Description: Basil is a herb with spicy overtones of aniseed
and is strongly associated with Italian cooking
Basil has a strong history of reverence and loathing.
Its name is Greek for "King" and it is revered as a sacred
herb in the Hindu religion. However, in Europe during the
Middle Ages it was believed that scorpions would breed
under pots of Basil and just to smell Basil would form a
scorpion in the brain. Basil is known as the tomato herb
because of their affinity. There are over 150 varieties of Basil.
Basil complements - tomatoes, green vegetables, salads,
soups, eggs, fish, cheese, lamb, pizza and pasta sauces.
Description: The leaves of an evergreen shrub, native
to the eastern Mediterranean, but now widely cultivated
throughout the world, for both culinary and decorative use.
Ancient Greeks and Romans crowned victors with wreaths of laurel.
The term "baccalaureate," means laurel berry, and refers to the
ancient practice of honoring scholars and poets with
garlands from the bay laurel tree. Romans felt the leaves protected
them against thunder and the plague. Later, Italians and the English
thought Bay Leaves brought good luck and warded off evil.
Bay leaves have a woody, astringent flavour with a
pleasant, slightly minty aroma, popularly used in pickling and to
flavour stews, marinades, stuffing, and fish.
Description: Chervil is a lightgreen, lacey, fernlike leaf of
Annthriscus cerefolium, a lowgrowing member of the parsley family.
Chervil is native to southern Russia. Pliney, in the first century,
used Chervil as a seasoning. The Romans, took it to
France where it has been important for centuries. Only recently
has it been cutivated and used in the United States.
Chervil is one of the traditional "Fines herbes" of French cuisine,
it has a mild parsley like flavour, and is widely used in
soups and stews. Chervil brings out the flavor of other herbs.
Stir it into scrambled eggs or cheese and ham omelets. Cervil is useful
for adding colour and flavor to creamy dressings for pasta and
potato salads. Add it to buttersauced mushrooms
and serve over grilled steak or chicken breasts.
Description: Chives are the bright green, long,
hollow, thin leaves of Allium schoenoprasum,
an onionlike member of the lily family.
Chives grow wild in both the Old and the New World.
They have probably been used since ancient times,
but they have only been cultivated since the Middle Ages.
Chives make an attractive garnish for many savory foods.
With a delicate onion flavor, Chives won't overpower
the flavor of fish. Add Chives at the last moment to
hot foods, since heat lessens their flavour.
Description: Coriander is the seed of Coriandrum sativum,
a plant in the parsley family. The seed is globular and almost
round, brown to yellow red, and 1/5 inch in
diameter with alternating straight and wavy ridges. .
Coriander is probably one of the first spices used by
mankind, having been known as early as 5000 BC.
Sanskrit writings dating from about 1500 BC also spoke of it.
In the Old Testament "manna" is described as "white like
Coriander Seed." (Exodus 16:31) The Romans spread it throughout
Europe and it was one of the first spices to arrive in America.
Coriander is not interchangable with cilantro, although
they are from the same plant. Ground Coriander seed is
traditional in desserts and sweet pastries as well as in
curries, meat, and seafood dishes with South American,
Indian, Mediterranean, and African origins. Add it to
stews and marinades for a Mediterranean flavour.
Description: Dill is a tall, feathery annual, Anethum
graveolens, in the parsley family. Both Dill Seed
and Weed (dried leaves) come from the same plant.
Dill is indigenous to the Mediterranean area and southern
Russia. It has been used since ancient times. Babylonian
and Syrian herbalists used it, and Romans thought it was
an effective stimulant for gladiators. Although native
to the Mediterranean region, it became a staple in northern
Europe where it is still popular. In fact, the name is derived from
the old Norse word "dilla" meaning "to lull" because it was
used to lull babies to sleep, and as an antidote to witchcraft and sorcery.
Dill Weed is currently gaining popularity in North America.
Dill Seed and Dill Weed are not good substitutions for each other.
The seed has a camphorous, slightly bitter flavor, and the
weed has a delicate flavor. Dill Seed is good sprinkled over casseroles
before baking and used in salad dressings. Dill Weed, with its
delicate flavor, enhances fish, shellfish, vegatables, and dips.
Description: Lemon grass is a long thick grass with leaves at the top
and a solid portion several inches long at the root end.
The lower portion is sliced or pounded and used in
cooking. As a spice, fresh lemon grass is preferred for its vibrant flavour,
but is also sold in dried form. The dried spice is available in
several forms: chopped in slices, cut and sifted,
powdered, or as an oil can be extracted from the plant.
Lemon grass features in Indonesian, Malaysian,
Sri Lankan and Indian cooking and is widely used in savoury
dishes and meat, poultry, seafood and vegetable curries.
It harmonizes well with coconut milk, especially with chicken
or seafood, and there are countless Thai and Sri Lankan
recipes exploiting this combination. The stems are also used
in teas or used in pickles and in flavouring marinades
Description: Marjoram is the graygreen leaf of Majorana hortensis,
a low growing member of the mint family. It is often mistaken
for oregano, although they are not the same plant.
Marjoram is indigenous to the Mediterranean area and was known
to the Greeks and Romans, who looked on it as a symbol
of happiness. It was said that if marjoram grew on the grave
of a dead person, he would enjoy eternal bliss.
