Cooking With Herbs Part I

Herbal Vinegars and Oils

Most people are familiar with some aspect of cooking with herbs. Everybody grew up adding Coriander to Pea Soup or Basil to Tomato Sauce or some other great herb to some family favorite. Mom’s recipe books all the way back to Betty Crocker had pages of references to various herbs and spices and what they best accompanied. Everyone knows that the Italian herbs are Basil, Oregano, Garlic and Thyme. Most people also know that Indian spices include Curry, Coriander and Turmeric. And many more know to use “Taco Seasoning” with their Mexican dishes but not too many of us realize exactly what spices and herbs this entails. Still, most of us are more or less somewhat familiar of the art of using herbs and spices in our cooking.

But there are also many Americans who prefer plain to spicy and just won’t eat anything ethnic. This is like my father, who won’t eat Chinese or Thai foods because he thinks they are too spicy or weird for his taste. He likes Cajun food, of course, because it’s sort of “macho” to eat hot peppers. As a rule, though, he and most of my family are happiest with a Steak and a Baked Potato. And if you watch them carefully, they push the vegetables around a bit but few of them end up on the fork. So how do cooks like myself, who are vegetarian and herb loving, put together food that is harmonizing, rather than polarizing? How do you get the meat and potatoes crowd to the table when you use Rosemary on the Chicken? How do you pass along great herb dishes to people whose tongues are trained to love plain? I admit it’s hard… but it’s not impossible! Herbs can be made to be polite… they don’t always have to be rude! And there are many other reasons to slip herbs into food other than just one taste or the other. Healthy, curative reasons to slip the herb into the meal and get it past the fussy eater.

I am going to address the addition of curative herbs to foods in a lot of my future posts about herbs and cooking. You will look at herbs differently in your meal plans and reach for a few you never thought of before, all in order to make your family healthier without them ever being the wiser! Some of these foods are just so darned delicious that they won’t turn them away.. and they will never know they aren’t traditional or “ordinary”. I promise to post some awesome recipes that you won’t be able to resist trying. And for those you free spirits who are free to eat whatever you like with no resistance or input from others, then you can just climb right on the proverbial herb tree and go out as far as you like on the limbs!

One of the easiest and most traditional ways to introduce herbs and spices to the family is with salads and salad dressings. Although most Americans are blue cheese and Iceberg lettuce lovers, they can be trained to eat interesting greens more easily than they can be forced to try spicy rice. You want to start out slowly, maybe by adding a little color to the dish with some red lettuce or some dandelion greens, but not too much and not too obvious. Just sort of mixed in with the lettuce, onions and tomatoes. Perhaps you can even throw in a few sprouts or seeds without blowing every body’s appetite. And then, once the door has been cracked, you can ease it ever open and add actual herbs to the mix! Just by adding a little everyday Garlic and few extra Onions to the mix, you are helping the heart patients in the family and protecting the healthy from heart disease. Garlic and Onions will also help to keep Asthma at bay and can curb future attacks. And you will be amazed at what herbs you can add to a salad and what good they can do for you and your family!

A little Cayenne or Ginger mixed into the dressing can help ease Bursitis, Arthritis and sore muscles. Substitute Reiki or Shitake Mushrooms for the bland button kind and this will help stave off Chronic Fatigue and is an overall energy booster. A combo of Astralagus leaves and Reiki Mushrooms will help anyone suffering from fatigue. But if the family is suffering from the Flu, add a few Astralagus leaves, a little Echinacea and some extra Garlic. If someone is constipated, slice in a few slivers of Papaya. If someone has diarrhea, then don’t add Papaya but toss in a handful of Blackberry or Raspberry leaves. For Diabetics, add in some Fenugreek leaves.

If loved ones have trouble with gas after eating salad (a common complaint) then just add some Fennel Seeds or a few slices of fresh Ginger to the mix. Dandelion leaves are a natural cleanser and diuretic and will help people with Cystitis, Gall Bladder disease, Nephritis, Edema and High Blood Pressure. They are also really tasty additives to any salad and are often used in Gourmet restaurants. Always add as much Garlic as your family can stomach as this will stave off fungal infections, blood pressure abnormalities, heart disease, high cholesterol, clogged arteries, blood clots, Renaud’s Phenomenon and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Today’s recipes will address the making of Herbal Vinegars and Oils as Salad Dressings for my regular salad recommendations. I will post in the near future complete salad recipes and even more detailed information on how these improve your health and help with curing existing problems. But I absolutely love making Vinegars and Oils and can’t use them enough so I am excited about sharing them with you. Talk about making me drool! Wait until you try Raspberry Vinegar mixed with a Savory Oil. Yum Yum. Pour it all over your salad and I dare you to leave a drop behind… I have been seen scooping up the dressing with a spoon and sucking it down long after the greens are gone! And believe me, once you get this down, you will be doing the same!

