Know Your Herbs

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Fresh herbs are readily available in every good supermarket, so as a foodie, cook or chef  you should get to know your herbs as well as learn how to cook with them. They add a wonderful dimension, flavor and color to your dishes. With hundreds of varieties available and each and every one of them bringing its own unique characteristic, it can be an extremely daunting experience in which ones we should use. I have compiled a small list of some herbs that I use on a regular basis. I hope this will help you.

Basil
This delicate aromatic Mediterranean herb is a wonderful pairing with strong flavors. Basil has a strong and pungent flavor and quite often a sweet smell with a taste of anise. Works extremely well with Garlic, such as pesto sauce, yet delicate enough for mixing with fruit, such as strawberries with balsamic vinegar, not to mention delicious on any tomato based sauces. The Italian herb as I like to call it.

Rosemary
Rosemary and roast chicken is just like peaches and cream. This bruiser of a herb adds loads of flavor to chicken and meats, wonderful for sauces. Sprinkle on Focaccia and stuffings. Rosemary also works well with fish, even chocolate.

Dill
This really delicate herb looks like fennel but it’s the complete opposite, it is, in fact, a member of the celery family.  This herb has strong notes of anise, fennel, and even celery. Scandinavia and Eastern Europe is where you will find this herb in a lot of their recipes, you would only use the leaves and discard the thick stem. Great in soups grilled and boiled fish, gravlax, potatoes and vinegar. In the USA, pickled cucumbers and gherkins are flavored with dill.

Mint
Whenever I see mint it reminds me of the little sprigs on a dessert plate or my Sunday roast lunches. Lamb and Mint sauce, even the extremely well known Mojito cocktail. Also has lots of health benefits, great for digestion, nausea, and headaches. This herb is a great addition to light summer soups work well with pea, courgette, asparagus and other green vegetables. Try it sprinkled over sugared strawberries or add it to smoothie drinks.

Coriander
For me, coriander, cilantro or Chinese parsley is one of the most versatile herbs that you will find in the kitchen. Love it or hate it, this herb can be found in Mexican, Indian, Moroccan and Asia in their kitchens. Coriander has a lemon; sage aromatic flavor. Coriander leaves are generally added at the end of your cooking. Try using coriander in Fajitas, Salsas, and Curries even in stir fries. It works equally well with Chicken, Beef and Fish.

Thyme
Used in a plethora of recipes a robust herb that can stand long cooking time. Used in stews, stuffing’s, marinades, pork, lamb, fish and game. I tend to use the common thyme and whenever available some Lemon thyme for desserts, just for a bit of a zing.  Fresh Thyme also has wonderful properties within the medicinal circles. Apparently, you can extract the oil from the leaves and use it as a cough medicine, amongst other uses.

Oregano
Oregano is another herb that I will constantly have in my kitchen. Generally found in the mountains of Italy and from what I gather also in the Greek mountains; which is why it’s found in a lot of Greek recipes. Italians tend to use this herb tomato sauces as well as vinaigrettes, sauces game and seafood dishes. It has a kind of woody aroma. It also has quite a lot of medicinal properties.

The list is endless when it comes to fresh herbs. Chives, Tarragon, Marjoram are several more that you would see in my kitchen. Hopefully, this little guide will help you.

Marco Morana

Chef Marco a chef with over 30 years of experience, with outstanding technical knowledge and a proven track record, ​has worked in Rosetted as well as Michelin star restaurants both in Europe and in the USA. He has attended cookery school at the Roux Brother's, Raymond Blanc and Betty of Harrowgate. One of his key achievements, includes success in building the reputation and maximizing clientele of critically acclaimed "one of the best tapas restaurants in the UK". He has the "Midas touch" with turning around restaurants, with a passion and drive for cooking. Some of his other achievements include, being a long standing food stylist for Michelin star Spanish restaurant, Reeds. He has also been featured on Radio Scotland and some of UK's Food Channels.

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