How to use Herbs

There are lots of beautiful herbs available in the supermarkets nowadays so make sure you take advantage and know how to use them to really enhance the flavours of your dishes. You could grow your own in a herb garden as we do!

Using your Halogen Oven

Herbs in Casseroles

Personally most chefs use fresh where possible because of the colour and flavour and in particular when dressing the plate.

However, the dried option is always ok but remember to use a small amount as the jarred varieties are more concentrated.

Better still, use the freeze dried herbs in packs and bottles as they have more flavour than the dried and are great for casseroles etc.

Barbequeing Chicken

When BBQ'ing chicken pieces, microwave for about 5 mins on full power, then wrap in foil with some fresh herbs and a little butter before placing on the BBQ. Always put them away from the main full on source of flame for at least 10 mins before bringing them to the main heat for a further 10 mins.

Before serving, open the foil, prick with a fork to ensure that the juices are running clear and not in any way pink.

Perfectly cooked chicken pieces and delicious too!

Mint

Mint leaves have a pleasant warm, fresh, aromatic, sweet flavour with a cool aftertaste and are often used in teas, beverages, jellies, syrups, and ice creams.

We tend to associate mint with lamb so for mint sauce, finely chop some mint leaves, add to vinegar and leave to infuse for an hour. Serve when ready

Sage

Sage is a perennial herb which can be found all year round

Tradionally, sage is used with meat, specifically pork and chicken and in stuffings such as sage & onion

Italian Pesto Sauce

Garlic After Taste

Most of us love garlic in food, it adds such great flavour. However, its not too good secondhand, so my tip (and it does work according to Mel!) is to pop a little sprig of parsley into your mouth, chew gently and breath safely!

So if you have friends round for heavily garlic laced food - and you know them very well, you wouldn't want to offend - pop a little sprig of parsley by their plate for later!

Parsley

Parsley is often used as a garnish due to its lovely green colour and bush like heads called Curly Leaf but is also available in Flat Leaf which is the Italian version.

Both can be bought fresh from most supermarkets (or grow your own as we do).

It goes well with almost everything as its milder taste seems to blend equally well with all foods, especially fish.

Chop it finely as a topping for Soups, salads, stews and vegetables - just about anything really!

If in doubt, add parsley, you can't go wrong!

Basil

There are many types of Basil but the one we tend to see here is the Sweet Basil version.

Basil is commonly used fresh in cooked recipes and is generally added at the last moment, as cooking quickly destroys the flavour. The fresh herb can be kept for a short time in plastic bags in the refrigerator,in a pot on the windowsill (live plants can be bought easily from most good supermarkets) or for a longer period in the freezer, after being blanched quickly in boiling water. The herb is also available in a dried version but it loses most of its flavour, so avoid if you can

Basil is one of the main ingredients in pesto a green Italian oil-and-herb sauce. It is sometimes used with fresh fruit and in fruit jams and sauces in particular with strawberries

Chives

Part of the onion family, the green stems of the chive plant are often used chopped as a condiment for fish, soup and stews or to decorate the top of dishes, such as eggs etc.

Chives are one of the "fine herbes" in French cooking and can be found in many dishes.

You can freeze this herb quite easily by chopping the stem into small pieces and placing in a plastic bag or airtight container which means if you have grown some in your garden, you can keep some tucked away for winter, although fresh chives tend to be available all year round in supermarkets.

Chives are recognisable by the beautiful purple flower heads - not good for eating but lovely cut as a flower - Mel puts them in amongst other flowers she might have in the house - shame to waste them.

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