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Posts tagged ‘Chives’

Herbs to the Rescue

Chives and Oregano in my garden. They both come back year after year with total neglect from me (other than cutting back the oregano each winter).

Herbs are always at or near the top of the home gardening lists that tell you what things are most economical to grow yourself, i.e. where your gardening efforts will result in the most savings in your grocery budget. Those bunches of herbs in plastic clamshells are expensive and rarely very fresh.

I started with a few parsley starts about 8 years ago. I let a few go to seed every year (they are biennials though so they have two seasons before the go to seed) which keeps me in new seedlings so I always have plenty of parsley--one of the most versatile herbs.

In addition to saving $$ many any of them grow with the most minimal care and attention and some do well from seed so your up-front costs are truly minimal. They can grow in pots on your window sill, deck, porch, fire escape. . . and of course in any free spot in the ground. And they are delicious, nutritious and can make most any staple, from eggs, to grains, beans, veggies and meats, sing.

Having just returned from a trip my refrigerator was fairly bare this morning and I needed to make lunch for my husband to take to work and for myself at home. And since I am a bit bean-crazed or as a neighbor noted yesterday, the bean queen, I was able to pull together a decent lunch thanks to the parsley and oregano in the backyard. I had thawed a container of white beans when I returned yesterday so I had those. I chopped up a few handfuls of parsley and oregano, added some lemon zest, juice, chili flakes, olive oil, and salt and pepper. I mixed that with the beans and filled some whole wheat tortillas with that on a bed of grated sharp cheddar.

Quesadilla with white beans, herbs and sharp cheddar, aka impromptu, filling lunch.

I do realize I’ve been emphasizing greens and beans of one sort or another here for a while but in this in-between season of sorts, before the summer squash and tomatoes, beans, peppers and corn surface, they’ve been keeping me good company.

I’ve also been working on an upcoming class on salad rolls that is one of the most fantastic uses of herbs I know. Rather than the sideshow, they are the main attraction in salad rolls, even edging out that peanut sauce. There’s still plenty of room in that class if you’re interested in learning how to make this simple delicacy.

Mint might be the most prolific herb and is best grown in a pot since it can take over any garden. Mint features prominently in the upcoming Salad Roll class on June 25th.

The herbs I grow and love to cook with most are: parsley, chives, thyme, oregano, mint, sage, tarragon and rosemary (actually  my neighbor has the giant rosemary bush) and cilantro, though it bolts easily and has a shorter season than the rest and you have to keep seeding it so it’s actually probably easier to buy.

Happy Cooking and Eating!

Carrots & Distractions

“Mommy will you fix my truck?! . . . please!. . . .right now!”

“Mommy, come look! Now! Please!”

That’s the typical soundtrack when my four-year-old is home. I love it, most of the time. Sometimes it makes writing a blog post, testing or photographing a dish, or updating my website a wee bit challenging. But I’ve become completely used to this less-than-linear work environment. This morning I was uploading photos for today’s post at the kitchen counter while trying to get Ellis to eat at least a few bites of oatmeal and apple before we headed out the door to pre-school. Did I already crop that photo? Not sure, but it will suffice. . . .

I’ve also been mightily distracted by two cookbooks I just bought. I’ve been staying up too late reading them. . . .been considering teaching new classes entirely inspired be them. . . and I’m going to post a recipe from one of them here today. I’ve seen many references to Breakfast Lunch Tea in the blogosphere lately and the hype seems justified. Rose Carrarini’s book with recipes from her bakery in Paris (Rose Bakery) is full of gorgeous photos and many simple, veggie-and fruit filled recipes.

I’ve been making grated carrot salads for years. I love them especially in the winter and early spring. Dressed with plenty of lemon juice and fresh herbs they are a nice counterpoint to the heavier and sweeter flavors of the season. Carrarini’s version is so simple and so, so good. Her generous addition of salted, toasted sunflower seeds is perfect, if you can keep yourself from eating all of the toasty seeds before they make it onto the salad.

Make extra so you don't skimp on the amount you add to the salad.

I followed her recipe exactly with the exception of not having enough chives but having some green garlic so I finely minced that and added it. I think it would be good with parsley or tarragon or mint too. This recipe makes a lot of salad. I just had some of it for lunch and it was still delicious today. So if you have that many carrots on hand, make the whole batch.

