Wednesday, 16 May 2012

FRESH HERBS

Today is sunny in London, so I wanted to make a little post about one of the most important things in the kitchen: fresh herbs.
Coming strawberries

Lemon thyme and sage

Mint

Growing tomatoes
Something so easy to grow, everyone can have their own little pots at home in the garden, kitchen,  balcony, even in the bathroom...
Herbs are in my opinion a very little ingredient but they make the difference between good and great.
As a chef thyme is my favourite one, great for any roast, vegetable stew, and even for ice cream, has many, many utilities in the kitchen.
 I have 2 different types of thyme, the plain one and the lemon thyme. Lemon thyme has a citrusy and very refreshing touch. Goes very well with any fish and infused in cream goes very well for many utilities in puddings.
Other herbs that I have in pots are rosemary, sage, mint, chives, 2 different basils, lavender, coriander, parsley and this year I also planted tomatoes, salad and strawberries.
Rosemary is another great herb to use in kitchen. Fantastic in breads, like the rosemary focaccia, goes also well with dishes like lamb, and combines well mixed with other herbs like thyme, mint, oregano, bay leaves and garlic.
Sage is another of the great herbs, very popular in Italian dishes I use it to marinate with fish, meat, sausages, pasta dishes, vegetables like carrots, peas...and is excellent with any pork dish.
Mint so refreshing is used for equal as a drink than for cooking. Who never had a Mojito before.. Or a mint tea? I use it a lot for dressing with yogurt, combined also with lemon, cumin, coriander...
Goes very well with salads, cous-cous, lamb dishes and vegetables like peas or broad beans.
In pastry has infinity of uses infused and made a sorbet, dried, mixed with sugar, I use it in fresh leaves covered in milk chocolate, and also very good mixed with fresh fruits strawberries, mango, kiwi, berries.
Chives I use it as a substitute of parsley when I don't have it but has his own particular flavour remembering the spring onions...great to add in tartars, salads, and as a final touch of decoration.
Basil is the herb number one in Italy, used in many pasta dishes and blended to elaborate the famous "pesto" where they add parmesan, garlic, salt, pine nuts and Extra Virgin olive oil. Goes very well in salads, like the avocado, mozzarella and tomato. Added also in tomato sauce, fish dishes and pizzas i personally prefer to use it in fresh, as once is cooked loose some of the flavour and loose in visual effect.
Lavender is a very interesting herb with unlimited uses, like mint when used in cooking you don't need to abuse of it otherwise food will taste bitter. Has a more powerful flavour when dried, is used in jellies, ice creams, pork dishes, fishes like salmon and tuna, cream brulees,....
Coriander is one of those herbs that you like it or hate it. Has a strong but fragrant flavour, I use this herb since I moved to London in 2005. Great and basic in elaborations like guacamole, ceviche, curry dishes...Is better to use it fresh as cooked looses most of the flavour. What I do I add half in the middle of the cooking and add the rest just at the end when I stop the gas. Finally chopped and mixed with chillies, garlic and lime juice is a great deep for some vegetable rolls, grilled meat or fish cakes very used in Thailand and South America.
Parsley is the most used herb in Spain, we usually put it every where, salads, finely chopped for topping dishes, elaborations like dishes in "salsa verde"(green sauce) not to confuse with the Italian "salsa verde" with the same name but quite different. The Spanish way is mainly used as a fish stew and basically is garlic, onion, the fish paned in flour, white wine, fish stock and chopped parsley.
The Italian salsa verde is made with just chopped parsley, capers, mustard, basil, mint, anchovies, olive oil, chilli is optional and a touch of salt and lemon juice. Very refreshing in salads, bruschettas and grilled fish like sardines or mackerel.
I also love tarragon but I don't have it yet so I will talk another day about it and hope my tomatoes, strawberries and salad grows well...

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