Cooking with Fresh Herbs
You'll be rewarded ten-fold when you
start cooking with fresh herbs. The wonderful fragrance of an herb is most pleasing, but your palate will enjoy
the greatest pleasure from the herb's flavor itself. All chefs cook with fresh
herbs! Wondering why you never thought to use
fresh herbs? Wonder no more! Cooking with fresh herbs is
easy and makes food taste so much better.
Learn how to grow your own herbs [that's easy too], and to dry herbs for winter usage as well as creating exquisite herb
vinaigrettes. This herb table notes how to use the most popular herbs, and a must for preparing haut cuisine, the 'Bouquet Garni',
about 'Fine Herbs' and Herbs de Provence.
Use Herbs to Create Wonderful Cuisine
All About Fresh Herbs | Herb
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Basil is one
of the most used herbs in the world; it is a member of
the mint family, and its healthy and nutritious, with
just a hint of anise [licorice like] spicy flavor.
There are numerous types of Basil, from Purple Basil, to
dark green, tiny basil, all textures and shapes.
Of course there is Spicy Basil itself, and different
scented basils. The most used, and a culinary classic of
all Basil is....Sweet Basil [L. Ocimum Basilcum].
Basil uses are numerous, and varieties will vary in
taste, it simply is a matter of you trying them, and
selecting your favorite basil. In recent years the
popular dish with tomato, mozzarella, balsamic
vinegar, olive oil and Basil is still one of the great
pairings. When using Fresh Basil, remember that it
is very delicate, and do not cut it until the very last
minute, the leaves will turn black on you.
Use Fresh Basil in a wild greens salad, in pasta and
rice, dishes with tomatoes or tomato sauce in them,
eggs[ try deviled eggs with fresh basil], all meats,
duck and vegetables. Be experimental, basil adds a
lot to most foods. Make a Basil Butter to spread
on a good crunchy French or Italian baguette! Add
basil to tomato soup, because basil and tomato is
Basil is healthy and nutritious for you, and assists the
digestive system. It is recommended by herbalists
for stomach cramps, vomiting and constipation, and basil
tea after dinner assuages stomach protestations and
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Bay Laurel [Bay
Leaf] is again one of the most used herbs in Italian
cuisine, but for all types of cooking in general. Bay
Leaf is a savory and strong flavored leaf that is used
in sauces, stews, soups and braising liquids. It
is a tender evergreen herb in all but the southern most
Bay Leaf is part of the essential French 'Bouquet Garni',
used in French cooking, and is used to flavor stocks and
the afore mentioned soups and stews [ more on bouquet
Bay leaves should be slightly crushed before adding them
to your cooking medium. Always add a couple of bay
leaves to your water for cooking pasta, along with salt,
a good Italian pepper blend, and taste a world of
difference in any pasta.
Bay leaves can literally be used in cooking of most
foods, add it to poaching liquids for fish and poultry,
marinades for wild game, and toss a couple in your Römertoph
clay cooker with favorite meats or poultry, but remove
before making a sauces.
Bay leaves can be cooked for hours, and thus their usage
in tomato pasta sauces, soups, etc. However, bay leaves
should be removed before serving, don't eat
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wonderful to add to an array of gourmet recipes.
Chives are grown in the form of a clump, with blooms
that are quite lovely in the herb garden, or
decoratively as a yard plant. Chives will do well
in almost any type garden soil...or even in a window pot
with plenty of sun. Chives are fairly hardy in the
winter, but do check your gardening zone. I
personally will not use dried chives ever! The
difference between fresh chives and dried chives are
like night and day.
Chives need little tending to, and are best when snipped
with scissors rather than a knife. Wash them,
drain them and chop them up, and you can store them in
the fridge for several days, and use them as needed.
Of course you can always freeze your chives, and keep
them for winter usage.
A chive favorite of course is cream cheese with chives.
Chives are great in sour cream sauces and yogurt.
Do not limit yourself to these noted foods, because
there is a whole world of ideas to explore with the use
of chives in place of green onions. First of all,
chives are much milder, with a more delicate flavor than
green onions. But for people who are sensitive to
onions in general, but love their taste, this might be a
great substitute for you.
