Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Profiling of a Killer...Salad. Herb Alchemy 101 (4 Salads from One basic Recipe)

I was blessed to be a guest on the The Morning Scramble AZTV7 with the legendary PAT McMAHON and LISA SCHNEIDER-CIPRIANO.  It was one of the most pleasant experiences ever!  They were just simply adorable down there at the studio and warmly welcoming.  I always appreciate that!  It was such a treat! Oh mercy. I just said, "treat"...like my granny. It was such an awesome dude-fest rockin'-down party event. There. Phew. I can't use granny words yet. Oopsie Daisy.  {Crap. Just did it again. Granny word.} Ya know what? Who cares if I use a granny word? I don't.  

Okay. Photo opp:
Aaaaaa-freakin'-dorable. See?!

 On the show we talked about a few recipes and flavor profiles and I wanted to share them here on the blog.  Oh I also wanted to just kiss Pat...but I think he would have taken it wrong. Such a cool guy!  Lisa shared some really great stories about her culinary genius kiddos. She. Has. Triplets. I have no excuse for having a fat butt.  

Okay. Now...as for the recipes.  These are the ones I share in my herb and spice class, but in the class you will get a freakish ton more of information...and you'll get to taste the salads I make. So you should still come to classes darlings.  I do however realize that there are some of you who live waaaaay out of town and I have not forgotten any of you. 

Herb Alchemy 101 Cooking Without a Recipe

How many just read the words "herbs and spices without a recipe" and panic set in? I can hear you saying, "I don't cook like that! I need a recipe.” If that is you, then this post is for you. I want you to try to let go of your cooking inhibitions and think with your heart. If my 11 year old can do this, you most definitely can do it! I believe in you!

So to begin with a basic explanation, herbs are the aromatic leaves, flowers, and stems of plants and spices are seeds and the bark of aromatic edible plants. Fresh or dry herbs and spices will work in cooking applications, but make sure you smell inside the jar. If it smells like the spice or herb, then the stuff inside is still full of flavor. Most spices will need to be in ground or grated form for cooking or baking. If you don't have a spice mill (not many people do), then just buy them pre-ground. 

Below is the basic outline of some flavors that work together well. Follow the steps and you will find success.   

Step 1: Begin with the pasta salad base.

Chef Tess’ Pasta Salad 101
Basic Pasta Salad
1 lb. pasta of your choice, cooked al dente and seasoned well with salt and pepper
1 cup chopped bell pepper
1 cup carrots, shredded or chopped
1 stalk celery, sliced thin
½ medium red onion, sliced thin or chopped fine

Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl. 

Step 2: Make one batch of basic vinaigrette.

Basic Vinaigrette for Pennies a Jar! (FAT free available)
¾ cup olive or vegetable oil (flavored oils are great)
¼ cup red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1 tsp. fresh pressed garlic
Herbs and spices (see below for variations)
Salt and pepper
Directions: Whisk oil and vinegar with other ingredients in a bowl. Start with a half teaspoon at a time of the herb or spice you want to add and then sample. Adjust flavors according to your taste. For one batch of salad, you will need one batch of salad dressing. Want a fat free salad dressing? You can make this dressing almost completely free of fat if you have ultra gel and juice or broth! Use ¾ cup vegetable broth or juice in place of the oil. In a cold sauce pan, combine the broth or juice with 2 tablespoons of ultra gel. Add the liquid slowly and whisk well. Next add the vinegar and remaining herbs and spices, adjusting the same as above when tasting. Use the dressing immediately and keep refrigerated. If the dressing gets too thick, simply add a little more liquid to thin it out.

Step 3: Add flavor profile to dressing & mix salad. 

Dressing Variations These herb and spice suggestions are to be used in the basic vinaigrette recipe to customize the recipe to fit your need. Add the flavor combinations directly to the basic pasta salad recipe. Come up with your own and try mixing and matching fresh veggies as they are in season. You can even add seasonal fruit you like. For hearty dinners, add some roasted chicken or beef. Try marinating your meat in the vinaigrette to save a lot of money instead of buying those fancy bottles of pre-made stuff. You can do this! It can be very liberating, but for you folks who just want a grab and go dressing fix, just use the pre-made spice blends.
These are lists of flavors that work together for the cuisine you want to create they are not a complete list. They are intended to get you started. 
Herbs: Basil, rosemary, thyme, flat leaf parsley, marjoram
Spices: Fennel, caraway, crushed red pepper, celery seed
Flavoring: Hard cheeses like parmesan, asiago, olives, roasted peppers, citrus zest, capers

Herbs: Dill, oregano, rosemary, mint, parsley,
Spices: Fennel, anise, black pepper, dill seed
Flavoring: Feta cheese, olives, pickled peppers

Herbs: Cilantro, oregano, thyme
Spice: Cumin, coriander, chile pods, black pepper, allspice
Flavoring: Lime zest, roasted corn, green onions, radish, black olives

Herbs: Cilantro, mint, lemon grass, sesame oil (use 2 tsp. in place of some of the oil)
Spices: Cumin, chile paste, curry paste, fennel, ginger
Flavoring: Lime zest, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, citrus zest, peanuts or cashews

 ©Chef Stephanie Petersen. 2011. All rights reserved. Copies NOT permitted without written consent from the author even for personal or church use! Chef Stephanie Petersen can be contacted at Stephanie@cheftessbakeresse.com and is Chef Tess on Facebook and Twitter. www.cheftessbakeresse.com 

There you go darlings. Begin learning some flavor profiles. I'll be posting more in the future! I promise.

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Here are the blends that started it all!

Here are the blends that started it all! 
The highest quality. The best flavors. A blessing to our family when you buy them here. Thank you so much.

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