Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Herbs the secret ingredient

Last year as part of an assignment I wrote an article (featured below) all about the use of herbs. I am always experimenting with the different flavors that they give to different foods. I never got the chance to grow my own garden because we lived in a basement apartment that never saw much sun light. Now that we have our own house that was my first summer project. My wonderful husband helped me find the location (just under our living room window on the front lawn), he watched me dig up the ground and then he placed these stick around it to give it a designer look. The following day a dear friend brought me some sheep manure and we started plating! I have been enjoying creating many dishes with these little guys. The fresh thyme is wonderful in my husbands omelets he mastered. The Tarragon is absolutely fantastic in seafood chowder and basic white sauce and nothing beats a pork roast thats been rubbed and stuff with fresh Rosemary. For this year I have planted 6 herbs Rosemary, Basil, 2 types of Thyme, Tarragon and Marjoram.

Culinary herbs are different kinds of plants whose fresh or dried parts are used to season foods while cooking. Some of the most common culinary herbs used include basil, chives, marjoram, oregano, summer savory, rosemary, tarragon and thyme. Many of our favorite dishes have these herbs hidden in them, giving them their unique flavor. What would dressing be without summer savory or spaghetti sauce without oregano?

Herbs transform meals by enhancing their smell, taste and color. They can be used lightly to give subtle flavor to dishes or they can become the star of the dish. Being adventurous and experimenting with different herbs is a great way to flavour food without added extra salt and fat.

Herbs are easily grown in an outside garden or in your kitchen window. Basil, chives, oregano, sage, tarragon and thyme, just to name a few, are herbs that can be easily grown. These herbs grow best in healthy lose soil and should be kept in direct sunlight to encourage strong growth and savory flavor. Sniping and using the herbs often encourages growth and having these fresh herbs in the kitchen allows you to incorporate delicious flavors into your recipes

Listed below is some advice on which herbs to use with which foods and how to get the MOST flavor out of these herbs.

Basil is key in tomato sauces and excellent with poultry, breads and salads.

Preparation: Basil is a delicate herb that loses its sharp flavor if cooked for too long.

Chives complement eggs, potatoes and cheese sauces.

Preparation: Chop chives fine to allow more flavour to be released and add towards the end of the cooking process.

Oregano is great in tomato sauces and as a pizza topping.

Preparation: Oregano is a heartier herb that can be added earlier in the cooking process to allow its flavour to completely infuse your dish.

Sage adds a lovely flavour to turkey, stuffing, pork, cheese and soups.

Preparation: Sage is best used fresh and can be added during any time in the cooking process.

Tarragon: Add a wonderful flavor to any tomato, egg or cheese dish. It’s also marvelous in cream based soups and sauces.

Preparation: Add during the end of the cooking process

Thyme is an excellent herb for poultry, soups and stews

Preparation: To maximize the flavor of thyme add early in the cooking process.

Let me know if you have any tips on how to keep these guys growing, storing them when it comes time and of course cooking with them.

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