Marjoram has a warm, aromatic, slightly sharp, and bitterish taste .
Description: Mint is the dried leaf of a perennial herb.
There are two important species, Mentha spicata L.
(spearmint) and Mentha piperita L. (peppermint).
Spearmint and peppermint are both native to Asia.
Peppermint was used by Eyptians, and spearmint is mentioned
in the Bible. Spearmint grew wild in the United States after the 1600s,
and peppermint was cultivated commercially before the Civil War.
Use mint in salad dressings, flavored tea, and zesty marinades. Stir into
warmed apple or currant jelly for a quick meat sauce or dessert topping.
Description: Mediterranean Oregano is the dried leaf of Origanum
vulgare L., a perennial herb in the mint family. Mexican Oregano is the
dried leaf of one of several plants of the Lippia genus.
In Greek 'Oregano' means 'Joy of the mountains' from where it is
gathered. It is used extensively in Greece and its many
varieties are known as 'rigani'. Mediterranean Oregano was
originaly grown extensively in Greece and Italy. Since Greek
and Roman times it has been used with meats, fish, vegetables, and as
a flavouring for wine. Before World War II, Oregano was almost unknown
in the United States. However, its popularity
skyrocketed with the popularity of pizza.
Oregano tastes great with tomato, egg, or cheese based foods,
and is also a great addition to many lamb, pork,
and beef main dishes. Try sauteeing aromatic vegetables
in olive oil with garlic and Oregano. You can make a savory sauce with
melted butter, lemon juice and a bit of Oregano; drizzle it over
grilled fish and poultry. An easy way to accent pasta sauces, salad
dressings, and ground meat dishes is with a dusting of crushed
Oregano leaves. To release its flavor, crush Oregano by
hand or with a mortar and pestle before using it in your recipes.
Description: Parsley is the dried leaf of Petroselinum
crispum, a biennial in the parsley family.
Parsley was cultivated as early as the third century BC.
The Romans used Parsley as a garnish and flavouring.
They put it on their tables and around their necks in the belief
the leaves would absorb fumes. Medieval Europeans
believed that one could kill an enemy by plucking a sprig
while speaking the person’s name. It spread to the Americas in the
17th century, where it now grows plentifully. It is the most widely used
culinary herb in the United States. Parsley is difficult to process
because it takes twelve pounds of fresh Parsley to make one
pound of dried. However, more people still use dried Parsley than fresh
leaves as a garnish in soups, salads, meats, vegetables, and sauces.
Stretch homemade pesto and other green sauces by adding a
generous amount of Parsley during mixing. Stir Parsley into melted
garlic butter for a savory, yet simple, pasta or steamed
vegetable topper. Add directly to liquids, cooked foods, melted
butter, and salad dressings for a light spicy touch. Try a nosalt herb
blend by combining 1 tablespoon each Parsley Flakes,
marjoram, and thyme. Crush Parsley in your
hand or with a mortar and pestle before adding to food.
Description: Rosemary is a small perennial evergreen shrub
related to mint, native to the Mediterranean region. The leaves are
highly aromatic and have a slightly bitter taste.
The first use of Rosemary is recorded around 500 B.C.
in Greece, where it was recognized for its alleged ability to
strengthen the brain and memory. Greek students braided
rosemary into their hair to help them with their exams.
In Great Britain there is an old garden legend that reads,
"where rosemary thrives the mistress is master".
Rosemary is generally used sparingly, particularly
with lamb, duck, chicken, sausages, seafood, stuffing,
stews, soups, potatoes, tomatoes, turnips, other vegetables.
Description: Sage is a perennial herb, native to the Mediterranean
region. The leaves are highly aromatic when bruised,
and have a slightly bitter mint-like taste.
Sage was a sacred ceremonial herb of the Romans
who associated it with immortality, as referenced in the proverb,
"How can a man grow old who has sage in his garden."
It is commonly use to flavour vinegars, herb butter,
omelettes, soups, and of course poultry stuffing.
Description: The long narrow leaves of Tarragon
have a strong, spicy, anise flavour.
The name Tarragon is probably a corruption of the
French word ‘estragon’ meaning ‘little dragon’ as the roots
curl around like a dragon's tail. Tarragon was used to cure the bites
of dogs and poisonous snakes. Tarragon is one of the classic French
herbs and is a favourite flavouring for white wine vinegar.
Tarragon is a stimulant to the appetite.
Chicken, fish, veal, lamb, eggs, salads, sauces,
vegetables, vinegar, soups, mayonnaise. Use Tarragon sparingly
as it can overpower other ingredients and take on a bitter taste.
Description: Thyme is a pungent herb, native to southern Europe,
the Mediterranean, Asia Minor, and Central Asia. The leaves have
a fragrant odour when crushed and the taste is warm and pungent.
Thyme was a symbol of courage and bravery over 2,000
years ago in Greece, and the link continued well into
the Middle Ages, when ladies embroidered a sprig of
thyme on the scarves of knights, going into battle.
It is commonly used with poultry, stuffing, fish,
eggs, meats, butter, sauces, soups, sausages, salads, vegetables,
cottage and cream cheeses, fresh tomatoes, and pastas.
It is one of the herbs used to flavour Benedictine liqueur, and
is the characteristic seasoning in traditional Jugged Hare.