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3/22/2012

Herbal Luncheon

I ran across these from the year I spoke at the Frankenmuth Herb Society. What a great group, they titled it, "3 Days with Jim Long" and use my recipes for their luncheon. Here are some of those recipes.
Herbed Cheese
(serves 8-10 if using about 2 cubes per person)
The combination of the fresh herbs and cheese makes a delightful taste of spring flavors.

Herbs used:
1 sprig (about 8-10 inches long) Greek or Sicilian oregano, leaves removed, stem discarded
4-5 whole leaves Garlic Chives, cut in large pieces
2  4-inch sprigs Marjoram (remove the stem if tough and discard)
2  4-inch sprigs Thyme (remove the stems and discard them)
4 or 5 sprigs parsley, larger stems removed

Recipe:
2 pounds of  Farmer’s cheese, skim milk, Muenster or similar cheese, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 teaspoons cooking oil or olive oil

Herbs:
Place the coarsley cut-up Garlic Chives, Oregano Marjoram, Parsley and Thyme into a small food processor with the nuts and pulse-blend until the mixture is well chopped.

Mix the herb/nut mixture into the cubes of cheese with the oil, mixing enough to disperse the herbs over the cheese. Refrigerate over-night to let the herb flavors blend into the cheese. Serve 2 or 3 cubes with toothpicks at room temperature with good crackers and fresh vegetable garnish.

Main Course
Mexican-Mint Chicken Salad
 (serves 6-8)
Herbs used:
 All herbs are fresh only. Dried herbs will  not give a similar flavor as fresh. A sprig is a stem of herb, about 4 inches long. On most herbs, the leaves are stripped off and the stem discareded.
1 sprig, or about 6 leaves cut up, fresh Mexican mint marigold (Tagetes lucida)...or substitute 2 teaspoons freshly-chopped French tarragon but use the marigold if possible!)
4 leaves (about 2 teaspoons chopped) Garlic chives
1 bunch Chives, or about 4 tablespoons, chopped
1 sprig, about 1/2 teaspoon fresh Thyme, stem removed and discarded


Recipe:

4 large fresh or frozen boneless chicken breasts
2 cups diced fresh jimaca if available, or 1 sm. can diced water chestnuts, drained
2 cups canned pineapple chunks
1 tart apple (such as Granny Smith)
6 leaves Mexican Mint Marigold, chopped
4 leaves Garlic Chives, chopped or snipped
4 tablespoons Chives or 3-4 whole green onions, green and white both, chopped
2 cups Hellman’s real mayonaise
Salt to taste

Simmer the chicken breasts until tender, with 6--8 cups water in which you have added a rib of celery, an onion, cut up and 3 or 4 peeled, cut up carrots. Reserve the broth.
Cool chicken and dice in inch sized pieces. Add remaining ingredients and mix gently. Refrigerate a few hours before serving. (Note, if making this the night before, add the herbs a few hours before serving).
Serve on lettuce leaf with crackers on the side with fresh herb garnish.

Garnish could include carrot fan, parsley, radish, cherry tomato with whole leaves of garlic chives crossed over salad. Or, serve with a cup of soup and whole grain crackers.

This is an excellent soup to accompany the chicken salad and I especially like the surprsing combination of fresh flavors. It’s a beautiful creamy golden orange soup with a delightful summery flavor and uses up the chicken broth from cooking the chicken for the salad.

Ginger-Orange Carrot Soup
(recipe serves 6 as a side dish soup with salad; serve in small coffee cups).
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
5 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 pounds small baby carrots (or if using larger carrots, peeled and cut up)
1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons dry rice
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
Grated zest of 1 orange
1 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup (or slightly more) heavy whipping cream

In skillet saute the onion in the butter. Transfer the saute to a soup pot with the 5 cups of chicken stock, honey, baby carrots, tomato paste and rice. Bring to a boil and turn down to simmer and cook, covered for about 30 minutes or until rice is tender.
Transfer soup to a food processor and puree with the orange zest, ginger, cream and salt and pepper to taste. Puree well. Return the soup to a pot to keep it warm until serving but don’t let it boil. Taste and adjust seasonings. If too thick, add more chicken broth.

Blueberries.

Lemon Balm-Blueberry Cake (easy version)
Herbs used:
3 tablespoons freshly-chopped Lemon Balm leaves
2 leaves fresh Lemongrass (the leaf, not the bulb), snipped very fine with scissors....it’s important to snip with scissors, not expect the food processor to do it adequately. Don’t substitute dry lemongrass.)

Recipe:
1 package Duncan Hines or any similar brand Lemon Supreme cake mix

Combine the liquid ingredients called for on the box...usually 1 1/3 cup water and 1/3 cup oil. Put that liquid in a blender with:
3 tablespoons freshly-chopped Lemon Balm leaves and
2 leaves Lemongrass which have been snipped up with scissors. Pulse-blend until the herbs are fairly well pulverized. Add that to:
The dry cake mix and eggs, beating well and pour into two oiled, floured round 9 inch cake pans. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Cool.
Slice the 2 layers of the cake to make 4 thin layers.

With cake slicer, slice each cake in half, making 4 small layers.
Lemon Balm.

Filling:
1 large package instant vanilla pudding
1 large (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened to room temp.
3 cups milk

In food processor, pulse blend ingredients, then stir in by hand, one small carton Cool Whip. Fold together well and refrigerate for several hours (or overnight).

Spread about 1/2 inch layer between the first and second layers of cake. Place the second cake on that, and cover the next layer with the filling. Put a layer of fresh blueberries over that, add the third layer, repeat with filling and berries, then place the fourth layer on top. Cover it with filling and dot liberally with fresh blueberries.


Dessert option 2:
Pineapple-Verbena Sorbet

Herbs used:
Lemon Verbena leaves

Recipe:
1 can frozen pineapple juice concentrate, thawed but still cold
3 leaves fresh Lemon Verbena, partially cut up
2 juice cans cold water

In blender, place the Lemon Verbena leaves, pineapple juice concentrate and 1 can of cold water. Blend well until the leaves are completely pulverized. Add the remaining can of water and pour the mixture into a hand-cranked or electric sorbet mixer. Freeze until firm. Serve in previously-frozen bowls (I freeze the spoons, as well, the sorbet stays firmer that way)

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