Category Archives: Herbs

Curry Leaves

Curry Leaves

Curry leaves, (murraya koenigii), are a fragrant herb from South East Asia, and India.  They are used in South Indian and Sri Lankan cuisines.  They are leaves of a small deciduous tree in the citrus family.    They are shiny, and look like citrus leaves.  They have a pungent, curry fragrance.  Curry leaves can also be found dried.
            Curry leaves enhance metabolism, control diabetes, and will help reduce the cholesterol in coconut oil when used together.





Rosemary is a perennial herb that is native to the Mediterranean area.  It is a member of the mint family.  It has been used since 500 BC.  In the 1600s it was introduced into America.  Rosemary is Latin for Dew of the Sea.  It has silver green needle shaped leaves, and has pale blue flowers. Its flavor is similar to evergreen.  Rosemary can be overpowering.  Sometimes it may irritate the stomach.  Through out time, rosemary has been use to cure ailments of the nervous system.  It helps reinforce memory.  In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Ophelia said, There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. It has also been said to be anti-spasmatic, antiseptic, diuretic, stomachic, and a stimulant.  It relieves rheumatism, and flatulence, and stimulates perspiration and menstruation.  It also aides the liver.

Rosemary is  commonly found in the herb blend of Herbes de Provence.  It is also found in stuffing, and complements onions, potatoes, fava beans, lamb, and olive oil well.  Another use it to try with lemony sweets and honey.  With rosemary, less is more.  Too much rosemary may be overpowering, and leave a bitter taste.  Rosemary is found in the fresh, dried, and powdered forms.

Rosemary’s Flavors

  • beans, especially dried and fava
  • chicken
  • fish, oily
  • game
  • grains
  • lamb
  • mushrooms
  • onions
  • oranges
  • peas
  • pork
  • potatoes
  • poultry
  • salmon
  • spinach
  • steaks
  • veal

Rosemary Oil

Yields 1 ½ gal

1-qt extra virgin olive oil

1-gallon virgin olive oil

1/2 pounds fresh rosemary, reserving 10 stalks

Strip rosemary from large woody stem.
Place approximately one fourth of the rosemary in the blender and cover with virgin olive oil.  Return lid.  Blend on medium high for 30 seconds.
Strain through a chinoise mousseline into a cambro.
Continue in similar fashion until all rosemary and all virgin olive oil is blended and strained.
Add the extra virgin olive oil to the rosemary oil.
Place reserved 10 stalks in oil mixture.
Cover, label, and date.


Originally Published 11-19-13

© 2013 Chef Jennifer M. Denlinger       All rights reserved

Please contact me for permission to use or reference this work.

Please contact me if you wish to receive “Food For Thought” in your mailbox.






Garlic is a member of the lily family (alliums).  It is an edible bulb.  Garlic is an annual bulbous herb.  One head of garlic (called a bulb) is 12- 16 cloves of garlic.  The head is covered in a paper thin white membrane, as well as each clove.  The plant grows long flat leaves.

All garlic falls under the species allium sativum, which is divided into two subspecies: hardneck and softneck. These, in turn, can be divided into several varieties and sub varieties, creating more than 600 types of garlic.  There are five main varieties of garlic: Artichoke, Rocambole, Porcelain, Silverskin  and Purple Stripe.

Garlic has been very important throughout history.  It probably originated in western Asia, around the desert of the Kirghiz people.  In about 1500, it was revered as a medicine.  In ancient Egyptian tablets, there were 22 prescriptions with garlic.  Egyptian athletes believed garlic could increase strength and endurance. However, the ancient Greeks disliked garlic and thought it would bring bad luck.  But in another account, Greek athletes used garlic as a stimulant.  Medieval doctors believed garlic would help cure the whopping cough, and it could be used as a charm against witches.  On St. John’s Day, if you purchase garlic, it would keep you safe from poverty from the rest of the year.  In 1858, Louis Pasteur discovered garlic could indeed kill bacteria.  During the crusades, garlic finally reached Western Europe.  Garlic was considered the poor man’s spice.

