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Herbal jungle...

 
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mandysu



Joined: 23 May 2007
Posts: 18
Location: Seattle, WA

PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 6:49 am    Post subject: Herbal jungle... Reply with quote

My herb "garden" (a load of pots on my apartment step) is happily expanding, and I have a few questions for the experts here:

Mint. I now have spearmint (relatively mild), but have always been a bit afraid to use either too much or putting it in the wrong place, so I haven't ever used much before. I have made a sauce with basil, cilantro, garlic, chile, and fish sauce (excellent on shrimp or avocado), and know that it works in Mediterranean herb blends (with oregano, or in a gremolata). I suppose I should also try a mojito at some point (but that's independent of my gardening) and the fava frittata from the cookbook. Any minty-fresh ideas I've missed?

Lavender. I carefully selected a culinary variety (Munstead--an English one), and it's starting to bud out. I've used dried buds in tea, panna cotta, and spritz cookies, and love Dagoba lavender-blueberry dark chocolate and lavendered herbes de provence (particularly with lamb). I've also heard of making a scented simple syrup for lemonade. Can the leaves be used, or just the blossoms? Has anyone found any other uses for this lovely plant?

The rest of my collection? French thyme, greek oregano, marjoram, french tarragon, lime basil, thai basil, and a tuscan blue rosemary that needs repotting (so I get one more! But sage? Chives? I think I'm out of ones that will survive a Seattle winter...)

Being a native Californian, I do get a bit excited when the *long* winter ends here and the fresh things begin. Very Happy
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madameshawshank



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Penrith (where jacarandas remind me of change), New South Wales, Australia

PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 7:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mandysu, lime basil! how yummy does that sound..and from the sounds of it you tend that herb jungle so well..

don't your hands smell gorgeous after gardening in the herbs! Very Happy I often give our lemon verbena a good rub just for fun...'n the delight of the lemon scent

as for lavender, I found this while searching:

Lavender Biscotti

2 c All-purpose flour
2 tsp Baking powder
¼ tsp Salt
½ c Coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
2 Lg Eggs
½ C Granulated sugar
3 tsp Dried lavender flowers
¼ c Melted butter
2 Tb Honey
1 Tb Lemon rind
Juice of 1 lemon
3 Tb Milk
½ tsp Vanilla or lemon extract

Optional: melted chocolate for dipping

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In large bowl combine all dry ingredients, lavender and nuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, butter, honey, lemon, lemon rind, milk, and vanilla (may use beater on slow instead of the whisk). Add to flour mixture. Stir well. Dough will be soft and sticky. Spoon onto cookie sheet into 2 "log" shapes: approximately 2 " wide. Bake 35 minutes until golden. Remove from oven. Cool 10 minutes. Place on board, cut into 1" wide slices. Place on sides on cookie sheets. Return to oven cook 20 minutes longer, turning once. Cool on rack. Optional to dip or decorate with melted chocolate. Yield: 2 dozen
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ripley



Joined: 16 Jan 2007
Posts: 35
Location: Oakland, CA, USA

PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 9:00 am    Post subject: mmmmmint Reply with quote

I recall reading Nigel Slater in the Guardian on thejoys of cooking with mint.

still searching, but here's one set of recipes:

http://lifeandhealth.guardian.co.uk/food/story/0,,2089700,00.html

and here's another I remembered as looking delicious and easy - I wouldn't bother measuring much as long as there was plenty of mint..

Lentils with mint
Serves 2 as a side dish

le puy lentils - 225g
a bay leaf or two
mint leaves - 2 handfuls

For the dressing:

lemon juice - 2 tbs
extra virgin olive oil - 6 tbs

Cook the lentils in boiling water, salting them lightly towards the end of cooking. Depending on their age they should take about 15-20 minutes. They are done when they are tender but still retain some bite. Drain them.