Carrot and Seed Salad

–very slightly adapted from Breakfast Lunch Tea by Rose Carrarini

1 cup sunflower seeds (or pumpkin seeds)

1 tablespoon sunflower or olive oil

2 generous pinches of kosher salt

8 medium carrots, grated

1 handful chopped chives (or whatever you have on hand)

Dressing:

1/2 cup lemon juice

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus possibly more to taste

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon caster (superfine) sugar or 2 teaspoons honey or agave syrup

about 3 tablespoons sunflower or olive oil (I used a good olive oil)

Preheat oven to 350.

Toss the sunflower seeds with the tablespoon of oil and several pinches of salt and roast on a baking sheet for about 15 minutes, turning frequently, until they are crisp and golden. Set aside to cool.

Place the grated carrots in a serving bowl. To make the dressing whisk together the lemon juice, salt, pepper and oil. Pour the dressing over the carrots and mix well. Sprinkle with the chives (or other herbs) and the seeds, mix again, and adjust seasoning and serve.

Celebrating Mothers and Daughters & Homemade Mayo

I was born on Mother’s Day. I joke with my mother that I don’t need to give her a gift as long as I’m still around. And my mother always says, “All I want is a hug and maybe a piece of chocolate cake.” I added the latter – she doesn’t actually say that but I think that’s what she would love to have, in addition to that hug.

As you might recall from previous posts, my mother is also my biggest culinary influence. She is the original “cook with what you have” cook. And she does it with style and for a dozen people on the fly practically weekly. She also lives 13 miles from the nearest grocery store. And she has the most bottomless and varied of all chest freezers (all home-grown too)– far better than most stores!

I don’t know about you, but it’s not always easy cooking with other people and in other people’s kitchens. And my mother, who is a very fast and efficient cook, does not always love sharing her kitchen with others. But whenever I’m at her house I inevitably cook and we have such a seamless rhythm together in the kitchen and she never fails to note how much she loves to have me in the kitchen. I’m sure it’s that we’ve worked side-by-side in kitchens for 30 +  years but it still seems noteworthy that it’s such fun.

We do have our culinary disagreements, particularly about what constitutes properly cooked meat and fish. She’s more of well-done type! And she doesn’t quite see the point of stocking two different kinds of olive oil: one for finishing dishes, salad dressings, etc. and one for sauteeing and such. But beyond that, we’re pretty similar. We just cooked Easter dinner together and I have to admit, even though the leg of lamb was more done that I would have chosen, it was very good.

So I think we should celebrate mothers and daughters for the whole month of May this year and I’ve scheduled a class on Sunday, May 16th for you mothers and daughters who would like to spend a few hours in my kitchen with each other and cook together. And if you’d like a private class with another mother/daughter pair or two either in my kitchen or yours we’ll schedule something!

And speaking of spring and Easter and Mother’s Day. … home-made mayonnaise season has started in my house! It is actually never really not in season, it’s just that now that my chives, oregano and parsley are prolific in the garden I love it even more. We had fried razor clams the night before Easter and dipped them in herbed mayo; last week we ate it with sweet potato fries (made with lime juice and cilantro), and this week it will go in the egg salad (using up all those easter eggs).

Homemade Mayonnaise with Fresh Herbs

2 egg yolks (organic or from a local farm if possible)

1 -2 tsps lemon juice (plus possibly a bit more to taste at the end) or white wine vinegar in a pinch

Couple of pinches of kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

3/4 – 1 cup or more of safflower oil or canola or some neutral vegetable oil

Herbs you have on hand (good with chives, parsley, basil, chervil, tarragon, etc.)

Whisk egg yolks with lemon juice and salt and pepper. Then very, very gradually start pouring in the oil in a very thin stream, whisking as you go. After you’ve incorporated about 1/4 cup of oil you can start speeding things up a bit. Continue until you have a consistency you like. It will get thicker and stiffer the more oil you add. Add chopped herbs at the end and add more salt and/or lemon juice if it needs more tang.

Aioli

To make the classic French garlicky mayonnaise (aioli), mash as many cloves of garlic as you want (you can start with as few as two and go up to about 10 for a very spicy, strong aioli) with some coarse salt with the side of a chef’s knife (or in a mortar) until you have a fairly smooth paste. Add the garlic paste to the egg yolks, lemon juice and salt and proceed as with the mayo above. Typically aioli does not have fresh herbs in it but sometimes I add some chives or parsley or basil. And traditionally you would use olive oil for this but I find that it often gets too bitter and strong if you use 100% olive oil so I suggest you use half very good-tasting extra virgin olive oil and half sunflower or some other more neutral oil.