Posts Tagged ‘how to make a standard lamb spice mix’

Classic Fresh Herb Cooking Combinations

Friday, November 21st, 2008

The following are basic accepted universal recipes for flavouring your cooking, baking, and BBQ’ing. Use the provided combinations of fine herbes, boquet garni, and herbes de provence mixes whenever they are called for in recipe books. After you develop a flavour for using these standard combinations, and you gain more experience in gourmet cooking, you will find that you will be altering the basic combinations somewhat, to more closely suit your taste preferences. However, in most cooking the standard combinations provided below will remain the same in order to yield the unique territorial flavours of specific specialty dishes. Some unique uses of herbs and spices are included in the “Recipe” category of betweenclosefrinds.com blog for your enjoyment and experimentation. You may wish to check out the herb salt mix combinations, how to make your own mustards, and cheeses— from cream cheese, milk cheese, yogurt cheese and other popular combinations, (particularly my favorite recipe for 4 different Boursin Cheese recipes!), or unique recipes for herbal sugars (including how to candy ginger and blossoms for decorations on platters, cakes, pies, etc), to other of my favourite specific main course recipes, mocktails and desserts.

As you will discover, cooking becomes more of an art and quite personal as you gain experience and start to develop your own unique spice combination ‘signatures’. It also becomes exceptionally interesting as you experiment and try other ethnic dishes, striving to obtain the specific unique tastes associated with territory, country, and nationally.

Enjoy! and bon appetite!

How to make Standard ‘Fines Herbes’ — In French, fines herbes usually means chopped parsley. In former times, the term was more properly used to signify mixed chopped herbs. In old-style cookery, chopped mushrooms and truffles were mixed in with the herbs.

Fines Herbes are generally used in egg dishes especially omelets, and are also good with white fish. A very basic combination is using equal parts of chervil, chives, parsley and tarragon.

For a standard aromatic mixture of Fines Herbes mix together:

½ cup each of chopped parsley and chervil

¼ cup chopped chives

a few chopped tarragon leaves

There are several other accepted variations, depending on the dish you are making. Here are some other tasty variations for you to experiment with.

Start with equal amounts of finely chopped chives and parsley, to which you add any one of the following:

–1/2 tsp minced chervil and ¼ tsp minced tarragon

–1/2 teaspoon minced basil and ¼ tsp minced thyme

–2 T grated lemon rind

Then add the same amount of chervil as parsley (from 1.)

How to make ‘Herbes De Provence’—oregano, rosemary, thyme, savory, marjoram and French lavender

How to make ‘Bouquet Garni’ or bouquet fagot, is a classic combination of several herbs simmered in dishes as they cook.

For a very basic fresh boquet garni, use: 2 sprigs of thyme,

5 or 6 sprigs of parsley

1 medium bay leaf

For a very basic version of a dried boquet garni, use: 1 large bay leaf

1 T each tarragon and parsley

1 tsp each rosemary and thyme

There are endless variations of bouquet garni, depending on the chef’s preferances and the flavour she wishes to ‘feature’ . Another good basic mixture is simply a bunch of parsley stalks, 2 sprigs of thyme, 2 sprigs of marjoram and 1 bay leaf.

For fish you can add a dry fennel stalk, a twist of finely pared lemon peel and a sprig of lemon thyme.

Add a bruised garlic clove and a twist of orange peel if you are cooking beef: a sprig of juniper for pork: and a stalk of melilot for rabbit.)

How to make Standard Beef Mix—equal amounts of rosemary, thyme, savory, ground dried (or grated) orange peel and parsley (use ½ times more fresh herbs than you would dried)

How to make Standard Lamb Mix—equal parts of rosemary, thyme, savory, mint and parsley (you will need ½ times more fresh herbs to obtain the same favoring, than if you are using dried herbs)

How to make Standard Pork Mix—equal parts of sage, thyme and marjoram (Be more generous using fresh herbs as opposed to dried herbs for the same intensity of flavours)

How to make Standard Poultry Mix—equal parts of parsley, thyme, marjoram, tarragon and bay leaf (juniper berries for game birds)

How to make Standard Seafood Mix—equal parts of dill, tarragon and grated fresh lemon peel

Louisiana Bouquet Garni—Many crab and shrimp recipes call for an unique bouquet garni, such as those in southern Louisiana. This is a favourite New Orleans blend:

1 tsp whole allspice

1 tsp thyme

1 tsp celery seed

1 tsp black peppercorns

½ tsp cayenne pepper

½ tsp whole cloves

5 medium bay leaves, torn into small pieces

3 dried hot chilies

Boil the Louisiana Bouquet Garni along with a sliced lemon for about 10 minutes before adding your shellfish. Some Cajun cooks add ground sassafras leaves (file powder, generally used as a thickener), in addition to the garni when boiling crab or shrimp for an added kick in presentation.