Home­grown HERB BLENDS

Create au­then­tic dishes from around the world with these home­grown herb and spice mixes.

Herbs & Superfoods - - Culinary Herbs In The Kitchen -

Bou­quet garni

Bou­quet garni con­sists of whole sprigs of fresh herbs tied in a bun­dle. It can be added to soups, stocks, sauces and casseroles.

Tra­di­tion­ally it con­tains bay leaf, pars­ley and thyme, though there are many vari­a­tions to the recipe. A sprig of sa­vory could be added, for ex­am­ple, or the warm flavour­ing of mar­jo­ram.

The herbs can also be bun­dled to­gether with a stem of cel­ery or a baby leek to im­part ex­tra flavour. If you find your herbs come apart while cook­ing, place them in a small muslin bag. This way, pep­per­corns can also be added to the mix.

Bou­quet garni is typ­i­cally added at the be­gin­ning of cook­ing to en­able the flavour to be re­leased in slow cook­ing.

In­gre­di­ents • 1 bay leaf • 1 bunch pars­ley stalks • 2 sprigs thyme

Tie the herbs to­gether with un­waxed kitchen string and add to your pot while cook­ing.

Fines herbes

The most im­por­tant herb mix in French cui­sine is fines herbes. It’s a lovely blend of fresh pars­ley, chervil, chives and French tar­ragon, though in modern day kitchens thyme is some­times added. Be care­ful when adding ex­tra herbs as the tra­di­tional flavour­ing will change. You can change the quan­ti­ties of the four herbs though to suit your palate; for a more del­i­cate flavour, add less chives and tar­ragon. If you want the flavours turned up loud, add more. Fines herbes part­ners well with egg dishes, cream-based recipes, pota­toes, rice and seafood.

In­gre­di­ents • 4 ta­ble­spoons fresh pars­ley • 2 ta­ble­spoons fresh chives • 2 ta­ble­spoons fresh chervil • 1 ta­ble­spoon fresh tar­ragon

Chop herbs finely be­fore use. If cook­ing, add to the pot at the last minute. Or sprin­kle atop dishes with­out cook­ing; it‘s es­pe­cially good added to omelettes.

English herb blend

There is an English ver­sion of fines herbes, which in­cludes pars­ley, chives, thyme and tar­ragon, though this blend typ­i­cally uses dried herbs.

To make up a mix, com­bine 5-6 ta­ble­spoons each of the above herbs and store in an air­tight con­tainer. Use with lamb and pork, or add to stuff­ing.

Ital­ian herb blend

If you like your Ital­ian dishes, you can pre­pare a dried Ital­ian herb mix in ad­vance, us­ing dried bay leaf, pars­ley, thyme and cel­ery leaves. Add it to dishes where Ital­ian herbs are called for.

In­gre­di­ents • 10 dried bay leaves • 1 ta­ble­spoon dried sage • 1 ta­ble­spoon dried thyme • 1 ta­ble­spoon dried oregano • 1 ta­ble­spoon paprika • 1 ta­ble­spoon freshly ground black pep­per

Crush the bay leaves with a rolling pin, un­til fine. Com­bine with the rest of the herbs and store in an air­tight con­tainer. This mix can be added to the pot when cook­ing or used as a herb rub on meats.

Herbes de Provence

This is a mix­ture of dried herbs typ­i­cal of the Provence re­gion of south­east France. Sprin­kle into omelettes and stews or over meat, fish and poul­try be­fore cook­ing. Or mix with vine­gar, oil and a lit­tle Di­jon mus­tard to make a salad dress­ing.

The fol­low­ing recipe uses many herbs, but you could make a sim­pler ver­sion with just thyme, rose­mary, sweet mar­jo­ram, sum­mer sa­vory and oregano.

In­gre­di­ents • 2 tea­spoons dried thyme • 1 tea­spoon dried rose­mary • 1 tea­spoon dried laven­der flow­ers • 2 tea­spoons dried sweet mar­jo­ram • 1 tea­spoon sum­mer sa­vory • 1 tea­spoon dried oregano • 1 tea­spoon dried mint • 2 tea­spoons dried basil • 1 tea­spoon dried sage • 1 tea­spoon fen­nel seeds

Place herbs in a food pro­ces­sor or blender and whizz un­til finely chopped. Store in an air­tight con­tainer.

Home­made mus­tard

If you like a bit of fire with your food, grow your own mus­tard seeds. Grind them and you have your­self some mus­tard pow­der that is as good as you get from any su­per­mar­ket shelf.

