Category Archives: Kitchen Know-How

How to Save an Over-spiced Dish

Spicy Korean Pork

Spicy Korean Pork

Even a causal reader of this blog knows I am not adverse to a bit spice in my cooking and I don’t often over spice, but occasionally for whatever reason – maybe I picked up the wrong container or using a new brand of chilli powder or spice blend – the dish can ended up a bit more fiery than planned and in those cases it is good to know how to ‘tone the dish down’.

This article 6 Ways to Tone Down a Dish That’s Too Spicy over at The Kitchn has some useful tips for what to do if you have added a bit too much spice to your dish.

In the Spice & Herb Bible Third Edition by Ian Hemphill with recipes by Kate Hemphill Robert Rose 2014, Ian calls coriander seed ‘the peacemaker’ and says if you have made a spice mix and find that ‘…you have been too heavy-handed with a pungent spice such as cloves or cardamom an easy way fix the mixture is to add twice the amount of ground coriander (compared to the quantity of the
dominant spice)…’

Some dishes using spices you might like to try:

Roast Pumpkin & Chickpea Curry

Roast Pumpkin & Chickpea Curry

Aromatic Beef Curry

Aromatic Beef Curry

Mexican-spiced Brown Rice with Sausages

Mexican-spiced Brown Rice with Sausages

Madras Beef Curry

Madras Beef Curry

 

My Homemade Caviar

My Homemade CaviarHave you ever made or thought about making your own caviar? Me neither, until the other day when our friend who is a keen trout
fisherman gave us a rainbow trout plus roe.

So, I jumped on Google and found several sites giving instructions on how to make caviar and I couldn’t believe how easy it is. The hardest part is removing the eggs from the skein — the membrane holding them together – then it is simply rinse and brine the eggs. After reading a few of the options I decided to follow this method on a site Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook. As Hank (the hunter, angler,
gardener, cook and writer on this site) says “How could something so mysterious be so easy to create? It didn’t seem fair.”

This is a great site for those who either hunt, fish, garden or are the recipient of those who do.

So what did I do with My Homemade Caviar? The morning after I made it I saw that JJ Organics have their special new potatoes
available – they are always the very first and are grown on a north facing slope that doesn’t get frost. So, it was boiled new potatoes with crème fraîche topped with caviar.

Boiled new potatoes topped crème fraîche and

Boiled new potatoes with crème fraîche topped with homemade caviar

I am also going to make a French Omlette and fill it with crème fraîche and caviar – I think that sounds rich, but luxurious.

Happy cooking and eating.

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Beetroot – The Bossy Vegetable

Oven-Roasted Fresh Beetroot & Greens

Oven-Roasted Fresh Beetroot & Greens

Well-known English food writer and cook, the late Jane Grigson, called beetroot ‘the bossy vegetable’ because it can take over the kitchen including the cook and while it’s red colour does tend to stain everything it touches, it really is not a reason to avoid it, as it has so much else to offer.

Handling beetroot: Yes, it will stain your hands, but I find if you
immediately give them a really good wash, with plenty of soap and water, most of the stain is removed and after a couple more washes it is all gone. But, if it really bothers you, wear disposal gloves. The same cleaning principals apply to wooden chopping boards.

Native to the Mediterranean region beetroot, beta vulgaris, in its canned form has long been a Kiwi favourite and for many a must-have on burgers.

Belonging to the same family as chard and spinach, both the leaves and root can be eaten – the leaves have a similar flavour and
texture as chard and can be prepared and eaten in the same way.

While the most common form of beetroot is the rich purple coloured root, there are also golden and white varieties as well the
fashionable Chioggia or what is sometimes referred as candied striped beetroot.

Fresh beetroot is a wonderfully versatile vegetable which can be eaten raw or cooked and is considered by many to have
considerable health benefits including helping to stimulate the
liver’s detoxification processes, preventing constipation, lowering cholesterol levels and reducing blood pressure.

Beetroot also teams well with many other foods including:
anchovies; balsamic vinegar; bitter greens; cider vinegar; cottage cheese; cream; feta cheese; garlic; honey; horseradish; lemons;
mayonnaise; mustard; olive oil; onions; oranges; potatoes; red wine vinegar; smoked fish; smoked meats; sour cream; venison; and
walnuts.

