Cooking Herb Basics

Hi, welcome back to KitchenTipsy. Today, we will be talking about the care and keeping of herbs throughout all of our cooking videos and recipes. You’re going to be seeing a couple of herbs that we go back to over and over again.

There is a wild, beautiful world of herbs out there, and it is fun to get to know them all, but there are a bunch of herbs that you will probably be using more often than others, and we’re going to focus on those.

I think we’re going to start with our like “woody herbs” and that’s the rosemary thyme and sage world; these herbs are pretty much available year-round you’ll find them as the base of a lot of Mediterranean dishes, dishes from all over the world and the thing that makes them sort of woody is that you’re never going to eat the stem.

Hence, it’s elementary if you want to get the best part of your rosemary.

All you do is hold it with one hand pull it down with another. You have the part of the herb that you want to use. You can smash it. You can saute it in a little olive oil to get those aromas flowing.

These will turn brown if they get too wet, so keep them dry. You can wrap them in a paper towel and just put them in your refrigerator until they’re ready to use; similar to rosemary, we hold the stem when trying to get the best part of the thyme again.

We pull down with our fingers, and we get the best part of the time you’re not going to eat the woody stem of the thyme.

Sage is I think an under-appreciated herb my first cooking class I ever took was in Italy in 1989 and I learned a recipe where you heated up a skillet and you laid a bunch of sage leaves down in the oil and then you put chicken breasts right on top and you just kind of let them sear these got crispy and they kind of adhered to the chicken and it was so beautiful ever since then I’ve kind of had an obsession with fried sage it’s also great if you just warm up butter, brown it a little bit put in some chopped sage and then toss it with pasta really easy dinner delicious herb a little bit under-looked I like to take these woody herbs this like trifecta of sort of the wintery fall kind of woodier herbs and use these in my Thanksgiving turkey I just kind of bundle them together you can also use oregano if you have that and just kind of stuff the turkey with these and like half of an onion it’ll imbue the whole turkey with flavor you can do that with chicken you can do these herbs with like roast potatoes and squash they’re a beautiful addition to any Fall or Winter dish moving onto another really beautiful herb that is kind of associated with soups and stews is the bay leaf these are dried bay leaves you don’t eat them so you’ll see a lot of times that you’ll kind of put them into a soup or a stew and then before you eat you’ll pull them out you only need two or three and they’re so aromatic that they just lend all of this really deep flavor to whatever it is you’re making the thing about herbs in general is that they’re subtle but they pack so much flavor that they they kind of help you build the flavor along the way as you’re cooking these dishes they smell beautiful they add lots of micronutrients and they add this sort of life to your food which you know makes it more fun to eat moving on to basil so basil is a little bit in a league of its own it’s not quite a hearty herb but it’s also not one of the softer herbs and if you’ve ever tried to put basil in your refrigerator and save it and then the next day it’s black that’s because it really doesn’t do well in cold so i would say for basil all you really need to do is bring it home and fill up a glass of water and just keep it like you would flowers on your counter just leave it there with a little bit of water you don’t want to get it too cold you don’t want to get it wet and it bruises very easily so keep basil just like this on your countertop until you’re ready to use it you’ll see basil in a lot of Summer dishes it’s the basis of pesto it’s also really really beautiful with tomato and a little tidbit of information is that what grows together tends to go together, right? Do you like to be eaten with tomatoes? we have a beautiful recipe for roasted Romesco chicken over burst tomatoes with basil the link to that recipe will be below moving on to parsley this is a curly parsley this is a flat-leaf parsley most of the recipes that we use call for flat-leaf there are occasions where you’ll use the curly it’s a little bit rougher it’s a little bit denser and it doesn’t have quite sort of the aromatics that a softer leaf parsley has parsley and cilantro are both going to come to you a little bit soft probably with a little bit of like water sprayed on them that’s perfect the way to keep them is to basically dampen a paper towel and just sort of spread them out roll up the paper towel put them in sort of a plastic baggie or a container in your refrigerator and keep them there you don’t want to wash parsley or cilantro before you’re ready to use it– again the moisture is going to be a problem and it’s going to wilt and it’s going to turn a little brown I don’t mind using the stems of parsley or cilantro you can see that it gets a little harder down here you know if you go to a fancy restaurant they’ll be picking the herbs very very delicately you don’t need to pick them I would just go a little bit down getting some of the stem is fine this stem is probably best used for using for stocks or for soups probably not for eating the way it is moving on to mint I think mint is like having a moment and I think that’s largely in part to the influx of Mediterranean food that we’ve been seeing over the last couple of years it’s got this really beautiful flavor and I feel like