Using Herbs and Flowers

Cooking with Herbs

A Few Quick and Delicious Ideas for using Fresh Herbs in Everyday Cooking. Try some of the following and then follow your own instincts to discover flavor combinations you and your family would like. It’s fun, fast and flavorful.

Quick Chicken Salad:

  1. Shred a poached chicken breast and toss it with a vinaigrette dressing, chopped cilantro, dill or parsley.
  2. Mix in 1/2 cup cooked peas and moisten with a little mayo.
  3. Add basil, parsley, sage or savory to an omelet, frittata or Spanish tortilla.
  4. Mix a little fresh thyme with cooked rhubarb.
  5. Garnish mushroom or onion soup with fresh chopped rosemary.
  6. Sprinkle cooked frozen peas with fresh dill.
  7. Stir chopped sage, garlic, butter and grated cheese into hot cooked rice.
  8. Stud a roast of lamb or pork with slivered garlic and rosemary needles.
  9. Spread yogurt mixed with dill, fennel, marjoram, or thyme over fish before baking.
  10. Mix chopped tarragon and lemon into melted butter and pour over beans.
  11. Add chopped fresh marjoram to cottage cheese.
  12. Make a lemon mustard sauce to spread on baking, broiling or roasting chicken or pork: 1/2 cup dijon mustard, 1 small onion finely chopped. 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice and 1/4 lemon finely chopped.
  13. Garnish white table wine with basil or mint sprigs.
  14. Make a basil cream sauce: Gently cook 1/2 cup of cream, a finely chopped small onion and 1/2 cup shredded basil for 5 minutes. Serve over chicken or with rice or pasta.
  15. Make a dip, dressing or spread of goat cheese, mayo,crushed garlic, chopped basil and a dash of herb vinegar.
  16. Use 1/4 cup of herb vinegar to deglaze a pan the chicken, pork, or beef has been sauteed or
    baked in. Stir in a bit of butter serve over meat.

Sage Pesto Lasagna

You will need:

  1. 9” by 13” pan
  2. Enough lasagna noodles for three layers
  3. 1 small package mushrooms
  4. 1 onion
  5. 2-3 cloves of garlic
  6. 1/2-3/4 cup light cream
  7. 1/3 cup chopped gruyre cheese
  8. 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  9. 1/4 cup chopped basil
  10. 1 1/2 cup ricotta
  11. 1 egg
  12. 3/4 cup sage pesto
  13. 3/4 cup grated romano
  14. aluminum foil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Spread a little pesto on the bottom of the pan. put down a layer of noodles.

Chop the onion, mushrooms,garlic, gruyre, basil and parsley. Spread evenly over the noodles. Pour the cream over the vegetables.

Add a second layer of noodles. Mix the ricotta and egg together and spread over the noodles. Dot 1/4 cup of pesto over the ricotta.

Add the third layer of noodles. Spread 1/2 cup of pesto over the noodles. Sprinkle the grated romano over the pesto.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake 40 minutes. Remove foil and return to the oven to brown a little, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to set for 10 minutes before serving.

Basil Cheesecake

-The Basil Book-Marilyn Hampstead

  1. 2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
  2. 2 tbs lemon juice (optional)
  3. 1tsp vanilla
  4. 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  5. 2 tbs cornstarch
  6. 1 cup sour cream
  7. 1 cup crushed vanilla wafers or graham crackers
  8. 2 large eggs, slightly beaten
  9. 2 tbs butter
  10. 1 cup Genovese basil, destemmed

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In food processor or mixer, lightly beat the eggs. Add sour cream, sugar, basil, cornstarch, lemon juice and vanilla. Process until smooth. Add cream cheese, 1⁄2 pound at a time, and process to incorporate.

Spread softened butter on the bottom & halfway up the sides of a 9 or 10 inch springform pan. Cover buttered area with cookie crumbs, pressing to be sure they stick. Pour in cheesecake batter & bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Knife the edges of the cake as soon as cake is removed from the oven. Cool on a wire rack about 5 minutes and remove the side of the pan. Finish cooling, if you can wait. Serves 10

Moss Baskets

Materials needed:

  • An inexpensive 5 or 6 inch woven basket, with or without a handle
  • Green sheet moss, about 28 inches square. One whole piece or several smaller pieces
  • A 2 inch foam brush
  • 8 oz. white glue
  • A glue pot. A plastic take-out container works well.
  • 3 12 inch # 28 green florist wires.
  • 2 or 4, 15 to 20 inch twiggy stems. Bridal wreath or lowbush blueberry are great.
  • Garden clippers
  • Several sheets of newspaper
  • optional: Raffia or ribbon

