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Archive for the ‘Herbs’ Category

When I was a young ‘tweenager’ my mother started to get me cooking meals. She taught me about preparing all the basics, selection vegetables, different meats and their cuts and about flavouring things with herbs and spices. Later I would find my own ways of experimenting with simple recipes.  One herb which fascinated me was the Bay Leaf (Laurus nobilis). Imagine my surprise when I saw True Bay Laurel trees growing in front of my sisters place on Government street!
The clipped Bay Laurel in front of my sister's place.

The clipped Bay Laurel in front of my sister's place.

It seems very appropriate to be writing about this plant as it is closely associated with   athletic games held in ancient Greece The event winners would receive a Bay Laurel wreath as a prize. The games called the Pythian Games and were held to honour the god  Apollo.
This Laurus noblis is a multi-stemmed shrub which is regularly clipped.

This Laurus nobilis is a multi-stemmed shrub which is regularly clipped.

Apollo was amorous of Daphne who did not return his feelings, she ran off and asked her father (Pereus the River god) for help. He turned her in to a laurel tree which was located near  the bank of a river. In this disguise she was able to escape from Apollo. Apollo found the tree and made himself a wreath from it’s branches in the memory of her beauty. The Laurel tree was one of Apollos’ symbols.
These two True Bay lead into the formal herb garden at Government House, Victoria.

These two True Bay lead into the formal herb garden at Government House, Victoria.

Wreaths were also given to important poets and this is where the term Poet Laureate comes from.  The source of ‘baccalaureate’ is the laurel berry.
Christians held the Bay tree to be a symbol of the resurrection of Christ and triumph of humanity.
The Bay tree even is spoken of in Chinese folklore in the famous story of Wu Gang. Wu Gang was a man who wanted immortality but neglected his work. When the deities found out about his neglect they tricked Wu Gang by making him think that by cutting down a Laurel tree he could join them. Every time he cut the tree down it would miraculously regenerate and never could be fell.
These wonderful True Bay leaves have a spicy scent if rubbed up against.

These wonderful True Bay leaves have a spicy scent if rubbed up against.

The Bay tree and it’s parts are found symbolized in many places as diverse as the American one dollar bill, ten yen coin of Japan, the shield and flag of the Dominican Republic and strangely is the clan plant of the Scottish clan Graham.. It naturally is very important to the country of Greece where it is found in the national emblem of the country.

This Laurus noblis has set flower busd which will bloom later in the year.

This Laurus nobilis has set flower buds which will bloom later in the year.

For most of us it is a flavouring used in stew and other savoury dishes. It can be harvested as single leaves or as branches and used right from the tree or bush. It also can easily be dried and used later. As my mother taught me one leave goes a long way, so care must be used with this flavouring.
The only part of this herb garden which were not replaced was the three True Bays.

The only part of this herb garden which was not replaced were the three True Bays.

The California Bay Laurel (Umbellularia Californica) is sometimes sold as the True Bay. The leaf margins on the plant are smooth whereas those of the True Bay tend to undulated. I would not use the California Bay in place of True Bay in food preparation as it has much stronger volatile oils which are not the same.
Just another happy Laurus noblis growing in a Herb garden.

Just another happy Laurus nobilis growing in a Herb garden.

In its native habitat of the Mediterranean, Laurus noblis has been cultivated for thousands of years where it  grows to about 18m (60ft). Here it more commonly grown as a clipped, shaped shrub which can be used as a formal hedge, container plant, accent or specimen plant. Buy them as a small trees in a container and then shape it as you please. The True Bay like well-drained soil and full sun. It tolerates short droughts very well and does not like to be over-watered. Bay’s live in zones 8 through 11 and tolerate temperatures down to freezing for short periods.

More about Bay Trees:

Wiki has a good page:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bay_leaf

A good article from Flooridata: http://www.floridata.com/ref/L/laur_nob.cfm

Now on to Kim’s yummy recipes!

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Well…we’ve come to our last post for the year 2009, can hardly believe that! So…we saved our last herb for this time of the year where it is appropriate to use – Sage. A very robust herb who’s flavor can stand up to any herb or spice and it seems to have a personality all of its own. It’s one of those spices we don’t use much until the holidays although if you’re like me, you keep it around your cabinet all year.

What I like best about sage is that you don’t need much of it to enjoy its flavor to the dish – and therefore I never run out of it as I do with say parsley or basil. Sage has diverse roles in cooking, and can be used in savory dishes, soups, even desserts. So my menu this month features it used in all these types of meals. And you’ll notice when you read the recipes just how much sage is needed. It blends so well with other herbs like thyme, rosemary as a spice rub so when I have something with multiple uses, I try to get all I can out of it! LOL!

