One of the thrills of spring is watching perennials popping back to life, rewarding us with beautiful foliage and flowers.
My perennial herbs have emerged with gusto, no doubt thanks to the mild winter we have experienced. I already am snipping and using them. Some of my favorites are rosemary, tarragon, sage, parsley, thyme and chives. Plant these once and you will have fresh herbs for many seasons.
If you have not planted herbs before, I encourage you to put a few in your garden this year. If you do not have adequate garden space, remember that herbs do quite nicely in large pots. Not only will you be rewarded with flavor for your dishes, it will make an attractive and fragrant planter for your deck or patio.
On Saturday, I am having an event at Cooking at Bonnie’s Place and invite you to stop by. At 10 a.m., I will be conducting a complimentary demo of Mediterranean Layered Dip from my cookbook “Cooking With Bonnie: Farm to France.” The book uses herbs and spices frequently in recipes and even has sidebars of information and tips on seasoning food.
I will be autographing books from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. There is no fee for the demonstration, but if you plan to attend, please give me a call so I can plan accordingly.
I look forward to meeting you and answering any questions you might have. There are other activities planned at Cambridge Market: The annual geranium sale will run that morning, as well as a shred-it event. Come on out and join us.
Let’s take a look at your questions regarding cooking with herbs and spices:
Q: Is it possible to substitute fresh herbs if a recipes calls for dried ones? If so, how do I know how much to use?
A. Cooks may substitute fresh herbs in place of dried ones in recipes. If the recipe calls for dried herbs, you would double the amount of fresh herbs. However, if the recipe calls for fresh herbs and you are substituting dried ones, only use one-half the amount. Dried herbs have moisture removed and are more intense in flavor.
Q. If using fresh herbs, I have read to add them only at the end of a recipe. Why is that?
A. Fresh herbs that are soft in texture contain a large amount of moisture, and the flavor is not as stable as in the dried version. Adding the herb to the dish at the last minute captures all the flavor of the herb. Prolonged simmering will cause flavor to dissipate.
Q. How long will spices last? When should they be replaced?
A. Dried herbs and spices that are kept tightly sealed, dry and in a cool place should last at least a year and perhaps longer. Once herbs and spices have lost their aroma, they will also have lost much of their taste; it is time to replace them.