Category Archives: Food Preserving

Edible Lavender

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Do you have some dried lavender sitting around from the summer you would like to use in a culinary recipe?  Or possibly you are planning to harvest the  lavender you planted in your garden.  The following information is adapted from the Botanical Interests Blog

Although I think of  lavender being used only  in lotion, oils or candles with its relaxing aroma, apparently you can easily substitute lavender for other herbs, especially rosemary, when flavoring sweet or savory dishes.

The following recipes use  common kitchen staples—sugar, butter, and syrup—that shows how versatile lavender is in the kitchen.  For example: lavender sugar is delicious in  shortbread cookies for a floral surprise.

Lavender butter could be used with roasted chicken for a pleasant, earthy flavor.

Lastly, lavender syrup can be used in lemonade during hot summer days or possibly even cocktails for a flowery taste of summer.

What delicious lavender recipes have you adapted to culinary uses?

Lavender Sugar

1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon of dried lavender or 2 tablespoons fresh lavender

Mix the two ingredients together and seal in an airtight container for two days before using to ensure the flavors meld. Recipe can be doubled or tripled, depending on how much sugar you need.

Lavender and Herb Butter

¼ pound of butter (1 stick), softened
1 tablespoon of dried lavender
1 tablespoon of dried parsley
1 tablespoon of dried oregano

Mix all ingredients and chill in the fridge for a few hours. If you prefer, you can use almost any other dried herb, such as basil or chives.

Lavender Syrup

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon dried lavender or 2 tablespoons fresh lavender

Mix ingredients in a small pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, stir the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool for a few hours, strain, and pour into an airtight container. Syrup can be stored in the fridge for several weeks.

 

Presto Pesto

basilplantTraditional pesto is made with basil, cheese, garlic, and olive oil.  We all know it is delicious on pasta, but there are lots of other savory, delicious, flavor packed ideas for using this classic condiment.

Here are my top 10 ideas for using pesto:

1.  Use pesto like “mayo” Spread it on a BLT , turkey and cheese or other favorite sandwich.

2. Mix It Into Dips Try a little pesto  with sour cream, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or even guacamole.  Yum.

3. Top Your Breakfast  Drizzle pesto over your favorite breakfast eggs to add a touch of herbs and cheese.

Traditional pizza toppings with a pesto sauce base.

Traditional pizza toppings with a pesto sauce base.

4. Replace Pizza Sauce  Using pesto instead of traditional tomato sauce adds an entirely different layer of flavor to homemade pizza.  Just use a little, as pesto is flavor packed.

5. Bake It Into Bread  Instead of garlic bread, spread pesto onto crusty bread and toast, or stir pesto into bread dough for wonderfully fragrant dinner rolls. If you don’t want to turn on the oven, just mix the pesto with some softened butter and slather on some rolls or fresh bread.

Mix pesto with vinaigrette about 50/50 or to taste.

Mix pesto with vinaigrette about 50/50 or to taste.

6. Mix It Into Salad Dressing  Thinned with a little more oil or vinegar, you have a quick vinaigrette for summer salads. Whisk into buttermilk for an Italian version of ranch dressing.

7.  Top Veggies  Instead of butter, use a dab of pesto to garnish your vegetables. Or skip the butter and sour cream, mix pesto on your baked potato.

8. Quick Appetizer – A smear of pesto topped with a slice of mozzarella on a slice of toasted baguette is a very  quick appetizer.

9. Enhance the Meat  Pesto goes amazingly well with grilled steak, pork chops, chicken, and especially fish.  You can also season meatloaf or meatballs with pesto.

Garnish soup with pesto

Garnish soup with pesto

10. Garnish a Soup A traditional French bean and vegetable stew, is meant to be served with a drizzle of pesto over top. Try it with Minestrone other favorites and let us know how you like it.

What is your favorite way to use pesto?

 

 

 

 

Classic Pesto

Pesto has so many uses!

Pesto has so many uses!

