Sunday, November 15, 2015
Add a fresh edge to your Thanksgiving dinner by using herbs straight from your own garden. Herbs can be harvested all the way through the entire winter in most years. Traditional vegetables used for flavoring the Thanksgiving feast are also harvestable at this time of year, like carrots, onions and celery.
Herbs are easy and care free to grow and almost all of them are perennials. That means you plant once and they come back year after year. For more details on growing your own herbs, see my blog here http://victorygardenonthegolfcourse.blogspot.com/2012/06/kitchen-herb-garden.html
Jazzing up the turkey flavor
You can easily make poultry seasoning for your turkey from herbs in your own garden. Poultry seasoning adds great flavor to, of course, chicken or turkey, but also veggies, fish, casseroles, pasta.
The first commercial poultry seasoning was invented by William G. Bell, a Boston cook, in 1867. His included sage, marjoram, rosemary, oregano, pepper and ginger.
I like to make my poultry seasoning with dried sage, parsley, thyme, rosemary, and marjoram. Some add nutmeg, pepper, ginger , onion powder and/or cloves.
Here is my poultry seasoning recipe:
3 Tbl sage
1 Tbl parsley
1 Tbl thyme
1 Tbl marjoram or oregano
1 Tbl rosemary
Insure all spices are crumbled into tiny pieces so they will disperse evenly in your favorite prepared dish. Combine in a pint jar, shake to mix well.
You can transfer the amount needed to a kitchen spice jar. Keep the rest in a cool, dark location.
For any spices, you want to keep them as fresh as possible. They lose their flavor over time and quicker if exposed to heat/light.
Herbal powered stuffing
For stuffing, you can gather fresh sage, onions, carrots and celery from the garden even in late November.
In a bowl, put 8 cups of dried bread cubes and soften with 1 cup of chicken broth (I love using organic “Better than Bouillon” for my stock). In a skillet, sauté 1 cup of chopped carrots, 1 cup chopped celery, 1/2 cup chopped onions with 1/2 cup of butter. After browned, add 2 teas fresh sage or poultry seasoning, 1/2 teas salt, 1/8 teas of pepper. Mix all together and stuff the turkey.
Potager turkey gravy
To make 2 cups of gravy, cook in a sauce pan, 1/2 cup of fresh chopped carrots, 1/2 cup of fresh chopped celery, 1 cup of chopped onions, 3 cloves of peeled and mashed garlic until browned. Add 1 bay leaf, 3 cups of chicken stock, and giblets and neck from turkey. Simmer on low uncovered for an hour or so until reduced in about half. Strain out all solids and combine 1 cup of stock with 1/4 cup of cream and 1/4 cup of flour, whisk until smooth. Bring remaining stock to boil, add cream mixture, defatted turkey pan drippings if desired, simmer until thickened.
Herbed potato options
There are a few options for snazzing up your mashed potatoes. For 5 pounds of potatoes, you can add 5 cloves of roasted garlic, 1 cup of buttermilk and 8 ounces of cream cheese.
Or how about 5 pounds of small potatoes that are cooked until tender, then tossed with 1 cup of butter, 3/4 cup freshly, finely chopped parsley, marjoram, chives and/or thyme. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Herbal salad dressing
You can keep it simple and flavor a good white wine vinegar with your favorite herb like tarragon for the salad. Use a mild olive oil so that the flavor of the herb shines through. Herbal vinegars are easy to make, but you need to make ahead. Place the herbs in the vinegar and leave in a cool dark place for at least a week. You can strain out the herbs before using after infused.
Homemade version of Hidden Valley Ranch is easy to make. Just mix equal amounts of buttermilk, mayonnaise, and sour cream (half cup each). Then add parsley, dill, garlic, onion (half teas), salt (quarter teas), and pepper (eighth teas) to taste. If the mayonnaise is too overpowering, I substitute yogurt. Other home made dressings: Homemade salad dressing recipes with garden herbs
This is the perfect time for fresh spinach salads. Spinach and other greens are in season and loving this cool weather.
If you are making an herbal butter to serve, you would want more like 2 tablespoons of herbs to 1/2 cup of butter. Add the herb that complements the dish you are serving.
You can either serve in a dish, roll it into a log using plastic wrap, or form into a shape. If you use a form, simply press the butter firmly into the form, then place the form in a shallow dish of hot water. The butter should slide out easily after a little warming.