Category Archives: Herbs

Pizza Margherita

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The secret to a great Pizza Margherita is to use the best ingredients you can find—and to approach them with restraint. For this pizza, just because a little cheese is good doesn’t mean a lot will be better! The Pizza Margherita is is all about moderation. Start  with your all-time favorite pizza dough recipe making it a slightly wet dough The mositure of the dough baking on a hot pizza stone, produces a crisp yet chewy crust, the perfect canvas for bright homemade tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and verdant basil leaves.

For a twist on the taste nduja, a spicy, spreadable pork salumi paste was added to the fresh tomato sauce.

 

Serves 4

Ingredients:
For the Dough:
One  1/4-ounce package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoon)
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for dusting
3/4 cup warm water, divided
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon olive oil

For the Sauce:
5-6 whole fresh Pomodorini tomatoes*
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
3 Tablespoons nduja paste
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 bunch fresh basil, chopped
1/8 teaspoon salt

For the Topping:
4-6 Fresh basil leaves
6 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

Special Equipment:
A pizza stone

Directions:
Make the dough: Stir together yeast, 1 tablespoon flour, and 1/4 cup warm water in a large bowl and let stand until surface appears creamy, about 5 minutes. Note: If mixture doesn’t appear creamy, discard and start over with new yeast.

Add 1 1/4 cups flour, remaining 1/2 cup water, salt, and oil and stir until smooth. Stir in enough flour (1/4 to 1/3 cup) for dough to begin to pull away from side of bowl. The dough will be slightly wet.

Knead on a floured surface, lightly re-flouring when dough becomes too sticky, until smooth, soft, and elastic, about 8 minutes. Form into a ball, put in a bowl, and dust with flour. Cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, about 1 1/4 hours.

Make tomato sauce while dough rises: Pulse tomatoes  in a blender briefly to make a chunky purée.

Cook garlic in oil in a small heavy saucepan over medium-low heat until fragrant and pale golden, about 2 minutes. Add the nduja and stir until the nduja melts into the oil. Add tomato purée, basil, sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to about 3/4 cup, about 40 minutes.  Taste and adjust the seaonsing with salt and  set aside to cool.

Heat pizza stone while dough rises: At least 45 minutes before baking pizza, put stone on oven rack in lower third of electric oven (or on floor of gas oven) and preheat oven to 500°F.

Shape dough: Do not punch the dough down. Dust dough with flour, then transfer to a parchment-lined pizza peel or large baking sheet. Pat out dough evenly with your fingers and stretch into a 14-inch round, re-flouring fingers if necessary.

Assemble pizza:Spread sauce over dough, leaving a 1-inch border (there may be some sauce left over). Arrange cheese on top, leaving a 2- to 3-inch border.

Slide pizza on parchment onto pizza stone. Bake until dough is crisp and browned and cheese is golden and bubbling in spots, 13 to 16 minutes. Using peel or baking sheet, transfer pizza to a cutting board. Cool 5 minutes. Sprinkle with some basil leaves before slicing.

Cook’s Notes:
Dough can be allowed to rise slowly in the refrigerator (instead of in a warm place) for 1 day. Bring to room temperature before shaping.

*If fresh Pormdorini tomatoes are not available in your local area, you can use any type of fresh tomatoes or you use one 14-ounce can of Pomodorini, San Marzano or Roma Tomatoes in their juices. Add the entire can of tomatoes with their juices and pulse tomatoes with juice in a blender briefly to make a chunky purée.

Tomato sauce can be made 5 days ahead and chilled.

Nduja paste is available at your local Whole Foods Markets. If nduja is not available, finely chopped pepperoni can be substituted in the sauce.

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Refreshing Summer Drinks

Basil is a nice addition to plenty of easy cocktails: add a torn leaf or two to your gin and tonic, or tap a little into the bottom of a mojito. But these drinks are a change of pace from the classic and the ordinary that feature the fresh green flavor of this herb, and are just right for summer sipping.

Honey-Basil Lemonade

Honey-Basil Lemonade Recipe

 

This simple lemonade combines fresh basil with a touch of honey.

Makes 1 Quart, Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 cup fresh juice from 10 to 12 lemons
1/2 cup honey
2 cups loosely packed basil leaves
Pinch salt
3 cups cold water
1 quart ice
Basil leaves for garnish

Directions:
Combine lemon juice, honey, basil leaves, and salt in a blender. Blend on high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a pitcher. Discard solids. Add cold water and whisk to combine. Add ice. Serve in ice-filled glasses garnished with basil leaves.