Beetroot gets its vivant colour from a plant pigment called
betacyanin which is thought to help suppress some types of cancer.

The fibre in beetroot has been shown to increase antioxidant
enzymes in the body and it is also a rich source of the amino acid
glutamine which is essential for the health and maintenance of the intestinal tract.

A 100g serving of raw beetroot has about 221kJ (53 calories), 2g protein, 10g carbohydrate, 3g fibre and virtually no fat.

Do Not Be Alarmed: For some people, eating beetroot (particularly fresh beetroot) can induce a harmless condition known as beeturia – this is where your urine and/or stools take on a red or pink colour
after eating beetroot.

Chioggia Beetroot: This pretty heirloom beet, like the winter squash Marina Di Chioggia, originates from the Italian coastal town of
Chioggia which is situated on a small island in the Lagoon of Venice, about 25 kilometres south of Venice. Chioggia is loved by cooks and chefs for its hot pink skin and its pink and white striped flesh.
Unfortunately, on cooking the strips of the Chioggia beetroot fade and the beet cooks to a muddy pink colour. To get full visual impact, slice very thinly, dress and serve as a salad – see recipe below.

SELECTION, STORAGE, PREPARATION & USIN

Selection: The root should be firm and smooth with a good colour. If the tops are intact they should look green and fresh.

Preparation: Cut the leaves and stems from the root, leaving at least 2cm intact – this stops the beet from bleeding during cooking. Wash well to remove any surface dirt. Do not cut off the long tapering root – cutting this off will also cause the beet to bleed during cooking. Beetroot are not generally peeled prior to cooking, the exception is if making soup where you want the colour to run.

Storage: Store in a cool, airy, dark place or in the vegetable bin of the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. If leaves are still attach use these within a couple of days, cutting them at least 2cm from top of root, so that some of the stems are left intact

Using: Beetroot can be boiled, steamed, baked or eaten raw. Once cooked the skins slip off easily.

  • To boil: Place prepared beetroot in a saucepan of lightly salted cold water, bring to the boil and simmer until a skewer can be
    inserted into the beet without resistance – cooking time is
    dependent on the size of the root with small beets taking as little as 30 minutes while large ones can take up to 1½ hours.
  • To bake: Wrap prepared beets in lightly oiled foil and bake at 180°C until tender – once again the cooking time is dependent on the size of the root and when cooked you should be able to insert a skewer without resistance.

TWO EASY WAYS TO USE BEETROOT

Raw Chioggia Salad: Scrub and very thinly slice 1 bunch Chiogga beetroot, core and thinly slice 2 green apples and place in a bowl with some torn mint leaves. Make a dressing of ½ cup olive oil, ¼ cup lemon juice and a drizzle of honey. Season with a good grind of sea salt and black pepper, pour over beetroot mixture and toss to
combine. Just prior to serving, scatter with 250g crumbled feta cheese, ¼ cup toasted sunflower seeds and additional mint leaves. Serves 4-6.

Beetroot, Fennel and Mint Slaw: This colourful slaw is an easy and tasty addition to a summer salad table and teams well with
barbecued meats especially lamb or try it as a sandwich filling with ham or cold meats. Place 1 cup raisins in a bowl and pour 1 cup hot water to cover. Set aside to soak for 5 minutes. Drain. Peel and grate 3 medium-sized beetroot and place in a large bowl. Add 1 thinly sliced fennel bulb, 1 thinly sliced red onion and raisins. Whisk
together ½ cup olive oil and ¼ red wine vinegar and pour over
beetroot mixture to moisten well. Toss to combine ad season with a good grind of sea salt and black pepper. Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least ½ hour to allow flavours to mellow and blend. Just prior to serving toss again then scatter with 100g
crumbled feta and some shredded mint. Serves 6-8 as a salad.

So tell me, do you cook and enjoy beetroot?

Happy cooking and eating.

