Saturday, September 5, 2009
Herb Gardens are a joy, they enjoy neglect, poor soil works...they can change your cooking and your life.
I know of no one in the family named Herb. He is in no way responsible for this recipe. I used to be in Museum work however, in the Summers when I was not teaching. I had occasion to give teas a few times in the summer. We had a small herb garden which I restored and a rose garden that had gone wild and completely enveloped one side of the house in a mass of foliage. It was romantic, but not healthy for the house or the roses. I cut them all back and replanted the rose garden with old varieties. My niece took a few slips from all the old roses and now she has the care of the rampant varieties. It is fun to know that they were old varieties, but they are some work. When there was a tea, I tried to include things in the refreshments that we could grow. I had people help me make butter on site, and we harvested and processed the herbs. As a result, It was easy to make herb butters and serve them on bread that I made in the big bake oven in the kitchen fireplace. Biscuits with yeast, local cheese and baking powder were also offered from our bake oven.
To a quarter pound of salted butter, add 1/2 cup of fresh herbs. It is best to put each herb separately into a different butter, as the distinct taste is lost otherwise. There are some blends that were done based on antique Shaker recipes and so forth, but you are better off with just one.
Process the herbs and butter, slightly softened in a food processor. Then pack and freeze(or put it in your root cellar with some pond ice) for a day or two. Bring to room temperature and spread on small biscuits, bread rounds(both for tea sandwiches).
These may be used as a base for finely sliced cucumber with the seeds removed, shrimp paste or a single butterflied shrimp, Minced or sliced radishes, dried or roasted tomatoes etc.
These can be done open face or as regular sandwiches. Use up the bread cut from Eggs in a frame. Make the butter into sandwiches with a variety of breads and cut out with a cookie cutter(You eat all the trimmings). Try using mint with sliced strawberries.
The butters can also be wonderful over grilled plain meats such as a good steak, over grilled shaved steak, or over vegetables. Peas with mint butter. Saute cucumber or summer squash and melt dill butter over them or mint again. Grill some chicken, melt basil butter over the top and top with thin slices of tomato.
You can do blends that include fresh or roasted garlic and herbs, onions or chopped tomato(seeds removed), but beware the storage of anything like that as spoilage might be an issue.
Do not freeze the vegetable butters as the freezing will change the texture. Use immediately and before it has a chance to weep.
You can also do this with fresh or purchased Mayonnaise, but storage and freezing is an even bigger issue.
Wash all herbs in COLD water and be sure no pesticides are used near them.
Chives, minced shallots---onion flavor
Tarragon, basil---anise flavor
Salad Burnett, Borage--cucumber flavor
Rosemary sometimes with garlic---Piney and very Greek
Mint, Spearmint, other flavored mints---
Oregano---Greek and Italian(try with lemon zest or juice(in moderation)
Lemon Balm, Sorrel(both in moderation), Lemon Verbena---Lemon
Rose petals and Lavendar---lovely but an aquired taste.
Citrus peel grated. The little clover like weed that shows up in all your planting beds is a Wood Sorrel and can be used as an herb for a lemon flavor. These would be good with saefood.
Try also mashing shrimp, crab or lobster into the butter and serving on bread or hot pasta. Plop a mini ice cream scoop of this on a great steak, but leave some texture in the seafood.
Try many of these on grilled or fried bread alone or with morsels of your favorite meats, cheeses or olives as an appetizer
Try any of these with Moscarpone or cream cheese. Perhaps you could try the rose petals or lavendar in between the layers of a plain cake with a glaze or powdered sugar on top.