As Jen mentioned in her post Sage (Salvia Officinalis) sage is known to be used it in many medicinal ways. Its best known property is that it can reduce perspiration, this is useful for those persons dealing with night sweats. It is also well known as an astringent which has commonly been used as a gargle for tonsillitis, laryngitis and sore throats. Salvia tea in the past was also prescribed for  problems such as nervous conditions, trembling, depression and vertigo. Crushed fresh leaves are used help relieve insect bites.


Fruit Sage Leaves

As an herb, sage has a slight peppery flavor. In Western cooking, it is used for flavoring fatty meats (especially as a marinade), cheeses (Sage Derby), and some drinks. In the United States, Britain and Flanders, sage is used with onion for poultry or pork stuffing and also in sauces. In French cuisine, sage is used for cooking white meat and in vegetable soups. Germans often use it in sausage dishes, and sage forms the dominant flavoring in the English Lincolnshire sausage. Sage is also common in Italian cooking. Sage is sautéed in olive oil and butter until crisp, then plain or stuffed pasta is added (burro e salvia). In the Balkans and the Middle East, it is used when roasting mutton. (Wikipedia.org)

I normally use the dried version because for the most part, I’m usually roasting turkey or chicken and so dry herbs can stand up to the heat whereas fresh of course would burn. However, one of the items on my menu calls for fresh sage! Sage is also not to everybody’s liking. Its strong flavor should not be overdone, otherwise like tarragon if you use too much all you’ll taste is sage. It is definitely an “acquired taste”.  The dried herb can be chopped (cut) into pieces to yield “whole” sage or finely ground, which you can do by rubbing the dried herb between your fingers hence yielding rubbed sage. But, once you use it a lot you’ll learn to really appreciate its aroma! So, I’m sure you’re ready to get away from the facts and down to the menu right?

So we have for you ladies and gentlemen:

Roasted Pork Loin with Sage
Roasted Chicken with Sage
Sage Potato Leek Soup
Parmesan Parsnip Sage Bread

In trying to be a bit different, I opted for the soup rather than stuffing and I thought you might be sick of turkey so I opted for the pork loin instead! Though I like traditions, I also like to mix things up a bit and so for my holiday that was my goal. But, in posting this month I thought I’d tell you this in case you were wondering why I omitted turkey and stuffing!

So let’s first get started with our two main courses:

Roasted Pork Loin with Sage

Ingredients:
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. ground sage
2 tsp. dried marjoram
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/8 tsp. black pepper
5 lb. boneless porkloin roast
Preparation:
The night before: in a small bowl combine sugar, sage, marjoram, salt, mustard and pepper. Thoroughly rub roast with the herb mixture; refrigerate. Then on the next day, tie and set the meat in a shallow baking pan with a rack. Insert a meat thermometer. Roast uncovered at 325 degrees for 2-1/2 to 3 hours or until thermometer reads 170 degrees. Let meat rest for about 15 to 20 minutes before you cut it.

Roasted Chicken with Sage

Ingredients:
3 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. dried rosemary
2 tsp. dried sage
1 chicken, 5-6 lbs., thoroughly cleaned
2 tbsp. soy sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
Minced zest of 2 lemons
Preparation:
In small bowl thoroughly mix butter, oil, garlic, thyme, rosemary, sage and lemon zest. Beginning at the neck opening, slip your fingers between the chicken skin and flesh and loosen the skin on one side of the breast, leaving the skin attached at the cavity opening.
Next work your fingers under the skin of the thigh and leg, leaving the skin attached at the end of the leg. Repeat on the other side of the chicken. Evenly rub the reserved mixture directly onto the meat and in the cavity. Rub the outside surface of the chicken with soy sauce and sprinkle with pepper. Roast uncovered for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Reduce heat to 350 and cook, basting with pan drippings every 15 minutes, until done, about 20 minutes per pound. Let meat rest for about 15 minutes before cutting.

Sage Potato Leek Soup


I adore potato leek soup!
Ingredients:
2 tbsp. butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 leeks, chopped
2 tsp. dried sage
2 tbsp. flour
4 c. chicken stock
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
salt and pepper to taste
1 c. low fat milk
Preparation:
Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and leeks, sauté gently until soft. Stir in flour and cook for 2 minutes. Gradually stir in stock.
Add potatoes and sage, bring to the boil, simmer gently for 30-40 minutes or until potatoes are soft. Stir in milk and seasonings. Puree soup in a blender. Add salt and pepper to taste. (be sure that the soup has cooled first before adding it to the blender, you can always return it to the stove to reheat.) Serve with crusty bread on the side OR try your hand at making the parmesan parsnip sage bread below!