In­gre­di­ents • ½ cup white (aka yel­low) mus­tard seeds • ½ cup brown mus­tard seeds • 1 ta­ble­spoon black pep­per­corns • 1 cup olive oil • 1 cup white wine vine­gar • 2 tea­spoons chopped French tar­ragon

Grind the mus­tard seeds in a spice grinder, cof­fee grinder or mor­tar and pes­tle. Place ground mus­tard seeds and re­main­ing in­gre­di­ents in a food pro­ces­sor and process into a smooth paste. Place in ster­ilised jars. Leave to ma­ture for at least a cou­ple of weeks be­fore open­ing.

Lemon herb sea­son­ing

This herb mix goes with many dishes – seafood, chicken, roast pota­toes and veges, and sal­ads. You can buy onion flakes from the su­per­mar­ket, or you can make your own. Peel and finely chop onions, spread onto an oven tray and place in an 80oc oven un­til dry and brit­tle (4-6 hours). The onions are ready when they crum­ble eas­ily be­tween your fin­gers. Keep an eye on them to­wards the end of bak­ing so they don’t turn brown. Al­low onions to cool then grind in a food pro­ces­sor, cof­fee grinder or mor­tar and pes­tle. Store in an air­tight con­tainer. One medium onion yields about 3 ta­ble­spoons of dried onion flakes. Gar­lic is dried in the same way.

You can col­lect your own cel­ery seeds too. The seeds sold in the shops are taken from wild cel­ery rather than the do­mes­ti­cated cel­ery we grow in our gar­dens (you can buy wild cel­ery from Ital­ian Seeds Pronto) although you can use seed from or­di­nary cel­ery too. Lo­vage seed is also a good sub­sti­tute.

In­gre­di­ents • 5 ta­ble­spoons dried basil • 3½ ta­ble­spoons dried oregano • 2 ta­ble­spoons dried onion flakes • ½ tea­spoon gar­lic pow­der • 1½ ta­ble­spoons cel­ery seed • ½ to 1 ta­ble­spoon finely ground black pep­per • ½ tea­spoon finely grated lemon rind

Grind basil and oregano roughly with a mor­tar and pes­tle or more finely in a food pro­ces­sor. Trans­fer to a small bowl and add re­main­ing in­gre­di­ents. Mix to­gether then store in an air­tight con­tainer in a cool, dry place.

No salt mix

This mix is a great sub­sti­tute for salt – just sprin­kle it over your food be­fore eat­ing.

In­gre­di­ents • 1 tea­spoon fen­nel seeds • 1 tea­spoon dill seeds • 2 tea­spoons cel­ery seeds • 1 dried bay leaf

Grind herbs in a mini food pro­ces­sor.

Herb pow­der

In her fa­mous ref­er­ence Mrs Bee­ton’s Book of House­hold Man­age­ment (1861), Mrs Bee­ton wrote about the herb sa­vory: “This we find de­scribed by Col­umella, a vo­lu­mi­nous Ro­man writer on agri­cul­ture, as an odor­if­er­ous herb, which, ‘in the brave days of old,’ en­tered into the sea­son­ing of nearly ev­ery dish.” She then of­fered her recipe for Herb Pow­der “for when fresh herbs are not ob­tain­able”.

In­gre­di­ents • 1 oz of dried lemon thyme • 1 oz of dried win­ter sa­vory • 1 oz of dried sweet mar­jo­ram and basil • 2 oz of dried pars­ley • 1 oz of dried lemon peel

Mrs Bee­ton says: “Pick the leaves from the stalks, pound them, and sift them through a hair-sieve; mix in the above pro­por­tions, and keep in glass bot­tles, care­fully ex­clud­ing the air. This, we think, a far bet­ter method of keep­ing herbs, as the flavour and fra­grance do not evap­o­rate so much as when they are merely put in paper bags.

”In this way, you have them ready for use at a mo­ment's no­tice. Mint, sage, pars­ley and more, dried, pounded, and each put into sep­a­rate bot­tles, will be found very use­ful in win­ter.”

The more flavour­some the herb, the bet­ter the fin­ished oil. Ex­per­i­ment with sin­gle herbs or a mix of them to com­ple­ment cer­tain dishes. When us­ing laven­der for culi­nary pur­poses, use English laven­der ( La­van­dula an­gus­ti­fo­lia), which has the sweet­est flavour.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.