Four down and two to go! I’ve really enjoyed the more frequent posts because nothing got left out this week. I know some of the ideas were a bit unusual, but if I inspired even a handful of people to try something new with their garden herbs, I would consider these experiments a success.
Today’s collection of recipes would be great for get-togethers this coming weekend. It was so hot this week, I tried to avoid the stove as much as possible. Yesterday, however, I turned it on just long enough to make simple syrup for this next recipe.
Miniature Greyhound with Rosemary
I’ve seen all sorts of names for the gin/grapefruit combination drink, including the Italian Greyhound, but most are served in a high ball glass. I don’t know about you, but the more juice a cocktail has, the faster I consume it. It’s too easy. So I cut down the volume of this drink to make it a bit more sippable. This recipe is similar to the Rosemary Salty Dog, but with one exception: Rosemary simple syrup rather than sugar. Also of note, I prefer Hendricks gin in this recipe because of its notable rose and cucumber flavors.
1 1/2 oz Hendricks gin
2 oz fresh grapefruit juice
1/4 oz rosemary simple syrup
Note: 1 oz =30 ml= 1 standard shot
Combine all of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until frosty. Strain into a short glass over ice and serve with a sprig of fresh rosemary.
By steeping fresh rosemary in the simple syrup rather than muddling it as you prepare the drink, the flavor of rosemary is much more pervasive and balanced.
Rosemary Simple Syrup
1 cup suger
1 cup water
4 small sprigs fresh rosemary
Heat the water and sugar in a pan on the stove and stir until the solution is clear. Alternatively, you can heat it in the microwave and stir it every once in a while, but I don’t own a microwave, so everything happens on the stove at my house. You don’t actually need to bring the syrup to a boil, in fact, it will cool down faster if you don’t.
Wash the rosemary and place it in the container that will hold the simple syrup. Pour the hot syrup over the rosemary and allow to cool to room temp in the container before using. If you need the syrup in a hurry, you can quickly cool it down by combining the rosemary and hot syrup in a small bowl and let it steep for five minutes before placing the small bowl in a larger one filled with ice water and whisking the syrup until it has cooled down (about 90 seconds or less). The longer the steep while warm, the more noticable the flavor.
The next herb I played with was tarragon. It was a tricky one because the anise/licorice flavor isn’t something I usually work with and I tried out several ideas before I settled on this one.
Herbed Goat Cheese
Tarragon might not be the strongest flavor in this recipe, but it does a wonderful job of tying together the sharpness of the goat cheese and the delicacy of the lavender. If you hold the cheese in your mouth while exhaling through your nose, you’ll sense a lovely bouquet of sweet, floral, and faintly grassy flavors. I chose to serve it with thin slices of raw beets (for reasons I’ll get to in a bit!) and the sweet crunch the beets added to the creamy, tart cheese was a delightful combination of taste and texture.
8 oz chevre goat cheese
1 tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped
scant 1/2 tbsp fresh lavender buds (or 1 tsp dried)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
In a medium-sized bowl, gently blend the cheese and herbs together with a fork until evenly incorporated.
Roll the cheese into a ball, then gently roll between parchment paper to form a log.
Roll the log in the parchment and tie off the ends with some twine. Refrigerate overnight to allow the flavors to meld.
Now about those beets. It seems you can’t read a single article about healthy foods without running into them, and for good reason. Along with potassium and betaine (the latter reduces accumulation of fat in the liver), beets are an excellent source of folate. Folate is a water-soluble B vitamin that the body processes for use in nucleic acid (DNA) and amino acid (protein) synthesis, both of which are necessary for production and maintenance of healthy cells. The NIH recommends adults consume 400 mcg of folate a day and one cup of raw beets contains 37% of your daily folate!
The key word there is “raw”. I absolutely love roasted beets, but when you add heat, the folate reacts with sugars in the beet root to form a molecule known as CEF, which cannot be used by the body for cell maintenance and replication. More than 25% of the available folate is degraded when beets are cooked.
Thank you, science, for one more excuse to leave the stove off.
To prep the beets, slice off the very top and bottom to remove the stem and tap root. Peel the beets with a vegetable peeler and slice very thin. This is really easy to do if you have a mandolin, but if you don’t, it’s easy enough to do this with a large chef’s knife.
Start by cutting the beet in half so that one side can lay flat on your cutting board.
Looking straight down at the cutting board, place the knife so that the slice is about the same thickness of the blade of the knife. Slowly press the blade down, keeping it as straight as possible to obtain an even slice.
You won’t get complete disks with this method, but they were mostly for show anyway.
I loved these so much, I packed them with a handful of strawberries and called it lunch.
I’ll return to my regular, once a week posts beginning this Sunday!