Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Cooking with herbs

I love to cook with fresh herbs, and I have herbs in abundance in my garden of our summer home. Inspired by my visit to Mesopotamia, I decided to prepare lamb chops with mint, one of many herbs in my garden. I have no experience using mint in savory dished, but mint sauce is a classic company to roasted lamb, so I did not think I was completely wrong.

My herb garden

What do I have in my garden? This satureja montana or winter savoury was planted last year and is in the process of waking up. I hope it will grow and be ready to be harvested during the summer.

By its side there are an equally fragile herb, lavender. Lavender is easy to grow along the Norwegian coast - but I have, funny enough, had problems to get Lavenders to survive through the winter.

Dill is delicious in a good fish soup and other fish and, shellfish or crustacean.

Cat mint
and pepper mint are delicious in sweet and in savoury dishes and in a refreshing mojito.

Lemon balm
is equally good in desserts, cakes and to fish.

is the perfect herb in Italian dishes, and this herbs is growing wild everywhere to be harvested through the hot Norwegian summer

Ruccola is actually related to the dandelion. It is actually used more as a salad leaf, but the ruccola growing in my garden is so spicy that it is better to use as a herb.

Tarragon is a must in a Bearnaise sauce.

Thyme goes in casseroles, in soups and the variety Lemon thyme is great to fish and shellfish.

Horseradish is great with apples and cream fraiche served to smoked salmon.

If you are out of celery, you can just pick a few leaves of lovage. Great in soups and stews, and very hardy and it will endure heat and drought.

Parsley - used in herb butter with garlic.

And chives, great in scrambled eggs or cold potato salad.

So these are 15 herbs growing in my garden, and I often use a collection as I prepare food, as I did Saturday when I prepared my lamb chops.

Lamb chops with herbs and garlic

Lovage and mint are pungent herbs. I used my mezzaluna and cut the herbs finely, then crushing two cloves of garlic and mixed them all together.

Then I added salt, and olive oil and worked the ingredients into a paste. I allowed the herbs. garlic and salt to infuse.

I had 8 lamb chops, placed them in an oven tray and brushed the paste on top of the chops.

Doesn't it look great. Fresh herbs on pink meat. I sealed them in a hot pan, before I placed them back in a hot oven for just 5-10 minutes. Do not overcook lamb.

I served dauphinois potatoes, baked tomatoes and asparagus. Serve a rich Spanish red wine to this food.


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