Information complied and recipes by Rachel Blackmore

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Recipes using beetroot you might like to try:

Beetroot, Herb & Feta Salad

Beetroot, Herb & Feta Salad

Smoked Fish & Potato Salad with Beetroot Dressing

Smoked Fish & Potato Salad with Beetroot Dressing

Beetroot Risotto

Oven-Roasted Fresh Beetroot & Greens

Middle Eastern Spiced Lamb & Beetroot Casserole

Beetroot & Walnut Dip

Cook down the Fridge, Pantry and Freezer

Vegetable Bin BakeAs a food blogger, food writer, recipe developer and tester, one of my biggest challenges is keeping leftovers under control. My
leftovers can take the form of cooked dishes or odd vegetables and other ingredients – not enough to make a meal by themselves, but when teamed together you can create a wonderful meal.

About once a month I “cook down the fridge, pantry and freezer” – so I take a good look at what there is  in the fridge, pantry and
freezer, that I can use to create a meal.

Doing this on a regular basis really reduces food waste and saves you money, plus it makes sure that you don’t forget about things that you may have in the you fridge, pantry and freezer.

Cooked dishes are usually frozen in single singles – I usually use
yoghurt containers and make wonderful lunches – I seldom buy lunches at work, another money saver!

I call this meal “Vegetable Bin Bake” and it is an example of using those odd vegetables, plus some of chicken thighs – on this occasion they were boneless ones, but bone-in thighs or drumsticks are also fine – that were in the freezer.

Here I used 1 large zucchini, 1 red onion, a couple of largish
potatoes, a few tomatoes, a clove of garlic and a capsicum – I chopped everything into chunks and placed in a baking dish, then drizzled with a little olive oil, seasoned with a good grind of salt and black pepper and tossed to combine and coat with oil. Then nestled the chicken thighs into the vegetable mixture and baked at 200°C for 45-60 minutes or until vegetables were soft and chicken browned and cooked through.

Happy cooking and eating.

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Other ideas for using leftovers:

Wonderful Ways with Leftovers

Wonderful Ways with Leftovers

Christmas Pud Ice-Cream with Toffee Sauce

Christmas Pud Ice-Cream with Toffee Sauce

Xmas Cake Truffles

Xmas Cake Truffles

 

Roast Pheasant with Mushroom & Mustard Sauce

Roast PheasantHappy Saturday – it is Saturday down here in NZ and Australia! For those of you for who it is still Friday – remember it’s not long until it will be Saturday – and think of us when you are still enjoying Sunday, because it will be Monday here!

No matter which day it is, no doubt many of you, like me, will be heading out this weekend to your local food market to pick up your supplies for the week.

Last week at the Napier Urban Food Market, Manurau Game Birds had frozen pheasants on special and from what Rodney was telling me I think they will have them again today. I picked one up last week and it was so good I am planning to get another today

Game birds can be a little tricky to cook, but the way I have cooked this pheasant will ensure a perfect result every time – breaking the bird down and roasting the legs for longer then breast gives tender legs and moist delicious breast meat. I found this method on the BBC website.

Generally pheasants are not very large birds – the ones I am getting are 800g to 1kg – and one bird generously feeds two people with each person getting a leg and a breast.

Roast Pheasant with Mushroom & Mustard Sauce

This recipe can easily to be adapted for however many you are feeding.

Serves 2

1 (about 1kg) pheasant
2 tbsp flour seasoned with a good grind of sea salt
vegetable oil
PHEASANT STOCK
pheasant carcass and wings, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
1 cup white wine
MUSHROOM & MUSTARD SAUCE
1 shallot, finely chopped
100g button mushrooms, sliced
½ cup white wine
¼ cup white wine vinegar
1 cup pheasant stock
2 tsp Dijon mustard
½ cup cream
sea salt

1              Prepare the pheasant – see note below. Do not discard the carcass and wings. Set prepared pheasant aside.

2              For the stock, heat a large frying pan over a high heat, add a little oil and swirl to coat base of pan. Add pheasant carcass and wings and cook, turning frequently, for 5 minutes or until well browned. Add onion, carrot and celery and cook, stirring
occasionally, for 5 minutes. Stir in wine and ½ cup water, bring to simmering and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes or until liquid reduces and is releasing a good aroma.

