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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Cooking With Herbs

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Here is my little herb garden this year. I LOVE cooking with fresh herbs. They make food taste so much fresher. I tend to add more then recipes call for, or even add them in when they aren't in the recipe. Herbs are great to grow outside in the summer, but I also keep them going in side during the cold months of the year. Just find a sunny spot in your house & you can keep them growing & save so much money. They are really expensive when you buy them in the store & never last very long. You'll probably want a fresh plant each year, though. They get scragly (not sure that's even a word.) after a while.

Here's what I'm growing:
Oregano
Basil
Chives
Peppermint
Dill
Cilantro
Rosemary

In this post I'm going to share some ways to use fresh herbs in your cooking. Many will be references to old posts that I have already done, but there are a couple of new ones in there, too.

Basil: This is probably my favorite herb. It's used in Italian flavored foods. I like to add fresh basil to pizzas, tomato sauces, alfredo sauces, etc.

Here are a few of my favorite recipes that use basil:Bruschetta, Feta Chicken Bake, Basil Pesto, Basil Butter


Rosemary:
Rosemary always reminds me of the Macaroni Grill restaurant, because of their bread. If you love that restaurant, try the peasant bread. Rosemary Lemon Chicken, Rosemary Peasant Bread


Cilantro:
This is used in Mexican flavored foods & is a great addition to add to burritos, tacos & chilis. Chicken Tortilla Soup , Black Bean Salsa, Touchdown Taco Dip


Dill:
We, of course know dill is in pickles... it's also great on fish, & vegetables, on sandwiches, etc. Salmon with basil butter & dill, Spinach-Cheese Pie


Here's another Dill recipe I really like:


Tzatziki Sauce
(Served on sandwiches & Gyros-greek sandwich)
1 container (16 ounces) plain lowfat yogurt
1/2 English (seedless) cucumber, not peeled, seeded and finely chopped
1/1-2 teaspoons salt
1 to 2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh mint or dill plus additional sprigs
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Spoon yogurt into sieve lined with cheesecloth or coffee filter set over bowl; cover and refrigerate overnight. Transfer drained yogurt to medium bowl and discard liquid. Meanwhile, in colander set over bowl, toss chopped cucumber with 1 teaspoon salt. Let drain at least 1 hour at room temperature, or cover and refrigerate up to 8 hours. In batches, wrap chopped cucumber in kitchen towel and squeeze to remove as much liquid as possible. Pat dry with paper towels, then add to bowl with yogurt. Add garlic, salt, chopped mint or dill, oil, vinegar, and pepper to yogurt and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate.


Oregano
: I like this herb because it is moreversatile. I use it in Italian & in Mexican dishes. It's great added to a tomato sauce dish as well as a soup or stew. Chile Blanco


Chives:
I add these to so many things. Most foods are good with a little onion flavor added. Chives have a mild onion flavor. I add them to my scrambled eggs, on top of pizzas, in mashed potatoes, etc.


Peppermint:
I just tried this recipe last week & it was delish!

Mint Limeade
Makes 1-1/2 gallons
2 c. sugar
2 c. water
4 c. packed fresh mint leaves
5 c. lime juice, plus 2 limes thinly sliced for garnish
3 c. superfine sugar (if you can't find this, blend granulated sugar in the blender/food proc.)
Boil 2 c. sugar & 2 c. water in a medium pan over high heat. Stir until dissolved. Refrigerate until chilled. Add sugar syrup and mint into a blender & puree it. Pour through a fine strainer over the pitcher & discard large mint pieces that are left. Add lime juice, superfine sugar & 4 qts. of water. Stir until dissolved. May want to sweeten to your taste. Serve cold & garnish with sliced limes.

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