Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Using Herbs in Your Recipes

I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house. So I spend almost all the daylight hours in the open air. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

Today I wanted to talk a little about using herbs in your recipes. I know this is a concern when you are new to experimenting with herbs. First off, there are some herbs that are simply all-purpose and good with just about everything. These are also the culinary herbs I would suggest everyone start with if you are wanting to grow an herb garden. For me they are: thyme, basil, parsley, chives, oregano, sweet marjoram and sage.

You can combine them with any meat, poultry or seafood dish, mince them into dips, spreads, breads, scones, savory muffins, vinegars, sauces etc. A little of each one dried, or more of fresh. The flavors of thse herbs aren't overwhelming, so you don't have to fear they will take over a dish.

One of my favorite ways to use them is to take a handful of chives and a bunch of fresh thyme, rinse them off, and put them in the cavity of a whole turkey breast or whole chickens. You can also add the snipped herbs to a little bit of olive oil and spread it over the top of the poultry like I did in the picture below. I add a little water to the roasting pan, put it in the oven, covering it with a lid, and bake until done. I pick out the herbs when it's done roasting, remove the turkey from the pan and make gravy from the drippings. It couldn't get any easier, and everyone in the family loves it.

Some herbs are a little stronger, such as rosemary, dill, mint and tarragon. I use them very sparingly. Here are some suggestions for these:

Rosemary: vinegars, lamb, chicken, herb butters, onion soups, marinades and any type of beef dish. Make sure you mince or crush it well-- or you can tie it into a little bundle and remove after cooking.

Tarragon: chicken, fish, vinegar, mayonnaise, dressings, green beans, and marinades. Again, use sparingly.

Dill: fish, cucumbers, herb butters for seafood or veggies, shrimp, salads, dips, spreads, vinegars, and marinades. My favorite part of the dill to use is the frilly leaves before they go to seed. I think it's fresher tasting. The seeds are strong- so really watch how much you use.

Mint: Iced and hot teas, peas, jellies, drinks and punches, lamb, marinades for lamb or vegetables. It can also be used in certain salads, both for fruit and vegetables. It's a good one to experiment with.

On OFL we have more recipes and tips on using dill:


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