The Food Guy, Steven Keith Eating his way through the state, plate by plate

Everything Tastes Better with (Flavored) Butter

I was recently flipping through one of the countless food magazines that proliferate around the house when I came across a gorgeous recipe and photo for Tilapia with Garlic-Lime Butter.

I do like tilapia, but it was the glistening butter that caught my eye.

Everything tastes better with butter, even more so when you sauté, drizzle or whisk in a nice flavored butter.

They’re so easy to make, too. Just soften butter and mix in your chosen ingredients, then let it harden back up in the fridge or use as-is. You can also simmer butter with add-ins to create a nice sauce.

No doubt it was the garlic and lime that really made that recipe sing, so here are a few other combos for flavored-butter inspiration:

  • Parsley-Shallot Butter
  • Smoky Paprika Butter
  • Toasted Almond-Cardamom Butter
  • Bacon Bourbon Butter
  • Chipotle-Lime
  • Porcini-Red Wine
  • Tumeric-Mustard Seed
  • Nori-Sesame

These Easter Goodies Better Than Good

There’s a place to get really fantastic West Virginia-made chocolates right here in town – let’s hear it for Holl’s! – but it’s always nice to try out foods from other places.

One of the perks of being a hope-to-someday-be-famous food writer is that companies often send you their products in the hopes that you’ll sample, savor and spread the word about them.

That’s exactly what happened with renowned Pittsburgh chocolatier Edward Marc, who sent me a case of their Easter goodies to nosh on. We broke into them today and were really impressed with everything we tasted.

Featuring top-quality ingredients from across the globe, the Vanilla Salt Caramels, filled chocolate eggs (loved the mocha, peanut butter and nut meltaway) and dark chocolate bunnies were so fine. You can check them out, and order your own, at

A few weeks ago, we also sunk our teeth into some fantastic gourmet cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcake, with locations in New York and Washington, DC. Almost too pretty to eat (almost!) we enjoyed both vanilla and chocolate cupcakes, but especially the red velvet and carrot cake options. A mound decadently rich buttercream (in deceptively light pastel colors) topped each one.

Delish. You can browse or buy at

Try This New Take on This Year’s Easter Ham

If you’re looking to jazz up this year’s Easter ham, check out this week’s recipe for one basted with grape jelly and fresh thyme, then roasted with grapes and shallots.

Again, a little non-traditional, but the unusually paired flavors really sing.

Easy and delicious, this ham is great served with roasted or au gratin potatoes with either steamed green beans or grilled asparagus. You can also adapt the recipe to your own taste by substituting orange marmalade or currant or apple jelly instead of the grape jelly, and chopped fresh rosemary or sage instead of thyme.

If you’re cooking for a smaller crowd, make a smaller amount of the basting mixture and brush over ham steaks you can pop in the oven with the grapes and shallots.

Thyme-Basted Ham with Roasted Grapes

6- to 8-pound cooked bone-in ham, trimmed
1/2 cup grape jelly
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter (1/2 stick), cut into 4 to 6 pieces
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
3 cups whole grapes (red, green or a combination)
4 shallots, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch slices

  1. Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 325 degrees. Place the ham flat side down in a large shallow roasting pan and score a diamond pattern about 1/8-inch deep into any fat. Season with pepper and bake for 1 1/2 hours.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the jelly, butter and thyme, whisking occasionally until the jelly and butter melt together and the mixture comes to a gentle boil, 1 to 2 minutes. Cover and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the grapes and shallots. Set aside.
  3. Baste the ham with the jelly mixture. Continue baking, basting with the jelly mixture and/or pan juices about every 15 minutes. When the internal ham temperature reaches 120 degrees, add the grapes and shallots to the roasting pan, stirring to coat with the pan juices. Continue baking and basting until internal temperature reaches 140 degrees, 15 to 18 minutes per pound total cooking time.
  4. Remove the ham from the oven, transfer to a cutting board, and let rest 15 to 30 minutes. (If the grapes and shallots aren’t tender yet, take the ham out but return the roasting pan to the oven.) Slice ham and arrange on a serving platter. Season the roasted grape, shallot and pan juice mixture with pepper and spoon some on top of the ham. Serve the remaining grape mixture on the side.