Recipes from Susan Vrabec’s Cooking w/ Fresh Herbs & Flowers

BLOSSOM TEA SANDWICHES

1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped

8 ounces of cream cheese at room temperature

½ teaspoonful of Worchestershire sauce

¼ teaspoonful minced garlic

¼ cup finely chopped chives or scallions

thinly sliced cracked wheat or white bread, crusts removed

lots of edible blossoms: nasturtium, chive, borage, calendula, pea or bean, herb, rinsed and patted dry

Squeeze chopped cucumber in a kitchen towel to remove as much of the water as possible; set aside. Blend together the cream cheese, seasonings and chives or scallion. Add the cucumber and combine well. Spread on bread and cut into finger-size sandwiches open sandwiches. To serve: decorate the tops with the petals of various flowers.

FRESH GREEN BEANS WITH HERB PESTO

(adapted from Wisconsin Herb Cookbook)

PESTO

¾ c. scallions, including green tops, chopped

3 Tbs. fresh parsley

3-4 Tbs. fresh herbs, chopped (basil, dill, summer savory)

2 Tbs. cider vinegar

1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

3 oz. walnuts, coarsely chopped

½ – ¾ c. olive oil

salt & freshly ground pepper

1 & ½ lb. fresh green beans, trimmed and cleaned

dill sprigs for garnish

In a blender or food processor combine scallions, parsley, dill, vinegars, walnuts, and ½ c. oil. Whirl until the mixture is smooth, add more oil as needed. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.  (Can be frozen at this point)

Cook green beans in boiling water 3-4 minutes until tender-done. Do not overcook.  Drain thoroughly.  Pour enough pesto on them just to coat them. Toss gently. Chill for several hours or overnight.

To serve: Bring to room temperature, taste and adjust seasonings, add more pesto if needed. Garnish with dill sprigs.

COLD CREAM OF ZUCCHINI AND BASIL SOUP Serves 4-6

2 Tbs. olive oil

½ c. chopped yellow onion

1 tsp. minced garlic

1 ¼ lbs. zucchini, trimmed and chopped

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper

3 c. chicken or vegetable stock

1 sprig thyme

½ c. packed basil leaves, chopped

½ c. packed peppery greens (mustard greens, water cress, nasturtium leaves), chopped

1 Tbs. minced parsley leaves

1 c. plain yogurt

¼ c. crème fraiche or sour cream

Chopped chives and small basil leaves for garnish

In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 15 seconds. Add the zucchini, salt and pepper, and cook until tender. Add the stock and thyme and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.

Add the basil and greens and let wilt, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and discard thyme sprig.

With a hand-held immersion blender or in batches in a food processor, puree the soup.  Stir in the yogurt.Let cool and refrigerate until well chilled. Before serving adjust the seasonings to taste.  Garnish servings with crème fraiche, chives and basil leaves.

Homemade Herb Oil

1/2 cup rosemary leaves, stems removed

1 cup olive oil

1/4 cup tarragon leaves

1/8 cup thyme leaves

Place the rosemary and the olive oil in a blender and cover. Blend

on high speed until the rosemary has been ground into small pieces.

Add the tarragon and thyme and continue blending until all the herbs

have been broken down into small pieces. Pour into an airtight

container and store in the refrigerator.

Salad of Spring Mesclun, Blossoms, and Herbs

With Lovage-Allium Dressing Recipe

Salad:

Green and red leaf lettuce

Spring mesclun mix (any variety of young greens will do: mustards,

arugula, kale, amaranth, perilla, raddichio, etc).

Fresh lovage leaves

Fresh oregano leaves

Fresh sage leaves

Fresh thyme leaves

Fresh marjoram leaves

Edible flowers, as available (nasturtiums, fireweed, begonia petals,

borage flowers, violas, pansies, etc.)

Snipped chives

Dressing:

3/4 cup light olive oil

A few dashes good quality apple cider vinegar

3/4 cup lighter variety balsamic vinegar

3/4 cup water

1 tablespoon minced shallots

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon finely chopped chives

1 tablespoon finely chopped lovage leaves

Dash ground celery seed

Dash dry mustard or 1/4 teaspoon of whole grain fresh mustard

Small pinch nutmeg

Small pinch turmeric

A very tiny hint cinnamon

Toss greens, herbs, and blossoms together with plenty of snipped

chives and lovage leaves. (Tear larger leaves to bite size pieces. A

kitchen scissors works well to snip lovage and herbs down to size).

