Time to make HERBS the  Hero in your Cooking

Time to make HERBS the Hero in your Cooking

Its time to make room for Fresh Herbs in your Kitchen, no longer a garnish!

During a recent Herb webinar, I explored  the wonders of fresh herbs. To be honest I wanted to do some research about the herbs I use most in my kitchen.  What I have always thought and now KNOW is that herbs are the  HERO  in my cooking.   Along with spices, your food can take on a whole new level of wonderful!

Spice or Herb, what’s the difference?

YES, there is a difference between herbs and spices.  Herbs are the fresh leaves of the plant and spices are created from the root, bark and seeds of the plant.  In cooking it does make a difference which and how to use.  For long slow cooks, spices are used to build in the flavour profile you want create.  Then at the end or near the end, the fresh herbs are added to freshen the dish and add colour.

And herbs are more then just adding flavour or colour to your cooking.  They are outstanding HEROS in their own Leafy Goodness!  Here is what I mean… there are more reasons, these are just my top 3.

Here are 3 reasons why I think  fresh herbs are HEROS:  
  1. Immunity most are loaded with Vitamin C
  2. Heart Health and Cardo Health due to all the antioxidants 
  3. Support Bone Health due primarily to the high levels of Vitamin K 

    Very powerful, right?

I think so too.  Why not explore some fun ways to add more herbs to your daily diet.  And NO, not as a garnish.  Herbs are heroes and along with spices really help bring out the best in all meals.  Ideas!!  As I was sharing this information I added ways to increase YOUR use of fresh herbs.  Great ideas to add more zing to your day could include….  

Fresh Herbs as Tea, simply steep fresh leaves in hot water for 5-8 minutes.  The amount of leaves and water will vary based on how much tea you are making.  Here is my rule of thumb – 8-10 leaves or 1 stalk or 1/3 cup of herbs to 1 250 ml cup of hot water.

Fresh Herb Presto/sauces – I like basil pesto and I like parsley pesto.  Simple and a great use of herbs.

Fresh Herbs in Salads – many of the herbs we use can easily be added to salads.  There is no rule that salad can’t contain wonderful herbs.

Fresh Herbs in Salad dressings and Marinades’ – wonderful way to added a burst of freshness to meals.  Simply choose the right herb, chop and add to the base of a home made salad dressing or a marinade.  Really added a layer of pure fresh.

And what about SPICES.

I have  included 3 simple SPICE BLEDNS you can use in your cooking anytime – Chile blend, a warm porridge blend and baking dessert blend.  Creating your own spice blends help you explore the magic of what spices to add to your cooking and also you control the end result in terms of flavour you want.

1.  Chili spice.  You can use this in your next batch of chili or use it as a dry rub for chicken, beef or pork.  Wonderful balance.
combine the following

1  tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
Salt and Pepper to your liking NOT more then 1/4 tsp of salt

2.  Warm Porridge Spice Blend.  I love using this blend for may hot porridge  instead of adding sweeteners.  Combine the following:

1/4 tsp ground cardaum
1/4 tsp ground fennel
1 tsp ground cinnamon

3.  Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend – No there isn’t any pumpkin in this blend.  Its used to make the wonderful  pumpkin pie or more recently spiced coffee drinks.  Combine the following:

3 tsp  ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground all spice
1 tsp ground cloves

Adding Lemony flavor and hint of Red means Sumac

Cooking with Spice.  I love cooking with spices and fresh herbs the aroma puts me in such a good mood.  Both spices and herbs help create food  traditions or helps the cook, like me, change a dish. While still using the same basic ingredients, you can move from one cuisine to a different one simply by changing the a key spice.  For example have you notice how if you use ginger, turmeric, coriander seeds, chili, cardamom  and cumin you start to think of India, now add chicken and you have a base for a chicken curry.  Now replace some of those spices with Sumac, and you have created a Lebanese or Turkish chicken dish.   Oh you didn’t know you could cook with Sumac.  Its s a wonderful plant seed and it imparts a tangy lemony flavor along with a red tint that makes lamb, chicken, fish and vegetables so tasty.

