Back to the Kitchen: Cooking with Fresh Herbs

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BY GWEN KENNEALLY

When I moved from my house with a big garden into a townhome the thing I missed the most was walking outside and clipping the fresh herbs that I needed for a meal. Now I have even smaller outside space so I only have a window box with my thyme, rosemary, dill, oregano, basil and another with mint and lavender! I just squeezed one last pot with parsley, tarragon, cilantro and chives! I created my own window boxed, but you can go to http://www.windowboxplanters.com to order or just to get inspired! Tossing freshly clipped herbs into anything makes the flavors pop and makes everything taste alive and better.

Mix Greens with Fresh Herbs

One bag mixes baby greens

Chopped herbs: Recommended are 1 tablespoon each of chives, tarragon, parsley, dill and basil.

¼ cup Olive oil

¼ cup Red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper, to taste

Juice of half a lemon

Toss the greens in a bowl of cold water, and then dry with towels or in a salad spinner. Mix the oil, vinegar and mustard in a blender for 15 seconds.

Place the mix greens in a bowl and sprinkle with salt, pepper and the herb mixture. Toss gently with 4 tablespoons of vinaigrette and the fresh lemon juice before serving.

Summer Herb Focaccia

1 package active dry yeast

1/4-tablespoon sugar

1 cup lukewarm water

3 1/2 cups flour

1/2-teaspoon salt

4 Tablespoons olive oil

Minced fresh rosemary, sage and basil

½ cup Parmesan Cheese

In small bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in water. Set aside for 5 minutes. Mound flour on work surface. Make a well in center and pour yeast mixture, salt and 1-tablespoon oil into it. With your fingers, gradually incorporate flour into liquid until dough forms. If mixture is too dry to hold together, sprinkle a little additional water over dough and mix well. Knead dough until smooth, about 5 minutes. Place dough in oiled large bowl, turning to coat. Cover with kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Spray cookie sheet with Bakers Joy. Punch dough down. Place dough in center of prepared pan and spread out evenly to cover pan, using your fingers to “dimple” surface. Brush remaining 3 tablespoons oil over dough. Sprinkle with herbs and cheese. Let rise in a warm place, uncovered, 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake until top is a light golden brown, about 15 minutes. Cut into slices to serve.

Bruschetta

6 seeded ripe plum tomatoes, diced

1 red onion, diced

5 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1/2-cup olive oil

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

Gently combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Season with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Let stand at room temp for 1 hour before serving. Serve with a baguette sliced thinly on the diagonal, rub with garlic, brush with olive oil and bake or grill.

Poached Salmon & Cucumber Dill Sauce

1-cup sour cream

1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard

3 cloves garlic Finley chopped

1/4 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped

1 bunch dill, finely chopped

Mix together in a small bowl and refrigerate.

Poaching fish:

4 cups water

2 cups white wine

1 small onion, white or yellow, sliced in rings

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon pickling spices

Two fresh sprigs dill

1 stick butter

Pinch freshly ground pepper

4 salmon steaks or fillets

In a large soup pot bring water to a boil. Add all of the ingredients, but the salmon. Turn heat to medium-low and simmer 5 minutes. Add salmon, cover and simmer 6-8 minutes, or until fish is cooked through. Lift fish out, drain, and place on serving plates. Lift onions out, drain and lay over fish. Serve immediately with chilled cucumber sauce.

Herb Chicken

1 5- pound roasting chicken

3 tablespoons chopped tarragon

3 tablespoons chopped thyme

3 tablespoons chopped rosemary

3 sprigs of each herb for the cavity of the bird

1 lemon, quarter

Zest of one lemon

1 cup white wine

Preheat oven to 375°F. Rinse chicken; pat dry. Sprinkle chicken inside and out with salt and pepper. Place herb sprigs and lemon inside main cavity. Rub outside with oil, then chopped herbs and grated lemon peel. Place chicken in pan.

Roast chicken 45 minutes; pour wine over. Cook until juices run clear when thigh is pierced, basting often with pan juices, about 30 minutes. Serve chicken with pan juices.

Swordfish with Peach Ginger Mint Salsa

1/2-cup olive oil

3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves

3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 swordfish steaks (6 ounces each)

Prepare the grill (medium-high heat). Mix lemon, oil, garlic and herbs.

Brush the swordfish steaks with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, herb and lemon mixture. Grill the steaks until just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side (depending on thickness of steaks). Transfer the swordfish to plates and spoon a generous amount of salsa.

Peach Ginger Mint Salsa

1-cup peaches, diced

1-cup cucumber, diced

1⁄4 cup green onions, diced

2-teaspoon sugar

2-teaspoon cider vinegar

1-inch ginger, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and stir well. Chill.