Combine dry and liquid dressing ingredients, to taste, in a glass

cruet and shake thoroughly before sprinkling over salad greens.

Zinfandel Poached Peaches with Cardamom Sage Yogurt

1/2 teaspoonful ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoonful finely chopped fresh sage

2 cups vanilla yogurt, regular, low-fat or no-fat

8 ripe peaches, peeled

2 lemons, juiced

1 bottle Zinfandel (good quality, about an $8 bottle)

2 fresh sage leaves

1 cup sugar

Mix the cardamom and chopped sage into the yogurt and refrigerate until you are  ready to serve.

Toss the peaches with the lemon juice so they won’t oxidize. Put the

Zinfandel and sugar into a stainless steel pot over medium heat and

bring it to a simmer. Add the peaches and simmer for about 15

minutes, covered. Remove the peaches and reduce the Zinfandel by

about half, down to light syrup. Spoon the sauce over the peaches

and serve with the yogurt.

Serves 8

HERB BUTTER

½ cup room temperature butter

½ Tbs. fresh lemon juice or a few gratings of lemon zest (optional)

3 Tbs. fresh herbs and/or herb flowers or 3 tsp. dried herbs or 3 tsp. herb seeds

Salt and white pepper to taste or dry mustard, paprika, cumin (optional)

Chop the herbs very finely or pulverize the seeds.  Cream the butter and blend in the herbs and seasonings. Shape as desired and chill or freeze up to six months.

Suggested combinations:

  • Sage, parsley and chives for chicken, rice, pasta
  • Tarragon or fennel, lemon zest, and parsley for fish, chicken, or eggs
  • Caraway seeds and parsley for cabbage, carrots, potatoes, and bread
  • Rosemary, chives, parsley, and garlic for potatoes, rice, pasta, beef,  chicken
  • Calendula petals, chives, and parsley for chicken, rice, or eggs
  • Scented geraniums, rose, or pinks (dianthus) for toast, scones, waffles

HERBED GOAT CHEESE

10 ounces goat cheese, softened

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

½ cup finely chopped herbs and edible flowers

Combine all in a bowl.

Use to top crostini or crackers or stuff small tomatoes

Option 1:  To ½ cup of Herbed Goat Cheese add 3 to 4 finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil). Mix well. Season with freshly ground black pepper.

Option 2: Make small balls of Herbed Goat Cheese and roll in toasted sesame seeds, finely minced herbs or toasted crushed nuts and spear with toothpicks for a quick appetizer.

HERBED TOMATO, BASIL AND MOZZARELLA SALAD OR APPETIZER

Salad

4-6 Ripe Tomatoes (red, yellow, orange, purple), sliced

Fresh Basil Leaves

Fresh Mozzarella Cheese, sliced

Appetizer

2 pints small cherry, pear or grape tomatoes

Fresh Basil Leaves

Fresh Mozzarella Cheese (Perline if available or large balls cubed)

Dressing

Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Herb Oil

Aged Balsamic Vinegar

Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper

Organic flower petals

SLICED ARTICHOKE AND PROSCIUTTO CHICKEN ROLLS

1 can (13 ounce) artichoke hearts in water

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

¼ cup mayonnaise

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoonfuls minced fresh basil

6 boned, skinless chicken breast halves

salt

freshly ground white pepper

6 thin slices prosciutto, or other flavorful ham

2 tablespoonfuls olive oil

3 tablespoonfuls unsalted butter

2 cups dry white wine

Place the artichoke hearts, cheese, mayonnaise, garlic, and basil in a blender or food processor and puree until fairly smooth.

Trim chicken breasts. Place chicken breasts between 2 sheets of wax paper and pound with a mallet or other flat instrument until about 1/8 nch thick.

Top each pounded breast with a slice of prosciutto cut to fit. Spread prosciutto with a thin layer of the artichoke mixture. Roll up jelly roll style and secure lengthwise with a skewer or toothpicks, or tie crosswise with cotton string or unwaxed dental floss.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy sauté pan over medium heat. Add the  chicken rolls and cook, turning frequently until lightly browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add the white wine, cover the pan  and simmer until fully cooked, about 10 minutes. Remove the rolls from the skillet to a plate and let stand until cool enough to handle. Remove the skewers or ties. Slice horizontally on an angle into 1/3 inch slices. Cover and keep warm.

Bring remaining pan juices to a boil and cook down to about 1 cup. Season to taste. Serve with chicken slices.

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