Cooking with Herbs

There is nothing more satisfying than the smell of fresh herbs wafting in on a summer breeze. The taste of fresh Rosemary, Basil and Cilantro delight our senses with flavor and fragrance. Herbs are truly one of the most versatile, magnificent groups of plants on earth. Perhaps the most enticing things about them is the ease in which they can be grown making it possible for everyone to enjoy and reap the benefit’s a simple herb garden.

Herbs make wonderful container plants which means they can be conveniently grown on a patio or even indoors bringing them close to the kitchen. We all know the importance of lowering our salt intake. By choosing to season with herbs instead of salt you will bring a whole new kind of flavor and freshness to your favorite dishes. While herbs can be used in dry form, nothing beats using freshly cut herbs from your own garden.

Many kinds of herbs can be planted together in a large pot making a “mini” herb garden. The exception to this rule is the mints. They should be planted individually keeping spearmint and peppermint separate. Place indoor herbs in a sunny window. If animals are a problem you can plant your herb garden in large hanging baskets.

A basic rule to follow when cooking with herbs is that you should use three times as much fresh herb as you would use dried. Clip you herb, wash it off, pat it dry then remove the leaves from the stem. From there chop your herbs up finely and get ready to spice up your favorite dishes!

Try some rosemary and thyme on chicken or potato dishes. Cilantro compliments Mexican dishes as does Epazote. Sage is magnificent with turkey or pork and in stuffing. Use rosemary sprigs instead of skews to make kabobs on the grill. You can also use sprigs of rosemary as a brush to baste sauce onto fish or chicken. Chopped Basil gives a great flavor to steaks and dill will freshen up the taste of fish, potatoes and salad.

Don’t forget to use your fresh cut herbs to make sensational seasoned oils. Clip and wash your herbs then remove them from the stem. Cut them up or use a mortar and pestle to release the flavor. Place a little olive oil in a small dish and add the herb leaves . Mix well. Fill a sterile jar with half olive oil and half of the herb leaves. Place a generous pinch of rock salt in the container then fill the rest of the bottle with the remaining leaves and oil. Leave this to sit for about two weeks shaking it up occasionally to mix all of the flavors. Rosemary and thyme make a nice oil, but don’t be afraid to experiment.

Herbs can bee added to softened butter to give a unique flavor. Dill and Rosemary are great for herbed butter. Thyme or Rosemary can also be added to bread recipes.

On your next sandwich try reaching for a basil leaf instead of lettuce for a change of taste. Basil leaves are delicious when added to salads, or with a piece of cheese and tomatoes on a piece of French bread . Herbs are not only tasty, but beautiful. As a garnish they dress up any dish!

There are many books and websites available to help you get started growing and using herbs. Once you start, ordinary table salt will take a back seat to natures delectable Herbs!

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