Parmesan Parsnip Sage Bread

Ingredients:
175 g parsnips (peeled weight)
50 g parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano) cut into 5mm cubes
1 rounded tbsp. chopped fresh sage
225 g self-rising flour
1-1/2 tsp. salt
2 large eggs lightly beaten
1 tbsp. milk
For the Topping:
25 g parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano) shavings whole small sage leaves
a little extra flour for dusting
1 tsp. olive oil
small solid baking dish that is very well greased.
Preparation:
Preheat the oven to gas mark 5/375F/190C. Sift the flour and salt into a large roomy bowl. Put a grater in the bowl and coarsely grate the parsnips into the flour then toss them around.
Add the cubes of Parmesan and chopped sage and toss that in. Lightly beat the eggs and milk together then add this to the bowl a little at a time mixing evenly with a palette knife. What you should end up with is a rough rather loose sticky dough so dont worry what it looks like at this stage. Transfer this to the baking sheet and pat it gently into a 15cm rough round then make a cross with the blunt side of a knife.
Scatter the Parmesan shavings over the surface followed by a sprinkling of flour. Spoon the olive oil into a dish dip each sage leaf in the oil and scatter them over the bread. Now it should go into the oven on a high shelf to bake for 45 to 50 minutes by which time it will be golden and crusty. Place on a wire rack and either serve it while still warm or reheat it later. A wonderful bread to serve anytime!
Well…that’s it for 2009! So from Jen and myself we wish you a very Happy and Safe New Year! We’ll be back in 2010 with more wonderful herbs and plants to tell you all about so stay tuned …..until next month!
Kim

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The year I went to Horticulture school in Vancouver was unusually warm at Canadian Thanks Giving time and i went home on the train for the long weekend. While I was there I saw that someone had harvested the vegetables which I had planted in the small garden which I had kept. There was zucchini, tomatoes, peppers and cabbage there on the back porch when I got home. During the weekend I decided to walk around the neighborhood and see the gardens with my newly educated eyes and brain. To my surprise I saw some culinary Sage (Salvia officinalis) growing in a back garden. I decided as soon as I could I would give my mom a Sage plant to grow and use in her delicious turkey stuffing. She was so thrilled when she could use fresh Sage the following year.

Salvia officinalis 'Purpurescens' and 'Minimus"

Two forms of Savia officinalis are seen here, Dwarf and Purple leaved.

Sage has long seen as a valuable plant, it’s Latin name ‘Salvia’ means to heal. During the centuries past it has been used in many medicinal ways. It’s best known property is being used to reduce perspiration, this is useful for those persons dealing with night sweats. It is also well known as an astringent which has commonly been used as a gargle for  tonsillitis, laryngitis and sore throats. Salvia tea in the past was also prescribed for  problems such as nervous conditions, trembling, depression and vertigo. Crushed fresh leaves are used help relieve insect bites.

Salvia officinalis 'Rosea'

Salvia officinalis 'Rosea' is one flower color variation which makes an attractive addition to a garden.

Sage also has other qualities which were seen to be more important in the past. It was believed to help ward off evil spirits. The quality whhich is most important today is that of it’s ability to flavor savory dishes. The most traditional use at this time of the year is related to it’s use in the Christmas Turkey. Sage imparts a peppery earthy flavor which adds depth to many dishes. It can be used fresh or dried and it often blended with other herbs. It often is used with fatty meats such as duck, goose or pork.

Salvia officinalis 'Icterina'

Salvia officinalis 'Icterina' is also known as Golden Sage and is one of the brightest shrubs in the garden.

Savia officinalis is a low shrub which is evergreen, the leaves are unusual in that they are highly aromatic. There is now a fair selection of color forms ranging from the dusky purple of ‘Purpurascens‘ through the traditional ‘sage green’ through to almost yellow forms such as ‘Icertina’ and ‘Aurea’. There are also an attractive wider leaved form called ‘Berggarten’ and a narrow type ‘Lavandulaefolia’. ‘Tricolor’ is a weaker growing form which blends green, white and purple and commonly reverts to green. ‘Alba’ has the grayest foliage and produces attractive white flowers.

Salvia officinalis 'Purpascens'

Salvia officinalis 'Purpascens' is probably the most attractive and vigorous form of Sage to grow.