Cucumber and Basil Slush Cocktail

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(Photo Credit : Kelly Carámbula, Serious Eats, 2012)

As temperatures and humidity rise, having some frozen drinks in your arsenal becomes more and more essential. This one offers double-cooling action with loads of ice and a soothing cucumber in the mix, plus fresh lime and basil. Vodka’s an easy partner that won’t dominate the flavor—try Karlsson’s Gold, which has a slightly floral side and rich texture—but if you prefer another spirit, feel free to experiment.

Makes 2 cocktails

Ingredients:
1 kirby cucumber, sliced
2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup basil leaves
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup vodka
1/4 cup water
3 1/2 cups ice
Garnish: cucumber slice

Directions:
Place all the ingredients in the blender. Using the ice crush setting, blend until all the ingredients are even and finely chopped, about 30 seconds.

Pour the slush into a glass. Garnish with a cucumber slice and a straw.

Italian Sausages with Bell Peppers and Polenta

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This dish  offers the classic Italian-American combination of sausage and peppers on a bed of polenta enriched with Parmesan cheese. By putting the emphasis on the peppers and onions, it makes an indulgent meal a healthy one, as well, with 34 grams of protein and just 31 grams of fat.

Serves 2

Ingredients:
½ cup polenta
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 mild pork sausages
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
2-3 Italian frying peppers, sliced, seeds discarded
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
2-3 springs fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 bunch fresh basil leaves, torn

Directions:
To cook the polenta,  add 4 cups of water to a 2-quart sauce pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Whisk in the polenta and let the water return to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, stirring frequently, until the polenta thickens and absorbs most of the water, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the parmesan and season with salt and pepper.
While the polenta cooks, prepare the sausage and peppers.

In a 12-inch frying pan over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon oil until hot but not smoking. Add the sausages and cook until well browned, about 5 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate. Do not wipe out the pan.

In the same pan used to cook the sausage, warm 1 tablespoon oil over medium high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the onions, season with salt, and cook until the onions begin to caramelize, about 15 minutes. Add the peppers, garlic, and rosemary, and continue cooking until the peppers start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add ¼ cup wine, if using and cook until the wine has almost completely evaporated. Stir in the tomato paste and 1½ cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook until the liquid has thickened, about 5 minutes. Slice the sausages and add them to the pan, turning once or twice until heated through, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper.

To serve, transfer the polenta to serving bowls and top with the sausage and peppers. Garnish with torn fresh basil.

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Honeydew Melon, Lemon Basil and Lime Sorbet

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Photo Credit: Pamela Ellgen, 2013

Adapted from
Pamela Ellgen
Ediblephoenix.ediblecommunities.com
May 15, 2013

Ingredients:
1 whole Honeydew melon, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped
1/2 cup lemon basil leaves
1/4 cup simple syrup
Juice of 1 lime
Very small pinch salt

Directions:
Pulse all the ingredients in a high-speed blender until smooth. Chill in refrigerator, then place into an ice-cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Store covered in the freezer until 15 minutes before you’re ready to serve, then set on the counter to allow the sorbet to soften slightly.

Cook’s Notes:
If you do not have an ice cream maker, no problem! Simply pour the mixture onto a cookie sheet and freeze until set.  Remove the frozen mixture from the freezer and break it up using a wooden spoon. Place the frozen pieces in a food processor and blend until until smooth.  Repeat the process of freezing and blending  again for an ultra smooth consistency.

Grilled Chicken with Watermelon Salsa

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This easy grilled chicken has a hint of spice that perfectly complements fresh, bright watermelon salsa. Impress your guests at your next barbecue with this taste of summer.

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:
1 pound chicken thighs
1 pound chicken drumsticks
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground ginger
A pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 small watermelon, cut into chunks
1/4 bunch fresh mint
1/4 bunch fresh basil
1 lime
4-6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

Directions:
Set a grill to medium-high heat. Place the chicken thighs and drumsticks in a large bowl and coat with olive oil. Mix together chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, ginger, cayenne pepper and salt and black pepper, to taste. Toss spice mix with chicken. Cook chicken over hottest part of the grill for 5-8 minutes each side or until grill marks form.

Lower heat and cook for an additional 10–12 minutes, or until an internal thermometer reads 165°F when inserted into the thickest part of the flesh. For best results allow chicken to rest, loosely covered with foil, for at least 10 minutes.

