Butter, as all food lovers know, makes everything better. But blend in chopped fresh herbs, citrus zest, or spices, and you take it to a whole new level of deliciousness. When spread onto bread and paired with simple fillings, these mixes (their proper name is compound butter) anchor a variety of tea sandwiches. They can also add quick bursts of flavor to meals. To make, place 1 stick softened butter plus mix-ins for each spread in a small food processor; pulse until all ingredients are combined. The butters can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.
Watercress and Lemon
2 cups loosely packed watercress + 3/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest + 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Great on: Ham tea sandwiches or tossed with boiled potatoes. (Pictured top.)
Dill, Grapefruit, and Fennel
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill + 1 tablespoon finely grated grapefruit zest + 1/2 teaspoon finely ground toasted fennel seeds + 1/8 teaspoon salt.
Great on: Smoked salmon and watercress tea sandwiches or mixed with warm farro. (Pictured second.)
Cilantro and Curry
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro + 1 1/2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste (grocerythai.com) + 1/8 teaspoon salt.
Great on: Sliced chicken and cucumber tea sandwiches or slathered on corn. (Pictured third.)
Pea and Tarragon
1/3 cup thawed frozen peas or cooked, cooled fresh peas + 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon + 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Great on: Radish tea sandwiches or folded into pasta with goat cheese. (Pictured fourth.)
Chive and Mustard
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives + 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard + 1/8 teaspoon salt.
Great On: Smoked trout tea sandwiches or melted over steamed asparagus. (Pictured bottom.)