Sage is a member of the labiatae (mint) family and has the characteristic square stems and  lipped flowers. It is quite hardy for a herb and tolerates zone 4 -30f(-34c). Salvia officinalis grows to about 2ft(60cm) tall and slightly wider. The one thing which it dislikes is winter wet especially if the soil is poorly drained. Sage is best grown in full sun and sharply draining soil that is average in nutrient content.  Prune back after flowering.  It is a very versatile plant which grows well in many situations such as perennial borders, herb gardens, shrub borders,  rock gardens, container plantings and in areas of low watering or in sites which are not easily watered. You can also plant in places where the foliage will be rubbed to give off its scent. Sage is also a butterfly and bee attractant.

Salvia officinalis 'Berggarten'

Salvia officinalis 'Berggarten' has slightly broader leaves than other Sages.

Pests do not bother Sage. One disease (Verticillium dahliae) called Verticillium or  Sage Wilt will kill the plant. It is important if you have this problem not to replant any Sage in the same place again.  When selecting a plant to buy choose the most vigorous plant with the best coloring in the leaves as it can vary. Most forms are now produced by cuttings which easily root. You can grow the plain Salvia officinalis from seed but it will be more leggy compared to others.

Flowers of Salvia officinalis

The attractive flowers of Salvia officinalis are quite showy compared to other members of the mint family.

More wise advise on Sage:

My favorite site for all things herb and spice: http://www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/Salv_off.html

Wiki page on Sage: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salvia_officinalis

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Chives are Our Choice!

The mild flavor of Chives makes it a wonderful versitile herb which as you will see can be used in many different situations whether it is in your garden or on your place. So now its time to High Five the Chive!

Since I grew up in a very cold zone 3a( can get as cold as -40c/f) we were severely limited in what kind of plants could be grown. The growing season is short and fast, it can freeze into June and has beeen known to do the same in late August too. Fortunately many good vegtables can be grown as they many have quick seasons being annuals. Salads are supreme!  Once we conquered vegtables next we wanted to do herbs. This was more of a challenge. The first one my mother was given was Chives( Allium schoenoprasum) which has survived and thrived admirably there, producing year after year and happily seeding so we had to give it’s offspring away.

The Familiar Papery Purple Flowers of Chives.

The Familiar Papery Purple Flowers of Chives.

Allium schoenoprasum have been with us a long time as they naturally grow over a wide area of the Northern hemisphere. They are found wild in not only Europe and Asia as well as North America, which makes them the only Allium species which is known in the new and old world. Chives were known to be used by Gypsies in fortune telling( don’t ask me how)! They early on where known to ward off disease and it was common to see dried bunches hanging in the house for this purpose. Medicinally Chives where used as far back as the Roman era to relieve sunburn and sore throat pain. It was believed that eating Chives would increase blood pressure and increase urination. Farmers also knew that Alliums repelled bugs and other pests and would plant Chives along the edges of their crops to protect their main harvests.

Chives Are Ready to Harvest When They Are in Bud Like This.

Chives Are Ready to Harvest When They Are in Bud Like This.

Since we all know and have experienced with Onions(Alliums) we know something about Chives, They taste oniony. They can be a tasty addition to many culinary concoctions, the same can be said for in a garden.  Chives are one of the more well behaved members for working with in designing.  They can be Incorporated in many places and look perfectly at home. They can be used formally or informally and look like they belong. They have long been used in vegetables and herb gardens, but also can be used as an informal, low edging which is soft in the spring and becomes more colorful when in bloom.

Here Chives are used as as an informal edging in a medicinal/herb garden.

Here Chives are used as as an informal edging in a medicinal/herb garden.

All parts of Allium schoenoprasum are edible with the leaves cut finely to add to flavor soups, salads, sauces and other things. the flowers are added to salads more for the color. the bulbs are generally not harvested now as there are better members for culinary use such as Shallots. Other members of the onion family are very similar with thin grassy leaves and slightly differing flavor. I especially like the local Nodding Onions(Allium cernuum)  which have been harvested for centuries by the native peoples of this area which makes an attractive addition to my garden. Another small attracive Onion for your garden would be the white flowering Garlic Chives(Allium tuberosum) which has flat leaves which are slightly ‘garlicy’.

Allium cernuum(Nodding Onion) in my garden.

Allium cernuum(Nodding Onion) in my garden.

