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cooking with herbs

woman in greenhouse with trays of herb plants

I have had a culinary infatuation with herbs from the very first day spent as a little girl helping my gramma harvest the aromatic plants from her garden…so much, that the first business I opened as a 22 year old was “Laurel’s Country Herbs”…growing and drying a plethora of varieties to season any dish you may be creating…this passion has not waned as I continue to market my herbal blends, and teach classes on how to use them

with the weather warming, a walk through my garden already has the aromas wafting from clumps of chives, oregano, sage, and thyme…these hearty perennials are waiting for their more tender cousins to arrive to the party

growing your own herbs, whether in a garden bed or pots on a patio, will bring you daily joy and take your favorite dishes to a whole new level...summer cuisine is already full of fresh flavor, from the bounty of vegetables and fruit, grilled meats and poultry, to fresh caught fish…but it only gets better with the addition of edible flowers and herbs

the following recipes are from my most resent class at Plum’s Cooking Co, showing you ways to brighten up patio party classics using five of my favorite herbs...all of which are actually in the mint family!

Oregano: very aromatic, strong earthy flavors of hay and mint with a slight peppery finish

beef crostini with chimichurri

6 garlic cloves

¼ cup red onion, chopped

1 red chili pepper, minced

2 cups parsley, chopped

1/2 cup fresh oregano, chopped

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 tsp. lime zest

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 

3/4 cup olive oil

Salt & pepper to taste


in food processer, lightly chop the garlic, red onion, and chili…add herbs, pulsing until just chopped, not pureed!

transfer to bowl, fold in lime, vinegar, and olive oil

refrigerate, use within a week or freeze in cubes

makes approx. 1 cup, enough for 6 – 8 servings

to make crostini:

16 1/2-inch-thick diagonal slices baguette bread

olive oil

5 oz ricotta cheese 

16 very thin slices rare cooked prime rib, (approx. ½ lb)

cracked pepper

brush the bread slices with olive oil, place on a baking tray and bake at 350 degree F.  oven for 5 to 8 minutes, until just crispy, take out, allow to cool

spread ricotta on toasted baguette slices, fold roast beef slice and place on top to fit toast, sprinkle beef slices lightly with cracked pepper 

spoon 1 tablespoon of chimichurri on top

makes 16 appetizer size servings

notes: chimichurri is considered Argentine’s “steak sauce”, but it is great on eggs, potatoes, or tossed in a pasta salad

basil: fragrant sweet aroma with a slight peppery, licorice flavor that turns minty once dried

ribs with strawberry basil bbq sauce

1 yellow onion, diced

6 cloves garlic

2 cups strawberries, sliced (1 ½ lb)

1 poblano peppers, charred and chopped

1 cup chopped fresh basil

¼ cup ancho reyes liqueur

½ cup balsamic vinegar

¼ cup sherry vinegar

½ cup catsup

¼ cup worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoon molasses

½ cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon ancho pepper powder

salt & pepper to taste

½ cup strawberries, minced

1 small jalapeno, charred, deseeded, minced


sauté the onions and garlic until lightly browned, add strawberries, poblano and basil


mix ancho reyes, vinegar, catsup, worcestershire, olive oil, molasses, brown sugar, and ancho powder together


slowly add to the strawberry mixture, stirring while bringing to a boil…turn down heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until thick…puree with emersion blender…season with salt/pepper


fold in the ½ cup minced strawberries and jalapenos…it’s now ready to spoon over the ribs, I suggest serving with an extra cup on the side


***rub the rack of ribs with brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, and salt/pepper

grill at medium temperature (325 to 350 degrees) for one hour to get that nice smoky flavor

place ribs on aluminum foil, smother with sauce

bake 275 degrees for ½ to hour until tender***


notes: this sauce is fabulous on ribs, but don’t be afraid to have it on chicken, that is how I prepared it the first time I made it

rosemary plant in a purple pot with name tag
tray of potatoes skewered with sprigs of rosemary
rosemary skewered potatoes

rosemary: strong woodsy flavor with notes of pine, citrus, and pepper

rosemary skewered potatoes

1 lb baby new potatoes 

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon garlic, minced 

8 fresh rosemary sprigs 

Salt & pepper to taste


boil whole potatoes 15 minutes or until tender


with thin skewer, poke hole through the middle of each potato, push the rosemary sprig through the hole starting with the thick end


rub with olive oil, chopped rosemary, and garlic


place potatoes on baking sheet, cook 5-8 minutes on grill or 400 degree oven just to heat up and get crispy

serves 4

thyme: strong earthy, grassy flavor with light floral, clove-like notes

grilled thyme lemonade

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

Handful of fresh thyme

8 lemons

2 tablespoons sugar

2 lemons for garnish

4 cups cold water


combine 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, and thyme in a small saucepan over medium heat…boil for 5 minutes until sugar is dissolved…cool completely

cut lemons in half, sprinkle sugar on the cut-side into and place cut-side down on the preheated grill…cook until lemon has softened, and sugars have caramelized, about 5 minutes…remove from grill and let cool

squeeze each lemon, getting at least 1 cup of juice

cut 2 lemons into slices for garnish, grilled quickly just to get marks and slight caramelization

mix the lemon juice and thyme syrup in a pitcher…at the 4 cups of water, chill

fill glass with ice, fill with lemonade, garnish with lemon slice and small sprig of thyme

makes six 8 oz. servings.

sage:  strong, earthy aroma with a warm, slightly minty, musky taste

blueberry sage popsicle

¼ cup fresh sage leaves, minced¾ cup water

¾ cup sugar

½ tsp ginger

4 cups fresh blueberries or frozen blueberries

1 (15-oz) can full-fat coconut milk

1/8 tsp sea salt


combine sugar, water, ginger, and sage in a small saucepan over medium heat…boil for 5 minutes until sugar is dissolved and reduced by half…cool completely

place blueberries, coconut milk, sage syrup, and salt in a high-speed blender and blend until completely smooth, there may still be little flecks of the outside of the blueberries in the popsicle mixture, but this won’t affect the texture

pour the mixture into the popsicle mold, filling the holes almost all the way up…insert a popsicle stick into each of the holes and cover the mold with its cover

freeze popsicles for 8 hours, or until they have completely set up

Makes 4 ½ cups of liquid

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