Tuesday, August 29, 2017

End of Season Grilling Butter - How Tuesday

With  Labor Day fast approaching I thought it was the perfect time to share a quick, easy, made with fresh herbs, butter recipe you can use on burgers or steaks to give them some extra flavor right off the grill.

I chopped the herbs fine, grated the lemon with a micro-plane and minced the garlic by hand.  (I hate cleaning the garlic mincer.)

Using a fork I blended the herbs into the butter.  I prefer a fork to a spoon when blending butter, as it mixes well, breaks up the butter and is easy to handle.

Then I rolled the butter into a small short log and placed int he refrigerator for about 30 minutes while the grill heated and the steaks cooked.

We seasoned the steaks with salt and pepper and a drizzle of oil.  We grilled them on a closed grill 6 to 8 minutes (more if desired.)  Cut a slice of herb butter and place in the center of each steak.

Easy and wonderfully flavorful.  The citrus brightens the flavor, but some like a more savory taste you you can try it without the lemon.

End of Season Grilling Butter 

½ cup (1 stick) butter, unsalted
1 Tbls parsley, chopped
1 Tbls chives chopped
1 Tbls tarragon, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
½ tsp lemon zest

Blend herbs into room temperature butter with a fork.  Roll butter in wax paper or plastic wrap, chill one hour. Serve on streaks, chops or burgers.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Tomato Strip Salad - Weekend Recipe

This is a great topping over lettuce leaves to make a dinner salad.  You can add a protein to make it a meal.

Tomato Strip Salad
1 tomato, peeled, seeded and cut into strips
¼ cup fresh or frozen peas, parboiled
2 Tbls fresh green chili strips
½ tsp lemon juice
½ tsp minced fresh cilantro
Lettuce leaves

In a bowl, toss tomato, peas, chili strips, lemon juice and cilantro.  Cover and chill.  Serve on a bed of lettuce.  Makes 1 serving

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Rose Geranium Cookies

The most popular recipe in the cooking demo program this week was cookies made with rose geranium leaves and sugar flavored with rose geranium. We will show how to make herbal sugar very soon with holiday gift ideas.

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar (or rose geranium sugar)
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp rose water
2 tsp rose geranium leaves, finely chopped
1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
4 doz. small rose geranium leaves

Cream and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in egg,milk, and rose water.  Soft together dry ingredients ad add them together with the chopped leaves to the creamed mixture, stirring until well mixed.  The dough will be not be dry but also not liquid. Drop by heaping teaspoons onto lightly greased cookies sheets. Because of the liquid nature leave good 2 inches between cookies.  Press a single Rose geranium leaf deep into each cookie.  Bake in 350 degrees and bake for 8 to 10 minutes.  Serve with a gentle companion tea with light lemon or floral flavors.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Meatless Monday - Corn Stuffed Tomatoes

Today is the day of the ellipse.  I wanted to go down south to watch it, but I scheduled a lecture for tonight so I cannot go 5 hours south of here and get back before the program. Since I was doing a program on cooking I went out to find some special recipes to make it worth forgoing the trip.

The theme is using the bounty of your garden.  I found this great recipe that is mostly all vegetables.  It is too lengthy to do during the program, but I just loved it and wanted to share it.  It is tasty and can be a side dish, or served in pairs, a main dish.

Corn Stuffed Tomatoes
6 large tomatoes
½ tsp salt, optional
½ cup plain or Italian seasoned bread crumbs
2 cups corn cut fresh from the cob or frozen corn, thawed
2 Tbls celery, chopped
2 Tbls onion, diced fine
1 Tbls oregano, chopped
1 Tbls parsley, chopped
2 Tbls half and half cream
1 Tbls butter, melted
2 Tbls shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese
¼ cup water

Cut a thin slice off the top of each tomatoes, scoop out and discard pulp.  Sprinkle salt inside tomatoes if desired.  Invert on paper towel to drain.  Combine bread crumbs, corn, celery, onion,  cream, herbs and butter.  Spoon into the tomatoes.  Place in an ungreased 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese.  Pour water into the baking dish.  Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until tomatoes are tender.  Makes 6 servings.