While chicken cooks, dice the watermelon into smaller cubes and place in a large bowl. Tear the basil leaves, if large, chop the mint and juice the lime. Add the basil, mint and lime juice to  the watermelon. Toss in the feta cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve chicken with watermelon salsa.

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Ranch Fried Chicken

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Classic American ranch dressing herbs and seasonings appear in three components of the recipe—the buttermilk marinade, the flour coating, and the ranch dipping sauce—to pack summer flavors into this fried chicken. You can used  boneless thighs to ensure a juicy meat without the time consuming brining process with just taking 10 -15 minutes. Frying the thin thighs takes half the time that bone-in chicken parts require, which allows the fresh herb flavors toshine through. But I prefer brining bone-in, skin on chicken over night in the refrigerator.

MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE RANCH………

Talk about an unlikely origin story. The last thing that anyone expected Kenneth Henson of Thayer, Nebraska, to do during his three-year stint as a plumbing contractor in Alaska just after World War II was to develop a salad dressing recipe that would become one of America’s most popular condiments.

A plumbing contractor? In Alaska? You heard it right. Henson, 29 years old when he decamped for the then-U.S. territory, was a good cook, charged with preparing meals for his work-camp colleagues. A relentless kitchen tinkerer, he developed a buttermilk-based salad dressing that his crew loved.

In the early 1950s, Henson, who eventually changed his first name to Steve, relocated to the hills outside Santa Barbara, where he and his wife bought a 120-acre parcel and opened up a dude ranch, which they called “Hidden Valley.” Henson’s salad dressing was a fan favorite at meal time; eventually the Hensons began sending guests home with souvenir “ranch” seasoning packets.

Henson sold the “Hidden Valley Ranch” brand to Clorox for $8 million in 1972 and closed the ranch shortly thereafter. A shelfstable version of the dressing was created in 1983; today, ranch is the most popular salad dressing flavor in the United States.

Serves 4 to  6

Ingredients:
For the Chicken:
One  1-ounce packet Hidden Valley® Original Ranch® Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix
3 cups whole buttermilk, divided
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons minced fresh dill
One 3-pound chicken cut into 8 pieces, rinsed, patted dry*

For the Coating:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
Vegetable oil, for frying

For the Ranch Sauce:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Salt , to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon chopped chives, for garnish

Special Equipment:
Use a Dutch oven that holds 6 quarts or more for this recipe.
Thermometer

Directions:
In a large resealable plastic bag, combine dressing mix and 2 cups buttermilk. Seal bag, and shake until blended. Spoon 1⁄2 cup dressing into a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate.

Add chicken to bag; seal and refrigerate for 8 hours. Drain chicken, discarding marinade. Lightly pat chicken dry with paper towels  and season with pepper.

For the Buttermilk Marinade: Whisk all ingredients together in bowl. Set aside 1/4 cup buttermilk mixture for ranch sauce.

For the Coating: Whisk all ingredients together in large bowl.

Set wire rack in rimmed baking sheet. Set second wire rack in second rimmed baking sheet and line half of rack with triple layer of paper towels.

Working with 1 piece at a time, dip chicken in remaining buttermilk mixture to coat, letting excess drip back into bowl; then dredge in coating, pressing to adhere.Dip in buttermilk and dredge in flour mixture again, pressing gently to adhere coating. Transfer chicken to first wire rack without paper towels. At this point, flour coated chicken may be refrigerated, uncovered, for up to 2 hours.

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it reaches 350°F. Working batches, add the chicken to the hot oil and fry until golden brown and a meat thermometer inserted in thickest portion registers 165°F, about 12 minutes, turning occasionally.  Adjust burner, if necessary, to maintain oil temperature between 325 and 350 °F.

Transfer chicken to paper towel–lined side of second wire rack to drain on each side for 30 seconds, then move to unlined side of rack. Return oil to 350 °F and repeat with remaining chicken.

For the Ranch Sauce: Whisk mayonnaise into reserved buttermilk mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer chicken to platter. Garnish with chopped chives and serve with ranch sauce.

Cook’s Notes:
You can use 8 chicken thighs or 8 drumsticks or a combination of thigh and drumsticks in the place of a whole cut up chicken.

KEY INGREDIENTS: THREE HERBS, THREE WAYS: Fresh herbs were used to further enhance the ranch flavor—chives, cilantro, and dill—in were used in three ways for this chicken: in the buttermilk dip, in the flour coating, and in the serving sauce.

 

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Thank you so much!