There are over 30 varieties of garlic.  Today some of the common forms of garlic include, white garlic, pink garlic, purple garlic, giant or elephant garlic and Spanish garlic.  You can also buy ground garlic, chopped garlic, dried garlic, garlic salt, powdered garlic, roasted garlic, and garlic oil.  The longer you cook garlic, the longer the flavor will deviate.  Young garlic or garlic greens are also a delicacy.

ONION, GARLIC, ELEPHANTONION, GARLIC, ELEPHANT, CLOVEElephant Garlic.  One clove is the size of a strawberry.

When garlic is bruised, crushed, chopped, or the like, the oils in the garlic will be released, making the dish even more pungent.  Since garlic oils are known to permeate the lungs, the odor of garlic may remain with you for a time, exuding through your breath and skin odor.  Chlorophyll may help to alleviate some of the garlic’s pungency.


Garlic contains selenium when eaten in large quantities.  It is a diuretic, stomachic, tonic, antispasmodic, anti-arthritic, antiseptic, and has cleansing properties.  Garlic may also contain allicin, which is beneficial on the cardiovascular system, and contains allyl sulfide, a powerful antibiotic.

Garlic Pairings

  • beans
  • beef
  • beets
  • cabbage
  • chicken
  • eggplant
  • fish
  • lamb
  • lentils
  • mushrooms
  • pasta
  • pork
  • potatoes
  • rice
  • shellfish
  • spinach
  • tomatoes
  • zucchini

© 2014 Chef Jennifer M. Denlinger All rights reserved Please contact me for permission to use or reference this work.

Please contact me if you wish to receive “Food For Thought” in your mailbox.




Parsley is a biennial plant that is commonly used as a garnish in today’s kitchen.    There are two main types of parsley, curly (Petroselinum crispum),  and Italian or flat leaf (P. crispum var. neapolitanum).  Curly parsley has small curly leaves that are bright green.  Italian flat leaf parsley has flat, broad leaves that are dark green in color.  Hamburger parsley (P. crispum var. tuberosum), or turnip rooted parsley is mainly used for its white roots.  There are more than 30 varieties of parsley grown today.


Parsley is native to Southern Europe.  It is the main staple in many kitchens and the basis of any herb blend.  It can be used as a garnish, or anything else.  It is very refreshing.  It can be used in any dishes, except sweet dishes.  Parsley contains vitamins A and C.  It is high in vitamin K.  It also contains essential oils that have anti-inflammatory properties.  There is research being done on the breast cancer fighting abilities of parsley as well.

The way the flavor of parsley is described is “fresh”.  It contains a high amount of chlorophyll, which gives it a cleansing ability on the palat and the ability to neutralize odors.  It also pairs well with many foods.  It is the “parent” of carrots, anise, caraway, cumin, celery, cilantro, chervil, fennel and dill.  (That is why these foods taste so well with parsley)

In ancient times, parsley wreaths were used to ward off drunkenness.  In ancient Greece, parsley represented joy and festivity. Pliny the elder praised parsley. Parsley was first used as a seasoning in the middle ages.

In America, parsley seems to be used mainly as a garnish or accent to other foods.  However, around the world, parsley holds its own.  In the Middle East a dish mainly consisting of parsley called Tabbouleah is popular.  In France, parsley stems are used as a fortifying flavor of dishes, and in Italy the Parsley stems represent well wishes for the chef.


  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

In a small bowl, combine the parsley, lemon zest, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Toss to combine well.


Serves 4-6 as a side dish

  • 1/2 cup uncooked bulgur wheat
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Salt
  • 1 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 2 stalks green onions, finely sliced
  • 2 plum tomatoes, small diced
  • ½ cucumber, small diced
  • 1 tsp microplaned lemon zest
  • 2 oz lemon juice
  • 4 oz extra virgin olive oil
  • Ground black pepper
  1.  Pour boiling water over bulgur wheat and a large pinch of salt.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to stand until all water has been absorbed, and grain is tender.
  2. Fluff the grains, and then add parsley, mint, green onions, tomatoes, and cucumbers.  Toss thoroughly to combine.
  3. Mix together the lemon zest, olive oil, and lemon juice.  Toss over salad and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Best served at room temperature

Things that go well with Parsley


















© 2014 Chef Jennifer M. Denlinger All rights reserved
Please contact me for permission to use or reference this work.

