Classic Spice Blends: Fines Herbes

Classic Spice Blends: Fines Herbes
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Classic Spice Blends: Fines Herbes"Fines herbes" is a French term for what originally was a mixture of equal parts finely chopped chives and finely chopped parsley. It was used in egg dishes, such as omelets or in sauces and butters. Later other herbs were added to enhance certain meats or dishes. (Marjoram pictured.)

Tarragon was added to butter with the chives and parsley to use on grilled steaks. At other times you may have found dill, marjoram, thyme, basil, or cress. Chervil was often added to the mixture used for egg dishes and is listed commonly as the third herb for the blend.

In many old cookbooks you may see the term "fines herbes" used when it's a mixture of chopped mushroom, shallots and herbs, but this is actually another mixture called "duxelles".

The herbs used for a fresh "fine herbes" blend should be minced very fine just before needed. Add them at the end of the dishes cooking time. You want to see them in the dish, and you don't want to cook them for too long of a period.

If you wish to dry your own blend you can gather equal amounts of fresh chervil, chives, parsley, and tarragon and dry them carefully on a cookie sheet in a warm oven til they can be crumbled together and stored in a jar. You can also dry them on a screen in a shady spot with good air circulation.

This blend of Fines Herbes starts with dried herbs:

1 tablespoon dried basil

6 tablespoons dried chervil

1 teaspoon dried sweet marjoram

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 tablespoon dried tarragon

Place these in a blender or grinder and process until they are very fine. Store in a covered jar away from heat and light. Use 1/4 to 1/2 as much if substituting for fresh herbs in a recipe.

You can use either the fresh or dried blends in omelets by adding it to the eggs when you beat them before putting in the pan. Cook the omelet and try adding different cheese combinations for a simple but nice breakfast treat. Try adding a tsp. to your favorite meatloaf or meatball recipe! An unusual but great change is to add 1 tsp. to a zucchini muffin or bread recipe when you add the other dry ingredients.

Ham Quiche

Ingredients:

8" baked deep dish pie crust

1 egg white

1 3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese

1/2 cup diced cooked ham

1/4 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. Fines Herbes

1/4 cup sweet onion, diced

3 eggs

Prebake the pie crust according to directions before filling. Brush the baked, cooled crust with the egg white. Cook the milk until JUST barely boiling, stir in cheese and continue stirring until cheese is melted. Add the herbs. Remove mixture from heat and beat in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in ham, onions, and paprika. Pour mixture into pie crust. Bake in a 350 degree oven until the pie is firm, about 45 minutes.

Slow Cooked Beef Bourguignon

Ingredients:

4 pounds beef chuck steak, cut in to 1-1 1/2 inch cubes

1/4 cup olive oil

6 carrots; peeled if needed and cut in 1/2-in slices

2 cloves minced garlic

2 sweet onions, chopped

2 cans beef broth; 13 1/2 ounces each

2 cups dry red wine

1 can (6-ounces) tomato paste

1 tsp. fines herbes

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 lb fresh button mushrooms, quartered if large

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup butter or margarine

Brown beef cubes on all sides in 1/4 cup oil in a large skillet. Pour beef and the drippings into a crockpot. Add the carrots, chopped onions, chopped garlic, beef broth, wine, tomato paste, fines herbes, salt and pepper, and mushrooms. Cover and cook on low for 10 hours. Remove lid and skim excess fat from surface. Turn to high setting. Cover and allow to boil lightly. In a bowl, mix flour and 1/4 cup butter until creamy. Add to stew and sir until it is well blended and the stew thickens. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with boiled potatoes, noodles or rice.

 

Image: courtesy of Wikimedia.org


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About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at Harvestmoongazette.blogspot.com.

 
 

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