Archive for the ‘Edible-Herbes’ Category

Basil & Zinnia Porch

Zinnia from seed mixed in with the basil starts –  my new favorite combo right at the front porch.  Nothing better than opening the door and grabbing handfuls of basil, bunches of sorrel, ears of corn, and a few flowers for decoration.





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Ahhh, the summer sun dried tomatoes!  This year I have been making them with Juliet tomatoes from my garden…As the season ends…I will stock up from the farmers market on heirlooms, cherry, pear, and small roma varieties so I can have the taste of summer well in to winter.

The only sun-dried tomatoes I enjoy these days are plump fresh oven dried from home.  Mario Batali made these on a show one time and I have  been making them ever since.  I just do not reccomend you start them at 8pm like I did last time…luckily I woke up (the aroma wafting through the house roused me) in time to save them from becoming over dried tomatoes.

Here’s how easy it is:  cut in half, place cut side up on a couple of sheet pans (might as well make a lot).  I like to line the pans with parchment.  Mix equal parts sugar and kosher salt.  Sprinkle tomatoes with white wine vinegar, and the sugar/salt mixture.  Place in the oven at 200-225˚ for approximately 4-6 hours depending on the size of the tomatoes.  I check frequently and remove them as they are ready.  I like them to have a little plumpness left in them…dried, but not crispy.

To store:  layer with olive oil and basil leaves.  I use like to toss with pasta and any number of additional items from shrimp and feta, to chicken and fontina on top of flat bread.  Enjoy!

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g-Basil patch

Okay- tonight was a real Crisper Crap Shoot.  From the home garden I have corn, basil, sorrel and zucchini.  From the farmers market I have garlic and pasilla.  From Little India I have red rice.  From the fridge I have a little cream and white wine.

Hot, hot heavy enamel pan.  Dry the scallops.  Sear scallops in a little butter.  Remove and set aside.  Throw in whole head of garlic (cloves just smashed and skinned) and push around the pan….lots of brown bits forming….deglaze with a healthy pour of the wine, some in the pan and some in the glass.  Scrape all the bits, add a couple cups of sorrel.  Add a bunch of basil.  Add the juice from the resting scallops.  Add a cup or two of the heavy cream.  Walk away.  Let simmer and reduce.  Add 1 1/2 roasted pasilla chile.  Grab the kick ass immersible blender and puree.  You now have a thick veggie cream sauce!  Add the scallops back in to the pot and heat through.  Pour over (in this case) fresh raw julienne of zucchini  and top with a little rice.  Best case scenario is fresh pasta of some kind (papardelle) or risotto made with a fish stock…yum.

Rich loves everything…but loved this more!  I think the secret ingredient of pasilla added a nice little twist without over powering the greens.

Kiely asked for a big bowl of the fresh raw zucchini and just sauce…now that’s sayin’ something!

I really do think that picking the veggies about 5 minutes before cooking does add a level of deliciousness and healthfulness that you can just feel when you’re eating.  The corn, from the breezeway (just a 4 x 15′ patch between the houses) is hands down the best corn we’ve ever eaten.  We grew corn last year, but out at the Family Plot…picked hours and hours before cooking.  Well this year, I had the pot boiling and threw in the ears seconds after they were plucked and shucked, then turned off the heat and served a few minutes later.  We could all taste the diff.

Bon Appetite!

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dill flower

This is the only picture I have from last year’s dill crop…but I love the flowers too! The dill used in this recipe was dark green and feathery perfection from the farmers market and it was amazingly fragrant. I always forget how much I love fresh dill and how much fresh dill adds to the dish. If I don’t have it, I go without and I would never use dried…it’s just not the same at all.

For this quick sauce the key is simplicity. I might go to more trouble for the sauce and use leeks or shallots and fish stock, but the side dish was where I spent my time last night. Celery root, potato, leek, garlic, simmered in milk, pureed in the pan…then the food mill for creamy smoothness. S & P.

So…I just sear the salmon in a hot enamel pan and let it get a little carmelized, Then add some white wine and simmer for a couple of minutes.

Pull out the salmon when it’s still rare or under cooked, set aside. Depending on the fish, the timing and the doneness you might finish it in the oven.

