Thursday, February 18, 2010
Herbs are the magic dust of cooks. They have the power to make something good taste great and transform a bland dish into something seriously delicious. You may think that the teaspoon of minced thyme or sprig of rosemary called for in your recipe is unimportant. This could not be further from the truth. Without herbs many popular dishes would be impossible. Can you imagine mojitos without mint, pesto without basil or pasta sauce without oregano?
10 things you should know about herbs:
1. Fresh herbs are best. Substitute any dried herb for fresh whenever possible.
2. Throw out your dried herbs every year as they lose their flavor quickly.
3. Some of the most commonly used herbs are basil, thyme, rosemary, sage, dill, chives, cilantro, mint, oregano, cilantro, parsley and tarragon.
4. Wild marjoram or sometimes marjoram, is just another name for oregano
5. When using dried herbs rub them between your fingers to help release their flavor before adding them to your dish.
6. Cilantro and coriander is the exact same herb.
7. Buy basil in its fresh form as the dried version tastes nothing like real basil.
8. Store your dried herbs in a dry cool place and your fresh ones wrapped in a damp paper towel then sealed in a plastic bag.
9. In medieval Europe it was thought that dill protected against witchcraft and curses.
10. It’s easy, affordable and fun to start your own herb garden on a windowsill or in your backyard.
Here are the four herbs I use most often and favor because of their distinct differences and versatility.
• Thyme- A great all around herb. I put this on everything like bean soup, chicken or turkey, potatoes, carrots, pasta sauce, salad dressing, dips, quiche, or scallops and is especially amazing with mushrooms.
• Rosemary- A great herb for heartier meats and stews or to roast with. I love it in bread, chicken, lamb, roasted or mashed potatoes, carrots, goat cheese, pasta sauce, salad dressings, or turkey.
• Basil- A key herb in Mediterranean cooking and the essential ingredient to pesto. Basil is delicious in breads, burrata cheese, eggplant, strawberries, onions, pasta, pizza, olives, caprese salad, white fish, tomatoes, and Thai dishes.
• Sage- A native Mediterranean herb and possibly my favorite next to thyme. Love this with butternut squash, white bean soups, chicken and turkey, stuffing, corn, cheese soufflé, duck and sweet potatoes.
Here are some different styles of herb gardens to inspire you!