Growing Chives and other smaller onions is easy. they need full sun and well drained fertile soil. they do not like drought conditions are will become susceptible to disease if this happens. remember to clean all the debris of the dead leaves in the fall to keep them free of any problems. As they are a bulb it is best to remove the flower buds if you are growing them for repeated harvest throughout the year. they also seed seed very freely if not deadheaded after blooming. Large clumps can be divided in the spring or fall to increase their vigour.

More About Chives:

Growing Chives the easy way: http://www.garden.ie/howtogrow.aspx?id=1047

A little about the history and the family of Alliums: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chives

Until We Meet Again Next Month Happy Eating…. and Happy Gardening!

From Kim: Our Choice is Chives!

Chives is one of those ingredients I use a lot in cooking and oftentimes I use in conjunction with green onions. I love its mild flavor while yet still giving me that onion taste I want without being overbearing. There’s so many uses for this herb, mostly you’d see it as a garnish to a loaded baked potato or pasta dish but I wanted to do more with it for this post – and show chives as a topping but also cooked within the dishes. Now for a few facts about chives:

They are part of Alliaceae (onion family). Chives’ constituents equal those of the close relatives, onions and garlic. The following volatile com­ponents have been identified: dipropyl disulfide, methyl pentyl disulfide, pentanethiol, pentyl-hydro­disulfid and cis/trans-3,5-diethyl-1,2,4-tri­thiolane. Chives contain significant amounts of the vitamins A and C.

Gernot Katzer’s Chives Spice Pages | see Jen’s page also for more information on Chives

One of the ways I use chives also is in stir frying. Because most of the time I use fresh chives, I don’t want them to cook too long and burn so stir frying which takes such a short time is perfect for this long stem onion and so now let me introduce you to my menu, first up:

For Breakfast – Scrambled Eggs & Chives

Easy dish in the morning to make and remember that breakfast really is the important meal of the day – this is not a heavy meal in the mornings either. It’s not good to eat anything that weighs you down when you still have eight or more hours to go before dinner.

Ingredients:
4 eggs
1/4 stick butter
Pepper to taste
chives (rough chop)

Preparation:
Warm pan, add butter. Beat eggs in a separate bowl and add chives. Add eggs to pan. Scramble and pepper to taste. Best to eat right after you fix them.
So, now that we’ve taken care of breakfast, it’s time to go on to lunch and so how about:

Carmelized Onions Mushroom & Chives Quiche

Isn’t this a pretty dish? Love it! This could also be a side dish for dinner too or served at a dinner party. I think it’s elegant looking enough but the primary thing is that it tastes good and the recipe is quite simple:

Ingredients:
2 tbsp. minced shallots or white of green onions
3 tbsp. butter
1/2 lb. sliced mushrooms
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. chicken stock
3 eggs
1 c. heavy cream
9″ pastry shell
1/4 c. shredded Swiss cheese
Snipped chives

Preparation:
Saute shallots in butter until tender. Add mushrooms, cook until tender. Stir in salt, lemon juice, flour, and stock; simmer 5 minutes or until liquid has evaporated; cool.

Beat eggs and cream until mixed. Stir in mushroom mixture. Pour into shell and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until set. Garnish with chives.

Notice with this dish, I’m combining three onions – shallots, green onions, and chives. They’re all a mild flavor – shallots having sort of a sweet aroma to them and so they complement each other well. I love vidalias and use them the most as far as onions go and I have mixed them with chives too, to me they balance each other out.

And so now I need to get on with supper right? So don’t want to disappoint…I have two choices for you so without further ado First Choice:

Capellini Shrimp Chives Served with Sour Cream Chives Biscuits

Oh boy now seafood and chives, I’m really in my element now!!!!!

Ingredients:
1/2 lb. raw med. shrimp, cleaned, peeled & deveined
1 tbsp. EVOO
1 med. vidalia onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 heirloom tomatoes, sliced
1/4 tsp. pepper
Dash of cayenne
1 tsp. dried basil
Salt to taste
1/4 c. minced fresh chives
1/2 c. pitted, chopped black olives
Grated Parmesan cheese
12 oz. capellini or long pasta

Preparation:
Heat oil in large skillet; add onion, garlic and shrimp; saute until shrimp turns pink. Remove shrimp and set aside. Add tomatoes, pepper, cayenne, basil and salt to the onion mixture. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered for 5 minutes. Add shrimp, parsley and olives to mixture. Serve over noodles with chives.

I even like to use chives for the presentation to make the whole meal come together pretty on the plate. It just adds a special touch that the eyes feast on first and I love to play with my food.