In the recipes, I will try to group them together, as a compliment. This means that I will list a recipe for Vinegar and then follow it with a recipe for Oil and that I recommend these two as a great blend. But you don’t have to mix the Vinegars and Oils in this way, you are free to mix them anyway you choose, with any blend. I think you will find some of the Vinegars so darned delicious on their own that you will be adding them to everything! So let’s get started, so you can dig in!

Recipe # 1:

Lemony Herb Vinegar

Ingredients:

One large bunch of fresh Lemon Thyme
One large bunch of fresh Lemon Balm
A smaller bunch of fresh Lemon Balm
Juice of one small Lemon
One peel of Lemon Zest
Clean, sterilized Glass Bottle with Stopper
Enough Cider Vinegar to fill the bottle
Non-aluminum Cooking Pan
One long sprig of fresh Lemon Thyme
Fine Strainer or Sieve

Method:

Step 1: Sterilize the glass bottle by filling it with boiling water and then soaking it overnight in hot water with bleach. Rinse well until no more bleach smell remains.

Step 2: Wash the Herbs thoroughly in fresh water until no dirt or debris remains. Then, Pack the bottle with the first two large bunches of fresh Lemon Thyme and fresh Lemon Balm.

Step 3: Pour the vinegar into the non-aluminum cooking pan and heat on medium high heat. DO NOT BRING TO A BOIL. When the vinegar just starts to steam and the first bubbles begin to rise from the bottom of the pan, turn off the heat.

Step 4: Pour the hot vinegar immediately into the bottle, over the Herbs and then stopper. Place bottle with vinegar and herbs into a cool, dark place like a closet. Allow to settle for two weeks.

Step 5: After two weeks, remove the bottle and strain out the Vinegar. Rinse out the bottle until of the Herb residue is removed. The water should run clear. Retrieve the smaller bunch of fresh Lemon Balm and pack it into the bottle. Refill the bottle with the strained vinegar and stopper.

Step 6: Place the bottle with vinegar and herbs on a sunny windowsill and leave for another week.

Step 7: After the week, add in the one long sprig of fresh Lemon Thyme, the fresh squeezed Lemon Juice and the Lemon Peel Zest. DO NOT STRAIN. Stopper and store in a cool place.

NOTE: Shake before use. This is best kept cold in the refrigerator.

Now, try it with this oil:

Recipe # 2:

Garlicky Basil Oil

Ingredients:

5 Cloves of Fresh Garlic, peeled
One large handful of Fresh Basil
A small cupful of White Wine Vinegar
Clean, sterilized Glass Bottle with Stopper
Strainer

Method:

Step 1: Place the Garlic Cloves in the Vinegar and leave to soak overnight. Sterilize the Glass Bottle at the same time by filling with boiling water and leaving to soak overnight in hot water and bleach. Rinse thoroughly until no bleach smell remains. Remove the Garlic and lay it out to dry. Wash the fresh Basil and also lay it out to dry.

Step 2: When the bottle is thoroughly dry and the Garlic and Basil are also dry, add everything to the bottle. Fill it with the Oil and stopper.

Step 3: Place the Garlic and Basil Oil on a sunny windowsill and leave for a week. Shake it frequently, checking the temperature to make sure it does not get too hot to touch. If it does, move it to a cooler spot still in the sunlight.

Step 4: After a week, strain out the Basil and Garlic through the strainer and stopper. This Oil may served as needed either at room temperature or after chilling.

If you like this combo, wait until you try my favorite:

Recipe # 3:

Raspberry Vinegar

Ingredients:

One Pint pkg of fresh Raspberries
One clean, sterilized Glass Bottle with Stopper
Enough White Wine Vinegar to fill the bottle
Non-aluminum Cooking Pan
Strainer with Coffee Filter

Method:

Step 1: Sterilize the glass bottle by filling with boiling water and then soaking overnight in hot water and bleach. Rinse completely until no more bleach smell remains.

Step 2: Push each Raspberry into the bottle one at a time until the bottle is full or all of the Raspberries have been added. Be careful when adding them or you will have an enormous amount of seeds to remove later.