Project time; 1 hour

Attaching the Handle

  • Cut two or four multi-twigged branches , 15 to 20 inches long. Remove any leaves.
  • Spread newspaper over your workspace.
  • If the basket has a handle, cut it off.
  • The twiggy handle is made by wiring the branches onto a rib of the basket. To choose a rib, hold the basket in front of you. Looking down into the basket, notice the ribs radiating out from the center of the base and up the basket sides. Select a rib.
  • Lay the cut end of your branch inside the basket on top of the chosen rib. The bottom of the branch should be following the slight curve of the rib as it runs down the inside of the basket to the base.
  • Hold the bottom 2 inches of the branch firmly against the rib.with one hand. With the other hand, bend one of the wires into a big hairpin or “U” shape.
  • Beginning on the inside if the basket, place the ends of the wire on either side of the branch.
    Push both ends thru the basket weave to the outside. Pull the wire tight around the branch. Twist the two legs of the wire sharply together at the point they emerge from the basket. There will be two long legs of wire left.
  • Thread the two wires back thru the basket, one leg emerging on either side of the branch. Twist the wires together sharply against the branch.
  • Repeat the threading process, working the wire up the stem as you push and twist. Continue until the branch is firmly tied or “shoelaced” to the inside of the basket.
  • Trim off any excess wire . Tuck the sharp ends under the branch.
  • Trace the rib to the opposite side of the basket. Wire the other shrubby branch firmly into place.
  • Pull the tops of the branches together to form an arch, creating the look of two trees grown into each other. Snip a wire into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Carefully wire the arch together in two or three key places.

Mossing the basket.

  • Pour the glue into the plastic container.
  • Spread the moss out on the newspaper. Shake each piece to remove excess dust and soil. Carefully pull any pebbles or thick pieces of bark off the back of the moss.
  • Gluing the moss to the basket is similar to piecing a patchwork quilt. Choose the largest, greenest pieces of moss to glue to the inside of the basket. The inside of the basket is usually seen first. Use smaller, browner pieces for the lower sides and base of the basket, where the eye doesn’t often travel. Always begin gluing in the center of the basket.
  • Start by arranging a large piece of moss so that it covers part of the basket’s bottom and climbs up the side, folding over the rim and a little down the outside.
    KEY POINT—- The edge of the basket will take the most wear and tear. Never butt pieces of moss at the basket edge. Moss should be placed so the pieces always fold over the edge an inch or more.
  • Take the moss out of the basket. Lather glue thickly where the moss lay. Push the moss firmly onto the glued area of the basket. Make a fist. Push against the moss with the back of your fist. The moss must have full, firm contact with the glue in order to stick. It is naturally absorbent and can hold a lot of glue. If an edge or corner of the moss doesn’t stick, lift it up and lather in more glue.
  • Fit another piece of moss against the glued piece. Remove, glue the basket and attach the moss.
  • Repeat until the basket is covered with moss. Cover the base of the basket last.
    If a piece of moss is to large for a space, tear it to fit. Don’t cut moss. Cutting creates a straight edge that remains visible. Tearing maintains the natural edge. By sliding the natural edges of the moss together, it is possible to create the effect of one unbroken piece.
  • Add loops and bows of raffia or ribbon to the basket handle.
  • Left in a warm place, the basket will be dry and ready for use in three or four hours.
  • Don’t put your basket in direct sunlight for long periods of time . The sun will bleach the moss.

New England Wedding Herbs

TIME INVOLVED

Assembly: 30 minutes

LONG ASSOCIATED WITH BRIDES AND WEDDINGS, this lovely, fragrant mix of herbs and flowers is used lavishly throughout wedding celebrations. Fill a small decorative box with it, attach a pretty card explaining the significance of the herbs, and give it to the newlyweds as a memento of the happy occasion. Or strew handfuls on the tables at the wedding reception, leaving a small card at each place setting listing the bridal couple’s names, wedding date, and herbal meanings (see “Language of Flowers,” pages 32-33). You may also want to fill some simple sachets with the mix and give them as wedding favors. Or heap beautiful silver or cut glass bowls with the wedding herbs and pass them to guests after the wedding ceremony so that they can shower the happy couple with herbal blessings.

