Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, August 21, 2015

Kay’s Cooking Corner

Sage before beauty; Thyme is on your side; Days of our Chives …

If you are just now learning to cook, knowing what herbs and spices go with what foods and/or drinks can be a bit daunting. I know when I started experimenting (with something other than salt and pepper) I thought I would never learn what went well with what. Below I have tried to identify basic herbs generally needed for most foods. Hopefully, this will help to un-muddy the waters!

Basil: Fresh basil has a pungent flavor that is very common and popular. Use it in tomato sauces, pesto sauces, vinegar, and with lamb, fish, poultry, pasta, rice, tomatoes, and Italian dishes. Also try a large basil leaf with a slice of tomato and a slice of mozzarella cheese. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar, and sprinkle with a bit of sea salt and freshly ground pepper – this is one terrific salad!

Chives: This mild onion flavor herb has a slender, vivid green, and hollow stem. Use as topping for baked potatoes, fish and poultry, and vegetables. It can be used as a substitute for green onions or as a garnish. It is also great in soups and sauces.

Cilantro: Use in Asian and Mexican cooking or as a garnish. Popular in salsa, guacamole, Thai peanut sauce, enchiladas, and chicken dishes. Cilantro is also called coriander and has a pungent fragrance.

Dill: This tangy and pungent flavored herb is known for its feathery green leaves. Use to flavor fish and rice, sprinkle over potatoes and cucumbers and add to sauces and dips.

Mint: This aromatic herb has a sweet smell and a cool aftertaste. Use to make teas, beverages, and desserts. It can also be used as a garnish. It is popular in Indian cuisine.

Oregano: This herb has a strong flavor and aroma. Used to flavor tomato sauces, vinegar, omelets, quiche, bread, marinated vegetables, beef, poultry, black beans, and pizza.

Parsley: This fresh-flavored herb, slightly green and piney, is more commonly used as a flavoring and as a garnish. Use to flavor grilled meat, poultry, soups, omelets, mashed potatoes, and salads. It may be used in herbal butters and vinegars or as a garnish.

Rosemary: Rosemary’s silver-green, needle-shaped leaves are highly aromatic and their flavor is one of both lemon and pine. Use for poultry, lamb, veal, pork, and tomato dishes, stews, soups, and vegetables. Also good finely chopped in breads and custards.

Sage: This slightly bitter and musty-mint tasting herb has narrow, oval, and gray-green leaves. Use in chicken and turkey stuffing and to flavor sausages.

Tarragon: This aromatic herb, with narrow, pointed, dark green leaves, is known for its distinctive anise-like flavor. Use to flavor vinegars, herbal butter, shellfish, mayonnaise, sour cream dressing, poultry, turkey, mushrooms, broccoli, and rice. Use the fresh leaves in salads, tartar sauce, and French dressing.

Thyme: This herb has pungent minty, light-lemon scent. Use in stews, soups, casseroles, meatloaf, stuffing, marinades, and vegetables.

Now for the recipe – actually two of them. One using basil, and one that doesn’t take anything but a sweet tooth!

Kay Bona is a staff writer for the Hamilton County Herald and an award-winning columnist and photographer. Contact her at kay@dailydata.com.  

Balsamic and Honey Salmon with Vegetables

1/2 tsp. olive oil

2 small zucchini, cut into match-like sticks

3 baby carrots, cut into strips

2 skin-on salmon fillets

3 tablespoons Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

2 tablespoons honey

Grated Parmesan Cheese

Chopped fresh basil

Preheat grill for medium heat. Lightly oil grill grate. Prepare salmon by seasoning with your favorite dry rub seasoning. Mine is *Potlatch Dry Rub. Place salmon on the preheated grill, and cook for 6 to 8 minutes per side, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Set aside.

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Add vegetables; cook about 5-8 minutes, or until tender-crisp, stirring occasionally. Drizzle half of the balsamic-honey mixture over the vegetables and stir to coat.

Transfer fish and vegetables to plate. Drizzle a bit of the balsamic honey dressing over the fish. Top the vegetables with the parmesan cheese and basil.

Fruity Cheesecake

2 cups vanilla wafers or graham crackers, finely crushed

6 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

3 tablespoons sugar

4 pkg. (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons flour

1 cup Sour Cream

1 pkg. (3.4 oz.) JELL-O Lemon Flavor Instant Pudding

4 eggs, room temperature

1 8-ounce container thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping

1 cup each blueberries and sliced fresh strawberries

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line 13x9-inch pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides. Combine wafer crumbs, butter, and the 3 tablespoons sugar; press onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake 10 min.

Beat cream cheese, 1-cup sugar and flour in large bowl with mixer until blended. Add sour cream; mix well. Blend in dry pudding mix. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over crust. Bake 1 hour or until center is almost set. Cool completely.

Refrigerate 3-4 hours. Use foil handles to transfer cheesecake to tray; discard foil. Spread cheesecake with COOL WHIP. Top with fruit just before serving.