by Mary Ann Perry
Thyme is a key ingredient in cooking that originated from the south of France in the region called Provence. Use thyme to make Herbs de Provence, Fines Herbes, and Bouquet garni. There are very complex combinations, but here is a simple way to start out cooking in the French tradition. Try various combinations until you find the one that appeals to you. Here's how you do it.
Herbes de Provence
Herbes de Provence is a blend of dried herbs and always includes thyme. Take fresh herb sprigs that are about 3 - 4 inches long. Use a wooden dowel or a wooden spoon. Create small bunches of each of the herbs and tie them by the stems to the wood and layer bunches up the length of the dowel or spoon. Hang the spoon or dowel in your kitchen for 5 - 7 days until the herbs are thoroughly dry. Once they are dried strip the leaves off leaving the woody portion to discard. Take the dried leaves and crumble them but not as fine as a powder. Combine the herbs into a muslin bag or tea bag in equal portions. Use bags to flavor soups or stews or sprinkle the mixture directly on roasts or chicken. This combination is also nice to season vegetables.
Some of the main ingredients you can use for Herbes de Provence are:
- Bay Leaves
- Winter Savory
You can add smaller portions of such herbs as:
- Fennel Seeds
- Lavender Leaves
- Orange or Lemon Zest
Purchase this unique Herbs de Provence mixture of lavender, fennel, sage, oregano and basil, which brings good luck, joy and long life when you devotedly roast savory meats and vegetables. Your family will laud your domestic virtues.
This is a mild herb blend. Mix equal parts of fresh chives, parsley and chervil. Add up to three other herbs such as thyme, tarragon, marjoram, or savory. Use them immediately. If you use the fresh herbs use them later in the cooking. If you use dried use them earlier in the cooking. Don't use dried chervil, as it loses flavor when dried.
Tie the stems of fresh herbs together and place them in the pot with whatever you are cooking and then remove them prior to serving. Parsley, thyme, rosemary, sage, winter savory and bay leaf are nice herbs to use for this purpose.