Step 3: Heat the vinegar up in the non-aluminum cooking pan over medium high heat. DO NOT BOIL. Heat until the vinegar just begins to steam and the first bubbles begin to rise from the bottom of the pan. Turn off the heat.

Step 4: Pour the hot vinegar immediately into the glass bottle, covering the Raspberries.

Step 5: Stopper the bottle and place it in a cool, dark place like a closet. Allow to remain there for 6 weeks.

Step 6: After 6 weeks, remove the bottle full of vinegar and berries. Strain out the Vinegar carefully, removing every last Raspberry seed and as much of the flesh as possible. The Vinegar should run as clear as is possible. It will be darkly colored Rose. It will look like wine.

Step 7: Once the Vinegar is rosy and clear, stopper the bottle and place in a cold place like the refrigerator. Shake before serving. This is best very cold and tasty all by itself.

Although this stuff is delicious all by itself, may I suggest blending it with the next recipe? You’ll love it!

Recipe # 4:

Sweet Savory Oil

Ingredients:

Two handfuls of fresh picked Savory
Clean, sterilized Glass Bottle with Stopper
Enough Very Light Virgin Olive Oil to fill the bottle
Saucepan

Method:

Step 1: Wash the Savory thoroughly and lay it out to dry. Sterilize the Glass Bottle by filling it with boiling water and leaving it to soak overnight in hot water and bleach. Rinse thoroughly until no bleach smell remains.

Step 2: When both the inside of the bottle and the herbs have dried and there is no water left there, put the fresh herbs in the bottle. There should be no condensation from water left on the leaves or the inside of the bottle.

Step 3: Heat the Olive Oil in the saucepan very slowly. Warm it over medium heat, checking it frequently to be sure it does not get hot. DO NOT BOIL OR ALLOW TO SMOKE.

Step 4: When the oil is very warm, pour it into the bottle and stopper it. Shake the bottle every so often while allowing it to cool.

Step 5: When the bottle is cool to the touch, store in the refrigerator and use as needed.

Now, here’s an interesting blend for the more adventurous palate. If you enjoy something spicy, sweet and definitely different, give this combo a try.

Recipe # 5:

Mint and Savory Vinegar

Ingredients:
A small handful of fresh Applemint or Lemon Mint Leaves
One large bunch of fresh Savory
Clean, sterilized Glass Bottle with Stopper
Enough Cider Vinegar to fill the bottle
Strainer
Non-aluminum Cooking Pan

Method:

Step 1: Sterilize the Glass Bottle by filling with boiling water and soak overnight in hot water and bleach. Rinse thoroughly until no more bleach smell remains.

Step 2: Wash the Herbs carefully by placing in the strainer and running over with water until all dirt and debris have been removed. Then, fill the bottle with the handful of fresh Savory. Add a pinch of fresh Mint. Set aside the remainder of the Mint.

Step 3: Heat the vinegar in the non-aluminum Saucepan over medium-high heat. DO NOT BOIL. Heat the Vinegar just until it steams and the first few bubbles begin to rise from the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat.

Step 4: Immediately pour the hot Vinegar into the bottle, filling it to cover the Savory. Stopper the bottle and place it in a cool, dark place like a closet or cabinet shelf. Leave for 2 weeks.

Step 5: After two weeks, remove the bottle. Bruise the remaining Mint leaves to release the aroma and create an oil on the surface of the leaves. Add to the Vinegar. Cork again and place back in the cool dark place for one more week.

Step 6: After the last week, retrieve the bottle and strain out the liquid through the strainer. Strain until all of the Savory and Mint Leaves are removed. The Vinegar should be lightly colored and clear.

NOTE: Stopper and store in the refrigerator. Great on Summer Salads. Try it with Chicken.

And now make up this great oil and try the two of these together for a real change of pace!

Recipe # 6:

Clove Pink & Rose Petal Oil

Ingredients:

One large handful of fresh Rose Petals
One large handful of freshly picked Clove Pinks
One small pinch of fresh Peppercorns
Clean, sterilized Glass Bottle with Stopper
Enough Light Virgin Olive Oil to fill the bottle
Strainer

Method:

Step 1: Rinse the Flower Petals thoroughly and leave them out to dry. Sterilize the Glass Bottle by filling with boiling water and then soaking overnight in hot water and bleach. Rinse the bottle thoroughly to be sure no bleach smell remains and then allow to dry.

Step 2: When both the bottle and the flowers are dry, add the Clove Pinks to the bottle. Bruise the Peppercorns lightly in a mortar and pestle and add them as well.

