Archive for August, 2014


 

Buying and Storing Fresh Herbs

When buying herbs, be sure to look for vibrant colors and fresh aromas. Avoid leaves that are limp, yellowing or have brown spots. You can buy fresh herbs loose, in packages or as plants. Having herb plants allows you to just snip off what you need and the rest of the plant continues to grow for months.

You can store fresh herbs for several days in the fridge. Remove the rubber bands and immerse the stems in a glass with one inch of water. Cover the leaves with a plastic bag and change the water every day. Alternatively, you can trim the root ends and wrap the herbs loosely in damp paper towels. Place them in a plastic storage bag and keep them on the top shelf of the refrigerator, in the front so they don’t freeze. If the herbs do become limp, trim less than an inch off the stems and place them in a glass of ice water for a few hours. They will spring back to life!

Herbs can also be frozen for up to six months by plucking the leaves, washing and drying them, and placing them in a sealed plastic storage bag. They will, however, lose their vibrant color. Hearty herbs can be frozen in ice cube trays using oil or vegan butter. Simply fill an ice cube try about 2/3 full with chopped herbs, cover the herbs with oil or butter, cover the tray with plastic and freeze overnight. Pop the herb cubes out of the tray and store in labeled freezer bags. The next time you are cooking, you can just throw a cube in your pan and let it melt.

Cooking With Herbs

Only wash herbs when you are ready to use them. Put them in a bowl or sink of cool water and swish them around to release any dirt. Lift them out of the water and dry them in a salad spinner or by blotting them with a dish towel.

Herbs can be chopped with a knife or snipped with kitchen scissors. I choose scissors when I need chives or don’t feel like picking leaves of parsley off the stems. Chop the herbs right before you will add them to the dish so they remain fresh.

If the herbs are being used as an aromatic, background flavor, add some at the beginning of the recipes, usually right after heating the oil or cooking the first few ingredients such as the onions. You can add the entire sprig of an herb into the pot and then remove it when the dish is done. Dried herbs should also be added early in the recipe so their flavors can be released into the food. If you want the full flavor of the herbs to come through, chop them and add them near the end of cooking. And of course, herbs are the perfect garnish to top your incredible culinary masterpiece.

 

Basil

If you have ever eaten pesto, you have eaten basil. Basil, or Sweet Basil, is a popular herb in France and Italy. Basil has a floral aroma, similar to anise and cloves, and is a bit spicy. It pairs perfectly with tomatoes so you often find it inside and on top of Italian dishes. It is believed that it is best to tear basil leaves rather than chop them as the metal from the knife can alter the taste. Basil can be bought dried but it is best when fresh.

Basil can be used in sauces, salads, soups, smoothies, sandwiches and even desserts

There is also Thai Basil which has a much stronger anise scent and is used in many Asian dishes. The leaves are smaller than those of Sweet Basil.

Bay Leaves

Bay leaves are Mediterranean herbs that are members of the laurel family. They are the leaves that were used to make wreaths for Olympic athletes before there were gold medals. Bay is robust, strongly aromatic and has a woody, astringent flavor. The smell is slightly minty and slightly clove-like. Many cooks think of bay more as a spice than an herb and bay pairs well with other spices such as cumin. Bay leaves are usually added to soups, stews, rice, sauces, beans and other long-cooking dishes that have moist environments. Bay leaves are available fresh or dried and both are fine for cooking.

Chives

Chives are related to onions and garlic. They have long, hollow green stems and are usually used fresh, though you can buy dried chives. Chives have a mildly pungent flavor that is not as strong as onion. They are usually used as a garnish by chopping or snipping them with scissors as they are delicate and heat ruins their flavor. Chives are found in many recipes including baked potatoes, salads and omelets. They are often mixed into cream cheese as a spread or into vegan butter to make a compound butter.

Chive plants grow edible purple blossoms that have a stronger onion and garlic flavor than do the stems. They are beautiful on a plate.

Cilantro

Cilantro, also called coriander, is an herb that brings out strong feelings in people. They tend to either love it or hate it. Those who hate it often say cilantro has a “soapy” taste while those who love it find it verdant and refreshing. It has a slight anise flavor. Cilantro comes from the coriander plant, specifically the stems and the leaves, but it is not the same thing as coriander seeds which are the dried seeds of the plant. Nor is it the same thing as parsley, though they are often mistaken for each other in the store. Cilantro does come in dried form but it is best used fresh. It is most often used in spicy foods and is a staple of Mexican, Indian and Asian cooking.

