Sunday, January 22, 2012

These are the Herbs I know...

Herbs are a delicious way to add something special to a meal.

Its hard though...some people don't know enough about herbs to feel confident using them in their cooking.

Here is a post on the herbs I tend to use the most.


Dill is a surprising spice.  I always see it mentioned with fresh fish in shore lunch menus.  Dill is so much more than just pickling and fish spices.  (Although both of those are fine places for Dill)  I add Dill to things that I want to have a smooth buttery flavour.  I add it to egg salad mixture or omelettes.  Its dreamy.  You can sprinkle it on popcorn for a low sodium treat.  Baked potatoes are good with Dill too.


I just discovereed this herb.  I never really knew what the flavour was supposed to be.  When you smell the fresh stuff its easy to tell.  My Hubbie says it smells like Italian cooking.  I add it to tomato-based soups and in baking for a savoury smell.  I recently added it to cormeal breakfast muffins with excellent results!  Thyme is an excellent source of vitamin K and iron.  In herbal medicine, Thyme is used to treat menstrual symptoms and for body aches and pains. Its also my friend's beautiful daughter's name.


I'm learning to appreciate cilantro...the fresh green leaves of the coriander plant (they go so well with fresh tomatoes that I swear they are having a love affair in my mouth!)  But for me, the whole reason to grow this plant is for the lemony seeds called Coriander.  When you put this dried seed in a grinder, it makes a slightly crunchy, lemony, citrusy flavour in your meals.  I especially use it in homemade hummus.  I eat it most days with vegetable sticks or nan bread.  A feel good choice compared to chips and dip.


Chives are one of the wonderful things that grow in our garden and we had nothing to do with it!  We found it growing in our main garden patch and transplanted it into our bed beside the bbq.  Nothing beats a warm baked potato with butter sprinkled with freshly cut chives from you doorstep.  Easy gardening at its finest.  If you need extra incentive to use chives...know that you can use them almost anywhere you would normally like a flavour of onion. 


For me, Rosemary is synonmous with pork.  My mom used to cook this juicy pork tenderloin crusted with a rosemary garlic rub that was awesome!  Recently I discovered its uses in balsamic vinegrettes, on roasted root vegetables, and in roasted chickens.  They also kick eggs on their ass.  Don't be discouraged by the pine needle smell.  Cooking releases some of the awesome power of rosemary.  Use the essential oil for Rosemary and calm yourself.  The fresh leaves also aid in digestion.


Mint is for drinks and desserts!  Any herb you can fine by me!  Seems like if you have fresh mint and add it to your cooking, you are immediately a gourmet.  We fell in love with Moroccan Mint tea, introduced by our friends from Montreal.  It's just green tea with fresh mint and 5 tbsps of white sugar...brought to a boil and served piping hot.  SO GOOD!  It's the tea that got our 10 yr old Noah to start drinking herbal teas.  You can also add a new dimension to desserts by adding a candied mint sprig to a frozen treat.  You can also make daquiris and add a sprig there too.  It could all be growing in a pot at your front door.  Really, Mint would be the one herb I think everyone should have growing somewhere.  The fresh leaves aid in digestion, soothe colic, and relieve flatulence!  Harvest before the plant flowers and you recieve maximum mint flavour


Is the only herb I know that freshens your breathe while you chew it!  I add parsley to almost everything if I have it on hand.  Its a plant that can grow all spring, summer and fall if properly cared for.  Top salads, stick in sandwiches, season entrees with it.  Add it everywhere for a fresh splash of green.  It has vitamin K, C, A, iron, and calcium.  Parsley also helps in digestion.  Growing it close to sensitive things in your garden can also keep away garden pests.


Is a gardener's must!  The smell of it raw or cooking is devine.  It makes your kitchen smell like a gourmet restaurant without even trying.  To me, it smells like everything I love about cooking in the country.  Its simple.  We've even come across purple basil and lemon basil.  Like with all Bsil, you must catch the tender leaves before the whole plant goes to flower.  Once it flowers, the whole plant gets matter what flavour you originally bought.  Turns out, Basil is also good for you!  High in vitmain K, iron, calcium, vitamin A and C, manganese, magnesium, and potassium.  Eat your pesto...its good for you too!  Try serving on crackers or fresh bread and top with chopped tomatoes for a garlicky snack.

Speaking of's a grest recipe we use for jarring pesto sauce for the winter.  We use basil and parsley from our garden.  We never have great luck with garlic, so we bought some from the Verona Garlic festival.  We use either pine nuts or walnuts.  Both are acceptible nuts, each bringing their own flavour to the sauce.  Parmesan cheese is a key ingredient. 

2 qt fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 cups of olive oil
2 oz pine nuts or walnuts, toasted
6 cloves garlic
1 1/ tsp salt
5 oz grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2 oz romano cheese (or more parmesan)

Put basil, oil, nuts, garlic and salt in a blender.  Blend until chunky.  Transfer to a bowl and add cheese.  Mix together.  Pour over warm pasta noodles and serve.

If you are storing the sauce to eat later...add to jars leaving 1/4 in space before the lid.   Seal immediately.  If you are really a die-hard you can do the whole double boiling thing to seal the jars too.  Our method has worked in a cupboard, root cellar or freezer!

I love jarring food because you can store it in a cupboard and as long as it doesn't get too warm and it has a good seal, it will last for years.  No electricity required!

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