Please contact me if you wish to receive “Food For Thought” in your mailbox.




Basil, a member of the mint family, is quite often associated with Mediterranean cooking.  The Greeks considered Basil the “royal herb”.  Basil stems from the Greek word of basilikon, meaning royal.  Basil was considered to be sacred.  It was blessed by a priest, and women were not allowed to pick it.  Basil is native to India.

There are approximately 60 different types of basil, including sweet basil, spicy basil, opal basil, holy basil, Thai basil, lemon basil, cinnamon basil, and chocolate basil.


Green and Opal Basil

Basil has round, or lance shaped leaves that are greenish, reddish, or purplish.  They bloom small stalks of white flowers.  It is a very fragile herb that bruises easily.  Basil is highly fragrant.  Basil’s flavor can be described as licorice, cloves and anise.  Heat can destroy basil’s flavor.

 Basil is common in Mediterranean, Thai, and Laotian cuisines.  It is very prominent in French, and Italian cooking.  Basil has an affinity for tomatoes.  The most common dish made with basil is pesto.  Pesto is a combination of basil, Parmesan cheese, and pine nuts.  This is the traditional form of pesto, however, there are many variations of the recipe, some including olive oil, and garlic.  Pesto originated in Genoa.

Basil is an antispasmodic, antiseptic, a tonic, and a stomachic.  It helps fight migraines, aids with digestive problems and helps insomnia.

 BASIL, THAIBASIL, COLUMNAR GREEK                                   Thai Basil                                                                                   Columnar Greek Basil

Basil’s Affinities

cheese, esp. Mozzarella and Parmesan
olive oil
pasta sauces
salad greens, esp. dandelion and rocket
shellfish, esp. crab and shrimp
sweet potatoes
turtle soup
vegetables, esp. Mediterranean

Originally Published 9-6-12

© 2012 Chef Jennifer M. Denlinger       All rights reserved

Please contact me for permission to use or reference this work.

Please contact me if you wish to receive “Food For Thought” in your mailbox.



Lavender, a member of the mint family, is originally native to the Mediterranean and other dry sandy regions.   Its usage has been traced back to ancient Greece.  Lavender grows well in cool moist winters and hot, dry summers.  It is drought tolerant, and bug resistant.  One of the major lavender production centers in the world varies around Provence, France.


Lavender Field near Manosque, France

Picture courtesy of Chef Richard Barth

Commonly, lavenders, only been found in soaps, perfumes, but it is also one of the main ingredients of Herbes de Provence.  It can also be found in baked goods and sweets.

 Herbes de Provence (erbs-day-pro-vanss) is a mixture of oregano or marjoram, thyme, basil, sage, savory, lavender flowers and rosemary- all dried.  Some also include chervil, or fennel seeds as well.


            There are approximately 28 varieties of Lavender; English, spike, Spanish, French, woolly, and lavandin, being among the most common.  English lavender is sweet scented.  Spiked lavender attracts insects.  Lavandin lavender is a hybrid between Spiked and English lavender.  Spanish lavender has a pine fragrance.

            Lavender’s scent is widely used for fragrances and natural recedes, including soaps and lotions and oils.  Its scent is used to induce calmness and reduce anxiety.  It helps with nausea, headaches, insomnia, depression, and stomach woes.  Steeping the flowers in hot tea before drinking with a little honey helps with upset stomachs.


Dried Lavender Blossoms

            When using lavender, a little goes a long way.  If substituting dry for fresh, use a 1 to 3 ratio.  It should be reconstituted first with a little warm water or milk if possible if it is going to be mixed in a food that is wet or moist.    Making lavender sugar, if being used for sweet items is a successful way to use and store the lavender.  Pureeing white or natural sugar with dried or fresh lavender flowers will infuse the sugar.  If using fresh flowers for lavender sugar- store the sugar in the refrigerator in an airtight container to preserve the color.  Sugar made with dried flowers can be stored at room temperature, in an airtight container as well.  (This makes a great holiday gift in a decorative jar!)  Both the leaves and flower can be eaten and used in other applications.


