June 2011 Issue
My Ohio Recipes: Finer Flavors
Give your dishes a lift with herbs.
Do your daily dinners taste drab? You can add new dimensions of flavor to favorite recipes with fresh herbs that you grow yourself or find at your local farmers market. Popular herbs grown in Ohio include a variety of basils, chives, dill, French tarragon, mint, oregano, rosemary and thyme.
Ohio Farm Bureau members (and that includes consumers like you) have unique access to information about Ohio food and farms. Farm Bureau members can learn about many Ohio food and farm stories through the Our Ohio brand, which includes a magazine, TV series, Grow and Know educational events, website and social media.
A wide variety of Ohio foods lend themselves to a creative touch of herbs. Just be sure to choose and store them properly.
Fresh vs. Dried
When fresh herbs aren’t available, dried can be substituted — usually one-third the amount of fresh. For example, if a recipe calls for one tablespoon of fresh dill, use one teaspoon of dried. Fresh herbs will give your dishes more flavor, but if you use herbs only once in a while, dried may be more practical.
Buying, Storing, Using
To add herbs to your culinary repertoire, consider their taste attributes. You might want to add the sweet, slightly anise-like flavor of basil to pasta dishes, soups or salads. Dill may be used as a garnish or cooked with fish, soup, dressings, potatoes and beans. Oregano has a strong aroma and can be used whole or ground with tomato sauce, fish, eggs, pizza, omelets, chili, stew, gravy, poultry and vegetables. Season fish, stuffing, beef, lamb, poultry, onions, eggs, bread and potatoes with rosemary. Thyme leaves can be sprinkled on fish or poultry before broiling or baking.
Check your local farmers market for fresh herbs, but unless you want to freeze or dry them, buy only what you can use immediately, and keep them in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Or grow your own — farmers markets, greenhouses and grocery stores sell live plants; basil, chives and rosemary are common. Most herbs are hardy, and with a staple like basil, you can’t go wrong growing your own.
For more information on preserving herbs, as well as adding an herbal kick to a variety of foods, visit the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation’s website, OurOhio.org.
QUICK HERB TIPS
• For a refreshing twist on plain water, add a sprig of fresh rosemary and lemon wedges, or combine fresh mint with lime slices.
• Instead of the usual basting brush, use bundled fresh herbs to apply marinades, oils and sauces on roasted meats and vegetables.
• Create compound butters; combine softened butter with your favorite fresh herbs. Roll into a log and store in the freezer. Slice off pats to top grilled meats, brush on breads or add to sauces and gravies.
• For a quick vinaigrette, whisk together 1/4 cup olive oil with 2 tablespoons vinegar (red or white wine, balsamic, cider or white). Add 3 to 4 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, etc.) and salt and pepper to taste. Use to dress greens, potatoes or other vegetables. For a tangier, thicker consistency, add 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard. For a citrus flavor, replace vinegar with lemon, lime or orange juice.
The following recipes are provided by Ohio food writer Marilou Suszko. For more of her recipes, visit OurOhio.org.
Rosemary and Mint Ohio Lamb Chops
16 lamb loin chops, cut 1-1/2 inches thick
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season
1 cup red wine
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup hot pepper jelly
1/2 cup fresh rosemary, chopped
1/4 cup freshly chopped mint
Extra virgin olive oil
Season both sides of the chops liberally with salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl (large enough to hold the chops), combine the red wine, balsamic vinegar, hot pepper jelly and chopped herbs, stirring to dissolve the jelly. Add the chops, turning to coat with the mixture. Set aside at room temperature for 1 hour. (The chops can also be refrigerated for up to 8 hours).
Preheat the broiler to high.
Remove the chops from the marinade, blot dry. Arrange the chops on the rack of a broiler pan about 3 inches from the heat source and cook until well seared on both sides and done to medium rare (145 degrees internal temperature at 4 minutes per side) to medium (160 degrees internal temperature for 5 to 6 minutes) on the inside. Remove from the broiler and set aside to rest for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, pour about a cup of the marinade into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes or until reduced and slightly syrupy. Brush on the chops before serving.
Note: If the chops are small, count on serving two chops per guest (about 8 ounces total). However, if the chops are on the hefty side, one per guest will be sufficient.
Edamame is Ohio’s edible soybean, firm and delicious with a slightly nutty flavor. They can be enjoyed simply steamed and salted and popped straight from their fuzzy pod into your mouth or shelled and used in this recipe, where they add a special twist to a classic pesto. Mix this version into hot pastas or spread on toasted bread slices. A dollop stirred into a vegetable soup delivers a wonderful savory accent.
1 cup shelled edamame
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil,
more or less as needed
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Cook the edamame in a large pot of boiling salted water for 5 minutes. Drain and cool for 10 minutes. Place all of the ingredients, except the olive oil, salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse until the nuts and edamame are ground into small pieces. With the food processor running, gradually add the oil until the mixture forms a loose paste. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Can be refrigerated in an airtight container for one week. Makes about 1-1/2 cups.
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