Dill

Dill is a very pretty herb with feathery leaves or fronds. It has a fresh, grassy flavor that is often referred to as anise-like. Dill comes in dried form as well as fresh. A member of the parsley family, dill is sometimes also called dill weed. Dill is often added to seafood dishes, yogurt sauces, vinegars, potato salads and soups.

Mint

When you think of mint, you probably think of desserts. Mint is certainly used for sweet foods . Mint is also used in savory dishes where it adds a cooling, peppery taste. It is often used in North African, Indian and Middle Eastern dishes. Mint pairs well with green peas. Mint is delicious in sauces, jellies.. It also works well in beverages such as mint tea. Mint comes in many varieties with spearmint being the type most used in cooking.

Oregano

Oregano is my favorite herb. It is also the herb I prefer to use in its dried form rather than fresh as the flavor is more concentrated. Oregano grows in the mountains of Italy and Greece and its name actually means “joy of the mountain” in Greek. There is also a type of oregano called Mexican Oregano that is used in Mexican dishes. Oregano is earthy and pungent and closely related to its milder, sweeter cousin, marjoram. Oregano balances acidic foods which makes it the perfect herb to use with tomatoes. Oregano is used in sauces, vinaigrettes, salads and of course, on pizza.

Parsley

Parsley is probably the most common herb. You most likely remember always having that sprig of curly, green stuff on your plates when you ate at a restaurant and you were never sure whether you were supposed to eat it or not (you could but you probably didn’t want to). Parsley has a light, peppery flavor and it gets used in almost every recipe. It adds a fresh brightness and never dominates dishes. Flat-leaf or Italian parsley is the one you want to cook with; the curly stuff is best left for visual garnishes. Add it whenever your dish needs some color on top.

Rosemary

Rosemary is a Mediterranean herb that is tough and woody with spiky, needle-like leaves. The stem is so strong, you can use it as a basting or pastry brush when grilling. Rosemary can be used fresh or dried. Rosemary is very strong and pungent and a little goes a long way. Because it is so aromatic, it can easily overpower a dish. It adds a woodsy, pine flavor to foods. Rosemary is often used in stews, soups and sauces. It pairs well with tomatoes, potatoes, and strong hearty foods like seitan. Rosemary also works well on pizza and in breads such as focaccia.

Make a compound Rosemary Butter to spread on biscuits. Rosemary can also be used in desserts. 

Rosemary

Rosemary is a Mediterranean herb that is tough and woody with spiky, needle-like leaves. The stem is so strong, you can use it as a basting or pastry brush when grilling. Rosemary can be used fresh or dried. Rosemary is very strong and pungent and a little goes a long way. Because it is so aromatic, it can easily overpower a dish. It adds a woodsy, pine flavor to foods. Rosemary is often used in stews, soups and sauces. It pairs well with tomatoes, potatoes, and strong hearty foods like seitan. Rosemary also works well on pizza and in breads such as focaccia.

 Make a compound Rosemary Butter to spread on biscuits. Rosemary can also be used in desserts.  

Sage

Sage is an herb from the evergreen shrub. It has woody stems and large, fuzzy, green leaves. Sage has an earthy flavor and a strong, woodsy aroma. It is often used in combination with other herbs such as parsley, rosemary and thyme. Sage is available in fresh and dried forms. Dried sage is much stronger than the fresh and it can easily overpower a dish. Many people don’t use sage except at holiday time but it works well in many recipes year-round. The leaves can be deep-fried until crispy for a delectable garnish.

 

Tarragon

Tarragon is a delicate herb with long, thin, pointy leaves and tastes like anise. There are two types of tarragon: French and Russian. French tarragon is the one most used in cooking. In fact, it is one of the signature herbs in French cuisine. Tarragon is available fresh and dried and both are fine for cooking. Tarragon does have a strong peppery flavor and can overwhelm other ingredients so remember that a little goes a long way. Tarragon is used in white wine vinegars, mustard dishes and it is a key ingredient of béarnaise sauce.