Ingredients:
2 c. Bisquick
1 c. dairy sour cream
3/4 c. plain yogurt
1 tbsp. dried snipped chives

Preparation:
Mix all ingredients until dough forms, beat 30 seconds. Turn onto surface, dusted with baking mix, gently roll in baking mix to coat. Shape into ball. Knead 0 times. Roll 1/2 inch thick. Cut with 2 inch cutter dipped in baking mix. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet until golden brown, 8-10 minutes, in preheated 450 degree oven. So good!!!!!

Here’s my second choice and to me it is a sophisticated looking dish, colorful and all!

Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes and Chives

Isn’t this a lovely way to use chives? I think so, the cherry tomatoes add such dimension with its color but flavor too! Who says everyday ingredients together have to look boring?

One last thing…

Suppose you’re hosting a party and you need a good appetizer for it? I know that when I host a party, which is rare, I clam up beforehand and I look for something simple to serve to sort break the ice but also to help me calm down a bit. So I have a really good idea to serve up:

Smoked Trout Served on Crackers with Cream Cheese and Chives



Ingredients:

10 ounces smoked trout fillet, skin and bones removed
cream cheese
Crackers (your favorite brand)
Chives, snipped

Preparation:
Cut smoked trout and to fit on top of the crackers. Spread each cracker with cream cheese, top with the trout and sprinkle chives on top. Makes a pretty appetizer!

This simple appetizer you can’t go wrong with and I think that when you make anything look nice on the plate, your guests will think you’re a gourmet chef but you don’t have to be to serve really beautiful looking and great tasting dishes! Remember that if you’re not big on cooking. You don’t have to be afraid to experiment – it doesn’t have a set formula the way baking does.

And with that said, this concludes my take on chives for this month! Hope you try any one of these and let us know what you think. Visit Jen’s page will give you detailed information on chives along with some beautiful photos!

Until next month…from The Garden Palette!

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Welcome to the Garden Palette!

Jen and I love plants and herbs as well as cooking so why not join forces? This is our blog to share with you our love both nature and food and provide you with plant facts, history as well as great tasting menus using our herb or plant of choice.

This Month our choice is Rosemary!

Jen: “I grew up in an area of Canada where the winters are long and cold. Very few herbs can be grown there on a regular basis outside, Sage, Parsley and Chives are about it. When I moved to Vancouver for school I saw lovely varieties of all forms of herbs including many more tender species. I now live in Victoria which has an even milder climate which is drier and considered to be close to that of the Mediterranean where most herbs originated. This is a perfect climate to grow Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis). You can see wonderfully grown Rosemaries everywhere and I’m sure many a cook loves to go out and get a sprig of fresh leaves for what ever they are creating.

Rosemary Has Very Fine Foliage, Perfect for Cooking With.

Rosemary Has Very Fine Foliage, Perfect for Cooking With.

Being that Rosemary originated in the Mediterranean, it is used extensively in all forms of cooking there. Rosemary is traditionally associated with other strong flavors such as: mutton (or lamb), onions, garlic and lemon. Stripped branches can be used as skewers for meat kabobs.

An Excellent Rosemary Plant Growing In the Terrace Garden at Government House.

An Excellent Rosemary Plant Growing In the Terrace Garden at Government House.

Rosemary has a long history as a culinary, medicinal, and garden plant. ‘Rosemary is for remembrance’ – a common phrase as the herb was a symbol of friendship and loyalty. Its first use may well have been as a medicinal herb. Ancient Greek scholars wore wreaths of it to help improve their memory and ability to concentrate. Medicinally it has been used in the past as a tonic, stimulant and carminative to treat dyspepsia, headaches, and nervous tension.The Chinese have also used Rosemary in various forms for centuries. In medieval times, it was strewn in law courts and carried in pouches by common people to ward off disease.

‘Rosemary is for Remembrance’ in the Children s Garden at Glendale Gardens.

‘Rosemary is for Remembrance’ in the Children s Garden at Glendale Gardens.

The strong odor of the oils found in Rosemary is likely what people thought was medicinal. Tiny amount of oils (1-2.5%) found in Rosemary include therein: cinerol, camphor, pinene, and several others in smaller quantities. These same oils are what give rosemary its flavor. Herbs get a lot of their flavor from the oils in their leaves which are volatile and can be lost with improper storage. As with all dried herb products air, light and moisture damage the quality of the flavor. Protect them best by always storing dry herbs in airtight containers made of glass or tin. Store all your herbs in a cool, dark, dry space (not next to the stove or on the counter). Be sure to buy small quantities which can be used quickly and replace your old herbs yearly.