My first exposure to this wonderful spice was with Ian Hemphill of Herbie’s Spice.  I was taking a spice blending course and we made the best slow roasted tomatoes I  have ever had and the star spice was Sumac.    What a treat and I still make them to this day – 17 years later.

Yet this lovely spice is more then just flavor and color.  It also imparts  medicinal properties.  I was actually surprised and please to learn of all it adds for our health.  Sumac is the common name for Rhus plant  that contains over 250 individual species of flowering plants in the family Anacardiaceae. These plants are found in temperate and tropical regions worldwide, and have a long history of use by indigenous people for medicinal and other uses.

Recent studies done on some  varieties show that sumac has exceptionally high antioxidant properties, improved glycemic control, reduced cholesterol levels and better cardiovascular health!  Bonus attributes for this lovely seed!  Sumac berries may well turn out to be the next super food!

 Cooking with spice is about tradition, creating flavor, loving what you prepare, and maybe HEALTH also!  Dig a little deeper the next time you use a spice or herb and learn more about what you are cooking with.  To your good health!



A chef’s thoughts on Broth, Stock and Bone Broth

A chef’s thoughts on Broth, Stock and Bone Broth

Are you confused when it comes to what the difference is between broth,stock and bone broth?  I do get asked what the differences are all the time, so I though I would share a bit of information to help demystify the terms.  I hope you will find this information useful.  Tomorrow I will share some great reasons why you might want to start drinking bone broth for breakfast.

Broth – light weight
Broth is water simmered with vegetables, aromatics, and meat, and can include some bones. It is cooked for a short period of time, usually 45 minutes to 2 hours, then strained and seasoned. Broth usually stays fluid when chilled. I use broth to sauté meats and vegetables, adding a lot of flavor without a lot of extra calories or salt.

Broth the quick version of a bone and meat

Tasty meat broth with parsley in a white bowl closeup. horizontal view from above

Stock is water simmered with vegetables, aromatics, and animal bones, sometimes roasted, and sometimes with some meat still attached. It is cooked for 4 to 6 hours, and then strained. The purpose of stock is to extract the collagen from the connective tissues and bones. This collagen gives stock its gelatinous texture. Once chilled, a good stock will have a jiggle. Stock is not served on its own; rather, it’s used to deglaze a pan, or as a base for a rich sauce or gravy. When using for a rich sauce, like a jus, the stock most be reduced down further and is normally flavored with wine or port.

Example of reducing meat stock down to a thicker sauce to create Jus.

Stock reduced for Jus – Food Loving – Meats – Roasted Saddle Of Wild Boar With Potatoes And Blackberry Jus

Bone Broth
Bone broth is really a hybrid of broth and stock. When I make my bone broth, I will take the time to roast the bones as I would with stock. This gives the broth a deeper flavor. It is cooked for a long period of time, often more than 24 hours. The goal is to extract the gelatine and nutritious minerals from the bones. It is then strained and seasoned to be enjoyed on its own, like broth. Bone Broth typically is cooked with less water than a stock or broth and the resulting liquid is very nourishing.


Pho, a great use for long cooked bone broth

Pho, a great use for long cooked bone broth. Eating a bowl of Vietnamese beef pho with chopsticks and spicy sriracha sauce

Buffet lunch menu to suit a wide range of diets!

Buffet lunch menu to suit a wide range of diets!


I thought it might be fun to share how I build an awesome menu to suit ALL Diets.   My starting place for any EVENT is to create a sense of INCLUSION. My goal is to create a menu which suits most diets.  The second point is to envision how I want the guests to feel during and after eating their meal.  Ideally, I want them to feel nourished and light. Here is the menu I did recently for an event, you will see that its very Inclusive.  And my last point is  planning, which takes time but its worth it.   As you are planning, look at areas you can do advanced preparation – in the case of this menu, almost the entire menu could be created ahead.

creating quinoa salad with homemade preserved lemons, grilled zucchini, eggplant and red peppers.

creating quinoa salad with homemade preserved lemons, grilled zucchini, eggplant and red peppers.

Afternoon tea to tempt even the fussiest of eaters! Create and assortment of tasty items.

Afternoon tea to tempt even the fussiest of eaters! Create and assortment of tasty items.