Thyme

Thyme is my second favorite herb. It is very fragrant and smells lemony. Thyme has thin, woody stems and small leaves that you pull off by holding the bottom of the stem with one hand and running the fingers of your other hand up the stem, stripping the leaves off. Thyme is often used with other herbs such as rosemary, sage, oregano and parsley. It is a popular herb in Mediterranean and European cuisines. Thyme is available fresh or dried and both are fine for cooking. Thyme works well in any dish and is especially delicious with mushrooms.

Herbs, like spices, can take a dish to new, complex and delightful levels. They add flavor, fragrance and color to food, taking recipes from ordinary to extraordinary. It’s fine to keep a bunch of bottles of dried herbs in the pantry; I know I do. But the next time you have a chance to buy and use some fresh herbs, grab it. The aroma alone will invigorate you and motivate you to make amazing dishes.

 

 

 

 

 

Green Leaf, Chorizo, and Apple SaladPaul Sirisalee
Serves 4| Hands-On Time: 10m| Total Time: 15m

Ingredients

Directions

  1. In a medium skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of the oil over medium heat. Add the chorizo and cook until crisp, 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon black pepper.
  3. Add the lettuce, apple, manchego, and chorizo and toss to coat.

By Charlyne Mattox , June, 2012

Nutritional Information

  • Per Serving
  • Calories 377
  • Fat 34g
  • Sat Fat 10g
  • Cholesterol 40mg
  • Sodium 579mg
  • Protein 12g
  • Carbohydrate 7g
  • Sugar 4g
  • Fiber 2g
  • Iron 1mg
  • Calcium 186mg

 

 

 

Corn Spoon BreadSang An
Serves 6-8| Hands-On Time: 15m| Total Time: 45m

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350° F.
  2. In a large saucepan, over medium heat, bring 2 cups of the milk and the corn to a boil.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining milk and the cornmeal. Whisking constantly, slowly add the mixture to the boiling milk. Reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the butter, thyme, salt, pepper, and eggs.
  4. Transfer to a buttered casserole or cast-iron skillet. Bake until golden and set, about 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Nutritional Information

  • Per Serving
  • Calories 165Calories From Fat 44%
  • Fat 8g
  • Sat Fat 4g
  • Cholesterol 70mg
  • Sodium 514mg
  • Carbohydrate 20g
  • Fiber 2g
  • Sugar 6g
  • Protein 6g

Eggplant Controversies Cooks in Italy, as everywhere, disagree about whether or not eggplant should be peeled. It seems to be a matter of personal preference, but keep in mind that an eggplant that is overgrown or has been stored for a long time will have a tough skin that will not soften during cooking. It’s often a good idea to peel it.

Whether or not to salt and drain eggplant before cooking remains a matter of dispute, too. Some say you should salt slices heavily and drain them on paper towels for an hour to rid the eggplant of any bitterness; others feel it”s an unnecessary step. What is indisputably true is that eggplant that has been salted and drained will absorb less oil during frying than eggplant that has not.


  • SERVINGS: MAKES ONE 14-INCH PIZZA

Tangy goat cheese, sharp Parmesan, tender sautéed eggplant, and bold pesto cover a mouth-watering pizza.

This recipe makes a hearty fourteen-inch pizza; you be the judge whether it serves two or four.

 

  1. 7 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, or more as needed
  2. 1 1 1/2- to 2-pound eggplant, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  3. 3/4 teaspoon salt
  4. 1 pound store-bought or homemade pizza dough
  5. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  7. 6 ounces mild goat cheese, such as Montrachet, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  8. 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  9. 1/2 cup store-bought or homemade pesto
  1. Heat the oven to 450°. In a large nonstick frying pan, heat 2 1/2 tablespoons of the oil over moderately high heat. Season the eggplant with the salt. Fry one-third of the eggplant, turning, until golden, about 10 minutes. Remove. Repeat in two more batches with the remaining oil, using more if needed, and the eggplant.
  2. Meanwhile, oil a 14-inch pizza pan or large baking sheet. Press the pizza dough onto the pan in an approximately 14-inch round or 9-by-13-inch rectangle.
  3. Arrange the eggplant slices on the pizza crust. Sprinkle the garlic and pepper over the top. Bake for 12 minutes. Put the slices of goat cheese on the pizza, sprinkle with the Parmesan, and then dot with the pesto. Bake until the cheese begins to turn golden, about 15 minutes.
Notes Pizza Dough Most supermarkets carry pizza dough; look for it in the refrigerator section. Another possibility is to ask for it at your favorite pizza restaurant. Many places are willing to sell it by the pound.