Mediterranean Rosemary Growing Happily Amongst New Zealand Flax.

Mediterranean Rosemary Growing Happily Amongst New Zealand Flax.

It is always preferable to use herbs fresh from the garden, and if not, look for the finest quality organically grown dried leaves. The leaves should still have a good strong green color as a faded color indicates it may be old. One thing to remember is that the flavor is more concentrated in dried herbs like Rosemary so use less of it when using it in replacement for fresh.

This Rosemary is Ready to Harvest!

This Rosemary is Ready to Harvest!

Rosemary grows in a hot dry climate, because it grows at low altitudes in rocky areas it can tolerate more moisture than some other herbs which can die with excess moisture which we get here in the winter. You need lots of sun, well drained to gritty lean soil and adequate moisture during its growing season for best growth. It is hardy to -10c (25f).

An Attractive Dark Blue Rosemary Covered in Blooms.

An Attractive Dark Blue Rosemary Covered in Blooms.

Rosemary is generally grown form cuttings and there are now many attractive forms of it which you can select from depending on what you are looking for. There are attractive trailing as well as the standard upright forms. Colors range from almost pure white through like pink into fairly dark blue forms which of course are the most famous.

A Pink Flowering Rosemary, Probably Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Roseus’

A Pink Flowering Rosemary, Probably Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Roseus’

Remembering Rosemary sites:

This is my favorite site for looking up all aspects of a herb or spice, a very comprehensive list:

http://www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/Rosm_off.html

A simple explanation of growing Rosemary: http://www.gardeningpatch.com/herbs/growing-rosemary.aspx

Now on to Kim’s Recipes….

I love using Rosemary in lots of dishes, it is a versatile herb. So, when we picked this to write about, I was a happy camper like I was actually in Kitchen Stadium and the chairman picks the secret ingredient and I don’t cringe!!! I have used fresh and dry rosemary in dishes and I have entire menu for you to sample using both fresh and dry. There are instances in cooking when dry is the preferable method. Dry herbs can stand up to heat thereby roasting much better of course than fresh. So here’s my menu:

We’ll start off with the main course, “Baked Salmon with Pesto and Fresh Rosemary“, its side course is: “Oven Roasted Sweet Potatoes in Rosemary“, “Rosemary Focaccia“, and for dessert, “Olive Oil Rosemary Cake“. I hope you’ll like this. I almost opted for chicken in rosemary but I was trying to be more healthy and I wanted a not so traditional menu. So let’s get started!”…

Category: The Garden Palette | Difficulty: easyWell, the day is finally here! The Garden Palette’s first post! In case you don’t know, one of my very good friends from Twitter, @rascallyjen, and I decided to come together to post information, photos, and recipes once a month using fresh plants. We’ll pick an herb or vegetable and she will inform you guys about it, its history along with photos and I’ll have a recipe based on our choice. I’ll also have some tips and the order in which I prepared this menu. So without further ado, today’s secret ingredient is: (drum roll) Rosemary!


I love using Rosemary in lots of dishes, it is a versatile herb. So, when we picked this to write about, I was a happy camper like I was actually in Kitchen Stadium and the chairman picks the secret ingredient and I don’t cringe!!! I have used fresh and dry rosemary in dishes and I have entire menu for you to sample using both fresh and dry. There are instances in cooking when dry is the preferable method. Dry herbs can stand up to heat thereby roasting much better of course than fresh. So here’s my menu:

We’ll start off with the main course, “Baked Salmon with Pesto and Fresh Rosemary“, its side course is: “Oven Roasted Sweet Potatoes in Rosemary“, “Rosemary Focaccia“, and for dessert, “Olive Oil Rosemary Cake“. I hope you’ll like this. I almost opted for chicken in rosemary but I was trying to be more healthy and I wanted a not so traditional menu. So let’s get started!

Baked Salmon w/Pesto and Fresh Rosemary

First I make the pesto. You can use my pesto recipe from my earlier post here. Then I prepare my salmon. I always get fillets at the supermarket and I ask the guy to remove the skin for me. I love salmon, it’s my favorite fish!

Ingredients:
Salmon fillets, any portion size, boned and skinned
Onion powder, to taste be generous
Garlic powder, to taste be generous
Dried dill, to taste be generous
Mrs. Dash, to taste be generous
Dried rosemary
Fresh rosemary
Paprika

Preparation:
Make the pesto and set this aside until the salmon is done.

Spray Canola oil or similar product over tin foil pan or rectangular pan (depending on amount and size of portions).

