Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Adding Flavor to Your Meals

I don't know what it is about our part of the country but we tend to think that the only seasoning added to food is fat, pepper and lots of salt.  Probably comes from our pioneer stock who didn't have anything else available.

When I sold herbs at farmers markets folks would say, "I would buy it but I don't know what to do with it."  I'm here to tell you there is a whole other world out there and it tastes AWESOME.

The following ten herbs are not only a perfect start but herbs that anyone can easily grow in their 'kitchen garden'.  In fact I have a row of roses and these herbs are happily tucked between them so they are close by my door for easily picking.  I even grow some indoors in the winter.

In the next couple of weeks I'm going to feature each of these herbs, how to grow them, preserve them and how to introduce them into your cooking.

Flavor: Fragrant and spicy — almost peppery
Great with: Tomatoes, vegetables, poultry, grilled pizzas, salads
Notes: It's best used as whole leaves or torn. Smaller leaves at top of bunch are the sweetest.
Flavor: Subtle onion with grasslike leaves
Great with: Egg dishes, soups, sauces, baked potatoes, fish
Notes: Snip with scissors for best results. Chive flowers make a pretty garnish.
Flavor: A lively flavor; soapy, some say; looks similar to flat-leaf parsley
Great with: Asian, Mexican, and Indian dishes; mix in salsas and chutneys
Notes: Leaves become bitter after plant flowers. Dried seeds are the spice coriander.
Flavor: Fresh and grassy; feathery leaves used in pickle brine
Great with: Tuna salad, omelets, vegetables, seafood dishes, yogurt dressing for cucumbers, herb vinegars
Notes: Use dill fresh or add to hot food just before serving.
Flavor: Cool; brightens up both savory and sweet dishes
Great with: Beverages, jellies, sauces, marinades for meat and vegetables; often tossed with buttered peas
Notes: The most popular variety is spearmint. To dry, hang in a dark place with low humidity.
Flavor: Earthy; balances acidic tomatoes — hence common on pizza
Great with: Lamb, beef, eggs, beans, eggplant
Notes: It's closely related to marjoram (but more pungent), so they aren't classified separately.
Flavor: Peppery and fresh; curly parsley is milder than flat-leaf Italian
Great with: Salads, vegetables (especially potatoes), pasta
Notes: Either variety is a breath freshener.
Flavor: Pungent aroma and pine flavor
Great with: Mediterranean dishes, lamb, poultry, fish, breads; add sprigs or finely chopped leaves to long-cooking stews
Notes: When grilling, sturdier stems make good skewers; branches can be a basting brush.
Flavor: Very aromatic and woodsy
Great with: Fresh sausage, holiday stuffing for turkey, rich meats like pork, goose, and duck
Notes: Deep-fried sage is a lovely garnish.
Flavor: Reminiscent of licorice
Great with: Poultry, fish, shellfish, vegetables, vinegar, and eggs; indispensable in the French béarnaise sauce
Notes: Two types; French is preferred over the more bitter Russian.
Flavor: Minty and citrusy
Great with: Mediterranean dishes, stews, eggs, seafood, poultry; toss sprigs into boiling water to flavor steamed rice
Notes: Strip leaves from stems by pulling through fork tines.

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