 
Sausage, Cauliflower, and Kale Potpie
Serves 8| Hands-On Time: 25m| Total Time: 1hr 00m

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400° F. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, tossing occasionally, until browned, 4 to 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a large bowl.
  2. Add the onions, rosemary, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper to the drippings in the skillet and cook, stirring, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the broth and simmer until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the kale, vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, tossing, until the kale is wilted, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add the kale mixture and cauliflower to the sausage and toss to combine. Transfer to a 9-by-13-inch or some other 3-quart baking dish and top with the puff pastry, overlapping the rectangles slightly.
  4. Bake until the pastry is golden and the filling is bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

By Dawn Perry , March, 2012

Nutritional Information

  • Per Serving
  • Calories 443
  • Fat 24g
  • Sat Fat 7g
  • Cholesterol 19mg
  • Sodium 901mg
  • Protein 19g
  • Carbohydrate 39g
  • Sugar 4g
  • Fiber 4g
  • Iron 4mg
  • Calcium 143mg

 

 

100_2083

Veggie and Herb Rice

2 cups water

1 cup finely chopped celery

1/2 cup finely  chopped red bell peppers

1 cup finely chopped onion

1 cup finely chopped carrot

1 cup Jasmine white rice

1 tablespoon ground ginger

2 tablespoons ground turmeric

1/8 teaspoon cumin

1/4 cup frozen corn

1 tablespoon of unsalted butter

Add all the above ingredients except rice and frozen corn  to boiling water, let boil for 10 minutes stir well, then add Jasmine rice bring all just to a boil, remove immediately  from heat add 1/4 cup frozen corn, cover and let sit for 20 minutes, just before serving add the butter, stir well and serve.

Baked Chicken Strips

2 skinless chicken breasts (mine were two large one and I cut into 6 strips ….tip cut them when still partial frozen, makes easier cutting)

1 egg beaten with 1 cup almond milk

1 zip log back filled with 1 cup bread crumbs, 3 cups flour, 1 tablespoon garlic powder and 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon dried kale( finely crushed)

Shake bag until thoroughly mixed

Soak chicken strips in egg and milk about 15 minutes then turn and soak other side, cover and put in fridge for about 20 minutes.

Put few strips of chicken  at time in bag and shake well then place in  9x 12 Pyrex dish that has been sprayed with olive oil (or your choice of oil), bake at 350 for 30 minutes, then turn each piece and spray top of them lightly and bake at 450 for 10 minutes (I do this in toaster oven, your ovens may vary in temperature so always check for complete cooking through)

Serve chicken on bed of the Veggie and Spiced Rice with a side veggie of your choice…..serves 4

 

 

 

 

Found this article on Care2.com from Lisa Kaplan Gordon, excellent info

  • July 31, 2014
16 Natural Ways To Defeat Garden SlugsI love all creatures great and small. Except slugs in my garden.

Those slimy gastropods that not only gross me out, but they take large bites out of tender seedlings and shoots, devouring my precious plants. For that reason, all slugs must die, but in a natural way.

Here are 16 non-toxic (to humans) ways to kill garden slugs.

Cut Slugs

1. Cornmeal: Place a handful of cornmeal in a jar, and lay it on its side in the garden. Slugs will like the scent, slither in, and die.

2. Coffee Grounds: Spread coffee grounds around plants. Not only will the grounds damage slug bellies, but they will nourish your soil as well.

3. Egg Shells: Eggshell shards ringing your plants will stop slugs in their slimy tracks.

4. Dried Pine Needles: Dried pine needs make a great mulch that cuts slugs where they crawl. Spread it throughout the garden, and watch it rot into food for your soil.