1 Cup packed basil
1/2 Cup fresh flat leaf parsley
1/2 Cup grated Parmesan
1/4 Cup toasted pine nuts (toast in skillet till browned – about 3 minutes and cool) or walnuts
3 large garlic cloves, sliced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin light olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp Extra Virgin olive oil (or use 6 Tbsp of Extra Virgin Light for mild flavor

In a food processor combine the herbs, cheese, nuts, garlic, and salt Process with on/off pulses.Process with the machine running, and SLOWLY add the oil, process to the consistency of soft butter. (This recipe can be done in a blender, but you will need to stop it frequently and push the mixture down to the blades.)

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Herbal Vinegar Basics

French tarragon is used for culinary purposes.

French tarragon is used for culinary purposes.

Tarragon or other herb flavored vinegars are easy and inexpensive to make and provide a simple, appetizing way to add flavor to salad dressings, marinades, and every day meals. Tasty, distinctive, flavored vinegars can also be added to roasted vegetables, drizzled over fish, splashed into a soup, stew or stir-fry for added flavor, or to baste chicken while it bakes.

The process requires few ingredients, basic equipment, and very little time. Homemade vinegars make a special and unique gift for any occasion. If you don’t have tarragon, try basil, Rosemary, thyme, dill, sage or parsley in an herbal vinegar.  Or try several different versions.

Fill jar with fresh herbs

Fill jar with fresh herbs

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 cups of French tarragon leaves, fresh and loosely packed – more herbs, more flavor
  • 2 cups white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or rice wine vinegar
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, optional

(Additional herb sprig for decoration when bottling)

Preparation

1. Wash tarragon (or herbs) the night before, if needed, so herbs, freshly harvested in the morning, will maintain maximum flavor. Gather herbs in the morning, after the dew has dried. Bruise tarragon or herbs with the back of a chef knife, with a mortar and pestle or crumple herbs by hand to release maximum flavor.
2. Fill a dry sterilized  jar with tarragon or herbs of choice. (A quick run through the dishwasher
herbal+vinegars3. Pack a one quart jar with the herbs and pour the vinegar over the herbs. Cover the container with a plastic lid and leave for 2—3 weeks. This will draw out the flavor of the tarragon into the vinegar.  (Two-piece lids will work, but be aware vinegar will react with the metal screw bands)
4. Line a fine wire-mesh strainer with a paper coffee filter or cheese cloth. Pour vinegar mixture through the strainer into a large measuring cup, discarding the herbs.
5. Fill dry, attractive sterilized glass bottles with a fresh herb sprig, and add strained vinegar. Tightly seal the bottles with nonmetallic lids or corks; store the herbal vinegar in a cool dark place.

Dress fresh salad greens with herbal vinaigraitte

Dress fresh salad greens with vinaigrette

 

TARRAGON VINAIGRETTE (Salad dressing)

3 Tbsp. tarragon vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/2 Cup olive oil
3 Tbsp. minced fresh tarragon or 1 tbsp. dried, crumbled

In a bowl whisk together the vinegar, salt, and pepper; add the oil in a stream, whisking, and whisk the vinaigrette until it is emulsified. Stir in tarragon. Makes about 3/4 cup.

Options for Pairing Vinegars and Herbs

White wine vinegar goes well with many herbs and is perfect for herbs or flower petals that produce color. Dill, basil, tarragon, chervil, mints, and lemon balm are well-suited to white wine vinegar.

Red wine vinegar adds a rich flavor and pairs well with sage, thyme, parsley and bay leaves.

Be creative:  mix and match herbs and garlic according to taste!

Bottles for herbal vinegars are available at Paonia Farm and Home

Bottles for herbal vinegars are available at Paonia Farm and Home

Time to Harvest Fresh Herbs

Fragrant, savory, aromatic herbs enhance flavors ocooked food without salt.

