New Book: Homegrown Herb Garden

IMG_5811Homegrown Herb Garden: A Guide to Growing and Culinary Uses serves a dual purpose: the book is an introduction to 15 culinary herbs for gardening novices and is an inspiring cookbook for experienced gardeners to incorporate herbs into meals, desserts, and drinks.

Ann McCormick, an herb expert and long-time Texan gardener, relays her experience with growing basil, bay laurel, chervil, cilantro, dill, French tarragon, Italian parsley, lemongrass, mint, onion chives, rosemary, sage, sweet marjoram, thyme, and winter savory. For each herb, she describes common varieties, care and feeding, harvesting, and tips on growing the plants in small spaces. To use basil as an example, Ann recommends ‘Spicy Globe’ for an “extra flavor kick,” Thai basil for Asian foods, and ‘Purple Ruffles’ or ‘Red Rubin’ for vinegars. For planting in smaller pots, small-leaf varieties such as ‘Windowbox’ or ‘Italian Cameo’ work well.

A graduate from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Los Angeles, Chef Lisa Baker Morgan describes the culinary uses for each of the 15 herbs. She prefaces the recipes with combinations and cooking techniques but these are not just traditional combinations one would see in an herb book. Chef Morgan describes how the herb pairs with vegetables, meats, seafood, fruits, dairy products, oils, sauces, and other herbs. For example, basil is “wonderful with hydrating fruits such as raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and melons …” and “balance the sweetness of grilled or pan-fried fruit with a simple syrup.” Several recipes are listed for each herb from a wide variety of cuisines. Instead of the usual pesto, basil is used in “kobocha and coconut soup with Thai basil leaves” or “zucchini and basil soufflé.”  It is a joy to see how the herbs can be used in novel ways and with different cuisines.

Ann and Chef Morgan have done a wonderful job of pairing herbs in the garden with dishes in the kitchen. Published by Quarry Books, Homegrown Herb Garden: A Guide to Growing and Culinary Uses is designed to inspire people to grow culinary herbs and try new recipes. To learn more about the authors, visit their own websites: Ann blogs at http://www.herbncowgirl.com and Chef Morgan writes at http://www.chefmorgan.com.

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