Thursday, August 19, 2010

Desperately Seeking Help with Herbs!

Every year I plant herbs with the intention of using them. I always think that I'll try them in different recipes, but who am I kidding, I'm not much of a cook. I started to feel kind of guilty that I was mostly using them as a background to various vintage finds.

The guilt finally got to be too much for me and I started cutting and picking the herbs to make some refreshing sun tea and pesto.

I read that I should use about 1/4 c. fresh herbs per cup of water. I washed and salad spinned lemon thyme and pineapple mint and then left it in the sun for hours.

After, I chilled both jars in the refrigerator and strained the herbs. I first tried the pineapple mint tea and pretended that I liked it. Drew sipped it and without trying to spare my feelings said, "It's not for me."

Next up, Lemon Thyme Tea. Much better than the pineapple mint, but it was still nothing special. They both tasted a little bit too earthy. Not like dirt, but maybe like drinking twig water. I don't know if honey or a simple syrup would make it any better. Should I have not let the herbs bathe in the water overnight and do you think a green tea bag might help things? Maybe the pineapple mint should be used in a mojito because doesn't rum make everything better?

Oh, and I made the pesto and it was also below average. I used a simple recipe with basil leaves, olive oil, parmesan, garlic, and walnuts.

It turned out to be a little too dry and garlicky and it kind of looked like poop. I guess next time I'd just add a little bit more olive oil and one less clove of garlic, but I don't think that's the problem.

What do you all do with your herbs? Do you have any good herbal sun tea recipes and what's your secret to a fabulous pesto?


Anonymous said...

Well, for starters, I think that pesto with only basil is toooooo strong. I always use part basil, parsley and dill together with the other ingredients. As for the tea, I think you should have just poured boiling water in a cup with a couple of mint leaves. Love ya, Mom

Anonymous said...

Some good ideas:

Anonymous said...

Not sure if this is actually your ingredients in this photo, but the basil/other stuff ratio looks way too low.
You need much more basil.
I usually start with whatever amount basil I have (needs to be dried after washing) and add just enough olive oil to make a paste.
(Another important factor is not to mix it too long in the machine, so it doesn't warm up at all). Then after looking at what amount I got and how much nuts/garlic/cheese I wanna add, I scrape the paste out of the mixer and blend the nuts garlic and cheese with a little extra oil by themselves.
I don't think you can add too much parmesan. Or pine nuts.
But walnuts have a bitterness in the peel ( I guess you could blanch and peel them to make it an even longer project) and you don't want the garlic to be over-powering.
It adds to the flavor if you roast the nuts first in a skillet, but then again you have to let them cool completely before chopping them up.
Then in the end I mix it all with the basil paste.
Refrigerating it over night before using it improves the taste dramatically.
I always find it smells like lawn-mower clippings right after mixing it. But then over night some magic happens and it turns into 'delish'!