Try chives in your favorite egg recipe [if not in it,
sprinkle some on top of it], add it to salads, soups and
stews [but at the last minute...because the flavor
depletes quickly when cooked], and of course another
favorite is 'Chive Butter'.
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grown in the French region of Provence, and is
widely used in France. It
has a multitude of uses, is very versatile, and is quite
unique in flavor and is one of the most wonderful flower
scents in the world. Lavender is grown all around
the world, with many species, each with their own unique
'Lavender scent' and
hardiness. Several Lavenders are evergreen in nature [view
The French region of Provence, offers some very unique
Provençal recipes to try.
These recipes range from meats, to poultry, fish and
seafood, to use in vegetables and even some of the most
Herbes de Provence seasoning is only authentic if it
comes from Provence, France. You'll find several
blends in the grocery and specialty stores, but the real
Herb de Provence blend includes Lavender from Provence.
Fresh Lavender flowers and leaves are both used in food
preparation, and their buds and stems can be dried for
aroma therapy amongst other things.
Lavender is most used in France for the making of
perfumes, which of course is a huge industry in France,
and selling their 'eau de parfums' to the world.
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[also known as sweet marjoram] is both a tender annual
and an evergreen species of the Mint Family. Wild
marjoram dates back to Greek times, and for its
medicinal values. It is a very fragrant plant that
has become one of my favorite herbs. It is so
contradictory in taste from its dried herb form.
The perennial has a slightly woody stem, and is hardy
during the winter. The sweet tender variety is an
annual, with exception of extreme southern climates.
Marjoram has overtones of mint and is slightly piquant,
so use sparingly. until you become familiar with it's
different characteristics...it can be overwhelming.
Marjoram is from the same family as Oregano, and often
confused with their comparisons, but the two herbs
really don't taste similar at all. Oregano is
slightly bitter and pungent, while marjoram is sweet and
Marjoram pairs well with Italian and Mediterranean
cuisine in general. It sounds strange to say that
it perfumes roasts, sauces and braising liquids, but it
does. You will either love this herb, or you will
not be able tolerate it.
One of our favorite ways to use marjoram is in potato
salad, or on a baked potato with sour cream, salt and
pepper. Its great for meats, soups, stews, vegetables,
eggs, dressings, fruits, even ice cream, it is very
diverse in its uses for cooking, and has a vast array of
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is definitely associated with
Mediterranean [its native to hot dry regions] and
Italian cuisine. It is quite pungent, so use it
sparingly until you get the feel for what your trying to
Oregano has numerous varieties such as Greek oregano
[probably the most popular], Mediterranean
oregano, Catalan Oregano, Spanish Oregano that will vary
in taste. Again, as noted about basil kinds,
you'll have to try different oreganos to find the one
that you like best. Some are milder and not as
pungent as others.
Oregano is used in Italian dishes to flavor red sauces
such as marinara, and of course pizza. It goes
well with garlic and lemon in Greek dishes, and is the
most noted herb when cooking lamb. It also does justice
to red meats, pork, roasted chicken and Greek Moussaka
or the French dish Ratatouille. Its great for marinades
and salad dressings and vegetables, especially green
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is used by everyone, and probably is the most used herb
in the world. The two most common varieties are
curly parsley, and flat leafed Italian parsley. These
two have definite and distinctly different tasets.
Parsley has its own unique green slightly peppery
but mild flavor.
It is very nutritious for you, even eating it alone.
It is very versatile and used worldwide. Parsley is a
great for just about everything, including soups, stews,
seafood dishes, meats, sautéed vegetables, and sea
foods. Parsley is great in dips, and sauces, and you can
be adventurous with this herb.
Parsley has always been the most popular garnish on
nearly any dish, and in France is used in another herb
blend called 'fine herbs'. It is one of the
main ingredients in the classic "bouquet garni" for
flavoring stocks or braises. [more
on bouquet garni blends].
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Rosemary is an evergreen herb. It is unique in
appearance and looks similar to that of short pine
needles, and with a similar pine taste. The two most wonderful things about this
herb is its fragrance and flavor. It is an herb
widely used in healthy Mediterranean cooking.
