Archive for the ‘Herbs’ Category

Herb and Fruit Vinegars

I’m hoping that you enjoyed my previous tips on preparing herb butters and oil.  I love preparing them both. Today’s recipe is on another one of my favorites: preparing flavored vinegars.

Seasoned vinegar is especially useful for making marinades and salad dressing due to its deeply infused flavors.

Herb or fruit flavored vinegar may be made by combining in sterilized jars or bottles:

  • 1 cup fresh herbs or fruit (bruise slightly to release their oils) or 1 to 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped herbs and
  • 2 cups of white or red wine vinegar (It’s important to find a high-quality white or red wine vinegar to start with, one with minimal levels of ethyl acetate, the compound that shows up in lesser-quality vinegars.)

Tightly cap the container and set aside to steep in a warm place for about two weeks checking daily. Strain and discard herbs. Repeat with fresh herbs/fruit for richer flavor. Decant into sterilized jars or bottles with a tight-fitting cap.

You can also add vinegar and herbs or fruit to a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and slowly cook two minutes. Strain through a coffee filter inside a strainer and store.

Typical herbs to use singly or in a combination are: basil, dill tarragon, rosemary, celery seed, cranberry, mustard seed.

Add a couple of sprigs of herbs or a few seeds to the final product for a festive-looking bottle.  Remember to keep away from direct sunlight.

Some flavors to try:

  • Apple Spice
  • Tarragon
  • Raspberry, Nectarines, Peaches or Mangoes
  • Lemon
  • Garlic Chive

Have you ever made your own flavored vinegar? What has been your favorite flavor? Any particular tips to impart?

Chef Lynn Ware is a private/personal chef specializing in healthy cooking, culinary educator, and food blogger. Chef Lynn offers: Corporate Cooking Classes, Group Cooking Parties, Private Cooking Lessons and Gourmet Catering. Contact Chef Lynn (ChefLynn@ChefLynn.com) for additional information.

Herb or Spice Flavored Oils

One of my favorite gifts I like to make and give is  herbal or spiced infused olive oil.  It can be used for salad dressings, cooking, or as a table condiment.
It is easy to make herb and/or spice infused olive oils at home. You do though have to plan ahead to let the oil steep for 2 weeks before using.
Herbal oils may be made with any oil but lighter oils allow the flavors of the herbs to be enjoyed more fully.
  • Light oils: extra light olive, extra virgin olive, corn, safflower, sunflower, vegetable
  • Heavy oils: peanut, sesame

To make an herb oil, first sterilize any size jar or bottle (I suggest boiling in water for approximately 10 mins.) then half-fill it with whole fresh herbs. Fill jar with oil (must cover all herbs) Tightly cap and sit aside to steep in a warm place out of sunlight for about two weeks shaking daily. Strain through coffee filter and discard herbs.

Taste the product and repeat steps for richer flavor and body. Re-sterilize container.

Decant final product into a sterilized container with tight-fitting cap. Add a couple of fresh sprigs of herbs and/or a few compatible seeds to final product for a festive looking bottle

Typical herbs to use: garlic, tarragon, thyme, various peppers (hot or mild), basil, rosemary, oregano or bay leaf.

I like to use my flavored oils when grilling vegetables or seafood.

What are some of your uses.  Send me your comments.

Chef Lynn Ware is a private/personal chef specializing in healthy cooking, culinary educator, and food blogger. Chef Lynn offers: Corporate Cooking Classes, Group Cooking Parties, Private Cooking Lessons and Gourmet Catering. Contact Chef Lynn (ChefLynn@ChefLynn.com) for additional information.

Savory Herb Butter

      

 

HERB BUTTERS

Herb butter is great way to enhance the flavor of any dish that benefits from the addition of herbs: pasta, steamed vegetables, fish, etc. It is easy to make and keeps well in your freezer. Make some today to keep on hand for jazzing up those last-minute meals.

Here’s how:

Use unsalted butter soften at room temperature

Add two tablespoons finely chopped herbs to ½ cup (1/4 lb/1 stick) butter. Combine with fork or electric beater. Do not whip. Form into log on wax paper, roll up and refrigerate until firm. May be frozen in freezer for up to three months.

Presentation tips:

  • Slice log or butter into rounds
  • Use a melon baller to form balls.
  • Flatten between wax paper and use mini cookie or canapé’ cutters to form decorative pats.

Herbs and seasonings to try:

  • Parsley or cilantro for seafood and breads
  • Basil, oregano, garlic, grated parmesan (½ tsp each per ¼ lb) for Italian garlic bread.
  • Tarragon (1 tsp per ¼ lb) for seafood, mushrooms
  • Lemon or lime juice (few drops per ¼ lb) for seafood (add slowly so mixture will not separate).
  • Honey and mustard (1 tsp each per ¼ lb) for ham or chicken basting or as a sauce
  • Honey butter (3 tbs. per ¼ lb) for bread, toast

 

Savory Basil Butter

Chef Lynn’s Daily Cooking Tip

One of my favorite tips because I love the way fresh herbs smell and looks in my kitchen.

Fresh  basil and other fresh herbs hate to be chilled and will quickly become limp and blacken. Rather than refrigerating, put the stems in a glass of water when you get home and keep the herbs in a cool place in your kitchen.

Chef Lynn Ware is a private/personal chef, culinary educator, and food blogger. Chef Lynn offers: Corporate Cooking Classes, Group Cooking Parties, Private Cooking Lessons and Gourmet Catering. Contact Chef Lynn (ChefLynn@ChefLynn.com) for additional information.

Chef Lynn’s Daily Cooking Tip

Did you know that to peel onions easily and with minimal tears, you should soak them in plenty of cold water for 20-30 minutes first. You will find that this toughens the skin, so that it will pull off more easily, and the cold inhibits the gases that will burn your eyes.

Chef Lynn Ware is a private/personal chef, culinary educator, and food blogger. Chef Lynn offers: Corporate Cooking Classes, Group Cooking Parties, Private Cooking Lessons and Gourmet Catering. Contact Chef Lynn (ChefLynn@ChefLynn.com) for additional information.

Chef Lynn’s Daily Cooking Tip

Storage life of dry herbs and spices under optimal conditions is 4-6 months.  You should add a little more quantity of the older herbs and spices to account for the flavor loss.

To store dry whole herbs tie in loose bunches and hang upside down in a cook, dry, dark place. Herbs with seeds may be dried hanging inside a loosely tied brown paper bag to capture the seeds.

Refrigerating fresh herbs may be kept in the refrigerator in tightly sealed jars or zipper bags for up to two weeks. Hot spices such as peppers, curries and chili powder may be kept refrigerated up to six months or more to retain their flavor.

Chef Lynn Ware is a private/personal chef, culinary educator, and food blogger. Chef Lynn offers: Corporate Cooking Classes, Group Cooking Parties, Private Cooking Lessons and Gourmet Catering. Contact Chef Lynn (ChefLynn@ChefLynn.com) for additional information.

 

Chef Lynn’s Daily Cooking Tip

Mince a whole batch of garlic cloves at a time: form the mixture into a log, wrap it tight in plastic wrap, and freeze. Whenever a recipe calls for minced garlic, just cut a slice off the frozen log.

Chef Lynn Ware is a private/personal chef, culinary educator, and food blogger. Chef Lynn offers: Corporate Cooking Classes, Group Cooking Parties, Private Cooking Lessons and Gourmet Catering. Contact Chef Lynn (ChefLynn@ChefLynn.com) for additional information.

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