Then the winter set in and my herbs were freezing so I brought them in..I don't have a sunroom or a really sunny ledge so had to place them in the side tables in the living room next to the window...The next day there was dirt and a worm crawling out ..eeek.. squeamish me, banished them to the cold, apologizing and promising to revive them in the summer.
Then a month back, Matt of Daregal Gourmet offered to send me samples of a new product they were marketing...frozen herbs. The idea was so quirky that I had to try it out.
Usually during my supermarket stroll, something new finds it way into my cart..some end up in the cabinet, only to be thrown out, still unused after months, some become the new staple. But this one was interesting as they claimed that the herbs are cut at their peak, chopped, and quickly frozen.
They arrived packed in a box so huge that I forgot all about the go -ahead I had given to the herb people and opened it quickly...much too quickly to read the "Danger-Dry Ice- Do not touch with bare hands"...argh!!
Eight containers of herbs ..was a pleasant surprise. I had expected just one or two...Oregano, Cilantro, Parsley, Original Blend, Dill, Italian Blend, Basil, Grilling blend... each box had a particular herb or herb blend, chopped fine. On opening, they looked a funny shade of green, like someone had gathered the grass with the frost off my front lawn. But they smelled good, just like the herbs, so I hesitatingly tried them in some of my cooking. It took me a week before I gathered the courage to use it. All you do is keep them frozen until you're ready to use a particular herb, give the container a quick shake to loosen, and shake out on any dish you are making.
I used the herbs to season and marinate chicken for grilling. The chicken marinated in a blend of the oregano along with lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika came out very nice and the leftovers can be used for other chicken stirfries or wraps.
The grilling blend works very well with fish to get a good combination of herbs in a hurry. I grill salmon and flounder often for the kids and the light parsley-butter-garlic-pepper is what they prefer so this is easy to use for that.
The Italian blend, Parsley and Basil, I used in pastas and pasta sauce and tasted good.
The Dill was particularly good in soups as shown below.
In general, the herbs work well in cooking uses and it smells really nice. They dissolve very fast but I didn't like the wet feel and taste when used directly on salads as garnish. The cilantro was the weakest herb as cilantro by itself is so delicate that I feel freezing damages its crisp taste. So, for our curries garnish, I still prefer the fresh cilantro.
They are expensive but not too much.. almost the same as the dried herbs. Compared to the amount I buy and have to discard, it's cheaper in the long run. If you do a lot of non-Indian cooking, grilling etc, then these herbs are a handy tool to have. You don't have to buy a lot for the tiny bit that you need for each dish and throw the rest away. They fit well in the freezer door too, so storing space is not a problem. All in all, I feel these frozen herbs are an improvement over the dried ones, though I do have to use them more to conclude fully.
All American Chicken Soup
This is a light soup that really is a kid favorite...they like the soup from restaurants and cans(disgusting over salty things!!urgh!!)so this is one soup that I resist adding my touch and make it as it is. You probably see this recipe everywhere in books and shows. The ingredients when bought are too much in quantity, so sometimes I chop it up and store it in the freezer in soup combination.
You Will Need:for 4 servings
Chicken pieces with bones-1 pound
Onion-1 1/2 medium sized ones cut into 1/6ths.
Carrots-3 long ones, peeled and cut into big chunks
Celery- 2-3 stalks ends trimmed and cut into 1" lengths.
Water-4 cups water
Dill- 1 tsp
Whole Peppercorns-1/2 tsp
Salt- 1/4 tsp or as per taste.
Remove any fat from the chicken and wash it well. It's better to keep it as big pieces for ease of removing the bones later.
Put the chicken and all the ingredients except for salt in a large heavy stock pot( open pressure cooker will do) and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 30-40 minutes. If there is any impurities, skimming the broth will remove it. Add salt as per taste and adjust the seasoning with fresh parsley, dill and/or black pepper. Remove the chicken meat from the bones and return to the soup. Serve hot with a spot of butter or cream.
The parsnip and celery together add a sweetness to the soup that didn't appeal to me much, but the kids loved it, so try it either way and modify accordingly.
If you are making a large quantity, there will be fat in it. Skim off the fat by refrigerating the soup and removing the solidified fat.
You could add any kind of noodles (boiled separately) to this soup, but the ones that go best are the egg noodles. We like the wide twisted noodles.
- Add scallions chopped up with ginger for a different twist.
- Add 1/2 tsp paprika for a slight spice kick
- Shorba style: Omit the dill and parsnip. Add 1/2 tsp garam masala before cooking. Remove the chicken. debone and reserve. Smash up the rest of the veggies and pass the soup thru a strainer to get a semi- clear liquid. Do a seasoning of a pinch of cumin seeds and 1/2 chopped onion to the stock and add the reserved chicken. Add more pepper and indianized soup ready.