French Lavender


Spanish Lavender


English Lavender

Lavender Pairings

Black currants
Crème frâiche
Game birds
Goat cheese, esp. Chevre
Lemon curd
Mascarpone Cheese

Ricotta cheese
Sugar/ sweet
Vinegar, esp. balsamic


Lavender Field near Manosque, France

Picture courtesy of Chef Richard Barth

Herbes de Provence
1 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoon chervil
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 tablespoon summer savory
1 teaspoon lavender
1 teaspoon tarragon
1 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon mint
2 powdered or chopped bay leaves
Lavender Lemonade

4 cups water, divided
1/4 cup chopped fresh lavender leaves
2/3 cups sugar
1 cup fresh lemon juice
lavender stems

Bring 1 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Combine the boiling water and lavender in a medium bowl, cover and steep 30 minutes.  Strain the lavender mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl; discard lavender leaves.
Combine 3 cups water and sugar in saucepan.  Bring the mixture to a boil, and cook 1 minute or until sugar is dissolved.  Combine lavender water, sugar syrup and lemon juice in a pitcher.  Cover and chill.  Serve over ice.  Garnish lemonade with lavender stems.  Serves 5.

Peach and Cherry Turnovers with Lavender Cheese Filling

Chef Jennifer Denlinger

1 sheet of frozen puff pastry or Danish dough, defrosted, but chilled
1 egg, beaten well
3-4 RIPE peaches, depending on size, peeled, and cut into narrow slices
1 cup of fresh cherries, pitted, and halved
Pinch of cinnamon
½ cup sugar, or to taste
1 tbsp cornstarch
½ cup ricotta cheese
1 tbsp lavender blossoms, chopped as fine as possible
1 tbsp honey, or to taste
Clear sprinkles or sanding sugar, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F, if baking turnovers now.
  2. Combine the cherries and the peaches in a bowl.
  3. Toss with cinnamon, and sugar to taste.
  4. Mix in the cornstarch, and let stand for a few minutes.
  5. In the meantime, combine the ricotta cheese, lavender blossoms, and honey.
  6. Lay the puff pastry out on a surface that it will not stick to.
  7. Slice the puff pastry into 4 even squares.  If needed, trim the pastry down, so you have 4 squares, not 4 rectangles.
  8. On each square, put about ¼ cup of the fruit filling in the center, and one heaping tbsp of the ricotta cheese mixture.
  9. Fold the pastry in half, from corner to corner, to form a triangle
  10. Press the edges together in order to seal the pastry.  With a fork crimp the edges.
  11. ***If baking the turnovers now, continue on.  If you are going to save the turnovers to bake later, or freeze, do not do this until you are ready to bake them. ***
  12. Brush the turnover with beaten egg.
  13. If desired sprinkle with clear sprinkles or sanding sugar.
  14. Bake in a 375° oven until golden brown and flakey.  (Recommended to use a nonstick pan, that’s not dark, or parchment paper)
  15. Cool slightly before eating!
  16. These can be made in advance and frozen, and defrosted before baking, or held in the refrigerator for several days unbaked.  Just wait to egg wash and sprinkle them until you are ready to bake them!
  17. Makes 4 turnovers

Savory Lavender Goat Cheese Tart

1-1/2 cup all purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground dried lavender flowers
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/3 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 egg yolk
4-5 tbsp ice water
butter for greasing tart pan
10-12 oz goat cheese softened
1 # cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp ground dried lavender flowers
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp fresh chopped chives or more to taste
1 tsp fresh parsley  or more to taste
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp roasted garlic puree
3 eggs
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp pine nuts toasted, divided

To prepare the crust; in a large mixing bowl combine the flour, salt, lavender and pepper.  Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some pea sized pieces of butter.  Make a well in the middle and add the egg yolk and water.  Using a fork, drew the flour and butter mixture into the liquid from the sides, working more in gradually until a dough forms.  Shape into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 30 minutes or up to 3 days.

