Friday, February 10, 2012

Savvy Cooking with Herbs

Want to boost a meal’s flavor while reducing your salt intake? One healthful option is adding herbs to meals for some sodium-free flavor.
§  Use 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs or 1 teaspoon dried.
§  Cut fresh herbs finely to maximize aroma and flavor.
§  Add fresh herbs near the end of cooking so that flavors aren’t cooked out.
Here are a few examples of ways to add herbs to your meal plan today:
Olive oil: Increase the flavor of olive oil by simmering gently with rosemary, garlic or chilies for 15 minutes.  Then use immediately in a recipe.  (Do not bottle this or save it more than a week.)

Meat: Add flavor by pressing an herb rub on meat, poultry or fish before cooking. Try this combination: chopped parsley, garlic, pepper, and mustard. Or try one of the Meat Rubs from the Backyard Patch.
Another similar option is to stuff fresh herbs—sage, tarragon, savory—between poultry skin and poultry meat or inside the cavity before roasting.

 Greens: Add chopped fresh herbs to a salad.
Breads: Mix chives, garlic, rosemary or other herbs into dough or batter.
If you don’t make bread, blend up an herbal butter to add to your bread or rolls.  A great combination is chives, parsley and tarragon in equal proportions to make a Tablespoon added to two sticks (1/2 cup) of butter or margarine.  It will keep almost indefinitely and can be frozen too.
Fruit: Sweeten your fruit by adding mint, lavender or rosemary to fruit salads, cobblers and smoothies.
Water: Flavor your water with mint or lemongrass.
Lemon Herb Oil

Lemon Oil is also great to cook with and you can infuse the oil overnight and use it for a couple of weeks before needing a new batch.

2 Tbls. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp lime zest
1 handful of lemon herbs (lemon verbena, lemon basil, lemon thyme, lemon balm or a combination is perfect)

Place herbs and zest in jar and bruise the herbs lightly.  Add lemon juice and shake to spread it throughout the herbs.  Add 1 to 2 cups of olive oil over the herbs until they are covered.  Place in the refrigerator and meld overnight.  By the next day you are ready to cook with it.  Because of the juice the water content is higher so do not keep this oil longer than 2 weeks and always in the refrigerator.

Fettuccini with Lemon Sauce
2 Tbls. butter
1 cup heavy Cream
1 cup beef broth or bouillon
2 Tbls lemon infused herbal oil
Fettuccine, linguini or angel hair pasta to serve 4 to 6

In a sauce pan large enough to hold pasta when it is done, combine butter, cream, and beef broth and simmer over medium heat until reduced by about half.  Add 2 Tbls. lemon oil, and set aside.  Cook the pasta according to package directions.  When cooked al dente (firm to the tooth) drain it and add to the pan containing the sauce.  Toss over medium heat for 20 to 30 seconds until most of the sauce is absorbed.

I like to serve them by twirling the noodles around on a fork to create a "nest" and sliding it onto a plate.  Then you can top the noodles with anything else you like, cooked chicken, bits of bacon or ham, steamed vegetables or even caviar.


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