Tuesday, May 18, 2010


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.