3              Strain stock and discard pheasant carcass and vegetables. Set liquid aside – you should have about 1 cup. Skin the fat from the top of the stock before using, to get the fat to set quickly place in the freezer for 20-30 minutes.

4              Preheat oven to 200°C. Place flour in a plastic bag, add pheasant and toss to coat lightly. Shake off excess.

5              Heat an ovenproof frying pan over a medium-high heat, add little oil and a knob of butter and swirl to coat base of pan. Add pheasant legs and breast, skin side down and brown on all sides.
Remove breasts and set aside.

6              Transfer frying pan to oven and cook pheasant legs for 12 minutes, add breasts and cook for 8 minutes longer. Remove
pheasant from pan, place on a plate, cover and allow to rest for at least 5 minutes, then keep warm while making sauce.

7              For the sauce, place shallot and mushrooms in the pan in which the pheasant was cooked, place over a medium heat, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes or until vegetables soften. Add wine and bring to the boil, then stir in vinegar and
continue to cook until liquid has almost evaporated and is syrup. Stir in stock and bring back to the boil, simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes or until reduced to about one-third. Stir in cream and mustard and cook, stirring frequently, for 3-4 minutes longer or until sauce thickens. Season to taste with salt.

8              To serve, carve breast from the bone to give two pieces. Cut each breast into thick slices. For each serving, place a leg and a sliced breast on each plate and top with sauce.

To prepare the pheasant: Cut the legs and thighs away from bird, but leave the breast meat attached to the ribcage. Cut away the back and cut off the wings using strong kitchen scissors.

Happy cooking and eating.

Recipe by Rachel Blackmore

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The Leftover Dilemma

Wonderful Ways with Leftovers

Wonderful Ways with Leftovers

The thing with leftovers is that we don’t all have exactly the same leftovers and sometimes the leftovers we do have don’t immediately say “Hi, I’m still good and can be made into something wonderful” or we don’t even think of something as a leftover and just toss it, all the while thinking “What a waste!”

It’s now four days since Christmas and New Year’s Eve is looming and if like me your fridge needs space, but there still seems to be some good things in there, take a little time to sort it out and see what you can do with what’s there. Here are some ideas for some of those odds and ends that might not immediately seem to be worth keeping.

Mustard: There’s a spoonful left in the bottom of the jar, don’t toss it, rather make it into vinaigrette right in the jar so that you get to use every last bit of the mustard.

To the jar with that bit of mustard in it, add some oil and vinegar (the usual ratio is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar – eg 3 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp vinegar), add any flavourings such as crushed garlic, fresh herbs, minced shallot or onion, screw lid on jar and shake well to emulsify. Store in the fridge and shake again before using. This works best with milder mustards such as Dijon or wholegrain.

Ham, Turkey, Pork or Chicken: In the few days after Christmas these meats can be turned into salads, sandwiches, wraps, frittatas, hash and any number of other delicious easy meals – here are some ideas to get you started:

Toasted Mushroom, Ham & Cheese Sandwich

Toasted Mushroom, Ham & Cheese Sandwich

Ham & Leek Pie

Ham & Leek Pie

Ham & Vegetable Hash

Ham & Vegetable Hash

Ham, Vegetable & Ricotta Fritters

Ham, Vegetable & Ricotta Fritters

Easy Chicken or Turkey Salad

Easy Chicken or Turkey Salad

Ham Bone: This is the perfect base for a hearty soup and there is probably still plenty of meat of on it – package up and freeze for when the weather turns cooler.

Pea & Potato Soup with Ham

Pea & Potato Soup with Ham

Turkey Carcass: By now this is all you should have left of your
turkey. This carcass makes a wonderful base for a stock. No, I am not suggesting that you get out the stock pot now (you can, of course, if you want), but rather package up the carcass and bones and freeze it until you have more time and the weather gets a bit cooler. Any poultry carcass such as chicken or duck can be made into stock in the same way.

