Saturday, July 10, 2010

Summer camp in a San Francisco culinary school - Herbs

Basil - a most delicious herb, especially teamed with tomatoes. (It also grows well near tomatoes.) It lends great flavour to meaty pasta sauces, chicken and vegetable dishes and salads. It is a major ingredient in pesto.

Bay leaves - used to flavour many meat and fish dishes and are a component of the traditional French seasoning bouquet garni (along with thyme, parsley and marjoram). Dried leaves are most commonly used.

Ground roasted cumin seed - a vital ingredient in many curry powders and curry dishes. It is used in Mediterranean, Arabian, Indian and Mexican cuisine. It is especially good in beef curries and in lentil and bean dishes. The flavour also enhances vegetables such as zucchini and eggplant. It is often used to flavour pickled vegetables. The flavour is very strong, so use judiciously.

Dill leaves - particularly flavoursome in fish and potato recipes. The seeds are traditionally used with cucumbers to make dill pickles.

Fennel - traditionally used as a flavouring for fish and dried fennel stalks are sometimes used to grill fish. The leaves are used as a garnish and to flavour stuffings. The seeds are used to flavour savoury dishes and are baked into cakes and breads and added to fruit pies.

Lemon Grass - especially used in Thai food. The bottom of the leaves is thick and fleshy and adds a tangy flavour to curries and stir-fries. The new leaves can be chopped and used to flavour chicken and seafood dishes in particular, or infused as a tea.

Spearmint - a popular flavouring for sauces and dressings and mint jelly is a traditional accompaniment to lamb. Peas and potato dishes are often flavoured with mint. Native Mint can be used with the traditional foods that mint often accompanies, but it is much stronger in flavour and has a peppery taste as well. It complements lamb and veal dishes, is flavoursome addition to potato salad, can be used to make mint sauce and, used with discretion, can add unusual flavours to jellies and desserts.

Oregano - can be used in Mediterranean foods such as pizzas, lasagne, pesto and pasta. It is also excellent in salsa, eggplant dishes, vegetable strudel and herb breads.

Parsley - its appealing flavour makes it a component of both the traditional fines herbes and bouquet garni flavourings of French cooking. It is a favourite flavouring for egg dishes, vegetable dishes, pastas and soups and it is a traditional garnish.

Rosemary - has a very pungent flavour and it should be used with discretion. It is a traditional flavouring for lamb dishes, but is used with most other meats and fish as well. It is an important component in most combinations of mixed herbs and is invaluable in the stuffing for the Christmas turkey.

Saffron - has been prized since ancient times in the Mediterranean and also in India and other parts of Asia where it adds a unique flavour to cuisine, especially seafood and rice-based dishes. It is also used to colour food.

Sage - has a strong flavour and should be used judiciously. It is traditionally used in stuffings for meats, especially pork and poultry, but is also used in a range of vegetable, fish and cheese dishes. It complements onion well.

Star Anise - used in Chinese and northern Vietnamese cooking and is one of the ingredients in five-spice powder. It can be used as a substitute for anise and is frequently used to flavour liqueurs such as Pernod. It is also used to give an aniseed flavour to confectionary.

Tarragon - especially delicious in seafood dishes and is also suited for use in chicken, turkey and egg recipes. It is often used in salad dressings and sauces.

Thyme - a favourite culinary herb and is one of the ingredients in the traditional French bouquet garni along with marjoram, parsley, and bay leaf. It imparts excellent flavour to all kinds of red meat dishes, soups, sauces and vegetable dishes and is a favourite ingredient in stuffings for poultry.

Turmeric - essential ingredient in many curry seasonings. The flavour is warm and slightly bitter and it is very aromatic. Apart from curries, it is used in egg, rice and fish dishes, sauces, mustards and pickles.

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