Written by Laura Klein
When flavoring a large amount of liquid like a stock or soup with dried herbs, add the herbs directly to the liquid. When flavoring a low moisture content type of sauce, i.e. hollandaise, revive the herbs by first pouring a small amount of boiling water or broth over them. It restores their elasticity and helps them blend delicately into a fine sauce or dish.
There are two ways to cook with and use herbs.
- Infuse with woodsy herbs. Infuse the flavors of herbs that are woodsy, such as rosemary, thyme and sage while reducing a liquid, such as wine or a sauce. Then strain the liquid when done.
- Finish with herbs. Herbs that are leafy such as basil, tarragon and oregano should be chopped and added to the sauce last. The herb's oils will then release into the sauce. Strain if desired.
Special knockout herb combinations from provincial French cuisine that will brighten up any dish, salad, sauce or soup with an added flavor boost.
- Fine Herbs or French Quatuor: This is a group of four fine herbs, chives, tarragon, chervil and parsley. They are chopped together until the board on which you are working starts to barely turn green.
- Herbs De Provence: Is a mixture of rosemary, thyme, and savory. These herbs can be found growing wild in the Provencal garrigue the natural underforest of Provence. These three herbs plus the four fine herbs, plus mint and maybe some lavender flowers make up Herbs De Provence. If you make your own mix be sure to balance your combination so one flavor does not dominate the mix.
- Bouquet Garni: Is a small bunch of herbs, bay leaf, parsley stems and thyme that is either tied together with kitchen string or tied together in cheese cloth for soups, stews, gravies, sauces or stocks. Using just string without the cheesecloth really releases the whole bouquet garni flavor.
- Flavor Booster: Mushroom Powder: Mushroom powder, made from dried mushrooms, can be used to reinforce the mushroom taste in soups and sauces. One can use any dried mushroom, such as shiitake, porcini. Prepare it as needed. Do not keep it around as bugs enjoy this flavorful powder. Throw the dried mushroom of your choice into the blender and blend until fine.