This is one herb that you really want to check the smell
and taste of before buying. Rosemary runs from
fairly pungent to extremely pungent. Rosemary
Tuscan is very hardy and very potent, it is too potent
for my taste. A favorite is 'Trailing Rosemary', with a
pure Rosemary scent without the bite in it. Because
can be so overwhelming, be sure to use it sparingly until you
achieve the flavor that you want.
Rosemary is easy to use, just hold the stem between two
fingers with one hand, and use your other thumb and
finger of the other hand, slide down the stem pulling the leaves off.
Chop the leaves very fine, these can be prepared ahead
of time and kept refrigerated for several days.
This is another herb that can stand a long cooking time.
A little goes a long way, so add it to roasted meats and
poultry of all types [traditionally is used with Lamb],
but is great on all types of meat or fowl.
You can add whole springs of rosemary to add to soups
and stews, however you must be careful when adding
sprigs of rosemary that you don't have a woody stem.
Use only the newer growth that is still tender.
The woody stem gives off a very bitter flavor which you
don't want in your recipe. If you're unsure if the stem
is woody, use the leaves only and put them in cheese
cloth and add that to your recipe.
Rosemary is great with fish [fish steaks not tender
delicate fish] and its great with seafood dishes.
Rosemary is great to make scented oils, vinegars and a
basic marinade made with olive oil, garlic a touch of
lemon, salt and pepper. And, fresh rosemary
gives a new face to potatoes, whether they are baked,
mashed, sautéed, or boiled new potatoes, use rosemary
instead of parsley. A great addition to vegetables.
you bake bread, you'll find that rosemary fresh baked
bread is to die for! A friend always had a
sourdough starter, and baked bread everyday, adding a
sprig of rosemary in the cut on top of the loaf.
The scent while it was baking was heavenly, and it
tasted even better.
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Sage is an evergreen herb, that
has been around since Roman times, but most people only
associate its use with poultry and stuffing for the
holidays. However, it is used in the Mediterranean
diet, teas, medicinal uses are numerous, both for
external and internal uses. Its usage even sports
that it can boost memory power.
Sage comes in several varieties, with roundish leaves
[sage clary] and oblong leaves [common] garden sage is
probably the most used. You'll find
purple sage [a favorite for its color, and a great
decoration for the herb or garden] and scented sages,
such as pineapple sage are used quite often. Its
scent is potent and slightly musky, and since it is a
rather potent herb, use sparingly and adjust the amount
Besides its well known use in stuffing for poultry, it
goes well with pork or veal, like a pork loin roast
stuffed with dried fruits, fresh sage and sautéed onions
is wonderful. Sage adds character to vegetables;
add fresh sage to sautéed onions or mushrooms, and
radishes. It goes well with baked squash, and root
vegetables like carrots, potatoes, parsnips, sweet
Try sage leaves as an appetizer
or decorative touch to soups. Sauté whole sage leaves
[photo shown is Salvia officinalis or garden sage] in butter
until golden, for a tasty treat or garnish. A snack of
sage leaves is quite decadent and they melt on your
Sage adds a pungent flavor to soups and
stews, or add it to wild rice with sautéed onions and
mushrooms and either roasted pecans or walnuts.
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Thyme is a
wonderful petit leafed herb, that comes in may
varieties, of which several are used as tight compact
ground covers between stepping stones, or on walls in a
Thyme comes in many flavors, so you can
have your pick. I rarely use regular thyme, unless
I want a more pungent flavor. My favorite has
become 'Lemon Thyme' because it truly gives a lemony
flavor to whatever your cooking. It is especially
good in fish dishes of all kinds, and add fresh lemon
thyme on vegetables for a zesty change.
of course is a very versatile herb, and complements
almost any type of meat, is great in seafood dishes,
soups, stocks, sauces and stews. Add thyme to
and vegetables in general...a truly zesty perk.
Thyme is great in pasta sauces, but if a recipe calls
for sprigs of thyme, again be careful not to get a real
woody piece, it takes on too bitter a taste, and defeats
Last but not least, this is one of the essential herbs
that go into making up the 'Bouquet Garni' which all
chefs use to flavor stocks, soups, stews and sauces.
Common Name Herbs - Herb Main Page
| Evergreen Herbs
Latin Names |
French Herb Names
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