Archive for the ‘Potatoes’ Category

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

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
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

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
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!
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
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

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.
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!

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