Monday, 29 October 2012

Variations on a theme of herbes de provence


After a long dry summer the thespian has been brutally pruning back our rather large bushes giving me the chance to dry and preserve a wide range of herbs for culinary usage and herbal infusions. Now the rains have finally come and its time for the "great indoors." Autumnal jobs are us and its all down to me to get busy with this harvest of herbage that has been gathered.Having prepared the herbs for drying todays job found me in the larder - "dried fruit management." Its like cleaning out your filing cabinet but a lot more tasty and  a heck of a lot more satisfying.
As the name "Herbes de Provence" is generic, and not a Protected Geographical Status, there is no guarantee that Herbes de Provence in fact come from Provence; indeed, the vast majority of these blends come from central and eastern Europe, North Africa, and China.The denominação de origem controlada (or DOC) is the system of protected designation of origin for wines, cheeses, butters, and other agricultural products from Portugal.This does not "affect" ( had to consult grammar girl´s  take on effect versus affect, apparently her "quick and dirty tips help you do things better") us as we are lucky enough therefore to be able to make our own "Herbes de Provence" rather than paying for someone else to do it, but I will label my Herbes de Provence as ( DOC Casa Rosada) agr.biol. sem aditivos.
just for my own amusement.

Every experienced cook has a different recipe for "Herbes de Provence". I think mine is a good basic recipe to start with. Experiment with the proportions and find the balance of flavours that suits your palate best. All herbs should be fully dried and then coarsely crumbled.  
"Herbes de Provence"  are usually a mixture of dried thyme, marjoram, savory and various other herbs, but it's the dried lavender I think that gives this blend of summer herbs its unexpected magic.

Basic Herbes de Provence Recipe

Dried thyme (tomilho)
Dried oregano (oregao)
Dried summer savory  (segurelha)
Dried rosemary (alecrim)
Dried manjerico or basil (manjerico)
Dried bay leaf  (louro)
Dried lavender  lavando
    Variations on the theme

    Variation I

    1 part marjoram
    1 part basil
    2 parts thyme
    1 part summer savory
    1/2 part lavender
    1 part rosemary
    1/2 part fennel (cracked)
    1 part oregano
    Variation 2

    1 part thyme
    1 part summer savory
    1/2 part lavender
    1/4 part rosemary
    1/2 part oregano or basil
    1/4 part sage
    Variation 3

    2 parts thyme
    1 part basil
    1 part marjoram
    1 part tarragon
    1 part rosemary
    2 parts summer savory
    1 part fennel seeds (cracked)
    1 part lavender
    Variation 4

    Use equal amounts of each:
    savory
    rosemary
    thyme
    oregano
    basil
    marjoram
    fennel seed

    The method for each of these mixes is the same. Simply combine all the ingredients in a bowl and store in an airtight container.
    If you prefer, you may process the herbs to a finer ground in a coffee grinder or food processor.

    1 comment:

    1. I think lavender is the secret magic ingredient too! YES!!! Although there is always a slight element of surprise when I cook with it when it tastes more like rosemary than pot pourri!

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