bit nervous about making mayo, here are my secrets to making mayo.
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons rice vinegar or lemon juice
1 tablespoon dijon mustard, optional
250g (9oz) butter, preferably from grass-fed cows
1 1/2 cups neutral flavoured oil, such as rice bran
1. Melt the butter.
2. Whizz yolks, vinegar or lemon juice, mustard and 2 tablespoons water in your food processor.
3. Add melted butter in a super slow trickle with the motor still running. Gradually increase the flow until all the butter is added.
4. Add the oil in the same manner. Taste season. Add more oil if too thin and more water if too thick.
lactose-free / casein-free – only use the melted butter oil and discard the white solids at the bottom. I like to leave them in for a more buttery flavour.
dairy-free – replace butter with an extra
vegan – I’m afraid I haven’t figured out how to make mayo with egg yolks like the commercial ‘vegan’ mayos. Sorry!
garlicky mayo – add 1-2 cloves (or more) of finely chopped garlic with the eggs.
video version of the recipe
rolls royce ‘slaw
serves 2-3 as a side
Feel free to use your favourite commercial mayo if you can’t be bothered making the ‘rolls royce mayo, you’ll just have to remember to remove the ‘rolls royce’ from the name ;)
I prefer my ‘slaw more fresh and crisp than gloopy and dripping in dressing. If you prefer a creamier ‘slaw, feel free to add more mayo.
3-4 tablespoons rolls royce mayo
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 white cabbage, preferably savoy
small handful flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped, optional
1. Combine mayo and lemon juice in a bowl. Taste & season.
2. Finely slice cabbage using a mandoline or sharp knife and a steady hand.
3. Toss shredded cabbage in the dressing. Serve with parsley sprinkled over, if using.
vegan – use olive oil instead of the mayo and change the name to shaved cabbage salad.
egg-free – replace the mayo with a good creamy natural yoghurt.
more substantial – serve with roast or BBQ chicken or pork or toss in a handful of roasted nuts.
colourful – add in some grated carrot and/or use red cabbage instead.
video version of the recipe
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I always find great recipes on your site. I kind of go against the norm for a teenager. I like to eat healthy food on a budget. And butter is one of my favorite foods. I use it in guacamole to keep it from turning brown although it never lasts past a day anyway!
hi Debt Free Teen,
Would never have thought to add butter to guacamole… thanks for sharing!
Hi Debt Free Teen
I would love your recipe for quacamole made with butter, if you can part with it.
Thanks for posting this, Jules. It makes me feel so much better about believing quality butter can be part of a healthy diet in a country where everyone thinks it’s the devil (yet have no problem eating processed junk)!!
You’re welcome Iris!
I hope we’re convinced a few more people on the benefits!
I simply adore your videos, so tickle me happy when I find not one, but two in this post! Thank you for sharing your wonderful recipes!
THanks so much for the video feedback… they take lots of time so really good to know you’re enjoying!
Cool! The recipe is juts so easy and I love butter and egg… I love this!
Can’t wait to try your recipe Jules.
I’m really curious… is there a brand of butter that you favour?
Great question Mish
I love Kerrygold, an Irish brand of butter when I can get it. Apart from that there are a few different small producers I get my butter from the health food store. It’s really expensive but sooo delicious!
I think you have two typos:
dairy-free – replace butter with an extra (?)
vegan – I’m afraid I haven’t figured out how to make mayo with(out) egg yolks
I really like this recipe, it’s sort of a vegan mayo. http://mynewroots.blogspot.co.nz/2011/12/roasted-sesame-winter-slaw.html
Thanks for sharing Laura!
What makes cabbage recipe/salad delicious is their dressing. I am curious about your rolls royce ‘slaw I haven’t tasted one like it so I’m readying my taste buds for it.
Hope your tastebuds are happy Michelle!
Serious Eats’ Food Lab figured out how to make vegan mayo using the immersion blender method: http://www.seriouseats.com/2012/01/how-to-make-vegan-mayonnaise-mayo.html I haven’t tried this recipe out for myself, but these posts and recipes are usually pretty solid.
Thanks for the link!
Haha! My sister and I are having a competition this Wednesday and I think I just found a whole new mayonnaise that will lead me to victory! Haha. Thanks for this recipe…
I also believe in butter as part of a healthy diet – what other fat gives so much flavour? And isn’t that what eating is all about in the end?!
I shall try your Rolls Royce recipe for sure; could you tell me how long you think it will keep in the fridge? I’d like to take it on our boat for the summer as a spread for bread as butter gets too hard in the fridge yet melts when left out. This would be a perfect compromise if it keeps well. Thanks!
Good question Karen
It depends on how fresh your eggs were.
But it usually keeps for 5 days in the fridge or even longer.
You’re right… it’s a great compromise for a spread to eat straight from the fridge.
Very jealous of your boat!
While I think the flavour of butter is amazing and definitely irreplaceable, its best to remember to have it in MODERATION. Butter is high in saturated fats, which can increase your cholesterol levels and your risk of cardiovascular disease (on top of all the benefits of it you’ve mentioned).
You need to read Sally Fallon’s book “Nourishing Traditions”. Saturated fat is good for health and not enough of it can actually CAUSE heart disease. I know, the opposite of what we are always told, but who are we told by? Massive corporations who make money from promoting other types of fats…
I’d second the recommendation to read Nourishing Traditions.
I am always advocating that butter is a fabulous food stuff that is great for good health, that is, butter from grass fed cows. I read somewhere that all butter in Australia is made from milk from cows that eat grass because all milk comes from New Zealand where all cows eat grass…
Do you think that there is any truth in this?
Good question Clare!
There are plenty or dairies in Australia that supply milk, so I doubt that all milk comes from NZ.
And I think it’s a bit difficult to generalise on a country-by country basis..
Thanks for these great info. I always have margarine more than butter and also drink low fat milk. Maybe it’s the time for me to change a bit. And the mayo, probably black pepper flavor would be nice too. :)
We need to get you away from the margarine as a first step… I’ll work on the low fat milk later :)
I love this recipe. Yummmy.
So glad you liked it Anne!
I just tried it with adding coconut oil and it is also delish. Thanks Jules you’re a star. ;)
I wouldn’t have thought to try coconut oil.. love it!
I’m thinken to ad trarragon to make a semi-bearnaise sause.
Living in the Midwest every spring we head into the woods & harvest morel mushrooms. Cooked in butter -yum! Cooked in margarine – bleech!
Very jealous Leslie!
I adore morels but unfortunately they don’t grow wild here in Australia
Hooray for everything in moderation! It is so wonderful to know that there are others out there who can enjoy the wonderful things in life like butter and mayo without totally giving up on health. Also, a great way to use up the egg yolks left over from breakfast :)
Wow – amazing post and amazing photos in particular :-)
I’m a big proponent of the “right” kinds of butter (grass fed!!) and have done a bit of digging around for the right kind of brands in Australia. Your Aussie readers might be interested to read
Either way any feedback would be appreciated!
Learnt a lot from this post! Cheers :)