Archive for December, 2011

Add flavor and flair with herbes de Provence

I love herbs. Fresh or dried, they are an instant way to boost flavor without adding fat or salt. Their varieties and flavors baffle the mind, and they can perk up dishes ranging from the simplest eggs to the finest steak to ice cream and hundreds of foods in between.

One of my favorite herb combinations is one I only recently discovered. It was love at first taste, and now I use it on everything from seafood to spaghetti: herbes de Provence, named after the southern region in France.

These herbs, sometimes labeled “herbs from Provence,” are dried and can be found bagged or bottled with others in supermarkets or even stores like Target. Herbes de Provence are a blend of herbs, but like so many other creations in cooking, the combination creates a culinary synergy that’s magic in your mouth.

Herbes de Provence generally are a mix of dried thyme, basil, marjoram, savory and fennel. Some blends contain additional herbs such as lavender, rosemary and parsley. Bottles cost anywhere from a few dollars for a house brand like Target’s Archer Farms (it’s quite good) to nearly $20 for “gourmet” versions found at specialty retailers and online.

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Recipe: Homemade cheese biscuits

It’s true: Some foods have a near-global appeal. No matter where you’re from or what your food preferences are, they speak the universal language of delicious.

Oftentimes these culinary all-stars are rather simple, and shine not just because they taste good, but because they have other inherently likable characteristics as well, such as an agreeable texture and ease of handling. One such food that immediately comes to my mind is the biscuit.

These simple, puffy clouds of carbohydrate goodness have a seemingly magical quality about them. Through the centuries they have been found everywhere from the sacks of traveling peasants to gilded baskets atop linen tablecloths.

They can be savory or sweet, and only get better when teamed with condiments such as butter, honey or gravy. Biscuits are also special in that they can be had for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack; eaten as a side; or, when cut in half, used for a sandwich.

When I told a colleague that I’d be making some, he asked if I use Bisquick. My eyes immediately shot daggers.

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