Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Herb of the Week - Herb Seeds

This is the time of year to think about seeds and I wanted to turn your attention to seeds as a product of your garden, not just for saving to grow next year’s crop but for the benefit of those seeds in your tea and cooking.  So here is a look at Five Herbs to grow for the seeds:

Dill (Antheum graveolens)

Dill has medicinal properties including being a carminative (something that reduced flatulence) and a general intestinal aid against cramps and discomfort.  The name comes from the Old Norse word dilla which means to Lull.  In the Language of flowers this meaning of To Lull meant calming and soothing thought.  Dill is most famous for being used to make pickles.  You can save the entire heads and place in jars of pickled or fermented cucumbers.  The seed heads are also decorative and make great winter time dried arrangements.  You can also use them as a flavoring in breads and soups. I posted some great recipes using dill back in 2010

Pumpkin and Dill Soup
3 cups pie pumpkin cubes
1/2 tsp dill seeds
2 Tbls finely chopped onions
1/4 cup milk
2 Tbls butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper powder to taste

For The Garnish
fresh cream
chopped spring onion greens

Heat the butter in a deep non-stick skillet or Dutch oven, add the onions and sauté on a medium heat for 1 minute. Add the dill seeds and sauté for another 1 minute. Add the pumpkin pieces, salt and 3 cups of water and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. Allow it to cool completely.

Once cooled mash the pumpkin or blend with a hand or immersable blender until smooth.  Add the milk and cook for 2 more minutes.  Serve hot garnished with cream and spring onion greens.

Coriander – the seed of Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum)  

Cilantro is the herb of the year in 2017 and one thing I learned early about cilantro is you must embrace its habit of going to seed.  Cilantro is a wonderful spicy-flavored leaf used in Asian cooking and salsa, however heat makes this wonderful plant bolt and go to seed very fast in the hot months of summer. By the time the tomatoes are ready, the cilantro is long past its prime.  To avoid this issue plant cilantro at two week intervals by spreading a layer of seed right next to a planted crop.  You will have a constant selection of crisp cilantro and can also enjoy the seeds of coriander when they bolt.  Coriander is a common cough remedy and is seen to be an aphrodisiac.  The seeds are used to flavor beans, onions, potatoes, sausage, stews, wine and even baked goods.  It is a regular ingredient in curry and chili powders. I love coriander in my Do-It-All seasoning.

Here are two recipes for Coriander the first is a meat rub and the second is a crescent cookie

Lemon Coriander Cookies 

The lemony flavor of coriander enhances the fresh lemon taste of these tender cookies.

3/4 cup Butter
1/3 cup Sifted powdered sugar
1 Tbls Lemon juice
1/4 tsp Lemon peel; grated fine
1 tsp Coriander, ground
2 cup Flour
1/3 cup Powdered sugar (for dusting)

In a large mixer bowl, beat butter until softened. Add sifted powdered sugar and beat until fluffy. Add lemon peel, lemon juice and coriander; beat well. Add flour; beat until well mixed. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 

Shape the dough into 1 1/2" long by 1/2" wide logs. Curve each log into a crescent shape, tapering the ends. Place on ungreased cookie sheets and bake 18-20 minutes or until done. Remove and cool. In a plastic bag, gently shake a few cookies at a time in 1/3 Cup powdered sugar.   These will keep for 1 week in an airtight container and up to 3 months in the freezer. 

Coriander Meat Rub
Homemade rubs are a quick way to transform roasted meat, poultry, and vegetables into something special. Use this one on both steak and potatoes. 

2 Tbls coriander seeds
2 Tbls whole peppercorns
1 Tbls dried thyme, chopped
1 Tbls dried rosemary
1 Tbls plus 1 tsp coarse kosher salt

Toast coriander seeds in a heavy small skillet over medium heat until aromatic, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a mortar or spice mill. Add peppercorns and crush until broken into coarse pieces. Mix crushed spices with herbs and salt. Store in an airtight container for up to 18 months.

Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)  

These lovely summer edible flowers make great seed pods that you can turn into a substitute for capers.  You do this by pickling them.

Pickled Nasturtium Seeds
1 quart white vinegar
2 Tsp pickling salt
1 thinly sliced medium onion
2 cloves garlic
2 peppercorns
½ tsp each allspice, mace, and celery seed

Combine all ingredients in a glass quart wide mouth canning jar.  Pick the green seeds pods as the nasturtium blossoms fall.  Wash seeds and drop into pickling mixture.  Keep the jar in the refrigerator and continue to add washed seed pods though out the fall, being sure to stir well each time you add more.  You can begin using them once you have collected at least a cup.  Any place a recipe calls for capers you can substitute these pickled beauties.

Anise – Pimpinella anisum

Not to be confused with Anise Hyssop or Star Anise the spice, this herb, also called aniseed, is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae native to the eastern Mediterranean region and Southwest Asia. Its flavor has similarities with some other plants, such as star anise, fennel, and licorice.  Because it is an annual plant you can grow it here in the Midwest and harvest the amazing seeds.

Sprinkle them where you want them to grow in sunny loose soil, as they dislike transplanting.  The seeds have been used since Biblical times.  Back then it was so precious it became a form of currency.  Today we prize it for the amazing scent and the ability to help with digestive issues as well as the sweet flavor for use in pickles, salads, cookies and candies.  I did an entire Herb of the Week post on Anise in February 2011 and another in March 2013 so it is well represented with numerous recipes. 

And finally I have Caraway (Carum carvi).  

This dill-looking plant has seeds that are a popular spice, especially in central Europe.  They enhance pork, goulash, sauerkraut, cheese and pickles.  When added to cooking cabbage they reduce the smell. The seed can also be used to flavor bread and cakes.  Chewing on the fresh seed will settle the stomach and increase alertness, especially after a meal.  Chopped leaves are added to soups and salad, and the roots can be cooked as a vegetable.  The seeds are considered an antiseptic. This seed is used not only to flavor rye bread, but also in cakes, biscuits, cheese, carrot, potatoes cabbage dishes and sausage. Caraway is the main ingredient in my Savory Herb Bread. I shared a Cool Caraway Coleslaw recipe back in 2013. We did an entire herb of the week post on this herb too back in Feb 2011. I found an old reference that originated in colonial times, which used the seed tied into the corner of a handkerchief and chewed to help folks stay awake during long winded sermons.

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