Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Growing herbs, some experts' advice

Our herb garden has been churning along this spring, and the beauty of freshly chopped cilantro cannot be overstated. The flavor is incredible; the dried version is a poor, faded imitator, at best.

For folks not steeped in herb growing (and beyond some sage, rosemary and oregano, I wasn't either), the Old Farmer's Almanac has a list of herbs and how to get started.

Equally important: The nation's foremost and oldest gardening authority has passed along some recipes, as well. Among them:

Herb Olive Bread
Yield: 2 loaves
From The Notchland Inn, Harts Location, NH
2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons dry yeast
2 cups bread flour
1/3 cup chopped herbs
Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl. Let sponge rise until it has doubled in bulk, about 30 to 60 minutes.
3-1/2 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 to 3/4 cup green and Kalamata olives, drained well
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixer bowl, swirl the ingredients with a dough hook. Add sponge and mix 8 to 10 minutes on very low speed, or knead by hand.
Let dough rise again until it has doubled in bulk, punch it down, and turn out onto a counter or large cutting board.
Grease a cookie sheet. Shape dough into long baguettes the length of your cookie sheet, about 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Slash and let rise again, 15 to 30 minutes. Bake about 30 minutes.