While the lentils are cooking, make the dressing (you want to dress the lentils whilst they are still warm.) Mix together the lemon juice, oil and a good pinch of salt (be generous with the salt) and a grinding of black pepper. When the lentils are drained, toss them with the mint leaves, whole or torn up a little, and the dressing.

and this one is a bit more adventurous:

Serves 4 as a side dish

bulgur wheat - 100g
a large, lusciously ripe mango
juice of a lime
olive oil - 2 tbs
fresh mint leaves - a good handful
spring onions - 4

Soak the wheat in cold water for 15 minutes. Peel the mango over a bowl to save the rich, sweet juice, then remove the flesh from the stone with a small knife. Cut the flesh into small dice and put it in a mixing bowl. Put the lime juice and oil into a small bowl, season generously with salt and black pepper and mix lightly with a fork. Tear up the mint leaves and add these to the mango. Remove the greenest of the stems on the spring onions and discard, then chop the pale green and white flesh finely and add to the mint and mango.

Wring the water from the bulgur wheat with your hands and add it to the mango and mint. Pour over the lime juice and oil and toss gently.
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Debbie



Joined: 21 Feb 2005
Posts: 861
Location: Paris

PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 9:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The bulgar wheat recipe sounds yum. Thanks for sharing that.
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gingerpale



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
Posts: 1324

PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 2:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mandysu, this is from an Afghan cookbook, could be nice with little spicy meatballs.

Mint Chutney

1 cup fresh mint leaves, washed & dried
1 or 2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 or 2 fresh green chilies, seeds removed (no idea what kind!??)
1 or 2 tablespoons yogurt
salt to taste

Shred mint leaves, process with garlic and chilies, then stir in yogurt and salt.
If you try this, please post--I'm afraid of my Afghan cookbook!
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Griffin



Joined: 09 Jun 2006
Posts: 932
Location: England

PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 3:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mandysu,

Mint sauce is traditional in the UK with lamb, usually roasted, but no reason not to have it with lamb cooked in other ways. I would also suggest you get the stronger mint which is a fabulous fresh flavour - I think that's the one you have with lamb because it cuts through the fattiness. You could try roast lamb with gingerpale's mint chutney too.

Sage I have done with fish, mackerel or rainbow trout, but I put it under the fish when I grill it or the sage just burns to a crisp! It's also good with chicken.

Gingerpale,

It's ok, nothing is hotter than South Indian spicy cooking. Those can burn you up in a second. Fear not the cookery of the Afghans... tho' that food may well explain why they're so good at fighting!!!
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 6:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was going to suggest tabouli too. I wanted to post my favorite recipe because it has tomatoes and pine nuts but also because the bulgar is soaked in lemon juice but I still can't get my computer online. Do try ripley's recipe using fresh lemon juice to soften the bulgar. ripley, give that a whirl too. I bet you'll be a convert to the bright flavor.

As for lavender, I had to order quite a bit to get culinary lavender and then I was sorely tried to figure out how to use it. I did steep some of it in milk and then use that to make a honey sweetened ice cream. Some of us liked it and some of us didn't so much.

I also sewed some into a little pouch and put it in a sugar jar to flavor the sugar. And put some along with some rosemary in epsom salts for a bath salt. I whizzed the herbs to as fine a powder as I could get so there weren't floaty pieces. That was not completely successful so I guess I'd recommend the pouch method of infusing the aroma as for the sugar.

Lavender is an important ingredient in Provençal herb blends. And I had a recipe for a lavender marinated piece of venison. I think there's probably lots you can do with it if you like the floral flavor. I really didn't so I didn't experiment too aggressively.
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 6:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was going to recommend lovage to you. That's new in my herb garden and has the flavor of celery leaves which I think are far more fantastic than celery itself. I'm also growing borage for the beautiful cobalt blue flowers that I can put in salad or with lemon in a glass of water. It's reputed to have a flavor like cucumber but, whatever it tastes like, those amazingly brilliant blue stars are a must have for me now.

I am having the most unusual gardening year! I have peas about to appear at the same time my tomatoes are getting ready to ripen. There is usually at least a month between when the peas burn out and the first tomatoes appear. Similarly, I have lettuce still growing and expect still to have some when the tomatoes can be in the same salad. It's always been maddening to me that I could grow lettuce OR tomatoes. And I think I'll have a cuke in a week or so. I've had females on the vines but the first male blossoms are just opening now to pollenate them.

I will enjoy a spring salad with nasturtium vinegar, a little goat cheese and pecans.
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madameshawshank



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Penrith (where jacarandas remind me of change), New South Wales, Australia

PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 9:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"floaty pieces" Smile ah Rainey what a wordsmith you are
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