I like herbal vinegars because they are simple to prepare and can be used to flavor everything from marinades and salad dressings to French fries – and they make great gifts, too! When you’re trying to preserve the subtle flavors of herbs, you’ll find that some of the best vinegars to use are those made from wines. While white and cider vinegars will work, I’ve found they can be strong and sometimes overpower the delicate aroma. Whatever vinegar you use, make sure it has at least five percent acidity. and when it comes to the flavor, that’s entirely up to you. Any combination of herbs will work. This blend of garlic and basil is one of my favorites.
One of my favorite treats is this simple berry butter made with strawberries, blueberries and raspberries, powdered sugar and butter.
My Aunt Genny makes the best salsa from vegetables she grows in her garden. It’s a great for canning so it can be enjoyed even after the summer vegetable garden has faded.
To learn more about how to use a water bath safely visit the USDA’s website on the subject at canning guide.
An overheard conversation between two women about picking strawberries as children reminded me of this recipe for strawberry preserves. All you need are strawberries and sugar, a little lemon juice and an hour of your time.
Because there isn’t any pectin the preserves aren’t as stiff as jam; expect them to be more honey-like in consistency.
Chicken stock is the key ingredient in many of my favorite dishes and there’s no reason at all for buying it when it’s so easy to make and freeze. Whenever I roast a chicken I simply save the leftover bird to make stock.
Citrus curds are one of my favorite winter treats when lemons, oranges and limes are so abundant. A curd is yummy on toast or cake. I like to drop a dollop into a baked puff pastry shell and top with fresh whipped cream. This lime curd is especially good spread over a graham cracker.
When making curd the key is to cook it slow and never stop whisking. If it cooks too fast you will end up with bits of cooked egg. The easiest way to prevent this is to use a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler a heat-safe bowl placed over a pot of boiling water will work.
Spiced lemons are traditionally used for Moroccan dishes, but they are also tasty with other foods that benefit from a burst of lemon flavor like fish or poultry. It’s also a great gift for your favorite cook.
Chef Martha Phelps Stamps shares her recipe for watercress pesto. A flavorful twist on an old favorite.
Belle Meade Plantation is referred to as the “Queen of Tennessee.” Located in Nashville, Tennessee it was known in the past for its horses. Today it is a wonderful place to visit, especially the restaurant Martha’s at the Plantation. Chef and owner Martha Stamps Meade shared a recipe for watercress pesto that is easy to prepare and extraordinarily flavorful. To try more of Martha’s recipes pick up a copy of Martha’s at the Plantation, Seasonal Recipes from Belle Meade.