Lightly grease a 10 inch tart pan with butter.  On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out evenly to fit into the tart pan and transfer to the pan.  Chill for 15 minutes.

Heat the oven to 350F.  Prick holes in the bottom of the tart shell and prebake about 15 minutes or until the edges start to brown.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat together the goat cheese, cream cheese, lavender, rosemary, marjoram, thyme, chives, parsley, black pepper, and garlic and puree until smooth.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time; beat well after each addition.  Chop 1/3 cup of the pine nuts and fold into the batter.

Spoon the batter into the pre-baked tart shell and sprinkle the top with the remaining whole pine nuts.  Bake at 350F for 30-45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the filling has risen.

Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.  Cut into 12 slices.

Originally Published 9-15-11

© 2011 Chef Jennifer M. Denlinger       All rights reserved

Please contact me for permission to use or reference this work.

Please contact me if you wish to receive “Food For Thought” in your mailbox.



Bananas are an herb that grows on a tropical plant.  A banana is not a true fruit, however, because it contains no seeds.  It is botanically classified as an herb because of the non-woody stem.  It produces flowers, but they are sterile also. The plant only has a one year growing span.

Bananas probably originated in Malaysia, then into India around the 5th or 6th century BC.  In Buddhism, the banana is the symbol of futility of earthly possessions.  The banana is also one of the supposed forbidden fruit of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

The banana tree produces a purplish flower.  This flower grows into a bunch.


One bunch, of hand of bananas may contain anywhere from 100- 400 bananas.  The bananas develop better flavors off the bush, so they are usually picked green.  The brown spots on the bananas are a sign of ripeness.  If you need to ripen a banana quickly, place it in a paper bag, and fold it close.  The gases let off by the banana will collect in the bag, and speed up the ripening process.  Banana leaves are also used to wrap food in to be steam or baked.  They can be used for cloth, and for furniture.

There are three varieties of bananas:  sweet, cooking, plantains.  Some common varieties of bananas include the dwarf/ finger banana.  It is very sweet.  The Manzano is apple flavored.  Mypore comes from India.  Orinoco has a hint of strawberry.  The plantain is a variety of cooking banana that has a squash like flavor.  It has high starch content, and can only be eaten cooked.  There are also red and purple bananas.

The “strings” on the banana fruit are called phloem bundles- which are nothing but the way the peel attaches to the flesh.  You can eat them, though are displeasing in texture.  The flesh of the banana can break into three sections.

Today, the main producers of bananas are India, Brazil, the Philippines, Ecuador, and Indonesia.

Bananas contain a lot of starch.  They are also rich in potassium.  Bananas contain vitamins B6 and C, potassium, folic acid, riboflavin, and magnesium.  It can also be a mild laxative.

Banana Flavors

alcohol butter Cognac ginger nuts sour cream
almonds Calvados coriander honey oranges strawberries
apricots caramel cream ice cream passion fruit sugar, brown or white
Armagnac cardamom cream cheese Kirsch pecans vanilla
bacon chicken custard lemon pineapples yogurt
blueberries chocolate eggs lime pralines
brandy cinnamon fruits, especially tropical malt raspberries
brown sugar coconut gin maple syrup rum

BANANA, 1OOO FINGERS  1000Fingers                                                                                                             BANANA, CAVENDISH Candavish

BANANA, DARWF RED(red flesh)Dwarf Red (has red flesh)


BANANA, HAWIIANHawaiian (super sweet)


BANANA, MANZILLAManilla (grows off the “ornamental” bush)


BANANA, REDBANANA, DWARF REDRed                                                            BANANA, TOGO (small and round) Togo (small and round)


BANANA, FLOWERBanana plant flower

Originally Published 7-26-12

© 2012 Chef Jennifer M. Denlinger       All rights reserved

Please contact me for permission to use or reference this work.

Please contact me if you wish to receive “Food For Thought” in your mailbox.