Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Herbs

At a recent garden club meeting (the serious group) I was not anticipating learning much about plants at another cooking demonstration.  The featured speaker was the son of our hostess.  He is a chef and owns an eclectic restaurant in Chicago.  He began by grilling salmon and chicken outside on the deck - we had already had lunch so I wasn't planning on sampling any more food.  To my surprise the grilled meat and fish were not the stars of the show!

I should have known that the herbs were the feature attraction, all lined up in glasses like flower displays.  He talked about hard herbs and soft herbs with the hard herbs used to enhance the flavor of what you are cooking and the soft herbs used as garnishes after cooking.  The hard herbs like rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano, etc., he uses the herbs like little brushes dipped in olive oil sweeping onto the items to be grilled or baked or fried.  Chives, dill, parsley, basil, mint, etc., are considered soft herbs and chopped finely to use as garnishes.

One tip that I will certainly use this summer is to blanch the parsley and basil before I blend them for pesto.  Our chef says that this will keep the pesto from turning dark.  Since I am growing most the aforementioned herbs I guess it was time that I learned some new tricks and which were considered hard and soft.

13 comments:

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

I didn't know that herbs were considered hard or soft. I love how fresh herbs taste in food though. Great tip about blanching the basil for pesto.

Gatsbys Gardens said...

I did not know this either, Catherine, nor was I too sure I would just brush oil on with the herbs. I also used the full herb on meats, etc. I also use those soft herbs in sauses, butters, etc. So, I guess I will give the brushing a try.

Eileen

Abbie said...

Hi Eileen, I've tried the whole brushing thing -- it works ok as an oil delivery system, but I really never get much flavor from it. If I really want the meat or veg to taste like the herb (i.e. rosemary or thyme), I have better flavor results using it in the marinade or the rub!

Hocking Hills Gardener said...

I must be the freak of nature in that I do not like herbs and heavy spices on my food.LOL! I like to taste the food or meat. Salt and a little pepper for me. When I go out to eat I always have to ask how the meat is tenderized etc.or I cannot eat it and it goes to waste.
That Lona is a strange duck LOL!

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Abbie, I'm with you. I really do like to use the herbs right on the meat, tied on, or stuffed inside if it's fish or chicken. His restaurant is Socca on Clark probably closer to you than to me.

Eileen

Gloria said...

What a great tip about blanching the parsley & basil. My pesto always turns dark. I wondered how to keep it green! Thanks I will be using this tip. Thanks for finding my blog - www.dakotagarden.com

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Lona, you would probably like the brush on effect as it is a very light taste.

Eileen

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi GLoria,

I keep thinking of changing my blog to another format but I am concerned I will lose everything
Eileen

joey said...

How fun, Eileen. I can't imagine life without herbs ... I also often toss herbs on the coals and include them in my flower arrangements.

Indoor Fountains said...

I agree with Abbie. I have had a much better experience with a rub or marinade

Cottage Garden said...

Very interesting about the hard and soft herbs Eileen. I've got a little herb bed going at the moment and together with all the 'usual suspects' I want to seek out some more unusual herbs. I'm going to the Chelsea Physics Garden soon so should get plenty of ideas there.

Your herbs look very lush and healthy!

Jeanne
x

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Joey, I am going to try that tossing on the coals effect, and also using them in my flower arrangements.

Eileen

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Jeanne, this container of herbs has worked out well the past few years because I have a very small veggie garden. I do grow some other herbs in pots and also basil in the veggie garden.

Eileen