More cheese, please
When not on center stage — think cheeseburger, macaroni and cheese or pizza — cheese works well in supporting roles in many applications.
“I like to use small amounts of blue cheese in dishes such as vegetable soup or creamed greens,” Mr. Atkinson said. “The cheese adds creaminess and nuttiness without creating a musty flavor. Blue cheese can also be added to products containing cheddar to increase the aged and sharp cheese flavor notes.”
Among pastry chefs, mascarpone cheese is useful.
“Mixed with crème anglaise and whipped, it can make a filling or a light component to a plated dessert,” Mr. Pfeiffer said.
Butter is back
Cheese bread tastes better when the dough is cut with butter, a food and ingredient that remains popular in food service, food manufacturing and in-home use. Its popularity is attributed to margarine’s decline due to its artificial trans-fatty acid composition. Butter also has an inherent taste that is difficult to match.
Traditional butter contains 80% fat and 20% water, with or without salt. Many product developers, in particular bakers, prefer to use high-fat butters, also known as European-style butters. They contain as much as 85% fat, which means there’s less water. The extra fat allows for more flake and fluff in baked goods.
Joel Reno, chef instructor at the French Pastry School, said, “I like to use butter in spice ice cream, which is often served in the fall. The butter flavor is better suited than cream in the recipe, as it really captures the spices’ aromas.”
Butter is known to enhance the flavor of foods and improve consistency.
“A little butter added to barbecue or hot sauce increases mouthfeel and balances out the heat from spices, allowing all the flavors to fully impact the palate,” Mr. Atkinson said.
Compound butters, which are butters containing herbs, spices and other dried flavorful ingredients, present an opportunity to differentiate the most basic of foods.
“Foods have been seasoned with compound butters since the French chef Auguste Escoffier suggested it more than 100 years ago,” said John Hubschman, research and development chef for Epicurean Butter, Federal Heights, Colo., which produces an extensive line of sweet and savory compound butters.
“Butter is a blank slate, the perfect carrier for flavors. Try adding a dollop of roasted garlic herb butter to a grilled steak. As the butter melts, it bathes the steak in delicious, familiar flavors. Switch that to black truffle butter and the diner has an entirely different experience that includes exquisite aroma and haunting flavor.”
The Rocky Mountain region of Whole Foods Market, Austin, Texas, offers pre-cut vegetable with a dollop of finishing butter in a to-go roasting container. Trader Joe’s, Monrovia, Calif., has frozen vegetable and pasta dishes with compound butter sauce pellets.
“We are always looking for new and exciting ways to expand our fresh-cut produce program,” said Lacy Larson, research and development chef, Pacific Coast Fruit Co., Portland, Ore. “While developing our most recent line of ready-to-roast vegetable side dishes, it became apparent that a compound butter was exactly what we needed.”