NOTE: You can add 2 Tbls. green pepper, diced fine to the corn mixture if you like peppers (I don't.) You can substitute 2 Tbls or basil cut in ribbons for the other herbs.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Cucumber Dill Dip - Weekend Recipe

Let's get in a few more picnics and barbeques before summer ends and enjoy a few items from the garden too!  This recipes is great on carrots and celery or use it as a great spread on Cucumber sandwiches.  This is a twist on the standard Dill Dip recipe found on the package. 

Cucumber Dill Dip
1-8 oz. pkg of cream cheese, softened
1 cup mayonnaise
2 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 Tbls. sliced green onions
1 Tbls. lemon juice
½ tsp hot pepper sauce (optional)

Beat cream cheese until smooth, stir in chopped cucumber and green onions.  Add remaining ingredients until well mixed.  Cover and chill.  Makes 2 ½ cups.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Flowering herbs - what to do with the bolting herb

This year we have been miraculously cool, but I know other parts of the country have not been so lucky, so what to do when the heat causes your herbs to bolt, or flower and make seed? 

Being the year of Cilantro I thought it was important to mention that some herbs can lose potency when flowering. Cilantro actually changes from Cilantro to Coriander and the leaves change shape and flavor.  Once a Cilantro plant starts to go to seed (bolting,) there is no amount of pinching off the flowers that can stop the process and you either pull it out and start over or use the coriander seed.

Most of the time, with other herbs, you can pinch off the flowers.  From perennial herbs like chives, marjoram, mint, oregano, sage, tarragon and thyme; cut the plants back a bit give them a good watering and let them regrow. With that care, they will keep growing and produce more flavor-filled herb leaves for you to harvest.  Use the pinched off flowers to spice up your meals in the mean time.  

In my garden the marjoram is flowering now, I like to harvest and dry the flowers for arrangements so I let it flower.  It does not seem to harm the flavor of the dried marjoram that much.

The thyme is such a prolific flowering plant that you cannot just pinch off the flowers, you need to give the entire bush a trim.  But I gather the flowers and leafy stem pieces into a paper bag and let them dry, a bit of flower in my dried stripped leaves will not hurt the flavor of anything I cook them with.

For annual herbs like basil, cilantro/coriander, dill and fennel, their one and only botanical job is to bear seeds; bolting signals the end of their growth cycle, so you need to use them before you lose them to seed (saving the seed will give you a head start on next year’s garden.)  

Basil can be halted by slipping off the flowers, but most of the other annuals need to be harvested or used before they start making seed, when it gets hot, keep an eye on them.

Dill weed can be eaten when the plant is producing seed and is still very tasty.  However if you want to dry the dill weed, you want to harvest that before there are seed heads forming.  I sow a crop of dill seed every two weeks through out the growing season to keep a fresh selection of dill weed available.  Dill is a nice herb to start now for a fall harvest so sprinkle a few dill and cilantro seed now and harvest in a few short weeks.

If your herbs have already made flowers, remember they are perfectly edible so clip them off and use as a garnish on your dinner plate or in a salad.  I like to sprinkle a few basil flowers onto my caprese salad, it adds a different flavor dimension than just basil leaves with my mozzarella and tomato.

Ramen noodles are often a quick summer dish especially mixed with fresh vegetables from the garden.  You can make a fresh herb broth to season both the vegetables and the noodles with your herb clippings.

Food writer Mark Bittman shared this broth recipe that I have tried again and again.  He puts a small handful of rosemary, thyme or sage sprigs (bolted or not), a large handful of parsley stems, a few fresh bay leaves or sprigs of savory, 1 or 2 crushed garlic cloves and a pinch of black peppercorns in a pot with 6 cups of cold water, then brings the pot to barely a simmer, removes it from the heat and steeps the herbs for 15 minutes, then strains the broth before using it.  It is perfect with all those thyme clippings and if you use sage flowers the flavor is more mellow than sage leaves.