5. Diatomaceous Earth: Place these granules of dead, microscopic creatures around plants to form a rough barrier that slugs can’t breach. Warning: The power can irritate eyes, so wear glasses or goggles, and don’t spread when it’s windy.

Dry Out or Dissolve Slugs

6. Salt: Salt dries up slugs eating your container plants. Ring pots with salt, making sure the salt doesn’t get near the drainage hole. I wouldn’t use salt in the garden, because it can harm soil and plants.

7. Seaweed: Seaweed is double trouble for slugs. Not only will the salt in seaweed harm slugs, but it dries into a rough layer that cuts slugs, too. Spread it around, but not touching, plants at least 3 inches high.

8. Vinegar: Is there anything vinegar isn’t good for? Mix equal parts vinegar and water, and spray the solution on slugs you’ve collected. It will dissolve the pests, but it can also harm plants. So isolate the slugs before you soak them in vinegar.

9. Coffee: Caffeine is a proven slug killer. Spray coffee on their soft bodies, and the neurotoxic caffeine destabilizes their heart rate.

Seduce Slugs

10. Leftover Beer: I’d never open a can of Bud just for the slugs, but instead of pouring leftover brewski down the drain, I pour it in a cup or bowl with high sides and place it in a hole just above the surface of the soil. Slugs follow the scent of beer, fall into the beer pool, and drown.

11. Dog/Cat Kibble: Slugs like pet food. Use it to lure the mollusks into traps, like a clay pot with one edge slightly raised, or a turned-over, disposable pie tin with a couple of holes cut into its side. Set the trap at night when slugs come out to eat, and toss the prisoners to the wild birds in the morning.

More Slug Destruction Tips

12. Attract Birds: Birds love to chow down on slugs, so welcome these flyers with open arms. Place birdbaths, and hang feeders and nesting gourds in your garden to attract these slug terminators.

13. Water in the A.M.: Slugs love moisture and are most active at night. So water your garden in the morning, so the soil is dry and less inviting when the slugs come out to eat.

14. Pluck at Night: If you can stand touching the slimy things, take a flashlight out to the garden at night and pluck slugs from plants.

15. Human Hair: When you clean combs and brushes, collect the hair and spread it around plants. Slugs will tangle themselves in the hair and suffocate. Both slug and hair will decompose and feed your garden.

16. Got Ducks? Let them loose in your garden to eat slugs all da

Ingredients

  • 1 globe eggplant (small, about 1 lb., cut lengthwise into quarters)
  • 12garlic cloves (minced)
  • 9 rosemary sprigs (large fresh, with strong woody stems)
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1.2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 1 zucchini (cut into rounds about 1/2 inch thick)
  • 1 pt cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • Thyme and Pepper walnuts  (recipe below)

 

Directions:

Cut the eggplant quarters into slices about 1/2 inch thick.

Add the garlic to a large bowl. Pluck the leaves from 1 rosemary sprig and add them to the bowl.  the in the same bowl combine olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, thyme, honey, garlic, pepper and salt.  Set aside one tablespoon of the mixture.   Pour remaining mixture over vegetables.  Seal bag; turn to coat, Marinate in the refrigerator 2 hours.

In small bowl combine ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese and the reserved 1 tablespoon of marinade.

Meanwhile, strip the leaves from the bottom two-thirds of the remaining 8 rosemary sprigs (reserve the leaves for another use). Place the sprigs in a shallow dish, add water to cover and soak for 1 hour to prevent them from burning on the grill.

Drain the rosemary sprigs. Thread the vegetables onto the sprigs, alternating the eggplant slices, zucchini slices and tomatoes, and shaking off any excess marinade as you remove the vegetables from the bowl. Reserve the marinade.

About 15 minutes before you plan to serve the vegetable skewers, prepare a hot fire in a grill.

Grill the vegetables, turning once or twice, until the vegetables are tender but not falling apart, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter and drizzle with the remaining marinade.   Spoon tiny dab of  ricotta mixture cheese on top of each vegetable and top with thyme and pepper walnuts. Serve hot or at room temperature. Serves 4.

Thyme and Pepper Walnuts

In medium skillet, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped  walnuts and toss to coat.  Cook and stir 3 to 5 minutes or until toasted.  Add 1/4 teaspoon thyme and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and toss to coat.

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