Step 3: Pour over enough Oil to fill the bottle and stopper. Leave the bottle in a sunny spot for 10 days, shaking frequently and checking often to be sure it is warm enough but not too hot. Too hot to the touch is dangerous because this will cause the oil to cook.

Step 4: After 10 days, strain out the Pinks and Peppercorns through the strainer. Add in the freshly washed and dried Rose Petals. Stopper tightly and leave in a sunny, warm place. If the Rose Petals are added to your salad when you use this Oil, all the better. They taste great.

And now for the really gutsy stuff! You got a boyfriend or a friend who likes to eat hot stuff? You know somebody who thinks he or she is hot stuff? Well, make up these hot spicy treasures and pour them on some lettuce and dare your gutsy friends to wolf ’em down! I’ve tried these and I can attest to their 5 alarm fire effect! I like hot stuff, I eat fresh hot peppers, even Thais. But this stuff sends smoke outta my ears. So imbibe at your own risk! Consider yourself warned!!

Recipe # 7:

Hot Chili Pepper Vinegar

Ingredients:
Three cups of fresh Chili Peppers
One Clove of Garlic
Clean, sterilized Glass Bottle with Stopper
Enough White Vinegar to fill the bottle
Non aluminum Cooking Pan
Small Saucepan
Rubber Gloves

Method:

Step 1: Sterilize the glass bottle by filling with boiling water and then leaving to soak overnight in hot water and bleach. Rinse thoroughly until no more bleach smell remains.

Step 2: Add one cup of water to the small saucepan and place over medium high heat. Heat water until simmering and add the one Clove of Garlic. Blanch the Garlic for a full minute, to kill any bacteria that could spoil the Vinegar. When done, drop the Garlic Clove into the glass bottle.

Step 3: Wearing Rubber Gloves, wash each of the Peppers carefully and then cut them in half lengthwise, up to the green top. Stuff these Peppers into the glass bottle until the bottle is full or all of the Peppers have been added.

Step 4: In the non aluminum Cooking Pan, heat up the vinegar on medium high heat. DO NOT BOIL. Heat until the Vinegar just begins to steam and the first bubbles begin to rise from the bottom of the pan. Turn off the heat.

Step 5: Immediately add the hot Vinegar to the glass bottle, covering the Peppers. Do not shake. Be careful adding the Peppers so that not so many seeds are dropped. Cork the bottle and store in a cool, dark place like a closet for 6 weeks.

Step 6: After the 6 weeks, remove the bottle and place it in the refrigerator. Do not shake before serving. USE WITH CARE. THIS IS VERY HOT. Do not strain out the Peppers.

Try using this hot stuff with this easy oil:

Recipe # 8:

Basic Herbal Oil

Ingredients:
Two large handfuls of your favorite dried Herbs
Clean, sterilized Glass Bottle with Stopper
Enough Vegetable or Cottonseed Oil to fill bottle
Pinch of dried Allspice Berries
Pinch of fresh Peppercorns

Method:

Step 1: The Herbs you select should be dried and either powdered or crumbled.

Step 2: Sterilize the Glass Bottle by filling it with boiling water and then soaking overnight in hot water and bleach. Rinse thoroughly so that no bleach smell remains.

Step 3: When the bottle is completely dry, begin filling the it with the Herbs. Lightly bruise the Berries and Peppercorns with a wooden spoon and add them too.

Step 4: Pour enough Oil into the bottle to fill it. Stopper it and place it in a sunny window or on an outside ledge. You want it to have as much sun exposure as possible but you do not want the oil to cook or turn rancid. Check it often to be sure the bottle is warm and not too hot. Shake frequently.

Step 5: After several days of warmth, the Herbs will be floating in the oil. You may leave them there. Taste the Oil in a small amount and see if the flavor has imparted. If not, then set it back in the sunlight for a few more days. You may keep the Oil in the refrigerator but this is not necessary.

Stay tuned to my blog. Over the next few weeks, I will be posting more material on cooking with Herbs and how to use herbs and spices in foods as curatives for many kinds of disease and illness.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,


Digg!

submit to reddit

Advertisements

1 Response so far

  1. 1

    Celular said,

    Hello. This post is likeable, and your blog is very interesting, congratulations :-). I will add in my blogroll =). If possible gives a last there on my blog, it is about the Celular, I hope you enjoy. The address is http://telefone-celular-brasil.blogspot.com. A hug.


Comment RSS

Comments are closed.