Minty Roasted Potatoes

FYI: I have discovered this is also amazing with dill instead of mint! I also like to mix up the potatoes a bit using purple, white, fingerling and even sweet potatoes and yams!

16 New Potatoes

1/2 cup Olive Oil

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

8 garlic cloves finely chopped

1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves

Pre-heat oven to 350

Prick the potatoes with the tines of a fork and arrange them on a baking sheet. Bake for 1 1/2 hours.

Cut the potatoes into quarters and place them in a serving bowl. While they are still hot, toss them with the oil, salt, pepper and garlic. Gently toss in the mint. This twist on a potato salad can be served warm or at room temperature.

Mint Soba Noodles

12 oz dried soba noodles

1/3-cup rice vinegar

1-tablespoon canola oil

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 1/4 teaspoons sugar

1-teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 cup chopped fresh mint

1 1/2 cups thinly sliced scallions

Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling water until just tender, about 5 minutes, then drain in a colander. Rinse under cold water to stop cooking, and then drain well. While noodles are cooking, stir together vinegar, oil, soy sauce, sugar red pepper, and salt until sugar is dissolved. Toss noodles with dressing, mint, and scallions. Serve at once.

Watermelon and Mango with Limes and Mint

1 (4-lb) watermelon cut into 1-inch chunks

2 mangoes (1 3/4 lb total), peeled, pitted, and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, or to taste

1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lime zest

1/2-cup mint leaves

Toss together all ingredients and chill, covered, stirring occasionally, 2 hours

Shrimp on Rosemary Skewers

A very simple and amazing way to prepare shrimp. I used to have the biggest rosemary tree in my yard so I was always looking for ways to use it. Cutting 2 inch pieces of rosemary strip stem starting about 1″ from top of stem. Using a very sharp knife cut points at the end of the stem. You will need about 25 for this recipe.

1/4 cup finely chopped garlic, mashed to a paste with 1 teaspoon coarse

Salt

3 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves plus sprigs for garnish

4 tablespoons olive oil plus oil for brushing shrimp

2 pounds jumbo shrimp, cleaned with tails on

In a large bowl stir together garlic, minced rosemary, and 3 tablespoons oil and add shrimp. Marinate shrimp, covered and chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight. Thread the shrimp with the rosemary skewer.

On an oiled grill or a stovetop grill arrange shrimp so that the rosemary skewers are away from the flame.

Grill 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until just cooked through. Serve with lemon wedges

Chocolate Bundt Cake with Warm Rosemary Sauce

I have been told that I mix anything with chocolate! But come on…the heat and complexity of the rosemary with 60% cacao. What could be more amazing?

2 cups flour

1-teaspoon baking soda

1-teaspoon baking powder

1/2-teaspoon cinnamon

1 ½ cups water, boiling

12 ounces Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips

2 cups sugar

1-cup butter, softened

1-teaspoon vanilla extract

3 large eggs

Preheat your oven to 325F.

Grease a bundt pan and coat the greased surface with cocoa.

In a small bowl mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon.

In another small bowl, mix together water and chocolate. Stir gently every so often to melt the chocolate into the water.

Whip sugar, butter and vanilla extract in until creamy. Add eggs and continue to beat mixture on high speed until very light in color, fluffy and all the sugar has dissolved. Turn speed of mixer down to low. Mix in 1/2 the flour mixture, followed by 1/2 of the chocolate mixture. Add the remaining flour mixture. Mix thoroughly. Add the last of the chocolate mixture.

Pour batter into prepared bundt pan.

Bake at 325F for one hour or until a skewer or knife inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Cool cake in pan for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, slide a knife around the edge to loosen the cake and invert the pan over a wire rack to cool for a further hour.

Serve with warm rosemary syrup poured over the top. You can also top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

For the Rosemary Syrup:

1/4 cup fresh rosemary, chopped

1-teaspoon ginger, minced

2 cups water

1-cup sugar

Simmer the rosemary and ginger in the water over medium-low heat. It should be just barely simmering. Allow it to simmer for 20-25 minutes. Strain out the herbs and stir through the sugar. Allow the syrup to simmer over medium-low heat until reduced to a little over a cup.

Place a slice of the pound cake on each plate.

Pour the warm rosemary syrup over the chocolate cake slices.

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About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

  • sylvia

    I’m going to try the window box in my kitchen. This year was my very first year to try growing herbs. I bought oregano and basil and placed them outside in pots, but they died. Not sure what I did wrong, but I’m going to try again. I love fresh herbs.

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