Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Saving Summer: Use your Herbs

Honest confession:  if you want to reserve a special place in my heart, give me a bushel of basil.  Sad, unloved basil going to rot at the back of the fridge is such a shame, so processing this mass amount of basil was top priority.  Word of advice, enlist your gentleman friend to assist in picking off all those tiny leaves and to capture the errant earwig that somehow was flicked from the basil to your neck.  If he is a really good man, he will patiently and quietly wash up the many dishes while you expand the mess and photograph every step of the way.

Basil Salad
Ingredients:  basil, baby romaine lettuce, bacon, parmesan, pine nuts
I love this salad.  You can control the strength of the basil by playing with the proportions.  I'm happy with it either way because a full salad of basil or that occasional bite, you're still eating one of the best tasting salads.   I like to pair this with a creamy dressing, but it's perfect with anything.  The bacon, croutons and cheese just makes it all the more fantastic.

Basil Compound Butter
Ingredients:  a few cloves of roasted garlic, about 1 c of butter, handful of basil, pepper, pinch of onion powder,  optional - salt.  

I opted to chiffonade the basil (this is a fancy-pants way to  say cut:  Layer a few leaves on top of each other and loosely roll them, then slice on the bias) and cube the butter to make it easier to incorporate.   Try to make sure that your ingredients are incorporated evenly throughout the butter - this is a flavour democracy.

The great thing about compound butter is it can be frozen for about 6 months...but trust me, it won't stick around that long.  Take the butter and place it on parchment paper.  You are going to roll it into a tight cylinder.    note the above mentioned good guy cleaning up after me

Twist the ends to secure, then seal with cling-wrap.  I let it rest overnight in the fridge.  My theory is that it allowed the flavour to perfuse more than if it had gone directly into the freezer.  I also put it into a freezer bag because I am ultra protective of my butter.

So far, I have used this three ways:
1.   There is nothing better than bread with butter.   Find yourself the frenchiest baguette and hopefully a degree of self-moderation.  Despite being chopped and frozen, the flavours stay bright.
2.  Butter poached fish.   [ Ultra quick mini recipe:  Lay haddock on top of a  layer of think choped onions.  Slice medallions off of your compound butter - go with instict, you'll know how much is enough.  Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes (depending on the size of your fish)]
3. On the last of this season's corn on the cob.  Ah-mazing.

Good luck!

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