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Sweet Southern Tea-Brined Grilled Chicken

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Sweet Ice tea is basically the “House Wine” that graces every Southern Table and it is enjoyed throughout the year, not just as refreshing drink fir the summer. For the tastiest chicken ever, brine a whole cut-up chicken in the South’s signature beverage–sweet tea with lemon.  A brine will help make the meat more tender and juicy.Just a hint of tea, brown sugar, and rosemary makes an irresistible combination for the best grilled chicken you will find on this side of the Mason-Dixon Line.

 

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:
6 to 8 single Orange Pekoe tea bags*
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, halved
2 (6-inch) fresh rosemary sprigs
1 tablespoon freshly cracked pepper
2 cups ice cubes
One 3 1/2-to 4-pound cut-up whole chicken*
Olive oil, for grilling
Fresh rosemary, for garnish
Lemon wedges, for serving

Directions:
Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan; add tea bags. Remove from heat; cover and steep 10 minutes.

Discard tea bags. Stir in sugar and next 6 ingredients, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cool completely (about 45 minutes); stir in ice. Mixture should be cold before adding chicken.

Place tea mixture and chicken in a large zip-top plastic freezer bag; seal. Place bag in a shallow baking dish and chill 24 hours.

On the next day,  prepare a medium-high (400°F to 475°F) gas or charcoal grill fire.

Remove the chicken from the brine, pat dry with paper towels, lightly coat with oil, and sprinkle with a little black pepper. Grill the chicken without moving it until grill marks form, 4 to 6 minutes. Flip and grill until just cooked through (160°F), 4 to 6 minutes more. Let rest for a few minutes before serving.

Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade; pat chicken dry with paper towels.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Light one side of grill, heating to 300° to 350° (medium) heat; leave other side unlit. Place chicken, skin side down, over unlit side, and grill, covered with grill lid, 20 minutes. Turn chicken, and grill, covered with grill lid, 20 minutes. Turn chicken, and grill, covered with grill lid, 40 to 50 minutes or until done. Transfer chicken, skin side down, to lit side of grill, and grill 2 to 3 minutes or until skin is crispy. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

*Cook’s Notes:
You can used 2 large family- style Lipton Tea bag in place of the Orange Pekoe Tea Bags

Six to eight bone-in chicken thighs with the skin on can be used in the place of a whole cut up chicken.

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Chicken Noodle Soup with Herbs and Petite Green Peas

Chicken soup with egg noodles and petite peas
Photo Credit: Sun Basket, 2017

Grilled Red and Green Chicken

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Adapted from
Joshua McFadden
Food & Wine Magazine
June 2017

This clever grilled chicken recipe was adapted from Chef Joshua McFadden of Portland, Oregon and is currently featured in the June 2017 issue of Food & Wine Magazine. This spectacular dish involves making two simple sauces—a spicy red one with ’nduja, a spreadable pork sausage; and a green one packed with fresh herbs and briny capers and anchovies—that are brushed on the chicken and served alongside. Both sauces are incredibly versatile, so keep those leftovers for other dishes yo may have on your menu or you can try the red sauce smeared on a grilled cheese sandwich and the green drizzled over grilled vegetables or mixed with more olive oil and white wine vinegar for an herbaceous vinaigrette for grilled fish.

 

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
For the red sauce:
1/2 cup ’nduja (See Cook’s Notes)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste

For the fresh green herb sauce:
1 cup each lightly packed parsley, mint, cilantro, tarragon and basil leaves
4 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup drained capers
4 anchovy fillets
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste

For the chicken:
Canola oil, for brushing
One 3 1/2-pound chicken, cut into 8 to 10 pieces
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
Lemon wedges, for serving

Directions:
Make the red sauce In a food processor, pulse the ’nduja with the tomato paste and vinegar until nearly smooth. With the machine on, drizzle in the olive oil until incorporated. Scrape the sauce into a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper. Clean the food processor.

Make the green sauce In the food processor, pulse the herbs, scallions, capers and anchovies until very finely chopped. With the machine on, drizzle in the olive oil until incorporated. Scrape the sauce into a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Light a grill and oil the grate. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Grill over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest piece registers 155°F, about 25 minutes. Brush half the chicken with some of the red sauce and half with some of the green sauce and continue to grill, turning and brushing with the sauces, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest piece registers 165°F, 7 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a platter and serve with lemon wedges, passing the remaining sauces at the table.

Cook’s Notes:
The sauces can be refrigerated separately overnight.

‘Nduja is a spicy, spreadable pork sausage made out of prosciutto. You can find it at the cheese counter at your local Whole Foods.

 

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