To make a simple stock, place carcass, chopped onion, carrot and celery, a bay leaf or two, maybe a sprig of rosemary or thyme, if you have it, and 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns in a large stockpot, pour over water to cover, bring to simmering over medium heat and simmer for 1 hour. Remove pan from heat, strain off liquid and
discard carcass, vegetables, herbs and peppercorns. Allow stock to cool, remove and discard any fat, then transfer stock to suitable
containers and freeze until required. I usually freeze mine in 1 or 2 cup yogurt containers.

Cheese: Odds and ends of cheese can be mixed together and made into wonderful Potted Cheese.

Potted Cheese

Potted Cheese

Wine: “Yeah, right!” in our house! But, should you have some – freeze it. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze. When frozen, pop out the cubes, put into a freezer bag and return to the freezer.
Whenever you need just a tablespoon or so of wine in cooking – use your frozen wine ice blocks. Never waste another drop of wine.

Vegetables: If you have a quantity of cooked vegetables – roasted, steamed or boiled or a mix – chop them into even-sized pieces,
drizzle with a dressing of your choice, toss to combine and serve on a bed of salad leaves for a delicious vegetable salad.

Bread: There are many ways to give bread a second life.
Breadcrumbs, crostini, croutons, strata, bread and butter pudding to name just a few options.

Dry breadcrumbs: Freeze any odds slices or pieces of bread until you have a quantity – I keep a bag in the freezer and add odd slices of bread to it when I have them. Preheat oven to 150°C. Place bread slices on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes or until dry – exact time is going to depend on how dry the bread is to start with.
Remove from oven and cool on wire racks. Break into pieces, place, in batches, in a food processor and pulse to make breadcrumbs of desired texture. Store in an airtight container and use whenever dry breadcrumbs are called for.

Crostini: This is a great way to give new life to a leftover breadstick or baguette. Cut into slices, brush both sides of each slice with a
little oil, place on a baking tray and bake in a preheated 150°C oven for 15-20 minutes or until dry and crisp – as above the exact cooking time is going to depend on how stale the bread is to start with.

This savoury Breakfast Bake makes a great brunch dish – replace the bacon with some of your leftover ham and use whatever leftover bread you have:

Breakfast Bake

Breakfast Bake

I must confess to loving leftovers and my freezer has what I think of as lots of lunches in it – I will freeze just about any leftover and when I need a lunch for work, I will grab one of these frozen treasures and reheat it in the microwave at lunchtime.

I also keep a variety of rolls and bread in freezer and these are the basis for other lunches when there is leftover roast meat or chicken.

Using leftovers in these ways saves a fortune on buying lunches and keeps food wastage to a minimum.

So if you aren’t already doing it, take another look at your leftovers you might just surprise yourself.

Happy cooking and eating.

Compiled by Rachel Blackmore

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Replacing Eggs in Cooking

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I have a family member who is extremely allergic to eggs and has been all his life, so over the years I have amassed a collection of egg-free cakes, biscuits and other baked recipes. For those with an egg allergy I always recommend checking out vegan recipes.

Baking without using eggs can be challenging. It is only recently that I have discovered flax eggs and they are a really great substitute in some baked products, but as this article How to Make your own Egg Replacers for Vegan Baking from Food 52 explains, depending on the circumstance there are in fact a number of alternatives that you can use to replace eggs.

So if, for whatever reason, you can’t or don’t want to use eggs, but you still want to enjoy baked products check out this article.

Happy cooking and eating.

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Garlic & Olive Oil Sautéed Spinach

Sauteed Spinach 015aThis isn’t really a recipe, but rather the best darn way you will ever cook spinach to serve as a simple side.

Not only does it taste good, but it is so easy and if serving when
entertaining most of the preparation can be done in advance.

I have been cooking spinach in this way forever and had to think where I had originally found it, then remembered it was from
Marcella Hazan’s The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking – a book which I have mentioned on more than one occasion.

Garlic & Olive Oil Sautéed Spinach

If preparing in advance, cook the spinach to the end of step 2, then
complete step 3 and when ready to serve, gently reheat the oil, add the spinach and complete as per recipe. I don’t usually do this more than a couple hours in advance, as there is then no need to refrigerate and the spinach still tastes fresh.