My recent interest in herbal cocktails caused me to try tossing herbs into brandy also.  The flowers of herbs, especially the exotic basils, like cinnamon, lemon or Thai along with savory, lavender and even some garlic chive blossoms and mint flowers placed in a quart jar filled with 2 cups brandy, 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1/2 cup water when stored in the dark until October or November can be strained and bottled for holiday sipping or gift giving.  Let the herbs steep for 2 to 3 months before you strain and rebottle them.

I found this recipe in an article from England, but I think it is a great idea.

Garbage Vinegar
Use the scraps, trimmings and flowers from your herbs when you are pinching them back. The stems and flowers of culinary herbs infuse the vinegar with flavor and fragrance.  Makes 1 to 1 1/2 cups vinegar.

1 clean quart-sized canning jar with a plastic lid
1 quart of good white wine vinegar
Bits and pieces, odds and ends of fresh (or dried) herbs

Fill the jar with vinegar.  Screw on the lid. Each time you use fresh or dried herbs in cooking, instead of throwing them away or composting the leftover pieces, put them in the jar. When the jar is completely full of leftover herbs, let it sit for a week. Strain the herb vinegar through a coffee filter or several layers of cheese cloth. Pour it into a clean bottle. Cap tightly. Use frequently for marinades, dressings, sauces and any place else you want a dash of flavor.  This will never spoil and may become your perfect go to for cooking.

Another way to make garbage vinegar is to add the dregs for your single herb vinegars to a common jar.  My hubby did this when the clutter of 5 almost finished single herb vinegars got in his way in the kitchen.  He poured them all into one jar and uses it for his chicken pork marinades.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Weekend Recipe - Zucchini Boats

Back around 2009, my husband and I joined our first CSA (Community Supported Agriculture.)  We went to a local farm and picked up a box full of locally grown produce weekly.  Like many people who join a CSA we got things we might not otherwise have gotten for ourselves at the farmer's market.  We started looking for recipes to go with these unique or bountiful items.  Herbs were included in our CSA regularly so I shared with the farm several recipes they could include in the CSA boxes.  Now that Zucchini is arriving in our garden in abundance, I dug through and found these CSA recipes and decided to share them with you here.  Look for more in the coming weeks.

Zucchini Boats

6 medium Zucchini
2 cups dry bread crumbs
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 large tomato diced
1/3 cup grated parmesan or Romano cheese
¼ cup minced fresh parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup chicken or vegetable broth
½ tsp. Salt
1/8 tsp. Pepper
2 Tbls. Butter, melted

Cut zucchini in half lengthwise.  With a spoon, scoop out and reserve pulp, leaving a 3/8 inch shell.  Cook shells in salted water for 2 minutes.  Remove and drain.  Chop zucchini pulp, place in large bowl.  Add bread crumbs, eggs, tomato, parmesan cheese, parsley and garlic.  Stir in broth salt and pepper.  Stuff into zucchini shells.

Place in greased 13”x9”x2” baking dish.  Drizzle with butter.  Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Serves 6.

This recipe was crafted for Walkup Farm in Crystal Lake as a postcard give-away.  I do not know if they were ever distributed to the public.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Tomato Herb Tonic - Weekend Recipe

If you like V-8 or Bloody Mary you will love this herbal tonic.  It tastes a lot like a Bloody Mary but without the vodka, of course if you add some for an afternoon relaxer, who can say it is a bad thing?

Icy Tomato-Herb Tonic
Serve 4

4 cups tomato juice
¼ cup minced fresh parsley
¼ cup minced fresh lovage (substitute minced celery leaves if you have no lovage)
fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 Tbls. soy sauce or to taste
celery sticks for garnish

Mix tomato juice with minced herbs, black pepper and soy sauce in a large pitcher.  Chill for several hours.  Garnish serving with a celery stick.
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