Monday, June 09, 2008
I have a warning for you! I am going to tell you right now that I planted an herb garden a few weeks ago and it is doing FABULOUS! Do you know what this means? It means that you are going to be inundated with recipes that feature fresh herbs!
Now I love plants but I do not have a particularly "green thumb." I have absolutely NO houseplants because I kill them. Even my "lucky bamboo" died which is supposed to be one of the easiest plants to keep. But I do much better with plants outdoors. The problem is that I HATE(!!!) to weed and occasionally I forget to water. The first issue is solved by planting a "potted" garden. Which is what I have done on my back deck. The second...well we will just keep our fingers crossed. The fact is that I use some kind of herb (when I have them readily available) nearly everyday. So, if I use them I generally check to see if they need water at the same time.
I highly recommend planting your own. I get bedding plants from one of the local nurseries and I have not had any issues with any of them. Even Walmart sells them though the ones that I have gotten there do not seem quite as hearty. Think about the herbs you love most and plant one or two. For the price you pay for 1 package of grocery store herbs you will always have the freshest on hand and you will likely (much like me) begin putting them in EVERYTHING you cook. It is SO cool to go out your back door and cut the fresh herbs you need for a meal!
These are the herbs that I currently have growing and all are hearty and easy to grow.
Basil (my most favorite), Chives, Rosemary, Thyme, and Oregano. I still would like to get some Parsley (which I have never tried to grow before) and Sage.
The only thing that I have not had luck with was Cilantro. That makes me sad because I use a lot of cilantro and would love to be able to snip it whenever I need it. It does fine for a while but as soon as it gets really hot it goes straight to seed and then dries up and dies. I am thinking about maybe trying it on my front porch this year where it does not get so much direct sunlight. My friend Karen, who grows a good sized organic Vegetable garden in her backyard, says that she has also had problems with Cilantro and she has found that fall is a better time to grow it.
The key things to growing potted herbs:
Plenty of water: Sometimes in the summer when it is very hot and dry they need to be watered twice a day.
Pinch back plants regularly to encourage full bushy growth instead of tall and lanky. Basil in particular will quickly flower and then go to seed and then the plant will not produce many leaves. For this reason along with the fact that I plant a lot of basil you will probably get your fill of basil recipes this summer (I already have 2 ready to go).
If you feed your plants (which I do about once a week) be sure that you are using a fertilizer that is intended for fruits and veggies. I have had great luck with Miracle Grow. Remember to mix it at a strength for houseplants if you are feeding potted herbs as not to burn the roots.
So here is the first dish I have for you that features ingredients from my herb garden. I have made this 3 times now and though it is very tasty I have not yet gotten the timing down for how long to cook it. I found this recipe on a Blog called Columbus Foodie I made a few minor changes to it because I did not want to eat 3 eggs and I did not have any parsley so I substituted Chives. Other than that I am still working on the Broiling time. The recipe says 6 min under the broiler but this produces a very hard cooked egg and I like mine over medium. I tried 4 mins and this was still too long. Today I tried 3 mins and the yolks were the way I like them but the whites were not quite done enough. I definately think 3 1/2 mins should do the the trick. Enjoy this decadent but really simple breakfast!
recipe adapted from Ina Garten
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon minced Chives
1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan
4 extra-large eggs
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Toasted French bread or brioche, for serving
Preheat the broiler for 5 minutes and place the oven rack 6 inches below the heat.
Combine the garlic, thyme, rosemary, chives, and Parmesan and set aside. Carefully crack 2 eggs into each of 2 small bowls (you won’t be baking them in these) without breaking the yolks. (It’s very important to have all the eggs ready to go before you start cooking.)
Place 2 individual gratin dishes on a baking sheet. Place 1 tablespoon of cream and 1/2 tablespoon of butter in each dish and place under the broiler for about 3 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Quickly, but carefully, pour 3 eggs into each gratin dish and sprinkle evenly with the herb mixture, then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Place back under the broiler for 3-4 minutes, until the whites of the eggs are almost cooked. (Rotate the baking sheet once if they aren’t cooking evenly.) The eggs will continue to cook after you take them out of the oven. Allow to set for 60 seconds and serve hot with toasted bread.
Notes It is important to have all of your ingredients ready before you start cooking and to keep a close watch on them under the broiler.The butter can go from brown to burned in seconds. This seems like it would be a big pain but its only 5 mins (tops) and it's well worth it!