Serves 4 as a side dish

1 good-sized bunch spinach
salt
¼ cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

1              Prepare spinach by removing stems at the base of the leaf. Discard stems and wash leaves well in several changes of water.

2              Shake leaves dry – there will still be water clinging to them, this is what you want – and place in a large saucepan with 2 tsp salt. Cover and cook over a medium-high heat for 5-8 minutes or until spinach wilts. Drain well, but do not squeeze and set aside.

3              Place oil and garlic in a frying pan over a low heat and cook until garlic turns golden – take care not to burn – remove and
discard garlic.

4              Add spinach to pan and cook, tossing to coat with oil, for 2-3 minutes to heated through

Happy cooking and eating.

Recipe by Rachel Blackmore

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Other spinach recipes you might like to try:

Spinach in Spiced Yogurt Sauce

Spinach in Spiced Yogurt Sauce

Spinach, Bacon & Tomato Pasta Sauce

Spinach, Bacon & Tomato Pasta Sauce

Potato & Spinach Bake

Potato & Spinach Bake

 

Baked Whole Lemon Flounder

Baked Whole Flounder 004aThe other day at Tangaroa Seafoods there were lovely plate-sized flounder, just perfect for a single serve.

I know there are those who find being presented with a whole fish to eat, challenging, but the taste of fish cooked on the bone is so much better that it is (I think) well worth overcoming any qualms you may have.

The French believe that you should learn to eat fish on the bone from an early age and flatfish such as flounder and sole are one of the easiest to eat, it is simply a matter lifting the flesh from the bone, then lifting out the bone and the remaining flesh is waiting to be
eaten.

If you are still not sure, check out this YouTube video – it will have you eating whole fish like a pro in next to no time – or Google “How to Eat a Whole Flat Fish

As a farmers’ daughter we did not eat a lot fish when I growing up, but one childhood memory I do have is going to the local port and buying whole sole off the boats. My mother, as I recall, prepared them in a similar way to this, that is cooked and served whole, and so for many years this is how I thought soles and flounders were always cooked.

I remember in my early 20’s serving sole cooked in this way to
someone who I didn’t know very well – let me just say I had to hastily find another way to serve the fish!

Flatfish such as flounder and sole are usually sold cleaned – that is gutted and scaled – but if not, ask the fishmonger to do for you.

Baked Whole Lemon Flounder

This isn’t a recipe as such, but rather a quick, easy and delicious way to cook both flounder and sole. It is also not the most glamorous dish you will ever serve, but I can assure you that it is one of the tastiest.

whole flounder, cleaned
butter
lemon
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
chopped parsley

1              Preheat oven to 200°C. Line a large baking dish with baking paper.

2              To prepare fish, wash under cold water, then pat dry with
paper towels. Using a sharp knife, on the dark coloured skin, make 2-3 slashes on one side of the fish, then make another 2-3 slashes, on the other side, in the other direction.

3              Place flounder, dark skinned side up, in prepared baking dish. Top fish with small knobs of butter, squeeze over lemon juice and season with a good grind of salt and pepper. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until flesh flakes when tested with a fork. Scatter with parsley and serve.

Happy cooking and eating.

Serving suggestion: Simple accompaniments, I think, work best – smashed potatoes with parsley and butter and a steamed seasonal vegetable.

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Nine Ways to Freeze Herbs

Photograph from The Kitchn

Photograph from The Kitchn

Do you have an abundance of certain herbs in your garden at
various times of the year, but none at others? If so, you might like to try one of these ways of preserving them.

This post appeared on Relish a few weeks and I thought with spring just around those with prolific herb gardens might like to take
advantage and preserve the season’s crop. Whether you choose
butter herb cubes, olive oil herb cubes, herb ice cubes or one of the other suggested methods you will be sure to be pleased to have
these waiting for you in the freezer when you want to an out-of
season herb to use in a dish.

If you have to buy herbs these methods will save you money by
preserving the rest of the bunch you haven’t used, plus of, course, you have the herb on hand for the next time you want to use it.

9 Ways to Freeze Herbs

Happy cooking and eating.

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