Delayed post this week. Sometimes wedding anniversaries, our 25th, get in the way of deadlines and I suppose that’s a good thing. We had an excellent weekend at the Sooke Harbour House (Vancouver Island, west of Victoria), and because of the lovingly tended gardens and exquisite cuisine, mostly local, I was re-inspired about herbs. Kayaking on the boundaries of the Straits of Juan de Fuca was another kind of inspiration, tidal ripped, windy, wild, exhilarating and beautiful, like marriage can be.
I use herbs, have plenty right out the back door and tend to take them for granted. I don’t use them often enough – as in every single meal, which isn’t so far fetched – or in great quantities. Chefs like Jerry Traunfeld are known for creating entire meals around them which was also the story at Sooke Harbour House. Once I got back home I tried something simple. Sooke Harbour’s basic herbed vinaigrette is astonishingly good as we discovered in our boxed picnic lunch. I make salad dressing all the time, but don’t pack it with herbs as I did this time. About growing herbs: Diggin’ the Herb Garden
Use recipes below as a guide and then take it from there. I made chive oil too, for its color, flavor and versatility, a gorgeous addition to any plate. And there’s a bonus. We think about herbs as flavor, but they’re also healthy greens. We shouldn’t be dainty with them. Put down the pinky finger and eat them heartily, by the handful in salads and these dressings. The thing that we loved about that vinaigrette on the beach – well, yes, the beach – was that it tasted so green and verdant. These recipes use plenty of fresh herbs and I could have used more. With that in mind, add a cup or two to any green salad, in addition to spiking the dressing with them.
Herb Vinaigrette Recipe
Make this in the blender or chop herbs very finely before adding to other ingredients.
Ingredients for 1 cup of salad dressing: 1/4 C white wine vinegar or 3 T lemon juice/1 t Dijon mustard/ 1 cup or more finely chopped fresh herbs, a combination of 2 or 3 of the following: chives, oregano, marjoram, sage, sorrel, tarragon. I used approximately equal parts of oregano, marjoram and chives, a small amount of sorrel/ 2/3 C olive oil.
Directions: Combine all ingredients in a bowl, a bottle or a blender. The blender partly pulverizes herbs, intensifying flavor. Gradually add olive oil while whisking, or if made in a bottle shake the contents vigorously after adding the oil. Taste, make adjustments as needed. Salt & pepper to taste, or not at all.
Chive Oil Recipe
Ingredients: 1/2 C olive oil, 1/2 – 1 C finely chopped chives. Use more chives for intensified flavor.
Directions: Combine ingredients in blender and mix to blend/ Let sit for 30 minutes to infuse additional flavor/ Strain chives and oil through fine sieve/ Press chives to extract every bit of oil and flavor. Many blenders handle larger quantities more efficiently than small quantities, so you could double this recipe and end up with about a cup.
Add a few drops to any steamed vegetable, like asparagus, to scrambled eggs, or garnish a plate with a few drops for additional flavor and eye appeal.
Speaking of beauty. If I could sleep on a bed of lilacs, dance with them, marry them, I would. Luscious, fragrant blossoms, impossibly dainty clusters of lavender, pink and purple. They were our wedding flowers, big branches of them, transported to the sailboat on our May wedding day. It was 88 degrees out, lilacs wilted, but all’s well that ends well.