Botanicals:

2 1/2 oz (75g) rose petals and flowers
1/2 oz (15g) marjoram
1/2 oz (15g) lavender
1/2 oz (15g) rosemary
1/4 oz (7g) myrtle

Tools & Utensils

Small kitchen scale with a weighing basket

Pruning shears

Paper bag

Very large container
(plastic box, stainless steel bowl, cardboard carton)

To ASSEMBLE THE HERBAL MIX
Place the rose petals and flowers, marjoram, lavender, rosemary, and myrtle in a large mixing bowl.

Stir them together with a stainless steel spoon.

The herbs and flowers called for in this recipe are not the only ones traditionally found in wedding mixes. Often included are sage, to symbolize good health, long life, and domestic virtue; ivy leaves, to signify friendship; blue salvia, to express ÒI think of you”, and fennel seeds, to say “worthy of all praise.”

Plants that Air-Dry Easily

Holiday GreensFrom the deep woods of Arkansas’s Ozark mountains, this earthy and richly resinous mixture springs from the very heart and soul of ancient winter celebrations. Package it in brown paper bags tied With green twine or a burlap ribbon and lavish it on friends. Its fragrance is meant to be shared and enjoyed by everyone during the dark of winter

Time Involved:
Assembly • 1 hour
Aging the mix • 1 weekTools & Utensils

  • Small kitchen scale with a weighing basket
  • Pruning shears
  • Paper bag
  • Very large container (plastic box,stainless steel bowl, cardboard carton)

To create the botanical blend

  • Cut the tender tips of the fresh evergreens into pieces about 12 in (30cm) long. These can be gathered on a crisp fall day and stored in a cool spot (45′-50’F; 7-10-C) until you are ready to create your holiday blend.
  • Cut any large cones into 1-in (2.5-cm) pieces with pruning shears, but keep small cones whole. Store all of them in a paper bag until they are needed.
  • Select a container that is large enough to hold and roomy enough to mix several quarts of greens and other botanicals.
  • Cut all the fresh greens, including the branches, into 1-in (2.5-cm) pieces with pruning shears and put them into the container.
  • Add the cones, allspice berries, cloves, and citrus peel slivers. Mix everything together with your hands. If the evergreen needles are sharp, wear heavy gloves.
  • Leave the blend in the container for 1 week.
  • Mix it every day so that the moisture from the fresh greens will be Absorbed by the spices and citrus peels. After a few days the fragrances will combine and the blend will develop a personality all its own.

Note:
Collect fresh evergreen cones. Store-bought cones have little fragrance,
so use them only if you are unable to find fresh ones.

Hydrangia
Delphinium
Blue Salvia
Nigella Pods
Iris Pods
Loosestrife
Lambs Ears
Yellow & Gold Yarrows
Silver King Atemisia
Garden Sea Lavender
(Lactiflora)
Roses
Teasels
Poppy Pods
Culinary Sage
Artemesia Annua
St. Johns Wort Seed pods
Feverfew
Tansy
Dill Seed heads
Coriander Seed heads
Ambrosia
Safflower
Lady’s Mantle
Lavender
Red Bee balm
Centuria Sultana
Wild Oregano
Pot Marjoram
Garlic Chives
Costmary
(Annual Statice)??
Border Carnations(Minis)
Crested Cockscomb
Lonas
Grasses:
Wheat, Rye, Oats,
Briza Etc.
Blue Argaratium
Lunaria
Globe Thistle
Peony
Baby’s Breath
(Gypsophilia)
Yarrow “The Pearl”
Caspia
Pearly Everlasting
Goldenrod
Sweet Everlasting
(Marigolds)??
Dahlias
Lily-of-Valley
Meadowsweet Seed pods
Gladiolus
Lemon Balm
Mints
Sedum-Autumn Joy
Sweet Cicely Pods
Botanicals: Picea abies; Juniperus communis; Abies balsamca; Pinus spp.;
Juniperus virginiana
8 oz (225g) fresh evergreen tips (spruce, juniper, balsam, pine, red cedar)
Pinus spp.; Picea spp.; Tsuga canadensis; 1 oz (30g) assorted fresh evergreen cones
Betula spp (pine, spruce, hemlock, birch) Pimenta diocia 3 oz (90g) allspice berries
Syzygium aromaticum 3 oz (90g) whole cloves
Citrus spp 1 oz (30g) dried mixed citrus peel slivers (orange, lemon, tangerine, grapefruit, lime, whole dried kumquats, key limes)