Reduce the wine, add the juice of 1 or two lemons….reduce until it is syrupy…add salt and pepper. You could also add some cold butter at this point and swirl around until melted and incorporated to give the sauce a nice finish, but you don’t have to. I put the fish on to a plate and pour the sauce over, sprinkle with some good sea salt, and top generously with the fresh dill springs…a lot of dill! Yummy…Super lemony, super dill-icious!

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Gourmet June 1959

Here is another installment of the Gourmet Monday post…summer schedule, so this is going up on Tuesday. Funny how my potting bench looks very similar to this one, less the ship in a bottle.  We have been planting seeds almost daily, and the seed packets on the cover remind me that I need to dry some of this season’s herbs for the pantry.

Also included in this issue is my new favorite vintage column; From the notebooks of Louis Diat. This month, June 1959 he discusses Garnishes and Decorations, Cold Sauces for Hot Fish, Dishes en Surprise. Tomorrow I’ll share some timeless recipes for compound butters but the decorations are dated, to say the least!

Herbes de Provence – a dried herbal blend
I have found many, many different combinations for this must have dried herb blend with thyme being the only herb included in every version. Use equal parts of the following for a basic recipe:

Winter Savory

Add smaller portions of the following to change it up:
Fennel Seeds
Orange Zest
Lemon Zest

Fines Herbes – a fresh herbal blend
Equal parts and very finely chopped.

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Here is reason 1 (of 50) to grow borage lemon verbena and strawberries. They made a fine garnish for the birthday cupcakes! Although Griffin is a minimalist when it comes to cake…so the one below is more his style. Just enough frosting to glue on the strawberry. And the frosting was a simple stick of butter with 1 cup powdered sugar, vanilla and a couple drops of green food coloring. It’s his favorite…not to sweet!


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I received my daily delivery of Dirt du Jour, with the heading “Six plants you can’t live without!”. Launched by the Sunset blog, Fresh Dirt, the meme question for every blogger today is a good one and thankfully we don’t have to have only six. It’s interesting to think about and even more so, to consider everyone else’s faves! Today everyone try to choose six plants…just six! I am totally partial to edibles, but not just edible for me. I have to think of the birds and the bees! So here is my list…and it wasn’t easy!


White Wisteria, because it provides seasonality in the Southern California garden. Architectural in it’s bare winter form. The promise of spring and snowstorm of white flowers in March. Then the chartreuse hedge of thick vines and feathery leaves, that provide shade and shelter for tender spring flowers and a natural den & hide-out for the outlaw cat. In the fall the leaves turn yellow and drop, while the seed pods crack open like a natural fireworks display!


Icelandic Poppies are amazing! The vibrant colors and tissue like petals are dramatic enough to be displayed one stem at a time. I usually plant them mid-November in front of the wisteria vine where they are beautiful and prolific until Easter. The bees just roll around in the blooms and can barely fly their legs are so heavy with pollen. As soon as the petals drop off, dead head the stems for longer lasting production.


Yarrow, is a tremendous asset to any garden for so many reasons! The fern like leaves and tiny flowers have powerfully beneficial qualities. From medicinal teas and poltice to pure nitrogen for your compost pile. It is a nectar flower for butterflies and just plain beautiful!! I also love the way it naturalizes in So Cal as a native it’s just perfect.


French Thyme, is my culinary must have herb. I use it in soups, stocks, sauces, stuffings, while roasting a bird, while finishing an item on the grill with a final smoke out (I dry the stems and throw the little herbal bale on to the fire and close the lid for that first delicate smokey bite). It has a terrific mounding growing habit and is easy to multiply by laying the soft woody stems on the ground and covering with soil. The tiny flowers are also great for garnish. Love it!


Lantana Tree-I don’t know if life would be the same without my lantana tree just outside the dining room. This little guy and all his cousins just love to sit a spell…before the frenzied quest to hit every single flower in each of the clusters. Bees, Hummingbirds and Butterflies are abundantly present in the garden when the lantana is blooming. When I was a kid we used them as Barbie bridal bouquets.


Maidenhair Fern – I just love them! The black stems were used in basketry to create designs, they are pretty hearty for a fern. In the ground on the Coast they do well in a full sun location. I use them as a house plant for as long as possible, placing them in stressful situations like low light and no drainage. When that party is over I put them in the ground to create a lovely shade border that is iridescent in the moonlight with the bright green new leaves shimmering against the dark stems. Plus, my grandma’s bridal bouquet was a huge bunch of maidenhair fern with gardenias, so fabulously simple and elegant.

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