Fragrant, savory, aromatic herbs enhance flavors of cooked food without salt

How to Harvest Fresh Herbs and other Helpful Tips
  • Preserve the maximum flavor and color of homegrown herbs by cutting the plant on a sunny day after the dew is dried from the leaves.
  • Wash herbs, if possible, before harvesting to preserve maximum amounts of the precious essential oil component of the leaves.
  • Usually most herbs thrive when they are harvested multiple times or frequently harvested. Cut the herbs back in June or July by about half with scissors or a sharp knife and you may have another complete harvest to reap come Fall. In the Fall, herbs can be cut back to a few inches above the ground.  Here is a delicious, easy, flavorful vinaigrette for seasonal salads:
  • Sweet Basil Vinaigrette
    • 1-2 cups packed, fresh basil leaves to taste.
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 2 tablespoons honey
    • 1 clove garlic
    • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
    • ¾ cup canola oil
    • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
    • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Whirl all the ingredients in a blender until smooth, about one minute.  Store in a one pint jar.

  • Hang small bundles of herbs on a line with clothes pins

    Hang small bundles of herbs on a line with clothes pins

    Although fresh is always best, extra leaves and stalks can be dried. Freshly picked herbs should be used right away, or dried upside down in small bundles in a dark, dry place.

  • Harvest herbs at peak flavor because it will surpass the dried herb in quality and flavor.
  • When the herbs are thoroughly dry, 3-5 days up to two weeks, strip the leaves off the stalks and crush them to a fine texture to use in cooking. Tea leaves can be kept whole.
  • A small jar of commercially dried herbs averages $6.00 for small containers. Think of the savings if you harvest more and the gifts you could make!
  • Paonia Farm and Home has a huge assortment of containers for storing dried herbs, making herbal gifts and even herbal vinegars.

    Various sized decorative jars for storing herbs and other seasonings

    Various sized decorative jars for storing herbs and other seasonings

Small tins can be used for dried herbs and gifts.

Small tins can be used for dried herbs and gifts.

Small decorative jars for herbs and making gifts.

Small decorative jars for herbs and making gifts.

    • Use herbs for flavor and reduce the need for salt and sugar! Allow the bounty of tasty herbs to encourage new creative and delicious cooking experiments. No more ho-hum dishes.
    • Herbs provide can be used in tasty teas, or garnishes for other drinks.

• Pick a small nosegay of herbs to scent your kitchen as you cook.
• Tiny bouquets of fresh herbs can be used for a hostess gift.fresh herbs

Old Fashioned Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting

Traditional Apple Cake with a twist!

Old Fashioned Apple

Old Fashioned Apple Cake, recipe from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/3 cups  All-Purpose Flour or whole wheat pastry flour (pack freshly milled flour)
  • 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  •  1 teaspoon ground cinnamon + 1/4 teaspoon each ground ginger and ground nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup  unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups peeled, cored, chopped apple, about 4 large whole apples – tart is best
  • 1 cup diced toasted walnuts or pecans
    Tart apples are delicious in baked goods.

    Tart apples are delicious in baked goods.

    Frosting:

  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

1) Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a 9″ x 13″ pan.

2) To make the cake: Mix all of the ingredients except the apples and nuts in a large bowl.

3) Beat until well combined; the mixture will be very stiff, and may even be crumbly.

4) Add the apples and nuts, and mix until the apples release some of their juice and the stiff mixture becomes a thick batter, somewhere between cookie dough and brownie batter in consistency.

5) Spread the batter in the prepared pan, smoothing it with your wet fingers.

6) Bake the cake for 45 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few wet crumbs clinging to it.

7) Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a rack to cool completely; don’t remove the cake from the pan.

8) To make the frosting: Melt the butter in a small pan over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar and salt and cook, stirring, until the sugar melts.

9) Add the milk, bring to a boil, and pour into a mixing bowl to cool for 10 minutes.

10) After 10 minutes, stir in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Beat well; if the mixture appears too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar. Spread on the cake while frosting is still warm.

Helpful Tips:

  • To toast nuts, place them in a single layer in a cake pan. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 6 to 9 minutes, until they’re golden brown and smell “toasty.”
  • To guarantee lump-free frosting, sift confectioners’ sugar before adding to the butter mixture. Usually all the lumps disappear as you beat the frosting; but to guarantee no lumps at all, sift the sugar first.

 Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour