In her last post Herbdoc told us how to make herb vinegars. What better to complement this than her recipies for bouquet garni and fines herbes.
If you’ve been looking at special recipes for the holidays, you may have come across two French expressions, “bouquet garni” and “fines herbes” in the ingredient lists. Both of these herb and spice combinations are easily made at home and add wonderful flavors to dishes.
Bouquet garni is a blend of herbs and spices, generally tied together with string in several layers of cheese- cloth and is used for seasoning stews, soups or marinades. Fresh sprigs or dried herbs and spices may be used. A sweet bay leaf is always included in the recipe. Other popular herbs and spices include parsley, thyme, marjoram, sage, savory, celery seed and peppercorns. The amounts are selected based on personal taste, but it’s best to simmer the bouquet in the last half hour or so of cooking time so that the flavor doesn’t deteriorate. Try ¼ cup dried parsley with 2 tablespoons of dried thyme, a bay leaf and 1 teaspoon celery seed with 5-6 peppercorns. Remove and discard the bouquet prior to serving.
Fines herbes is a classic blend of delicately flavored fresh herbs. It is used to season mildly flavored dishes such as fish, vegetables or omelets. The herbs are freshly chopped or snipped and are added to the dish in the last few minutes of cooking. Traditionally the fines herbes include parsley, chives, chervil and tarragon. Some cooks like to add other herbs to the list: basil, marjoram, rosemary and thyme, but these must be added in very small amounts or they will
overwhelm the delicate flavor of the fines herbes. You can try 2 tablespoons each chopped Italian parsley, chervil and some snipped chives with 4 teaspoons chop- ped tarragon and 1 tablespoon of thyme, finely chopped.
Experiment with different combinations, taste and judge for yourself what you and your family like and dislike. Cooking with herbs is a learning experience and can be a lot of fun!