Sprinkle seasonings over salmon ending with paprika (except for the fresh rosemary which we’re saving for the topping). Bake in 375 degree oven for 10 to 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily. Spread the pesto on top as much as you want and add sprigs of fresh rosemary. Sprinkle more grated parmesan on top.

Next up…

Oven Roasted Sweet Potatoes in Rosemary

This is the perfect dish to use dry rosemary so that the herb can stand up to the high temperatures of roasting. It is a sweet compliment to the fish and I love sweet potatoes! This is such an easy side dish for anytime and practically goes with anything!

Ingredients:
4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch-thick rounds
3 tbsp. EVOO
garlic pepper
1/3 c. fresh rosemary leaves, plus 6 rosemary sprigs for garnish
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Preparation:
Wipe down the potatoes a bit and you can leave the skin on. I try to pick the best looking ones at the market. I like to get the freshest veggies I can find when shopping.

Preheat oven to 450°F. In large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and toss. Be sure each round is coated well with oil and seasonings. You may need to use your hands for this process. Arrange potato slices in single layer on heavyweight rimmed baking sheet or in 13×9-inch baking dish with tin foil. Place on top rack of oven and roast until tender and slightly browned, about 40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with chopped rosemary sprigs.

Next up…

Rosemary Foccaccia

Must have a bread to go with the meal! Like I mentioned, Rosemary is a versatile herb and can be used for just about any dish.

Ingredients:
1 (1 lb.) loaf frozen bread dough, thawed
1 lg. clove garlic, minced
3 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. dried rosemary, crumbled

Preparation:
Stretch and press thawed bread dough to fit a greased 10 x 15 inch jelly roll pan. With fingers, poke deep holes at 1 inch intervals. Place a small piece of garlic in each hole. Drizzle oil over dough; brush lightly to distribute. Sprinkle cheese and rosemary over dough. Let rise in a warm place until double (about 20 minutes). Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven until browned (18-20 minutes). Cut into strips (about 2 x 3 1/2 inch) and serve warm!

Next up…our dessert!

Rosemary Olive Oil Cake

And a dessert! Can’t beat that huh?? You know I must have a dessert baby! And this one delivers for me! Now…I like to serve it with a little vanilla frozen yogurt on the side! Mmmmm Mmmmmm Mmmmm! You think I might be ready for Foodbuzz’s 24 24 24?

Maybe not yet… LOL!

Ingredients:
recipe inspired from Mario Batali’s Babbo Cookbook

4 eggs
3/4 c. sugar
2/3 c. EVOO
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1-1/2 c. flour
1 tbsp. baking power
1/2 tsp. salt (finely ground)

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Coat a 10-inch loaf pan with butter, olive oil, or non-stick spray. In the bowl of an electric mixer, use the whip attachment to beat the eggs for 30 seconds. Slowly add the sugar and continue to beat until the mixture is very foamy and pale in color. With the mixer running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Using a spatula, gently fold the rosemary into the egg mixture.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking power, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, rotating the pan half-way through for even color. The cake is done when it is golden brown, springs back when touched, and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool briefly in the pan, then tip out onto a cake rack to continue cooling.

NOTE: This cake is very light in texture and flavor.

Now for my tips:
Well first off, if you’re going to make the entire menu, start with the dessert first so you can have it set aside while you prepare the other courses. I’d make the sweet potatoes next since they’ll be in the oven for a little bit and you can prepare the bread recipe next. The oven will be hot enough and so the bread and salmon don’t need as long to bake. This way you can keep the meal warm before serving. I’d put some tin foil over the sweet potatoes when they come out of the oven to trap the heat. This makes such a romantic meal too I think.

Oh, did I forget the drink? Well..for me and hubby I’d serve apple cider or white grape juice !

Jen’s tip: Always store dry Rosemary or any other dry herb in a sealed container and replace after 1 year. Also, keep it away from the oven/stove as you want the flavor to remain with the herb for as long as possible.

Kim’s tip: Fresh herbs I usually wash off and then fold them in a paper towel, put them in a ziploc bag and seal tightly, no air and then I put them in my veggie drawer in the frig. I try to use them up before week’s end.


Extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, water, sugar, salt, black pepper & rosemary! My oh what flavor!

Rosemary adds such flavor to everything I didn’t need as much salt and that’s a good thing in my house! Be sure to pop over to Jen’s site to see more of our Rosemary photos and read more about the origin of the plant and how it grows in her neck of the woods!

Until next month…from The Garden Palette!

The Garden Palette posts the 2nd Wednesday of each month

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