for a long time it was sort of relegated to like mojitos and cocktails but it’s really amazing just as it is in salads again you’re not going to be eating this whole kind of stem part of the mint you’re going to pull off those leaves and you’re just going to pick off the top it’s a beautiful garnish it like smells amazing there’s all sorts of different varieties of mint I would suggest playing with it a little bit seeing if you like it when you see it in a salad and you think oh i don’t know about that give it a try what’s the worst that can happen dill is one of those herbs that I think had like a heyday in the ’80s and is now again making a little bit of a comeback it’s a really great aromatic packed with nutrient herb it’s very easy to use again you’re probably not going to use all the way down there on the stem but you can just start chopping here if you want and you don’t want any of the stems you can just kind of pick it off and then you can rip it or you can mince it, it’s great in a salad I love it with like an endive and some olive oil and lemon and salt you can just kind of use it to garnish and to dress all sorts of different things dill is used a lot in Greek-inspired dishes so for example when we make like a dish with our Golden Tahini sauce and a Greek yogurt we tend to put minced dill in there and it just adds this other little element of flavor there’s a recipe for that in the link below lastly we’re going to talk about scallions because even though they’re not technically an herb they happen to be used in a lot of our dishes at KitchenTipsy , and I love cooking with scallions the scallion cilantro combination especially with some Gingery Miso and some sesame seeds you’ll find a lot repeated in a lot of our recipes we have a few of them in the link below when you look at a scallion you’ll notice that down by the bulb it’s a little bit harder and a little bit paler and then up at the top is where you get that like bright green this part of the scallion tends to be used for the cooking and the sauteing this part of the scallion is really nice for the garnishing I also like to put a couple of the greens in the oil as I’m sauteing before I add you know my things for the stir fry but I do like to reserve some of this for the top it adds a little crunch it adds some extra nutrition it adds a little bit of like tender onion flavor but it’s not too bitter or pungent similar to the way that I would wrap cilantro and parsley up in a damp paper towel I would do the same with scallions they will last a long time so oftentimes people don’t buy the scallions because they come in like a big group of eight or ten and they’re worried that they’re not going to be able to finish them honestly don’t worry wrap them up in like a damp paper towel they’ll last for a week or so and every time you’re making eggs or if you’re just making toast with butter or avocado you can just slice a few scallions put them on top cut the bottoms put them into a stir fry reheat your rice with it whatever, use them our goal at KitchenTipsy has always been to give you more confidence and joy in the kitchen and one of the ways we can do that is helping you know your way around your herbs how to use them how to store them how to get the best out of them so for the herbs that are a little bit more tender that tend to wilt or get brown that you want to make sure that you preserve as long as possible because you get them in these like big big bunches and you don’t use that much of it again what we’re going to do is we’re just going to very lightly dampen a paper towel spread out the herb on the paper towel and just wrap it and store it in a plastic bag you don’t want to put these just right into your produce drawer they’re going to wilt in that humidity and they’re going to turn brown really quickly the damp paper towel kind of keeps them just the right amount of moist but also not too wet so that they wilt you’ll notice that there are a couple of combinations that come up a lot and I don’t want you to be nervous about it so you’ll see mint and dill together for example in a lot of Greek, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern dishes you’ll see rosemary, sage, and thyme together for example in more Italian, European stew types of dishes and you’ll see cilantro and scallions together in a lot of Southeast Asian dishes cilantro also plays a big part in Mexican and Latin dishes too one other thing .

when you’re cooking with herbs is you really want a sharp knife and you don’t want to over chop them if you think about it they’re very very tender greens and they will bruise pretty easily so try to keep your knife sharp keep your cuts few and clean one thing you want to keep in mind when you’re cooking with herbs is that they are very tender and they will bruise easily if you’re not using a sharp knife or if you’re over-chopping so really you just want a couple of clean easy swipes with the knife and then throw them in your dish for basil we really like to do sort of the cigar roll Chiffonade it gives you these fun little strips so we lay the basil leaves on top of each other and we roll it and then we take our knife across this way and with the rocking motion make these strips they look really pretty on a dish it’s a really elegant cut and we’re not going to be bruising the basil this way by pushing it too much with the knife similarly.

We’re not going to cut cilantro until we’re really ready to use it because it is very tender and we want it to stay really fresh and vibrant so we’re going to cut off that woody end, roll it in a very gentle ball with our fingers keeping our bear claw and there you have it.

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